August 23, 2013

To Be Famous, You Have to Document Yourself


“History goes to those who leave stuff.” ~ me
Have you ever noticed that biographies and documentaries are most often about people who leave a paper trail or a video trail or photo trail?  Coincidence? I think not.

August 22, 2013

Al Jazeera America

I loved watching the new news station Al Jazeera America last night.  I think it’s so cool that we have this option, and I hope the channel makes it. Somewhat because we have entrenched political debate in this country, and this might stir things up, but moreso because I love the chance to get away from “The Danger of a Single Story.”

You know Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s fabulous TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” don’t you?  (If not, I’ve put it below.)  She talks about how America has a narrative of what Africa is and isn’t and how her work is not only a reaction to that but a claiming of her own story.  This happens throughout history.  People yearn for a single line of meaning for the world, preferably that involved their kin in the main storyline.  Unfortunately and fortunately, that’s not the way the world works.  Everybody is the hero of their own story, but if they have the power (hegemony) they get to impose their story, their version of the truth, on the multitude of other narratives out there. 

Creating meaning for a group isn’t a bad thing.  It’s human nature, how we make our lives have worth.  But we have to acknowledge the many narratives that there are.  Like the Harper’s piece by William T. Vollman about being suspected of being the Unibomber.  In an interview on NPR, he talks explicity about his America and what it means.  (Mikhail Bakhtin has some interesting things to say about the centripetal and centrifugal forces in national dialog.)

Some of the things I love about the new Al Jazeera America channel.  The fact that most of the anchors are nonwhite (by that I mean not of European American descent).  That it has an international focus yet still covers the U.S.  That it tells positive and negative stories.  That there is dialog and disagreement and vehement discussion.  That The Nation advertises on it, and you can go online on Facebook and participate in the discussion.  Most of all, there is pushback against the dominant lines of discussion. 

Very cool.  And here’s the wonderful Adichie for your moment of zen.

August 5, 2013

'Motherhood Isn't Always a Choice' Up at Role/Reboot

One day I noticed on my Facebook feed a fascinating article at this website called Role/Reboot.  Then just the next day I saw another.  I kept clicking over and reading all these great articles by wonderful writers, all from this same site, and they kept popping up on my Facebook feed.  Needless to say I've had writer's envy ever since and wanted to publish something for a long time.  And now I have! Thank you, Role/Reboot! You guys rock.

A teaser:

Motherhood Isn't Always a Choice
For years, Tamara Linse wanted to have a baby, and she could get pregnant, just couldn't stay pregnant. So "choosing" to have kids isn't always that simple.
As I read the recent article “Having It All Without Children” in Time magazine, I was struck time and again with the word choice. Women choose to have children, while other women choose not to. Some variation of the word occurs throughout the article.
Choice is not a word I would have applied to motherhood in 1998. I was 29, and my husband and I had been married for five years. We wanted to wait to have children until we paid off our car payments and student loans, both of us working two jobs, and had remodeled the early 20th century Victorian we bought the year we married. We were nesting. We didn’t think of it that way, but there’s no other way to put it.
I should take a step back. Growing up, I was not a baby person. I was the youngest of seven, so there weren’t a lot of babies around for me to take care of. I didn’t gravitate toward babies, but I liked them, and I always thought I’d have a couple. Of course I would: My mom had had seven, and one of my sisters had seven, along with four step-children.
But then, at age 29, my husband and I lost our first baby at six months’ gestation. I went to that particular appointment by myself, and so I was alone when the matronly OB/GYN told me that the ultrasound showed no heartbeat. She had this look in her eye I will never forget. Compassion and empathy, certainly, but also a withdrawal, as if I had something, as if I were something that she had to protect herself against, the emotional equivalent of crossing herself.

For more, click on over to Role/Reboot.