Or, Good Measure
Last year, I found myself telling someone how I feel about philanthropy1 when it involves minor children. It was a long text that rivalled the 16-minute voice note I sent Gatwiri earlier today (in the style of the
podcasts voice notes Valeria sends her friends in the eponymous Netflix show) about an art show2 I saw on Saturday. It was a conversation I'd had insightfully with Don before the blocks of text and something I read last week made me think of that moment.
The wonderful Lutivini Majanja recently had a story published that I wish had been around when I sent out those blocks of text (read it here) for the way it captures the spirit of my strong feelings. The person I sent them to didn't respond to the blocks - or the essays I'd send links to, now that I think about it - but its deft handling of *waves hands about* the things philanthropy can mean is worth visiting again and again.
The show we went to also brought the personal to the forefront, in the way I bring my self, my politics, to my take on philanthropy. Talking about it gives me the same icks critiquing memoirs does - how does one say of someone's life event "This doesn't do it for me"? People's lives are for living, not for consuming. When art is presented for public consumption in a space where we're all too enmeshed to speak plainly, this is an even tougher task.
I'm thinking, then, of what it means to give - time, money, knowledge, oneself. I'm thinking of what it means to keep something of oneself to oneself (or in the drafts, maybe) and what that means for the work we make. I found myself comparing the show to a self-published work that was unevenly edited or that lacked sensitivity readers. Partly because literature and literary discourse is a not-insignificant part of how I filter the world (why does Brandon Sanderson, rich already, earn the support of folks who would probably not pay attention to another writer's Kickstarter campaign? Why do we see a show that touches on something universal yet pivots on its subject being a man of means?) and partly because the things that showed up such as uneven texts and an inaccessibility that had me dreaming of ramps that night are perennial topics in the bookish world.
To return fully to the bookish world, here are the books I've finished or started lately. The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo, which I accidentally finished as I walked in the city's sweltering heat on Friday, awaits a discussion with my buddy. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro also ended during a walk and I started Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead, which I should be done with this week, late last week. I checked the library on a lark and found a copy of The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers so I'm on course to finish my BookTube Prize books a week or more before the March 30 deadline. I can't wait to share my thoughts about them with you because it's proving to be a really interesting experience
I hope you have a great week and a lovely time reading. Talk to you soon!
I think we need to end philanthropy by altering society - the inequality that leads to a need for philanthropy and the structures that incentivise it. But especially when it comes to children - the way it so often dehumanises the most vulnerable members of society. Happy to send you the text blocks if you message me :)