HELLO and welcome to the 280th installment of Things I Read That I Love, wherein I share with you some of the longer-form journalism/essays I’ve read recently so that you can read them too and we can all know more about Luca Magnotta! This “column” is less feminist/queer focused than the rest of the site because when something is feminist/queer focused, I put it on the rest of the site. Here is where the other things are.
The title of this feature is inspired by the title of Emily Gould’s tumblr, Things I Ate That I Love.
2018: The Year In Ideas: A Review Of Ideas, by Alex Pareene for The Huffington Post, December 2018
This is so funny! It just really you know, cuts to the bone of the matter, with Pareene writing essays on behalf of a bunch of people who he didn’t get actual essays from, including very notably an Anonymous Trump official, Bari Weiss, Chuck Schumer and for the finale, HuffPost itself. “The Year Is Ending: Here’s What That Means For 2018” really stretches the limits of the form.
Animal Instinct: How Cat-Loving Sleuths Found an Accused Killer Sadist, by Bill Jensen for Rolling Stone, March 2014
I can’t tell you how one ends up back in a Luca Magnotta hole every now and then, I can only tell you that it happens, and many of us live to tell the tale.
I Was A Cable Guy. I Saw The Worst Of America., by Lauren Hough for The Huffington Post, December 2018
Oh my friends would you like to hear the true tales of a masc lesbian cable guy in Virginia? You would you would you would you would. It’s funny and scary and disturbing and interesting and touching and all the other adjectives too.
Here Was A Plague, by Tom Crewe for The London Review of Books, September 2018
This is about HIV/AIDS and a bunch of books about it and might be one of my favorite things I read in 2018! The stuff about the alleged “Patient Zero” is particularly fascinating.
American Dreams in a Chinese Takeout, by Katie Salisbury for The Ringer, December 2018
The exhausting and often exploitative system by which Chinese immigrants from a particular region come to the U.S. to work at specific Chinese restaurants was put in the spotlight by Lauren Hilgers in a 2014 New Yorker story. That story is what piqued the interest of the author of this piece into befriending and learning more about the Chinese restaurant workers in her own backyard for this story.
How Mark Burnett Resurrected Donald Trump As An Icon of American Success, by Patrick Radden Keefe for The New Yorker, January 2019
I wasn’t sure that I’d get through this piece when I opened it up but boy did I — having never seen The Apprentice, this was an alarming and well-told piece of background on our current moment. I mean:
“The Apprentice” was built around a weekly series of business challenges. At the end of each episode, Trump determined which competitor should be “fired.” But, as Braun explained, Trump was frequently unprepared for these sessions, with little grasp of who had performed well. Sometimes a candidate distinguished herself during the contest only to get fired, on a whim, by Trump. When this happened, Braun said, the editors were often obliged to “reverse engineer” the episode, scouring hundreds of hours of footage to emphasize the few moments when the exemplary candidate might have slipped up, in an attempt to assemble an artificial version of history in which Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip decision made sense. During the making of “The Apprentice,” Burnett conceded that the stories were constructed in this way, saying, “We know each week who has been fired, and, therefore, you’re editing in reverse.” Braun noted that President Trump’s staff seems to have been similarly forced to learn the art of retroactive narrative construction, adding, “I find it strangely validating to hear that they’re doing the same thing in the White House.”
The Rise, Lean, And Fall Of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, by Anne Helen Petersen for Buzzfeed, December 2018
I really disliked Lean In BUT I really liked this article!
When Sandberg became a public figure, she was represented as exceptional, a paragon of female leadership, rooting for every woman in the world. But there was something missing from that image: her actual work at Facebook. The reality of Silicon Valley is that it’s commerce by any means necessary. And the reality of Sandberg is that she’s excellent at it. Which explains why her COO behavior was treated as a “revelation”: There was so little room in her tidily constructed image to accommodate behaviors presumed natural for men operating within a capitalist system.
The Year in Dog, by Kelly Conaboy, December 2018
This one’s short. But sweet and my friends it is also resonant and rings true to personal experiences that were experienced by me, personally.
Ethnicity not a factor in Elizabeth Warren’s rise in law, by Anne Linskey for The Boston Globe, September 2018
The Globe really set out to investigate this situation fully and completely and I think that what turned up is very relevant at this moment. (This is not intended as a statement on or endorsement of her candidacy, just that this is important information to have in your arsenal.)
The Year in Rebuilding, by Amy Kenny for Hazlitt, December 2018
Made me wish I had rebuilt this year. Or last year. That also would’ve been a good time to rebuild. Some of this gave me goosebumps. There’s a line in there almost identical to one I wrote myself, and that was chilling too.
Living in the Yukon, where rates of violence against women are three times higher than the national average (and those rates are even higher for Indigenous women), if felt like there was always something worse happening. As a journalist, I was often covering it. My nose wasn’t broken like the woman I interviewed about her domestic assault. Ryan hadn’t threatened “ ‘til death do us part” like the ex in the harassment trial I covered. Besides, I was a lippy feminist who talked back to catcallers and told her friends to ditch partners who were leeches, or alcoholics, or simply mean. I wasn’t the kind of person who landed in an abusive relationship, let alone stayed in one for a year. Still, somehow, I did.
