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Which Philosopher Co-Authors Most?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/10/2021 - 12:03am in

In the wake of last week’s post about trends in co-authoring in philosophy, a discussion has been taking place on Twitter about which philosophers co-author the most.


[Lill Tschudi, “Nudes”]

The conversation started with a tweet from Joshua Miller (Georgetown) asking “Who is the most prolific specifically philosophical coauthor?” and inspiring a coauthorship contest of sorts with “We have a lifetime to compete at collaboration.”

One might expect names and numbers in response to such an inquiry, and there was some of that, but since this was a discussion among philosophers, there were some preliminary questions as to how to do the counting. 

Are we asking about

(W) the number of works co-authored, or
(A) the number of authors with whom a philosopher has co-authored, or
(D) the number of works co-authored with different sets of co-authors?
(E) the number of works co-authored with exclusively different sets of co-authors?

Each of these might yield different rankings (the top W philosopher might have written many works with the same partner; the top A philosopher may have written one work with many co-authors; the top D philosopher might not have as many works as the top W nor as many authors as the top A; the top E might be in a similar position to the top D in regard to the others, but have a greater total number of different co-authors than the top D.)

The good news is that we do not have to decide which of these questions to ask. They each might be interesting to learn about, so we can open up discussion on all of them. Wade on in and give us your best guesses.

[Note: shortly after it was published, this post was edited to add the “E” disambiguation.]

Rejection After Positive Referee Reports

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/10/2021 - 10:58pm in

When an author gets all fairly positive referee reports (acceptance, conditional acceptance) on a manuscript, but the editors decide not to accept it, what kind of explanation, if any, is it reasonable for the author to expect?


[Paul Klee, “The Angler”]

That’s a question recently sent in by a reader, who seeks a public discussion of the norms regarding this:

In February, I submitted an article to [a general mainstream academic philosophy journal]. The decision arrived in August: My paper was rejected due to “editorial factors” despite receiving positive verdicts (“accept” and “conditional accept”) from both referees. The only explanation provided for the rejection was that they “can only publish a relatively small proportion of the good papers [they] receive.”

I find it problematic that journals still have space limitations at the age of paperless publication, but I had no grounds to object to the decision: After all, we submit papers to journals with the prior acceptance that the ultimate verdict is given by the editors, and a paper’s endorsement by the referees does not guarantee publication. Nevertheless, I was still interested in finding out what shortcomings my paper had that made it lose the competition for space among all the papers that were recommended for publication by the reviewers. And as this was the first time that I was receiving a post-review editorial rejection, I was also curious about whether my request for a more detailed explanation would be granted.

So I sent the following inquiry to the managing editor: “Would the editors be ok with disclosing the reasons for rejection? It would be useful feedback for me. I suppose it was not an arbitrary decision, and I suppose it was also not due to the irrelevance of the topic (given that the article is a follow up on a discussion that recently appeared in the journal), so I guess it has something to do with the content.”

I received the following reply: “Thank you for your email. I believe we have already said really all that we can say. This was an editorial decision and as previously stated, we unfortunately can not publish every publishable paper that we receive.”

In response, I wrote the following: “I perfectly understand that you cannot publish every publishable paper that you receive. But I think it would be good academic practice to provide feedback to the authors in the case of an editorial rejection, regarding what was it about the paper that made the editors deem it less publishable than the other papers at hand. It is natural to expect comments from referees that justify their verdict, and I don’t see why it should be any different in the case of an editorial verdict. In the absence of such justification, one is inclined to think that the decision came down to factors which the editors do not want to disclose for they can be considered unreasonable or unfair, such as the editor’s personal view on the subject matter, the presumed identity of the author, or the unpopularity of the topic.”

I have not received a further reply, so I feel I am entitled to think that the decision was unreasonable or unfair. But am I really so entitled? Perhaps the decision was actually reasonable and fair, but the editors would be overloaded with providing feedback to authors if they would grant such requests. This is probably true for pre-review editorial rejection, and it may not be realistic to expect journal editors to provide a justification for each such case, given the huge number of submissions. But I doubt that the numbers are so high in the case of papers which are recommended by referees but which exceed a journal’s publication capacity.

