Thursday, November 18, 2010

28 years later

It's a busy time for me at work, which means I have less brain power than usual outside of work, and I'm in a bad sleep cycle, which means I have less brain power period in addition to being tired and cranky and whining about it as much as possible … therefore sorry, blogiverse, expect no substantive contributions from me for now. Instead, in brief:

Literacy, the brain power thief—I'm always fascinated by new findings about the brain and literacy. We did not evolve to read, which of course is why human beings have to learn this skill anew, not a single baby being born with reading an inbred function. This latest study hones in on which brain structures are used for reading—and which other more natural functions suffer as a result when the brain areas that evolved for those functions are co-opted instead for reading. Of course, it's not quite that simple, but still. I'm not too bad with faces, contrary to what these findings might suggest. I am, however, truly terrible at spatial relations—I flunked geometry in junior high, can't do puzzles for shit, and if there's ever a household task that requires anything to be eyed and moved about or fitted together in any way, I'm hopeless—so unless I'm extrapolating completely wrongly from this article, it seems that my early and ever intensifying involvement in reading might have something to do with this.

Rise like lions after slumber—Earlier this month students in London took some righteous and oh so welcome action against the reactionary British government's moves against social benefits, and to mark the occasion Rust Belt Radical reprinted a 1992 Paul Foot essay on poet Percy Byshe Shelley, commenting that it's "easy to imagine him among the throngs of young people who marched for their future. He might have written a few stanzas on the occupation of Tory headquarters had he witnessed it. Hell, he might have broken a window or two himself." Read the Foot essay.

Freedom's just another word—Check out this fantastic piece by novelist Percival Everett about sexism against women authors. If a woman had written the book Jonathan Franzen just did, it would be considered a domestic family saga and never considered anything close to, you should excuse the expression, the Great American Novel.

Point of personal privilege—Tomorrow my best friend arrives from San Francisco for a weeklong visit, her first to New York in many years. Having tacked some vacation days on to next week's four-day "holiday" weekend so we can spend some good quality time together, I'll be doing just that, starting tomorrow night, for the next week or so. I don't expect to blog at all. When I get back online, I will have passed a landmark of sorts. I'll have now lived in New York for 28 years. I was 28 when I moved here, so I've now lived half my life here and am as much a New Yorker as a Michigander—more, I think, for though I was formed there I've done most of my adult living here. Here's how I moved: the evening after "Thanksgiving," with $20 in my pocket, personal items crammed into a small backpack and a few clothes stuffed into a shopping bag, I boarded and rode a bus filled with Palestinian sisters and brothers, all of us headed overnight from Detroit to Washington for a demonstration the next day; there we marched and got tear-gassed; then I boarded a different bus, this one taking demonstrators from New York back home and me with them to my new home. Maybe I'll write more about all that, but for now I'll just say from this vantage point, 28 years later, that I made the right decision with that move—and that the best decision for any of us next week is, if possible, to march with United American Indians of New England to mark the National Day of Mourning, and if we can't get to Plymouth then at least to take whatever action we can in solidarity with the ongoing struggles of Native nations whose lands were stolen and civilizations decimated by the European invasion the turkey holiday celebrates.