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Where some ideas are stranger than others...

FOUND SUBJECTS at the Moonspeaker

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'Found Subjects' are a whole range of writings and websites that I find interesting and worth spending some time reading and responding to. The grey right hand column displays those neat (or obnoxious, depending on your point of view) logos other websites provide when you link back to them from yours (except for the animated ones, those suck). I notice that providing such logos doesn't seem to be too fashionable just now, but far be it from me to be fashionable, so the little link logos for The Moonspeaker are at the top.

Well, that's the very general overview, but what is a 'found subject' more specifically? If it's something I add to or write, it may be anything from an annotated edition of 'Alice and Wonderland' to commentaries on the denizens of the women authors only section of my book shelves. If it's something I link to, it could be a website providing information on how to construct languages for alternate literary worlds or one with tips on how to wrestle desired results from the ever-growing and harder to use Adobe Photoshop. (Though I have to acknowledge that Adobe Photoshop has effectively died courtesy of Adobe's new "you can never own your software" business model.)

LOCAL

  • Alexiares' Annotated Alice In Wonderland: I've read Martin Gardner's annotated edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice books, and to be honest was quite disappointed. An annotation that doesn't explain what 'cucumber frames' are is simply not what I was looking for, although a later edition of his version does finally provide the definition.
  • Mors Iabrochii: Go on, you've always wanted to read Jabberwocky translated into Latin. For good measure, I have finally located an Ancient Greek translation as well.
  • Thoughtpieces: A bite-sized writing appetizer now featured on the home page of The Moonspeaker. I decided it was time to get away from "feature essays" as such, that's just too much at a first run, even if you come here all the time. In addition, this now gives me an opportunity to occasionally impose my photographs on site visitors.
  • Alexiares' Annotated Alice's Adventures Through the Looking Glass: Here at last is the follow up to the annotated Wonderland above. Let it never be said that such projects don't lead to really learning something. Since the book is partially structured by means of a chess game, I finally had to learn more systematically about chess.
  • Alexiares' Annotated Hunting of the Snark: This is the last of Lewis Carroll's works that I will be annotating for the Moonspeaker. It will be interesting to find out what a railroad share is – that is, whether it is a unit of ownership in a railway company or something to do with the actual railroad tracks!
  • Sappho's Fragments, With Translation: It perhaps shouldn't have surprised me that the Perseus Project doesn't have any of Sappho's works up in ancient greek or english since her work is not usually part of the undergraduate classics reading curriculum. So I have decided to take a run at filling the gap at least in terms of getting an electronic text out there, since I would like one! UPDATE to the original UPDATE: I have located an easier to navigate take on presenting Sappho's poem in the original greek at Elpenor's Greek World. The translations offered on that site are not the same as those included at Sean B. Palmer's site. Just don't try to use wikipedia to help you read the greek, which is expecting too much of an encyclopedia. Elpenor's place does include beginner's lessons, but you may be better served on that side by checking out the free to download texts at Textkit.