In any case, I suspect that the primary reason why editors do not feel obliged to provide feedback in the case of a post-review editorial rejection is that so far there has not been enough pressure on them to do so, and there are no established norms regarding the practice. This might change with more public discussion about the issue, and I would like to hear others’ thoughts and experiences. 

Readers?

Co-Authorship in Philosophy over the Past 120 Years (by Bourget & Weinberg)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/10/2021 - 11:34pm in

“We think philosophy is due an ethos change; one where the myth of the ‘lone genius’ is dispelled and where co-authoring is both encouraged and acknowledged.”

Those are the words of Matyáš Moravec and Peter West (Durham) in a recent essay at The Philosopher, in which they discuss some of the advantages of philosophical co-authorship and urge more of it. Perhaps they’ll be pleased that this post is co-authored.


[Valentine Hugo, André Breton, Tristan Tzara, Greta Knutson – “Cadavre Exquis”]

Theirs is not the first call for more co-authorship in philosophy. Moravec and West refer to a post here at Daily Nous from a few years ago in which Eric Schliesser (Amsterdam) and Joshua Miller (Georgetown) noted that co-authorship is relatively uncommon in philosophy and, among other things, looked at reasons why it is “deprecated” in the discipline. And Schliesser and Miller in that piece refer to some earlier writings on the same topic.

That there has been more discussion of the lack of co-authorship in philosophy recently had one of us thinking that co-authorship was in fact on the rise: up to a point, an increase in instances of co-authorship in philosophy would get more people thinking about it, and some of those thoughts would be “there’s not enough of it.”

That one of us—Justin—approached the other one of us—David—for help in acquiring actual data on co-authorship in philosophy. That was a good call on the part of Justin, if we don’t say so ourselves, because David is one of the creators and editors of the amazing, if we don’t say so ourselves, online repository of philosophical research, PhilPapers.

Here’s what we—that is, David—found: co-authorship of philosophical works rose from around 7% in 1900 to just under 30% today, with two-thirds of that growth happening since 2000:

Two notes about this data. First, it is based on works in the PhilPapers database, which has some limitations as a data source for present purposes, such as a focus on English-language publications. Second, the data includes a wide range of types of philosophical publications. When the search was limited to just articles published in a limited set of well-known philosophy journals, the rise was from around 5% in 1900 to around 17% in 2021, with again around two-thirds of that growth occurring over the past two decades.

What has caused this recent steep increase in co-authorship in philosophy? Closer examinations of the co-authored pieces might reveal some answers. One could investigate whether the growth of co-authoring has been more pronounced in certain subfields or on certain topics, or is correlated with increased acceptance of interdisciplinary work in philosophy, or is tied to the use of particular methodologies or tools, or is more common on works that emerge from large-scale grants (like those from the Templeton Foundation, which was founded in 1987), and so on. Other factors may have also played a role, such as the development, through computers and communications technology (email), of rapidly shareable and easily editable manuscripts. Maybe economic conditions have a direct or indirect effect (e.g., increased competitiveness in the job market has spurred an increase in publications by graduate students, and perhaps these are more likely to be co-authored, particularly with mentors). And broader changes in the culture of academic philosophy, from more adversarial to more cooperative, may have played a role here, too. At this point these are just speculations, though.

In their piece, Schliesser and Miller cite data from 2012 showing philosophy is one of the disciplines with the least amount of co-authoring. Though half the growth in co-authorship in philosophy over the past 120 years took place between 2012 and 2021, we do not at this time know whether philosophy’s position relative to other disciplines, in terms of the prevalence of co-authorship, has changed during this period.

