I chatted with Dorothy about digital labour, intimacy and social media, among other things. In it, Arachne is a Lydian maiden who boasts her weaving is better than that of goddess Athena.
But the proud girl refuses, at which point the goddess reveals herself and challenges Arachne to a duel; Athena weaves a splendid cloth depicting the triumphs of the gods, while the young mortal weaves one illustrating their wicked actions. Something about the overwhelmingly quick and all-encompassing expansion of the internet as a network and its proliferation into the everyday recalls the hubris of Arachne, who thought her weave was perfect without any assistance.
Perhaps ironically, Arachne the webzine is doing just the opposite by encouraging dialogue among thinkers, artists and writers and strengthening a community of people who wish to interrogate the role of the internet and our relationship to it, and participate in its development through individual and collective interventions.
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What are your thoughts on the current condition of creative freelancers who are seldom paid for content? One of the reasons for this is the daily influx of free content being produced by individuals online. How can internet platforms be encouraged to compensate writers and artists for their work, and acknowledge that it is different from other types of freely distributed online content?
You see this at the top levels, where mega-platforms like The Huffington Post get in trouble for not paying writers, and at the micro level of community-run artist projects. If we paid contributors, there would also be an improvement in the quality of online content overall.
I think we need a revamp in web protocols and internet law to deal specifically with the digital labor problem by requiring that websites pay writers a percentage of their advertising revenue. This would also require that the internet regulatory bodies get involved in providing better standards to track the circulation of content. A lot of legislation comes about through suing major technology companies for rights infringement.
But people need to put pressure on all levels of the publishing and arts industry to confront this problem, including telling our friends that are soliciting us for content that our intellectual labor is not free. AO: This condition reinforces the notion that creative work is not valuable but rather disposable. Young creators are being told that other sorts of labor ranging from commercial work to sex work as opposed to creative work. What are your thoughts on the question of free labour in relation to crowd-sourced content production online?
DH: Digital labor is one of the big contributors to global wealth inequality, especially as we get reports of top earning websites strategically avoiding taxes by establishing their companies in the growing global free trade zones that architectural theorist Keller Easterling and others have written about.
Arachne, Short Tales Greek Myths by Cynthia Martin | | Booktopia
I feel sad when I see my friends on crowdfunding, because though it may be a liberating thing to be able to raise money from friends and strangers, doing so also requires a performance of the self as someone in need and a significant amount of affective labor that may or may not pay off. AO: The way individuals self-mythologize is constantly exhibited through social media, but I feel like there are less discussions about the way in which our conception of the internet is mythologized.
What was the impulse behind making mythology and the internet the central theme of Arachne? DH: People talk a lot about online identity in terms of performativity and affective labor, but framing these conversations in terms of mythology allows us to consider the internet in the context of literary and narrative devices. He uses a lot of examples from classical literature and Arthurian romances, but his theories have since been applied by gender theorists, art historians, and also internet anthropologists like Gabriella Coleman studying Anonymous who use a fair amount of riddles as well , not to mention the popular animation Adventure Time.
In my opinion the digital humanities and other projects which seek to datify literature fail, because they try to make the humanities too scientific instead of finding new ways of applying what literature is best at— studying narrative devices, tropes, character types, etc— but in the digital age. The character of the troll is a good example. Many have tried, but no one seems to know who is best suited to study trolling behaviors. In my opinion, going back to mythology and literary tropes can give us immense insight into social collectives, performance, character types, and narrative time that we experience on the internet.
Then there is also the fact that mythology has this sort of cerebral quality which allows for a lot of interpretation and approaches, which I think is important if you are trying to get contributions to a publication from a wide range of disciplines.
But the theme of metamorphoses is also hopeful. The internet allows us to transform bodies, ideas, movements in new ways, and perhaps our own relationship to the internet can change for the better.
There is so much talk of how the internet has and is changing us. But what about how we can change our relationship to the internet? If they did, I think they would spend more time thinking about how asking for volunteer contributors biases content because of leisure inequality and thinking about what they could give back to volunteers. If you are struggling to put food on the table, you are less likely to be writing Wikipedia articles, etc. At the same time, I am still committed to web activism and have been researching successful ways of organizing online. They need to invest time in making and supporting technologies which allow digital objects to be traced around the internet and present better licensing deals for content creators and to be lobbying the government and web protocols bodies.
The semantic web is essentially the idea that the web would work better if it was organized in a linked data format to make it easier to bridge information sets. The project is also endorsed by cryptographers who might see it as a way of standardizing web cryptography protocols, thereby making the internet more secure.
PDF Ebook Clearing in the Sky & Other Stories, by Jesse Stuart
Do you think we collectively have a hubristic approach to the internet? From the music industry to the visual arts, to creative writing, we are all feeling the reverberations of the procrastination principle. AO: Is the theme of Arachne an augur of sorts, or an omen of something that may come maybe disguised like Pallas Athena was when she gave Arachne the chance to seek forgiveness for her hubris?
Now we are at the stage where we have to pick up the pieces. It is also interdisciplinary in the sense that some of the writing is somewhat academic, but should also be readable by a lay audience. I think more work has to be done to bridge the gap between the paywalled academic research being done on technology, digital labor, and the internet, which has made huge steps in the past few years, and publicaly available sources, which sometimes seem to lag behind. Amelia Furlong has written an auto-fiction essay on gender in STEM which describes her experience working as a college prep tutor for the children of Silicon Valley parents.