    FOREIGN

  • LaTeX — A document preparation system: I first encountered LaTeX back in 1999, and while it seemed an unwieldy sort of thing at first, it turned out to be a fabulous tool. LaTeX is very much like html mark up (in principle both LaTeX and html are spawn of sgml), and it has been expanding steadily out of the scientific and mathematical typesetting realms into the social sciences. This is partly because of the increasing role of statistics in social sciences, and partly because so many word processing programs do violence to documents. Despite the ongoing efforts to improve the consensus standard word processing document format via the justly famous open document project, I have abandoned wysiwig editing for anything but the simplest documents that are less than fifty pages in length.
  • Through the Flower: The Feminist organization founded by Judy Chicago "to educate a broad public about the importance of art and its power in countering the erasure of women's achievements." It started as a way to fundraise for the monumental Dinner Party project, which to this day is lauded and pilloried by turns, yet is one of the greatest works of Feminist multi and interdisciplinary history ever realized. Chicago's work has continued to challenge mainstream history and methods of artistic collaboration and production via the Birth project, Resolutions (a reflection on modern values or lack thereof), and the International Honour Quilt.
  • The Gage Home: Don't let the name of this website fool you; it is far more than an on-line shingle for the Gage Home museum in Fayetteville, New York. It is rapidly developing into a central resource for those interested in the Radical Feminist scholar and researcher Matilda Joslyn Gage. In many ways she was ahead of her time, including her analysis of racism and a participant in the Underground Railroad system, as well as a major influence on L. Frank Baum and the Oz books. Sharp-eyed readers of the Moonspeaker will already have found a pdf copy of Gage's great work, Woman, Church and State, which is out of copyright. The Gage Home online gift shop is the best place to order the current paperback edition of the book with Sally Roesch Wagner's excellent introduction.
  • Patricia Monaghan: Author of a range of influential books on Goddesses and Goddess spirituality as well as the sublime prose-poem The Red-Haired Girl From the Bog. When I last updated this page, I noted that this site had not been updated for some time, not knowing that what had happened was that Monaghan was ill with late stage cancer. She passed away in november 2012, but her website remains online with links and archives intact, an act of real generosity by her literary executors. Her last major projects included editing a three-volume collection of essays by diverse authors on select Goddesses around the world, an encyclopedia of Celtic mythology, and revisions to her Encylopedia of Goddesses and Heroines, still in print.
  • Z. Budapest: Unwittingly picking up the thread found by Matilda Joslyn Gage, Z. Budapest is one of the leading pioneers and leaders in the Feminist Wicca and Dianic Wicca religions in North America. ("Unwittingly" is not intended as a snub here, as Mary Daly wrote so eloquently and furiously, women's history was not handed down from the nineteenth century in north america, and has had to be rediscovered.) She has worked through some of the most important questions around Goddess Spirituality, from whether Feminists should put energy into it to whether Euro-descended North Americans wanting to leave behind judeo-christian faiths should simply take up Indigenous ones instead. These days her site is quite bare bones, which is a shame, although understandable. For those interested more in potential training and participation in Feminist and Dianic Wicca, Ruth Barrett and the Reformed Congregation of the Goddess is a great place to start.
  • Mary Daly - Radical Elemental Feminist: Sadly, Mary Daly passed away in 2010, and her website at marydaly.org is now only available from the wayback machine, though for all you website building folks out there, the aspx pages are not available. Her writing is well worth reading in sequence, as it so clearly shows how her scholarship and thinking led her to Radical Feminism and then to deepen and improve her analysis by challenging her own unconscious racism, classicism, and anthropocentrism. Her last book length publication came out in 2006, Amazon Grace. There is a tribute blog still on-line in her honour.
  • The Language Construction Kit: A well-written guide to creating languages, as well as a fun and non-painful introduction to linguistics. (There's a thought: an introductory linguistics text that teaches by getting students to create an artificial language...) Mark Rosenfelder takes you through all the things you need to consider: sound system, orthography, grammar, how not to make a simulacrum of your own language unless you want to. He also has a good sense of humour. I haven't yet read volume 2, although it sounds like it should also be full of Rosenfelder's general good humour and clear explanations. Don't let the unfortunate book covers put you off! For a constructed language that is neither a Tolkien nor a Klingon rip-off, see Láadan, developed by Suzette Haden Elgin as part of a thought experiment that became her Native Tongue trilogy.
  • Hannah Arendt Centre for Politics and Humanities (HACPH): Arendt was and is one of the greatest philosophers of all time, whose critical writings and analysis on authoritarianism, totalitarianism, and the nature of everyday evil remains unsurpassed. To my knowledge few of her works have remained out of print for long, especially The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem. Contrary to some interpretations, Arendt in no way exonerates nazis like Eichmann as somehow not responsible because he was just "acting like everyone else." Her point is a harder-nosed one, first that he absolutely did evil and deserved to be punished for it, and that, as Roger Berkowitz's overview of her life and thought states, "...she also sees that his overriding motivations were neither monstrous nor sadistic. Eichmann participated in the greatest act of evil in world history because of his inability to think critically about his fidelity to a Nazi ideology that he clung to as a source of significance in a lonely and alienating world. Such thoughtless ideological zealotry is, Arendt concludes, the face of evil in the modern world." The relevance to the current state of the world in 2018 is sadly undeniable.
  • Starhawk's Tangled Web: The heterosexual counterpart, so to speak, of Z. Budapest. She has expanded her activism and practice in somewhat different directions, becoming more overtly tied into environmental activism. If you want to see some of the original source material on permaculture and guerilla gardening, this is a place to start. Her email list is quite busy, and she updates her blog regularly. Her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing is being made into a movie and appears to be back in print with a vengeance, and interest in it is so strong now that Starhawk has recently published a sequel. Some of Starhawk's most recent writing has focussed on how to organize without reproducing patriarchal and authoritarian hierarchies, especially The Empowerment Manual. The discussion of how to deal with instances where members begin to hijack the group due to personal issues that do need to be tended to, but not at the expense of the group as a whole, could hardly be more germane to current organizing.