The New Reading Environment, by The Editors for n+1, Fall 2018
The introduction to Issue 32, the Bad Faith Issue. A lot to think about going into this bold new year, my friends!
Back then, we could not have imagined feeling nostalgic for the blogosphere, a term we mocked for years until we found it charming and utopian. Blogs felt like gatherings of the like-minded, or at least the not completely random. Even those who stridently disagreed shared some basic premises and context — why else would they be spending time in the comments section of a blog that looked like 1996? Today’s internet, by contrast, is arbitrary and charmless. On social media, criticism once confined to the comments now comes as free-range abuse directed at other readers. Readers can address all parties instantaneously — writers, editors, publishers, and the world. And so writers who publish online peer into the fishbowl of readerly reception. Drop in some flakes and watch the fish swarm.
As a dog lover I can’t wait to read the Year in Dog article
It was adorable!
Loved both the Cable Guy and the Chinese food articles!
So much of that Amy Kenny article was queasily familiar. I also somehow spent a year or so in an abusive relationship in my 20s despite being a strong-willed outspoken woman, raised to believe in gender equality and my own inherent worth. We’re taught to recognize what abuse looks like, but not how it can sneak in slowly until you’re neck-deep without even realizing how you got there.
It’s this experience, and another more recent one, that make me feel so frustrated when I see the word “gaslighting” being watered down and used for just about any situation involving heated disagreement. It’s not about simply being made to feel uncomfortable in an argument – it’s an insidious and manipulative dynamic that literally makes you start to replace your own perceptions of reality with someone else’s. I wish more people were taught about how it works so they could see it for what it is and know how to escape it.
Seconding this!! Also…it’s also possible to be psychologically/ emotionally manipulated without it being gaslighting. In my case, I underwent years of being undermined in every way – the time I woke up was wrong, my job was wrong, the way I cut vegetables was wrong, everything I did I did the wrong way…and again, I considered myself an intelligent, independent woman. And the thing is, I honestly think my ex would be horrified to think that I have been traumatized by my experience of the dynamics of our relationship. I certainly don’t think it was intentional or conscious, but it was still extremely damaging.
Your sense of selfworth gradually erodes, and for me, one of the hardest things to unlearn has definitely been my not being able to trust my own perception. I’m getting there, but it’s taking a lot of work.
I see others here who’ve struggled with the same type of dynamics/ abuse and I just want to say, you are worthwhile, your views and ways of being are valid. We can love ourselves, we can break free and live our own truths <3.
One of the especially challenging things with that type of undermining abuse is that you feel crazy if you try to explain it. Even now, typing out about cutting the vegetables wrong I feel like I’m a crazy whiner, that my experience wasn’t abuse. But it was…and no amount of being told you’re loved changes the experience of your self being constantly negated.
So much!!! I felt like I had to write out pages of explanation after I left my last situation, to justify why I left in case anyone questioned me. Thankfully that feeling passed after my friends were super supportive without doubting that I did what I had to do.
Just to be clear…I am definitely not suggesting in any way that anyone who has experienced gaslighting actually didn’t. I just meant to say that as well as gaslighting, there are other instances of abuse whose effects may be similar.
Yes, I agree – the difference I think is that gaslighting is intentional, whereas other forms of emotional abuse may not be. I’ve experienced both as well, and they’re definitely different (though they can be equally harmful).
Love to both of you. You are strong and amazing.
People who seek to dominate and control always do it “for your own good, just trying to help”.
They are indifferent to their effect on others.
They will never acknowledge and never be accountable.
Point out their behaviour, and they’ll deflect it right back at you. Eternal victims.
And when they meet up with a caregiver, the caregiver has to become stone-cold to escape. It’s going against one’s own nature but it’s so very necessary. After a while you realize there’s no way you can harm them because they’re made of some sort of teflon, nothing sticks to them. They adapt. There is no harm in leaving them, they won’t suffer no matter if they say otherwise.
From personal experience, it’s best to tune them out as much as possible. Become indifferent. Which again, is so phoquing hard.
They’re not raging sociopaths, they’re much worse. They’re ordinary, self-centered people with a hook.
I’m with Doctor Who on this one : Don’t Blink.
The Year of Rebuilding was really good, but also I feel like I need to go throw up and try not to hyperventilate. That was way, way too close to home, especially as someone who >2 years on is still trying to put their mind back together.
<3 Wishing you continued healing.
Thank you so much.
That dog article made me miss my old house wolf so damn much.
There is literally not a song I know that I didn’t rewrite to be about him on our walks at some point.
Holy shit that cable article is good!!!
These have kept me up way way past my bedtime.
The stories about the humans were chilling. Thank goodness for dogs.
So much goodness this week- So many good articles to share with people, making my family read about the AIDS epidemic and his last quarter musing on the sexualisation, and now de-sexualising of homosexuality- that part really chimed with me. Also, I reflect on how much Section 28 blighted my teen years- I’m the same age as the writer, and I was reading yesterday about how my school now has a pride society and a women’s rugby team- both unimaginable 11 years ago when I left school. Progress, but depressing that it still needs to be made.
i hate living in northern virginia a whole lot & that cable guy article didn’t exactly help