Even if it hasn’t, the significant increase in co-authorship in philosophy, especially since the turn of the century, raises the question of whether the “ethos change” Moravec and West call for has in fact already occurred.

by David Bourget (Western University) & Justin Weinberg (University of South Carolina)
with assistance from David Chalmers (New York University)

Levelling the Linguistic Playing Field within Academic Philosophy (guest post)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/10/2021 - 9:55pm in

Stylistic norms for writing affect philosophers’ professional prospects in unfair ways, and what one thinks should be done about this may be tied to one’s conception of what philosophy is supposed to do.

In this guest post*, Louise Chapman, the CEO of Lex Academic, an organization that offers editing and translation services for academic authors, discusses these issues.


[detail of “A World of Languages” by Alberto Lucas Lopez. Click for full version.]

Levelling the Linguistic Playing Field within Academic Philosophy
by Louise Chapman

Philosophy has a language problem. Schwitzgebel, Huang, Higgins and Gonzalez-Cabrera (2018) found that, in a sample of papers published in elite journals, 97% of citations were to work originally written in English. 73% of the papers in the sample didn’t cite any paper that had been originally written in a language other than English, and 96% of the members of elite journals’ editorial boards are primarily affiliated with an Anglophone university.

Unless we think that this reflects who does the best philosophy and where they do it, this is prima facie cause for concern. The Barcelona Principles for a Globally Inclusive Philosophy aim at addressing a “structural inequality between native and non-native speakers”, and call on philosophers to take steps like including non-native speakers on editorial boards and not giving “undue weight to their authors’ linguistic style, fluency or accent”.

Schwitzgebel et al.’s study doesn’t tell us what percentage of papers originally written in English were by non-native speakers. Nevertheless, there is a strong sense that, as the authors of the Barcelona Principles say, “non-native English speakers, who have not had the chance to perfect their knowledge of the language, are at a structural disadvantage”.

How can this disadvantage be explained?

It’s possible that implicit biases play a role here. Pantos and Perkins (2012) used the Implicit Association Test to measure implicit attitudes towards those who speak with ‘foreign’ accents, finding that “the participants’ implicit attitudes favour the U.S. [in the context of the study, the non-‘foreign’] accented speaker”. Similar associations may be at play when we encounter written work that we judge to be by a non-native speaker. (Note, there are outstanding questions both about how to best understand appeals to implicit attitudes and about the efficacy of Greenwald et al.’s IAT, used by Pantos and Perkins, as a psychological instrument. For more on this latter worry, see this earlier discussion on the Daily Nous.)

Furthermore, we should also be careful not to downplay the effects of explicit evaluations of how a paper is written. Here’s an example. The Australasian Journal of Philosophy invites referees to comment on whether papers “display flair, or elegance, or vivacity in the writing” and are “enjoyable, even exciting, to read”. If the AJP is unique, it is only in making this requirement explicit: these instructions codify what happens, to a greater or lesser degree, when referees evaluate papers for top-tier journals.

Philosophy, then, has stylistic norms in addition to intellectual norms. Satisfying these former requirements will be harder for non-native speakers. As Saray Ayala says in an early contribution to this conversation, it is likely both that writing in one’s “native language gives one more freedom and control over one’s written style”, and that “stylistic considerations play a big role in editors’ and referees’ decisions”.

What can be done to remedy the exclusionary effects of these stylistic, or aesthetic, criteria? Here are two broad approaches.

One approach is to reject the norms, at least when making decisions that affect people’s careers. Being elegantly written, according to this line of thought, doesn’t in and of itself make for better philosophy. Allowing one’s evaluations to be informed by such features therefore excludes certain philosophers on the basis of something other than the quality of their work. Rejecting these norms may involve telling reviewers not to attend to stylistic features of a paper (other than clarity), and ignoring such features when choosing papers to cite or add to reading lists. The extent to which one can consciously prevent our evaluations from being guided by some features is, of course, up for debate.

