Newsletter v.3.7 | The Ministry of Invisible Labor

Newsletter v.3.7 | The Ministry of Invisible Labor


And welcome to a super random edition of Newsletter, by me, Neil Gorman.

I’ve even busy working on the tenure dossier, which is due and June 15.

I started building the dossier in a crummy mindset: Thinking no matter how much work I put into the process it was not going to work out.

(Was this mindset a defense against the ambiguity of not knowing how the likely or unwilling the university —a risk-adverse institution if ever there was one— would be to grant tenure after the financial hit it took during COVID-19? Yeah, probably.)

However, as I’ve wrap up working on it, I started to feel pretty good about the case I’m making. So, here I am, in the final sprint to the end of this long process. Wish me luck!


The most useful tool I’ve used as I’ve created my tenure dossier is a tried and true tool that I’ve written about before, but I think it is so damn good I’m going to mention it again: The Ulysses app!

There are many times I’ve seen a new writing app, and I’ve kind of flirted with it, (examples: Notion, Scriviner, & Bear) but I keep coming mack to Ulysses. The simplicity of the interface and the power of the app to help me think through and organize large text-based project remains the best I’ve ever experienced.

The Ministry of Invisible Labor

In the prior edition of the newsletter, I wrote about the concept of invisible labor. Since then, my wife (who originally brought the concept to my attention) sent me an article from New York Times article by Jessica Grose. The most interesting part of the article is where Grose mentioned the work of Alison Daminger, who broke down invisible labor into four distinct categories.

  1. Anticipating - Being on the look-out for things that need doing, and things that might become a problem in the future.
  2. Identifying - Identifying the cause of problems, and what different courses of action are available to prevent the problem.
  3. Deciding - Choosing what is likely to be the best course of action available to prevent a problem, and implementing it.
  4. Monitoring - Keeping an eye on things, making sure that the fix that was chosen is working out ok.

An example form the article involved getting a kid into a summer camp, and starting that work well before the summer arrives.

If we’re using the summer camp example, “anticipate” is realizing we need to start thinking about options for the summer before they fill up; “identify” is looking into the types of camps that will suit our family’s needs; “decide” is choosing the camp; and “monitor” is making sure the kids are signed up and their medical forms are sent in.

Tracy and I could think of so many examples of how each of use do these things in or professional lives (i.e., at our jobs) and in our personal lives.

The point that Tracy was making when she originally brought this up to me is that this sort of invisible labor is valuable, and it is mostly done by women, but it is not valued as highly as it could and should be. That is something I 100% agree with.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do this, but I think this could be something that would be interesting to take a closer look at, and perhaps even try to do some empirical research around. (Something that will be important for me to do if I get tenure!)

The Liminal Station

There is an album I’ve been listening to like crazy as I was all stress out setting up the tenure stuff, A Turn of Breath by Ian William Craig.

From this KSPC review:

Ian William Craig is a trained opera singer who, on this album, uses tape malfunctions and manipulations as well as a system of reel-to-reels to obscure and manipulate his voice in interesting ways. The contrast between the beauty of his singing and the way that the tapes can pull it apart and re-assemble it in interesting ways is the main technical focus of the album. But, on a more basic level, these are powerful works that manage to convey sorrow, hope, and heartbreak all at once.

Ghosts of My Life

Over the past week, I was able to sit inside of a coffee place and do some work! This is such a simple thing, but it is something that I’ve missed so much as the world has been doing what it can to keep the spread of COVID-19 as slow as possible.

It is as if being able to work out in the world, among other people, is going from being a ghost to being something that is actually happening again. I’m thrilled by this. Thrilled!

Living in the Jackpot

From the Broken River Blog:

I wonder if we couldn’t work up a timeline for how internet rage works. First comes the inciting incident, then comes the coverage, then the breathless demands to your five followers to…give proper attention to an issue? Followed eventually by targeting one individual, roasting them a little, and moving on.

What I find interesting about this is that it is a good description of the flow of what I tend to call “stupid jouissance”. The enjoyment of something that is 100% unnecessary, extra, surplus, that is also a transgression, a crossing over a line.

Is it at all necessary to get angry at people and rage tweet them? Nope, not at all necessary.

Is it transgressive? I think so. I say that because I believe there is a general social prohibition against displaying anger publicly in real life. (You don’t see people rage commenting at the person who orders an absurdly complex drink at Starbucks, but if you look at the faces of the people in line you can tell they are irritated.) However, we can sure get our fix for telling people off online!

Then after one get their surplus jouissance, what do one does?

Well... One checks one’s email, forgets about the people one just raced at, and move on with one’s life.

Such wasted energy. It’s silly, and sad.


That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading.

Till next time: Make glorious mistakes!


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