"This is just my life…"

“People look at me, and have fear and sadness in their eyes, which they think they’re seeing reflected back at them. They wouldn’t see what I’m really feeling, which is, ‘I’m OK!’ But people are afraid. I did an interview with Larry King and it was a little more disjointed and fractured than usual, and I realized that it was the first time I’d talked to him since my diagnosis and that he was afraid. So I had to understand that before people deal with me, they’re going to deal what they think I’m going through. Then time will pass and then they’ll realize that this is just my life, the stuff I was given to deal with.”

Michael J. Fox on what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and his return to TV.

I can relate to this, because I’ve seen similar reactions on days where I’m wearing the Big Black Wristbrace of Doom. I saw the sadness and pity in my co-workers eyes so often — and was so ashamed of seeing that reflected back at me — that I took a moment in a staff meeting to ask them not to comment on it anymore. This is just part of my life now. Some days it will be, some days it won’t, but regardless, I’d prefer it if people didn’t make a big deal about it.

"I do, of course, understand why people get upset …

“I do, of course, understand why people get upset when something they like comes under criticism. When you love something, you want other people to share that reaction, and if they don’t, or if they affirmatively dislike a joke, show, or movie you’re getting something out of, it’s upsetting. People have a tendency to conflate criticism of something they like with criticism of not just their taste, but their whole person, as a byproduct of the increasing importance of cultural preferences to our identities. And when the criticism is based in an argument that a piece of art is racist, or sexist, or homophobic, people often jump very aggressively to assuming that said criticism is a judgement of their entire person.” — Alyssa Rosenberg, “From Seth MacFarlane At The Oscars To Rape Joke Debates, Why Our Conversations About Comedy Are So Awful“

This doesn’t happen only with comedy. I think we all attach an enormous amount of significance to any cultural product we enjoy. It explains the reactions I got when I tried to talk to the Morris dancers over the weekend, and I think it explains a recent interaction that went wildly sideways in ways I didn’t expect. The things we like, advocate for, and share say a lot about the image we present to the world. If someone finds that thing we love doesn’t speak to them in the same way, it’s only natural to take it personally, I think. At the same time, critique serves a purpose in the lives of artists, public intellectuals, politicians, or anyone else who has a pulpit. It forces us to sharpen our arguments and rassle (yes, rassle) with our preconceived notions.

Maybe the postmodernists were on to something with their ideas about tearing structures down so that they can be rebuilt from stronger (more inclusive) materials, but tearing things down simply for the sake of being destructive is a waste of time and energy.

A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. …

A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame.

This Ray Bradbury quote is doing my head in. Ta-Nehisi Coates referenced it in a piece where he talks about “the sonic democracy” of hip-hop and how it draws influences from both high and low culture.

It seems opportune on a day where the #whatlibrariansread hashtag went around on Twitter and when – thanks to Lynne – I snagged a ticket to one of the summer’s hottest concerts. Trash and treasure. High and low. Rowdy and refined. Those liminal spaces feel most like home to me.

Like Frank Costello said, my environment is a product of me.