A second approach is to keep the stylistic norms but make it easier for non-native speakers to satisfy them. Increased access to developmental editorial support may be part of this approach. Again, practical questions lurk. Wealthier scholars have increased access to such support. Funding could be provided as part of grants from governments or other institutions, or by universities. This, however, excludes those who don’t have grants, independent scholars, or those at less wealthy institutions. Those hoping for academic publishers to fund such services from their own profits may be waiting a long time.

These practical questions aside, a deeper tension is that which approach looks appealing may depend on your conception of philosophy.

One understanding of philosophy is that it involves building models or theories of a target phenomenon that are then evaluated against competitors for the purposes of identifying correct answers to philosophical questions. If this is right, then so long as a paper is written clearly enough to grasp the theory being presented, its stylistic or aesthetic features are (philosophically) irrelevant. If paying attention to these features systematically disadvantages some philosophers, this becomes a defeasible reason to ignore them in evaluative contexts.

If, however, you take the aim of philosophy to be therapeutic or to help us understand our place in the world, then disregarding stylistic norms looks less appealing. How successfully a piece of writing brings about a psychological change in its reader may turn non-trivially on how it is written. The power that some philosophy has over us cannot be boiled down to premises and conclusions, and so content cannot be cleanly disentangled from style. If this is right, then something would be lost if style was evaluatively disregarded altogether.

The route forward is not entirely clear. What is clear is that this structural disadvantage deserves closer philosophical and empirical attention. We owe this to current and future members of our philosophical community for whom English is not their native language.

Diary of a Somebody – ebook

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/09/2021 - 10:10pm in

Tags 

Book, Books, poetry, writing

If you’re an ebook sort of a person, you might like to know that Kindle version of my novel ‘Diary of a Somebody’ is available at the bargain basement price of 99p at the moment.

Please note cat is not included in price of ebook.

And if you’re more of a papery sort of a person – I know I am – paperback (and hardback) copies are also available, of course, through all the independent bookshops, as well as Waterstones, Blackwell’s and the like.

And should you need any more persuasion, this is from the Daily Mail’s review of the book:

“I mostly found this man irritating. I also preferred the prose to the poems even though I know some are bad on purpose.”

Oh, and it got shortlisted for the Costa First Novel award.

Here’s the ebook link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Somebody-Brian-Bilston-ebook/dp/B07LCR1YW1/ref=nodl_

Virtual Dissertation Writing Groups

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/08/2021 - 3:40pm in

Tags 

writing, writing

Joshua Smart (Southern Illinois University—Edwardsville) is once again organizing virtual dissertation writing groups.


[The Hansen Writing Ball, which Nietzsche reportedly did not like using]

Dr. Smart, who has been arranging Virtual Dissertation Groups (VDGs) for several years, explains what they are, how they work, why they’re good, and how to join:

What it is: VDG is a free service for those currently working on their doctoral dissertations in philosophy departments. Since 2014, we’ve connected students from over 30 countries to provide peer feedback on dissertation work with a minimal time commitment.

How it works: Each dissertator is placed in a group of three on the basis of a short survey about their project/area of work. About once a month, one member sends some work to the others—3,000 – 6,000 words—who then return feedback and comments in a week or so. (While this has typically been in the form of written comments, the survey now includes an option to indicate a preference for holding video discussions.)

Why it’s good: While advisors and committees are important, it can be incredibly helpful to discuss one’s work with peers in a lower-stakes environment, and it can be particularly enlightening to do so with those who take a different approach, outlook, or focus. Not only that, but there is evidence from psychological research that even just thinking about problems in relation to persons who are geographically distant can promote creative insights. With students at a variety of programs and from many states, countries, and every continent (well, except Antarctica), Virtual Dissertation Groups is a great way to capture some of these benefits!

How to Join: To sign up, just fill out the short survey at www.jasmartphilosophy.com/virtual-dissertation-groups. Hope to see you there!

click to learn more

On Art, Integrity, And Crowdfunded Creativity

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 31/07/2021 - 11:12am in

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/01103f9f285031b197165d93073ba0d7/href

Regular readers may have noticed I’ve been posting a bit more often than my usual once per day. I’ve been experiencing an influx in creativity lately and I remembered that I’m my own boss so I can post as often as I like, and I just wanted to bang out some thoughts for the hell of it about my and Tim’s thing here to share with any readers who are interested.

