Girl Geeks and Boy Kings, by Melissa Gira Grant at Dissent Magazine. The new issue of Dissent, put together by the powerhouse that is Sarah Leonard, came out this week, and it’s full of anti-capitalist feminism, net theory, gender trouble and basically all the things that give me an unhealthy pallor from too much time adventuring on the internet. It’s all great – Sarah Jaffe’s piece on Trickle-Down Feminism is worthy of mention and not just because she quotes me in it, but this was the essay that really got me squealing and linkspamming. MGG weaves an astute analysis of online identity production as a new ‘second shift’ of feminine and feminised labour into a review of Katherine Losse’s 2012 memoir of her time as an early employee of Facebook.
2013 being the year in which the world is not ending for at least the foreseeable future, I thought I’d make a real effort to keep this blog lively. For a long time I’ve been meaning to start a list of recommendations, things I’m reading and watching and loving and working on, and this seemed like a great week to start, because it’s been full of energising words. Let’s start with some of the best essays on the internet…
ARTICLES OF INTEREST:
On the theme of the feminisation of labour, imprecarity and identity, this essay by Paul Myerscough at the London Review of Books is all about why Pret A Manger’s union-busting employment policies are fucked up and bullshit. It goes into the eye-watering details of precisely how wide Pret Staff are expected to smile if they want those seven and a half pounds an hour. Great read, with a bonus mention of…..
…Novara, the radio show on Resonance FM, which Myerscough credits as a “ gratifyingly apocalyptic counterweight to a BBC political news operation.” It’s weekly hour of anarchy and erudite thinking around topics you won’t hear covered on NPR, it’s all archived online, and I happen to be on the show next week (at 2pm GMT on Tuesday). Novara is presented by my friends and fellow travellers, Aaron Peters, James Butler and, occasionally, by Dr Nina Power…
….who wrote this brilliant piece on A World Without Work for Comment Is Free. A timely analysis that really shouldn’t be as controversial as it is, Power’s piece went viral for good reason, and it tied in nicely with my other reading.
THIS WEEK’S BOOKLIST:
I was interviewed by Book Trust all about my favourite books growing up, as a teenager and right now, as well as the future of publishing and its interaction with journalism, which is as good a way to kick off a reading list as any.
This week I’ve also been reading The Problem With Work, by Kathi Weeks, a vital book that knits feminism, Marxism and anti-work theory into one complicated crochet that might be worn to a squat party by a semi-fashionable anarcho-hipster. Seriously, it’s important, which is why I’m reading it slowly and carefully, although the prose does have the annoying academic’s habit of telling you precisely what it’s about to say several times before it says it, which sometimes makes me want to put my forehead through the page.
AND, the collected stories of Colette, per Molly Crabapple’s recommendation, which have given me fantasies about becoming a 19th-century French courtesan, a vocation to which I am not at all suited.
Yesterday after finishing work I got greedy in a bookshop and bought another pile of Science Fiction I can’t really afford, one of which was the Hugo and Nebula-Winning Among Others, by Jo Walton. I’ve only just started it, and I already know that this is going to be something I’ll savour and come back to. “I can bear anything as long as there are books.” (C1).
Also out this week is Gun Machine, by Warren Ellis. I got to read it a few months ago because Warren Ellis is my evil internet uncle, and it’s a great deal of goddamn fun. Go and buy it. The man has an expensive waistcoat habit to maintain.
If you’re not convinced yet, check out the SUPER INCREDIBLY AWESOME AMAZING GUN MACHINE TRAILER VIDEO OMG YOU GUYS by the very talented Jim Batt (@battsignal), of whose stop-motion work I’ve been a fan for some time, so this video for me is rather like David Bowie making a teaser for for Yorkshire Tea, except significantly less evilly capitalist. The fact that Bowie already does adverts is something I’ve deliberately chosen not to remember.
ALSO, I WROTE WORDS:
I’m now into book-writing territory on the Tome That Is Demanded, and I feel a little like Frodo going to Mordor, in that I’m increasingly unsure what the fuck I’m doing but charging in anyway. I’m finding time to cram in regular columning and essaying around the side, and my New Statesman column on rape myths went down particularly well.
– A Note on the Nice Guys of OKCupid is still being shared around and responded to, and it contains some formulations on love, justice and the nature of the cruel and inscrutable Hive Vagina with which I’m moderately pleased.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Stavvers and I went to see the Death exhibition at the Wellcome collection in London, and felt moderately gothic, and I finally decided to furnish my room like an adult, which involved a harrowing trip to Ikea Wembley. The place is a living nightmare of labyrinthine furniture displays, futuristic bottom-simulation chair-stress devices in glass cases and babies killing time before they too get old enough to shop there. Deliver us from flat-pack furniture.