Interdependent Web: The performance of public life

Interdependent Web: The performance of public life

A weekly roundup of blogs and other user-generated web content about Unitarian Universalism


The performance of public life

Alison Leigh Lily pushes back against popular recommendations for writers about developing a personal brand.

I’ve read it all. I’ve tried a lot of it. And let me tell you: if there’s one thing worse than writing your heart out for nothing, it’s writing for free as if you were a paid shill. Gutting your work of its heart and other internal organs just to make it slim enough to fit the dead-inside standard. To prove to potential publishers that you’re ready and willing to dance for loose change, that you already know all the soul-crushing steps. . . .

I want readers I can trust. Not readers who see this blog as something to consume or criticize, to retweet or hate-share, to meme to death. What I want, more than anything, is a place to have a conversation. A way to think in public. (Alison Leigh Lily, January 17)

Jordinn Nelson Long writes that, “To be married is to commit to see one another, as we are and also in the fullness and possibility of what we wish to be.”

From this most intimate of examples comes a wondering of what it is, more generally, to be reasonably expected to see one another in the performance of public life.

Where in our shared lives, in other words, is witnessing to the wholeness of another part of a quasi-contractual mandate? And what is it, instead, to render one another absurd?

When one is representing a place and its people as an elected official?

When one is representing a truth and its witnesses as a journalist, as a newspaper, as a media conglomerate (all of which, whatever they imagine themselves to serve, are people or collections thereof)?

When one is representing faith and perhaps God as a member of the clergy? (Facebook, January 23)

Rebecca Ryan encourages the people of her town to move beyond anxious niceness.

When we seek to avoid pain at all costs, it doesn’t make us stronger. It can actually make us more fragile as we live in fear of what is around the corner. . . . If we take the bedrock of kindness and beauty of our community, and at the same time connect with the painful and more difficult realities of life, we will become more whole. . . .

We can be grateful for the oasis that our city is to so many people. Yet, in this time of political division and unrest in our country, we can do more than that. (The Daily News, January 18)

Doug Muder argues that there are many areas of agreement, not just among Democrats, but among most of the country.

Political wonks are always tempted to dive down into the weeds of policy and argue why Candidate X’s plan is superior to Candidate Y’s. . . . But I think that’s exactly the wrong thing to be doing when we get rare moments of national attention. . . . What the public needs to hear are the principles that unify Democrats and set them against the current administration, not the fine details of policy that differentiate one Democrat from another. (The Weekly Sift, January 20)

Come home, come home, all is forgiven

Catharine Clarenbach finds sleep magical.

I have an half-baked idea, right? I have some crack-brained, little thread of something.

If I sleep on it, thinking of it consciously before bed for three nights in a row, more often than not, I wake . . . . not with the linear, “baked” version of my original idea, but with a whole new one, something I could never have imagined if I were just trying to think it up. (The Way of the River, January 17)

James Ford gives basic instructions for Zen meditation.

Take five breath cycles and put a number on each inhalation and exhalation. So, one on the in breath. Two on the out breath. And so on until ten. Then start over again. . . . And even with all this the mind still wanders. When you notice, and it isn’t if, but rather, when you notice you’ve lost count, just return to one. If you discover you’ve slipped into a robotic counting and are at twenty-six, just return to one. . . . Think of the practice as “olly olly oxen free.” Come home, come home, all is forgiven. (Monkey Mind, January 20)