I don’t think I talk enough about how cool our setup is here. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to be able to write and make anything we want without an editor, but, more importantly I’m coming to see, without the extrinsic motivation of money.

Of course, I could try to make things to please more people, and that would make more money, but that has never ever been my goal. My goal has always been to do my part in healing myself so I can see more clearly and speak with more clarity and consciousness about what’s happening in our world, how we can fix it, and what possibilities lie beyond this vale of tears.

I also realized very early on that having integrity meant also being all of myself, and not keeping all the various parts of me that don’t conform to people’s idea about what a journalist is out of the picture. That was embarrassing at the start. People would spit out “soccer mom” at me like a smear.

I’m pretty kooky, I get painfully shy, I am virtually skinless when it comes to my emotions, I’m probably on the spectrum, and yes, I spend a lot of time in the car driving my kids around. I’m also fat, I’m on the wrong side of 40, I have every kind of stretchmark from carrying kids, and also sex is a huge part of my life.

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Also, my setup is weird. I am not one writer, I am two. The articles and art are the product of the ongoing conversation between me and my American husband Tim Foley. I need to talk about that regularly or else people get the idea that I’m some kind of superwoman, and other aspiring indie media workers could get discouraged about not being able to be as prolific.

So in business terms I’ve made integrity my brand. I’ve made my primary goal to not be needed anymore because the world will be so conscious that my efforts to bring consciousness will be redundant. I have switched all extrinsic motivators off. I give away my stuff so I can’t just rest on my laurels; I have to keep returning to my own healing so I can find fresh inspiration. And, because of the two-handed author set-up, I don’t even really feel like any of this is “mine”. People say such lovely things to me about this work, but the ego candy is minimized because it doesn’t feel like it’s directed at me personally.

Being crowdfunded, my income source is very diffuse and I would go nuts trying to keep all my patrons and supporters happy; that was clear from the start. So blocking out the badgering of others is something I had to learn. What it means, though, is that my only boss is my gut.

All these decisions have meant that trying to make more money by gaming or competing wouldn’t work, and would most likely be to my financial detriment if anything. If you shape your business model around your integrity, then ditching your integrity is going to fuck up your business model.

A side benefit of that though is that making art has become healing to me again. After years of doing graphic design for others, I’d lost that long ago. My inner critic was very noisy with the ideas of other people, and I lost what it was to sit down and amuse myself just to amuse myself. But because I’ve been free to make what I want for quite a while now, I remembered how to use art like a kid does — to explain things to myself, to explore my emotions, to re-visit the scenes of old wounds, and to have fun with myself.

https://medium.com/media/f4da2c05d42341e7ea0557f00029de79/href

For example, that “Joelene Versus The Landlord” piece was incredibly healing for me. It got me thinking about some of the more traumatic events in my life, and let me resolve some of my grief around those times. I would never ever have been able to make that if I was stuck at an outlet answering to some asshole named Greg who spends more time looking at my boobs than looking at my copy and “well, actually”ing every single novel idea I have.

Fuck Greg. Fuck the gatekeepers. Fuck capitalism for taking the most potent healing tool we have — art — and making it into just another hustle. What’s happening for me now is really amazing and I want it for everyone. Everyone should have this freedom.

Thank you all so much for making this possible.

__________________

My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following me on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into my tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy my books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for at my website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish, use or translate any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

The Sociopaths Are Cocksure While Those With Empathy Are Full Of Doubt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/07/2021 - 2:32am in

Tags 

writing, Politics

Listen to a reading of this article:

https://medium.com/media/ec63d7ac0e4d384ca2ac7f415199a121/href

In a 1933 essay lamenting the rise of Nazism in Germany, Bertrand Russell wrote: “The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Which is of course a dynamic that’s still at play in the modern world; the Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing, and one need only to look at American presidents to see that there’s little relationship between one’s intelligence and how far they can rise if they get it in their heads that they ought to be in charge of things.

