bits-of-reading
bits-of-reading
Bits of Reading
my book club of one with some other stuff here and there he/him
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bits-of-reading · a day ago
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I think part of it is her tone of breathless excitement and novelty, as if she's done some original research revealing new knowledge, when what she's actually doing is repackaging truisms. Don't get me wrong, we know that there's "nothing new under the sun," but I guess I'm old enough to be pretty bored with the repackaging cycles and depressed enough to be almost insulted when someone comes along promising help and then tells me shit I've heart countless times over the course of decades.
Despite agreeing with a lot of what Brené Brown has to say, I don't like her stuff. I mean, I'm trying to read one of her books right now, and it's taking forever because I keep getting irritated.
But I can't express why. That makes me look for unconscious biases in me, and they certainly may contribute, but things like sexism a kind of anti-sellout or anti-success bias don't seem to fit what I'm experiencing (the latter is closer than the former, I think).
One of the things that really annoys me is her repeated use of "research" language in what appear to be self-legitimizing ways. Like, I think she's writing and speaking from her common sense and her experience as a human being, but instead of going with that, she constantly refers to a kind of black box research project where a bunch of interviews go in, something something something, and then the ideas she already had about life come out the other side. That's far from unique to Brown, but it happens a lot in her writing.
Neil Postman once wrote that "social science" is not a science and the people who do it are not scientists. Instead, he said we're storytellers. And I like that. I often think that if Brown simply embraced the storyteller identity and let go the social scientist label, a good deal of my antipathy would dissipate, and who knows, it might even liberate her work. Or not. I guess her insistence on using the tropes of social science gets her a seat at some tables where "mere" storytellers might not be welcome.
I don't know.
Please don't hate me for this. I think I've already blown up one friendship by trying to express my dislike of Brown's work. I'm working hard to remain open to her stuff and to hearing about why other people like her, while at the same time remaining vigilant about what parts of me are reacting against her.
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bits-of-reading · a day ago
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Malcolm X said, "If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven't even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there."
Today's Chauvin guilty verdict is kind of wiggling the knife around in a way that some will perceive as moving in the direction of "out."
Get ready for the system's defenders to use this as proof that "the system works" (that is, "there's no knife here") and that there's no need for systemic reform, let alone defunding, redistribution, dismantlement, and abolition.
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bits-of-reading · 2 days ago
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Same.
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Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
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bits-of-reading · 4 days ago
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“you’re obsessed with your mental illness”
i know right? it’s almost like it impacts every part of my life
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bits-of-reading · 5 days ago
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Living with depression for over 25 years is unspeakably bad. Being a caregiver for multiple, disabled family members after 25 years of depression (and counting) is a heavy burden at best; more often this past year or so, it feels like it's killing me. Sometimes I forget why I'm still trying to do it.
Every so often, a reminder is handed to me on a silver platter (thanks, John Oliver), and I know I have to find a way to keep at it.
The USA has a lot to be ashamed of. The state of long-term care for the disabled and aged must surely be on the short list of most shameful things.
P.S. I had a panic attack while watching this video. Not kidding. I'm still having a hard time getting a full breath.
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bits-of-reading · 5 days ago
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My therapist told me that my mind can stop medication or other depression treatment (like the transcranial magnetic stimulation I'm trying now) from working. That is, that my mind can stop my brain from "getting better."
I can't stop thinking about that. Basically, it means that if a treatment doesn't work, it's my fault because I couldn't get my mind in a state where it would allow the treatment to work.
In other words, I have to "fix" the hopelessness that is a symptom of my depression before the treatment can work.
Also, how is this different from church folks who say that my depression persists because I don't pray right or because I don't "have enough faith"?
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bits-of-reading · 6 days ago
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I used to feel a little better in the morning, after a night of sleep. I'd tell myself, when I was feeling really low at night, "it's time to go to bed—it'll feel better in the morning." And it often did.
I realize now that I was taking a very precious gift for granted.
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bits-of-reading · 6 days ago
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Be wary of any institution whose members are more loyal to each other than they are to the people and purposes the institution ostensibly serves.
That's the text. Here's the commentary:
An imperialist state needs a ruthless military, and an authoritarian, fascist, or apartheid state needs a brutal police force. Certainly, in any given nation, there are some individuals who possess the requisite extremes of cruelty, lack of remorse, lack of conscience to supply the need. But it's hard for me to imagine that there are enough of these types to get the job done. All it takes is knowing a few decent people who are cops, soldiers, etc. to know that the explanation is not that all the apples are bad (to begin with).
To fill the ranks, it is necessary to bend more ordinary humans to the state's vicious purposes, and this is done by exploiting common human emotions and motivations.
For instance, the institution can exploit the individual's love and fear to create a "band of brothers" or "got your six" ethos where individuals tend to focus on protecting one another rather than attending to the moral quality of the politics that define their "mission."
Institutions can promote "selflessness" to discourage acts of individual conscience like whistleblowing or refusing to obey immoral or illegal orders. These acts, of course, are already made difficult by the loyalty frame, which emphasizes that anything that hurts the institution (e.g., accusations of wrongdoing by its members) increases the danger for one's comrades in arms—whether that danger is physical violence, official consequences or punishment, or loss of job and reputation.
Once established, these phenomena are self-sustaining and scale automatically. The more brutally the police act, the more violent the resistance and the backlash by civilians, the greater the threat perceived by individual police, the more the ranks close and individual officers focus on making sure their coworkers go home whole at the end of each shift rather than on the atrocities committed during the shift.
These are some ways that multitudes of "good people" can and do enact and perpetuate evil ideologies, regimes, and institutions.
And it's not limited to military or paramilitary institutions. These characteristics can also be seen in governmental bodies, churches, street gangs, cults, and so on.
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bits-of-reading · 6 days ago
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"Ain't many trying and all that tries must suffer."
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