Speaking into existence

It’s a long day today, but which fortunately (?) also meant a day filled with work-related stuff. I haven’t got the time to sit and write my thoughts down properly today, but in the event of Octavia Butler’s belated birthday I am reminded of this page in her notebook — her very own practice of speaking into existence. Alexander Chee had a similar practice, where his mentor Annie Dillard told him to go to a bookstore and place a finger on the spot where his books will go. These are all the practices I had adopted recently as well, and while some of what I wrote might have not come true yet, one day they will.

Reading in my tabs:

  • Ever heard of Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble? Well, Zoomers engaged in an algorithm of resistance by claiming tickets to the Trump rally, but never attended, leaving hundreds of empty seats at the venue.
  • Media scholar Zeynep Tufekci however, warned about the short-term celebration of this incident, and urged us to start asking, “how will be this weaponised by someone else?”
  • “It’s easy to overlook how important language is for health if you’re on the English-speaking internet, where “is this headache actually something to worry about?” is only a quick Wikipedia article or WebMD search away. For over half of the world’s population, people can’t expect to Google their symptoms, nor even necessarily get a pamphlet from their doctor explaining their diagnosis, because it’s not available in a language they can understand.” The translation challenge of the coronavirus.
  • The world has six months to avert climate catastrophe, says an energy expert. Crap.
  • “Professionals today would never self-identify as bureaucrats. Product managers at Google might have sleeve tattoos or purple hair. They might describe themselves as ‘creators’ or ‘creatives.’ They might characterise their hobbies as entrepreneurial ‘side hustles.’ But their actual day-in, day-out work involves the coordination of various teams and resources across a large organization based on established administrative procedures. That’s a bureaucrat. The entire professional culture is almost an attempt to invert the connotations and expecta­tions of the word — which is what underlies this class’s tension with storytelling. Conformity is draped in the dead symbols of a prior generation’s counterculture.”
  • “Sometimes it’s a sudden drop in temperature, like the unnerving patches of cold air that linger next to the winged, human-headed bull of Nimrud at the entrance to the Assyrian galleries. Sometimes it’s the sound of footsteps, or music, or crying, where no obvious source can be found.” Are there ghosts in the British Museum? (I mean, yes obviously, considering the artifacts you colonisers have stolen from all of these livid, oppressed ancestors of the world…)
  • Have you ever seen a word and was just amazed that it felt or looked exactly as how it was spelled? That’s an autological word.
  • “Dear Fuck Up, my close friend is being radicalised on the Internet and I don’t know what to do.”
  • “Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, and to say thank you to the person handing it.”

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  1. Pingback: All good things must begin – Two Kinds of Intelligence

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