But I think a much bigger factor in the problems our world faces is not so much about intelligence as empathy.

https://medium.com/media/5c080aea2366e3d9f324fc5edb9dcab2/href

I was very nervous to share my multimedia piece “The Wizard” for Julian Assange’s 50th birthday, because I didn’t know how it would be received. I’d worked so hard on it and I had to access some deep tender bits of myself to bring it into existence, and I wasn’t sure how I’d handle it if people online decided to shit all over it because I simply did not have any armor over the inner parts that had created it. I knew if it attracted a lot of scorn and derision after I put it out in the world it was going to hurt a lot, because I’m a sensitive person and this was a sensitive piece for me.

I thankfully didn’t have to deal with any of that because it got an overwhelmingly positive reception, but it got me thinking a lot about how messed up our world is because people who let themselves be vulnerable so often choose to be silent, while people with no empathy or connection to others can speak freely.

Have you ever noticed how the major influencers on social media are able to simply ignore all the mountains of negative feedback they receive online and just go on with their days unbothered, but for you it’s hard to ignore even one niggling comment? Have you ever wondered how they do that?

I know I have. My biggest challenge in the few years I’ve been at this writing gig has not been the writing itself or coming up with new ideas or keeping it fresh and interesting, but dealing with the massive influx of attention it’s brought to me and my life. All of a sudden I’ve got all these voices in my world yelling at me for saying something they disagree with, or saying I’m a propagandist working for a foreign government, or demanding that I write about about their pet issue all the time or else it means I’m a sellout, or insisting that I’m a closet Nazi because of some unskillful comments I made after I first started writing, and a nearly infinite list of other gripes which I have no real way of dealing with, all because I started typing my thoughts out on the internet in 2016.

It’s been a real challenge trying to figure this all out. I see other influential voices simply not engaging much with the crowd, which I’ve tried but it feels a bit dishonest and elitist, like you’re dismissing people because they’re not as important as you are. It doesn’t quite sit right to act like other people’s opinions don’t matter as much as mine just because my voice wound up having more influence than theirs due to some strange twists of fate that I’ve never understood and over which I’ve never had any control.

I say this not to complain; my job is awesome and most people have it harder than I do. I say it because I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this, and I’m sure the pressure is enough to silence many of those who do. I’ve got many years of intensive inner work under my belt, so if it’s hard for me I’m sure those who haven’t had the luxury of time to do much deep sea inner rabbit-holing are pressed much harder than I.

But you know who would have no problem simply dismissing the perspectives of others like they don’t matter? Narcissists and sociopaths. Those who don’t care about other people, those who view themselves as the center of the universe, or those who think they’re superior to other people.

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You can see right away how this creates an imbalance. If those who don’t care about human connection are completely unintimidated by the attention of the crowd while those who care deeply about people are cowed by the spotlight, you naturally wind up with narcissists and sociopaths occupying the positions of influence in our society. Which says a lot about why things are as fucked as they are.

Combine this with the fact that the most influential voices in this model are those who have benefitted from the status quo, and the fact that wealth kills empathy, and the fact that money uplifts those who are willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead no matter who they have to step on, and it’s no wonder that we find ourselves ruled by sociopaths who manipulate public thought to their advantage.

Meanwhile the true artists and visionaries, those with the medicine for what ails us, are bullied into silence by people masturbating their inner wounds onto strangers on the internet.

I don’t see any easy solutions to this imbalance. We certainly don’t want to become heartless unfeeling creatures who dismiss the opinions of the crowd like they’re unimportant insects, but also we do need to find a way to continue speaking without having our light dimmed by those who are irresponsible with their inner misery. Near as I can tell, our best option is to become so deeply awake that we can continue to make art and speak out against the powerful even amid the vitriol and vituperation which comes the way of anyone who’s brave enough to shine bright. To become so conscious of our inner dynamics that abuse from strangers doesn’t silence us.