  • Doctor Who - The Classic Series: On-line home of my all-time favourite science fiction programme, which I enjoy for being thoughtful and not taking itself too seriously. Unfortunately the new series simply doesn't have the same charm, having cut two surprisingly useful anchors without having solid ideas for replacements: no hanky panky for the Doctor, and the existence of Gallifrey aka the british upper class on sci-fi steroids. (I am cautiously hoping that Jodie Whittaker's tenure will help the showrunners find those new anchors, because they are getting close.) This is the archived version of the site, now thankfully stripped of the gobs of insecure and generally broken flash animations. Many of the lost older episodes have been recreated in this site using scripts illustrated with archival photos, providing a fascinating window on a way of making television that assumes the audience isn't caffeinated within an inch of its collective life. That said, to get into all these goodies, do not click on the main link area, which will dump you onto the page for the current incarnation of the show instead of into the classic series pages. Instead, click on one of the villains below it and you should be off and running. To get into the pages about the Doctor's earlier incarnations, there is usually a link at the bottom of the page. Or you can use this one, to the First Doctor's page.
  • Trivia: Voices of Feminism: Trivia is one of several pioneering Feminist journals that got its start in the 1980s and became host to a whole posse of cutting edge, now classic Radical Feminist articles. The on-line Trivia reappeared after the original print journal had gone into apparent hiatus in 1994. It has recently had a change in editorial team as well as a change in web domain. Its situation has stabilized since about 2016, and new issues come out roughly annually on an open access basis. To my eyes it seems quite poetry-heavy these days, with far less by way of long form articles with more controversial political or philosophical content. That said, the most recent issue is on the theme of "radical" and suggests that the editors may be looking to bring Trivia back to its more adventurous roots.
  • Judy Grahn - Blood, Bread, and Roses: A book that at long last looks at what it meant for humans when the females among our ancestors began to menstruate instead of going periodically into heat. Don't let the snipe that there is no evidence for Grahn's thesis scare you off: this book is not intended to be an anthropological treatise, though the topic certainly cries out for treatment from that direction as well. After an initial print run with Beacon Press, the book has been stubbornly out of print since, joining the ranks of pretty much the entire corpus of Feminist literature right now. It is worth reading against Terence McKenna's Food of the Gods. McKenna is onto a complementing phenomenon, another means by which humans were rendered aware of themselves as individuals, which may have helped out the males who didn't have any sort of menstrual cycle as a means to build this sense. That said, McKenna's thesis that first psychedelic mushrooms caused people to realize they were individuals but now they make people realize they are part of everything seems a bit contradictory, but his point is that now humans have evolved so that the way we respond to those mushrooms is different. (I think!)
  • Metaformia: A journal taking up and building on the ideas and theories Judy Grahn developed in Blood, Bread, and Roses. It seems to be updated infrequently, perhaps because there is no information at all on how to contribute to it. Their contact options are all broken, so at this point there seems to be no way to request submission guidelines. It has been six years since I last updated this entry, and in 2018 the situation on this site has not changed, and it appears that the journal as such as defunct although the website remains live. With luck besides bad, it will pick itself up and be off and running again, along with the currently rather sleepy institue of archaeomythology.
  • The Women's Library: One of the few libraries I know of with a mandate to maintain documents that pertain specifically to women's history period, let alone its own mandate which focuses of the history of British women. At this point there are few electronic resources available from this site except for their catalogue, but that is a huge resource in itself. It can be no easy task to find proper references for women's history materials in general purpose libraries. This library is still stubbornly surviving and thriving in these terrible backlash times, and since 2012 they have been building up a selection of digitized books and other materials ranging from pamphlets to photo albums, free to download and give a sense of the larger collection. The english Feminist Library is also in london and currently fundraising to move.
  • A Celebration Of Women Writers: A decent archive of books by women authors, where significant effort has been put into finding materials in other languages than english and authors other than those you usually hear about. Where the text is not available the reference is a full one, so it should be possible to find it by other means. The site has gone through a major update, and the main editor and webmaster, Mary Mark Ockerbloom, is evidently a powerhouse. Her online c.v. notes that this website includes "listing 19,000+ women authors, 13,000+ author information links, and 10,000+ freely readable on-line books." The site is designed to support complex searches, and she has worked extensively on gathering data to help identify women writers whose names may change so often through their lives.
  • Central Stn - Mysterious Paper Sculptures: In March 2011, an anonymous woman began dropping off beautiful paper sculptures made from books and additional materials at literary and museum establishments in Edinburgh, Scotland. Each sculpture had a note explaining that each was a gift in support of "libraries, books, words, ideas..." These marvellous works have certainly served their purpose, and are now going on exhibition tour in Scotland, while their creator remains anonymous.
  • Monique Wittig: Monique Wittig, a brilliant Radical Feminist writer and philosopher died suddenly in 2003. Thankfully, the decision was taken by her executors to make sure this website stayed online and it continues to be updated. Personally I find her fiction a more immediately challenging read than her non-fiction, in the sense that her imagery is non-linear and at times disturbing in the former as opposed to the more straightforward format of her essays. Both challenge the reader to think, and reward the thinking. As of 2013, the beinecke library at yale university had acquired Wittig's papers, and they are open for study provided a person visits the archive in person. For the time being at least, there appear to be no plans to digitize any of her fonds and the level of organization applied to them is minimal. A lesbian historian/biographer's project waiting to happen!
  • Suppressed Histories Archives: Max Dashu's huge and ongoing research and archiving project bringing together extensive women's history materials, founded as a project in 1970. It has good coverage of cultures and places outside of "Europe" and "North America" that is improving all the time, and also incudes some of the best visual archives in the topic area I have seen. Dashu has put considerable effort, money and time into digitizing photographs and slides to make them available, as well as writing numerous essays, reviews, and lectures. Furthermore, the site is bilingual, english-español. The only thing that is not there yet is a full bibliography, which is understandable as Dashu has her hands full keeping the archive in order and cataloguing materials. This is a project well worth supporting.
Copyright © C. Osborne 2018
Last Modified: Thursday, August 2, 2018 23:01:34