Wednesday, November 07, 2012

"Exotic" Jews and more

-Electricity returned, Obama won. Lights are now flickering again. Is Romney, too, planning a surprise return?

-A friend forwarded me Roy Greenslade's enthusiastic endorsement of (the eternally wonderful) Hadley Freeman's take-down of Stephanie Theobald's evidently bizarre (but behind-a-paywall) article about The Jews, an "exotic" people in Britain, it seems, not in the days of Walter Scott, but in good ol' 2012. There's evidently a reference in Theobald's story to "the attraction of the monetary rewards connected with being Jewish." As a seventh-year PhD student in the humanities, you see where I'm going with this.

But I'm not sure I'd put it as Freeman (sarcastically) did: "We Jews really are so very Other, what with spooky voodoo ways and our foreign accents." Because, like, yes, there's the Jews-these-days-are-undifferentiated-white-people (in the US or parts of it, at least - Freeman is, I believe, an American who lives/did live in the UK) argument. But non-Western religions and accents, these wouldn't merit an "exotic," either.

-A nice sentiment, or oddly trickle-down?

-I'm on, somewhat baffled by, Linkedin. (And hoping that via relatively passive means, I'll find places to publish my musings on YPIS and parents who write about their own children. Otherwise, assertiveness might god forbid be in order.) You can see who's viewed your profile? Given that upon getting on the site, I went and viewed the profiles of everyone I'd ever met, ever (or, everyone suggested or a friend-of-a-friend with whom I have even the faintest professional overlap), and only just now changed the settings, hmm. So, on the off-chance that whoever these individuals may be (and I can honestly say I've since forgotten), I promise that notification you got is in no way evidence of my having, you know, looked you up. But if you read this and are a writer/editor of some kind, whom I know however vaguely...

-Speaking of the parenting-memoir, some impressive dirty laundry was Fresh-Aired recently, and I got to listen while on the slow-motion commute. This was a tough one, though - I felt totally sympathetic to the parents of a gay 16-year-old son who, despite their acceptance of him, tried to commit suicide. You really get the sense that they want the best for their son, and for others in their situation. With maybe a hint of, they want to make it abundantly clear to the world that despite their son's difficulties, they've been thoroughly not-that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that from the get-go. There's something about the interview where you keep thinking that the kid being described is either a) currently a young child, b) so mentally incapacitated as to be unlikely to find this memoir/podcast, or c) long since grown up, happy ending, proud of his parents for writing this book. And then you realize/remind yourself that this is a reasonably intelligent 16-year-old kid, who knows about the project and, according to his parents, consented to it. As much as any kid still at home can have a say in such a matter.

The interview got me thinking about just what it is that I find so unsettling about this genre. I suppose what it comes down to is, whose story is this to tell? If you were/are diagnosed with a mental illness, been put on anti-psychotic medication, if you've tried to kill yourself, these are things you might one day choose to disclose - to a close friend, a partner, maybe in a memoir if that's your thing. But these are not facts about yourself that you'd necessarily want others to know before meeting you. They'd impact all kinds of things - who will hire you, date you, etc. - but even assuming a world of perfect open-mindedness, maybe you just want to keep some stuff to yourself. (Setting aside the question of whether any teen, gay or otherwise, however out in day-to-day life or on Facebook or whatever, should have his sexuality discussed in a memoir, on NPR. And I really do mean straight kids also - at 16, I wouldn't have appreciated my own first-crush stories being shared by my parents on public radio.) Dude has a common-enough name, but not that common.


Miss Self-Important said...

What are you waiting for? You have ideas; send pitches! Everyone does it; it's not shameful, although it sometimes may feel icky.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

It's less the shame (although that's there) than the not knowing where to pitch to. I'm not sure, for example, who wants to hear about the parenting memoirs. Not a parenting site? Or maybe they want to shake things up? Not the New Yorker, and not my high school newspaper, but where in between remains a mystery.

Miss Self-Important said...

Any partisan mag that has a culture section? Nation? American Prospect? Weekly Standard? Just pick a party. I think these kinds of smaller outfits usually read pitches. This is obvi a topic for Slate or NY Mag, but I don't know how you'd get your pitch noticed there unless you know someone who knows someone (or, like, you call up Reihan). But you could still try.

I don't know if a parenting site is a good idea unless you wish to be pilloried and harassed, online and perhaps IRL.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Thanks for the suggestions! As part of my graduation-looms resolution of self-promotion, I'll get to it.