Friday, April 22

stuck reading

if you would, my dear audience, take a moment and read (or skim, whichever) two pieces of internet journalism-ish writing.

first, a year-old personal blogpost by Nicky Case piece, once that I might be tempted to assign as reading for students someday. it is about rhetoric without using the word, though Aristotle's ethos, pathos, and logos are in there everywhere.
The Science of Social Change.

and second, Astra Taylor's article about the terminologies wrapped up in trying to change the world.
Against Activism.

these were recommended to me in the reverse order that I've just recommended them to you in. I read them in this order though-- they are both long (for things-published-on-the-internet, anyway), but the playful, casual tone and the sans-serif of the Case piece made it easier. the curly, dense criticism of the other was not the most enticing for my distracted end-of-semester brain.

pertinent (says me) excerpts from each:

...for most people claiming to be 'apolitical,' it's usually just code for 'don't challenge the status quo.'  
if we want to make social change, the logical content of an argument is crucial, but not enough. We need to carefully and compassionately(!!!) craft the emotional content, too.

... for it matters less what we call ourselves and more what we do...
In our increasingly sorted and labeled society, activists are analogous to skateboarders or foodies or dead heads, each inhabiting a particular niche in America’s grand and heterogeneous cultural ecosystem [...]. Worse still, Smucker contends, is the fact that many activists seem to relish their marginalization, interpreting their small numbers as evidence of their specialness, their membership in an exclusive and righteous clique, effectiveness be damned.
the vagueness and politics of the word activism are not the only hangups I personally have. my own privileges (privileges of skin and body, of citizenship and education) have bred lots of apathy, it seems. it's not that I blatantly don't want to challenge the status quo... but I allow myself to wonder if it's worth the effort. it's not that I wouldn't mind if the status quo got challenged to bits... but am I haven't felt any pressing obligation to get involved. do I think I should? do you think I should?

my answers to that question changes from day to day. yes, the world needs changing. yes, it can be changed--I think I believe that. or do I? can it? if the world--or even a piece of it--changes for me or for you or for anyone, will the change stick, or will everything just change back next week?

most days, I am having too much fun thinking about all of this to do very much that might change the world in an obvious way.

maybe I'll work on this. the thing is, all the things I really most deeply seem to want to change about the world may not make sense to very many people. could we kill the custom of applauding so much for so many things? can waterslides be prettier on the outside?

perhaps that's an excuse though. change is difficult.

less relatedly, I'm also in the middle of reading this piece on humans + world + time by Glenna Albrecht. if you finish reading it before I do, tell me what you think. or tell me what you think anyway.


Janeheiress said...

I ask myself the same question every once in a while. I think we all have to decide how we can mould our sphere of influence and what we want to accomplish with it.

Amelia Chesley said...

that is a nice way of thinking about it. little spheres of influence as places to start things or change something...