Silko's poem tells the story of the mythological spider who creates the Universe by thinking it into being, just as Thought-Woman or Spider Grandmother weave the stories that tell the world into existence.
As a result, when set beside that of Spider Grandmother or Thought-Woman, the story of Arachne can be re-seen as an empowering woman's mythology that can revise the perspective of a somewhat silent classical Arachne. Arachne is a powerful metaphor for the study of women writers who, like Spider Grandmother, think up new worlds in the stories that they spin, and who, like Arachne, dare to challenge the establishment by comparing themselves to it.
Like Spider Grandmother Arachne, the women writers studied here foray into realms traditionally forbidden to their sex in order to weave new ctional worlds and create new female and feminist mythologies. All of the women I study here create narratives that employ both modernist literary techniques and classical or mythic tropes; however, my goal is not to use my analysis of these women writers to create an ultimate denition of either literary myth or literary modernism, nor is this a comparative study of classical and contemporary texts.
Instead, my intention is to explore literature that exists on the margins of both modernism and myth in order to provide a provocative, albeit partial, rereading of all three. These include the women writers studied here. For example, because myth is part of a general cultural tradition shared through narrative, it is unlikely that these writers were specically inuenced byor that a critic can claim that they were inuenced bya single textual source.
Indeed, the sources these authors may have drawn upon might include not only traditional classical texts such as Homer, but also visual, musical, theatrical, and poetic texts presented by turn-of-the-twentieth century painters, composers, and authors. It is difcult to determine if these writers studied the primary works of classical writersindeed, it may be irrelevant, because these women writers were sensitive not to the staid intellectual and masculine culture of warmly paneled lecture halls, but to the vibrant and dynamic popular culture of theater, public art, women's magazines, and fashion.
An examination of these late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century women writers in juxtaposition with mythwhich is one of the crucial threads of high modernismcreates an engaging dialectical lens with which to view a period of literature written by women. Moreover, Ann Ardis observes that "to attend to marginality, to narrate a shifting limit between the New Woman novel and high modernism, means challenging the familiar periodization of modern literary history".
In the spirit of Ardis's design, my goal is to similarly pick up a thread woven throughout so-called high modernism, to follow it along the fringes of modernism, and to see how it is interlaced with the work of late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century women writerssome lesser known, some very familiar. Consequently, my specic intention is to trace the path of one thread within the tapestry of modernism: namely, these women authors' weaving of mythic and occult elements into their work. In doing so, it is possible to show how these women put to early use a modernist "mythical method," to use T.
Eliot's famous phrase. Moreover, I hope to demonstrate how these women reshaped mythic themes and occult tropes in their semiotic narratives to create a liberatory exploration of women's position under patriarchy and the limitations of women's words. PAGE 13 Mythic Methods and Femin ine ist Fictions As readers have learned from any number of histories about the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, modernism as an artistic, historical, literary, or social period is characterized by its multiplicity: symbolism, impressionism, imagism, vorticism, futurism, expressionism, dadaism, and surrealism.
Similarly, it is interpreted through the form of the novel, poem, prose poem, free verse, theatrical production, journalism, essay, and manifesto. It is a literature by whites, blacks, Asian Americans, Chicanos, and American Indians; by women, men, lesbians, bisexuals, and gays; who were also Christians, Jews, protestants, agnostics, atheists, goddess worshippers, mystics, gypsies, mediums, rationalists, fascists, communists, anarchists, and individualists. It was written by artists who were working-class, middle-class, upper-class, classically educated, self-educated, or educated by life experienceand by people who rejected simple denitions of gender, race, class, status, and intellectual ability.
My point here is that modernism is a mix, a movement of an artistic social community that allowed everyone to rub elbows with each other at one time or another. Like Ardis, Ammons, and Cutter, I have purposefully grouped together late-nineteenthand early-twentieth-century American women writers to consider some of the multiplicities of gender, race, class, age, regionalism, narrative form, and philosophy. As these critics demonstrate, the period from around through that of World War I saw great social, political, and cultural changes for American women, changes reected in the works produced by turn-ofthe-twentieth-century women writers who explored, analyzed, critiqued, embraced, or rejected the verities of their positions in American society.
Grouping together women writing around the turn of the twentieth century intersects with questions about periodizing American literary history itself. Like Ammons, I believe that examining a historical cross section of women writers in this period can contribute "to the ongoing revision of the still-popular modern thesis that the nation's best' and most characteristic literature is antirealistic" Conicting Stories ix. Instead, I believe it is interestingly productive to examine these writers not in terms of their differences but in terms of their similaritiesbecause that is where their revolutionary power can be exposed.
In this way, it is possible to examine a writer such as Edith Wharton as both a realist and a modernist, depending upon which textual threads in her works are studied. Viewing women's texts in this way creates a literary history that is more uid, exible, and accurate. Certainly, literary realism did not "shut off" in January of a certain year while another period beganthese historical changes are more gradual and supple than syllabi typically allow. Moreover, such rigid classications only serve to isolate writers in an articial way, discounting the inuence of literary works and historical experience on later texts.