Here are some of my tools that I fall back on when people are mean.

(1) Take a minute. It’s not going to matter if I ever respond to a hurtful comment, let alone respond straight away. I can go have a glass of water, brush my teeth, hang the washing out, go for a walk, whatever, and it won’t actually matter. I have all the time in the world to respond, if I even choose to. And I don’t ever have to. I have a little saying I made up: “I am under no obligation to show up for a punishment I don’t deserve.” It’s surprising how many people think I do need to show up, though. But they are wrong.

(2) Zoom out a bit. Is it hurting anything real? I always remind myself that I’m not here to defend my little Caitlin ego. I’m trying to do this in the highest interest of everyone. I only really need to defend my reputation in as much as I need to keep my voice. If I am in danger of being silenced or having the influence of my voice marginalized by smears, then yes, I should defend myself, but if it’s just someone being impotently mean then I save my energy and shake it off. Which reminds me…

(3) Literally shake it off. I personally have found a lot of healing in shaking things off quite literally, as well as other kinaesthetic movements. If I feel like crying, I will have a big wail. I often tap around my body with my fingertips while yawning, coughing, burping, or dry retching to get things moving. I go with my physical impulses, like you do in improv theater or dance.

Hugging someone, talking it through, writing out what I’d really like to say, making art for myself out of the feelings it inspired, are all ways that I go towards the discomfort rather than slamming the door on it and vowing never to do anything ever again. The only way out is through in my experience. Pretending I’m fine just gets me stuck and I can’t create. If you have any other tools or strategies, please share them in the comments below. This is one area where we can all help each other.

And maybe, in the meantime, we can all try and be kind to those who create as well. Collective awakening is a team sport, and there’s only one side. It’s in all of our interest to elevate the higher aspects of ourselves and see the beauty in each other’s creations and give each other the confidence we need to fight another day.

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New books!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 11/06/2021 - 12:03am in

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. Sorry about that. Or maybe it’s a good thing. Opinions may vary.

Anyhow, I have managed to publish a couple of new books since my last post. Quite how this happened, I don’t know.

In January, my new collection ‘Alexa, what is there to know about love? published. It’s my first proper collection since ‘You Took the Last Bus Home’. It contains a sequence of poems about love in its different varieties, as well as other, more mundane preoccupations. It looks like this …

And then a few weeks ago, I had a book of football poems for children published. It’s called ‘50 Ways to Score a Goal’. It’s bright green and looks like this …

Both are available through a bookshop near you – or indeed any of those online bookshops that you get nowadays.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and well!

A Philosopher Helps A Former Prisoner Dig Deep Into His Experiences, Thoughts, and Art

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 26/05/2021 - 7:00pm in

“I realized I couldn’t be what the officials were expecting of me. You got to put that in your head so they can’t break you. They want to break you. If you’re not broken, they say you’re crazy.”

Those are the words of artist Winfred Rembert, describing his time in prison and being forced to work as part of a chain gang in the late 1960s and early 1970s owing to his involvement in the civil rights movement in Georgia.


[Rembert Winfred, “All Me II” (detail)]

They were told to philosopher Erin Kelly (Tufts), who met Rembert in 2015 while researching a book on criminal justice. She says:

He told me he wanted to share his life story in his own words but needed help writing it. From 2018 to 2020, I visited his home every two weeks or so to interview him. I transcribed and arranged his reflections and then read the pages back to him. Each time we met, we dug deeper into Rembert’s thoughts about what he had lived through.

Rembert died in March, but the gripping stories and moving thoughts he discussed with Kelly will be made available in August as the book, Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South.

An excerpt from the book has been published in The New Yorker. If you read one thing today, make it that.

And oh, the art—glorious.

(Note: This post originally misstated the month in which Rembert died.)

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