October: Lost Wisdom

Lucky cat, Tottenham, 01/10/2021

Aye up

This one was actually going to be a bit different. Rather than punish myself and you lot with a trio of hastily-composed half-baked thinkpieces, it was going to be one long hastily-composed fully-baked thinkpiece! Alas, the universe conspired against me as it so often does. This has honestly been one of the most stressful months of my life, for a number of reasons, and it’s not actually over yet. As such, this one’s going to be similar to July’s edition: a brief catch up interspersed with recommendations of things to read, watch, listen to and look at. Then I’m going to sleep for the entire month of November and we’ll pick back up after that!

Some things I have been reading

  • Adam Tooze’s thoughtful review of Andreas Malm’s How To Blow Up A Pipeline and wider meditation on the moral imperative for direct action in our very fucked world!!
  • This behind-the-scenes story of one activist single-handedly fighting to remove AIDS denialism from the ultimately Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club is maddening, baffling and inspiring by equal turns
  • Not unrrelated: a fantastic, insightful interview with the amazing Sarah Schulman about her new book Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993
  • The Legend of Yellow-Yellow: the story of a black bear who was so adept at opening bear-proof” camping products that a) the manufacturer had to put a Yellow-Yellow” clause on their website and b) she may have taught other bears in the area her tricks of the trade!
  • See if you can get your head around this report on the QAnon faithful who believe JFK, Jr is going to come back to life and announce himself as Trump’s running mate for the next election
  • There’s a lot to love in The Empathy Racket,” Alice Gribbin’s assessment of the weird turn in media literacy over the past decade-or-so (including the etymology of the word), but what especially jumped out at me was this: The empathy racket treats as automatically canonical any art that memorializes certain historical events, art as documentary, and art of witness, whatever its quality or degree of originality. Those forces inexplicable to the human, which great art from Hellenistic sculpture to the Jodhpur-Marwar court paintings to Modernist poetry has concerned itself with—forces unconscious, spiritual, natural, chthonic—do not interest the empath.” Yep!

Mostly-covered graffiti, Haringey, 21/10/2021

Some things I have been watching

  • A reporter tries to defeat the Boro accent
  • James Lovelock is an environmental scientist best known for the Gaia hypothesis, which postulates that the Earth functions as a self-regulating system” (thanks Wikipedia); he turned 102 this summer, and was interviewed for the BBC where he provides a tremendously frank, lucid assessment of the state of things, kicking off with his answer to You’re saying that our planet, and all of live on this planet, is in its last phase?”: Yep”
  • I’ve been seeking solace in the Internet Archive’s noir collection, a load of black-and-white films which are in the public domain and freely, legally available to watch
  • i’m thinking about quitting my job
  • I rewatched John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness for the first time since uni, and it might be my favourite of the master’s films: it’s got an admittedly goofy premise (theoretical physicists analyse a cannister in a church basement which may or may not contain Satan,” in fact a sentient form of anti-matter) played entirely straight, with one of his best soundtracks and an enduringly eerie recurring image in the shared dreams the scientists find beamed into their collective unconscious
  • As the clocks go back, the nights close in and the temperatures begin to drop, remember: it’s worse in Antarctica

Wot I’ve done this month

  • As promised, I wrote about the narcissism of online amatuer detectives w/r/t the Gabby Petito case, the film Murder Death Koreatown, and the solipsism inculcated by social media
  • Unfinished as yet but I’m mid-way through a piece on the new Self Esteem record, Will Powers and my relationship with self-help rhetoric
  • I moved house on November 6th so that’s pretty much all I’ve managed
  • Work has also been busy and there’s been plenty of Personal Stuff to be getting on with, too
  • Look what do you want from me

More graffiti I agree with, Haringey, 25/10/2021

A month of nostalgia listens with some new stuff drifting onto my radar! A special shout out to Anya for recommending Shortparis (the track on here has a great video), Warren Ellis for wanging on about Arleta in his superb book Nina Simone’s Gum, and Todd Haynes’s wide-ranging and surprisingly enlightening documentary on the Velvet Underground for getting me to listen to more of them.

  1. Girls - Lust For Life”
  2. Gerard Way - Action Cat”
  3. deca joins - 漫漫長夜
  4. Self Esteem - You Forever”
  5. Grinderman - Honey Bee (Let’s Fly To Mars)”
  6. Los Campesinos! - Sad Suppers”
  7. Tirzah - Gladly”
  8. Mitski - Working For The Knife”
  9. Shortparis - Страшно”
  10. Arleta - Mia Fora Thymamai”
  11. Joan Armatrading - Drop The Pilot”
  12. The Velvet Underground - After Hours”

Miscellaneous internet link round up

  • Wikipedia timesuck of the month: The Polar bear jail (also known as Polar Bear Holding Facility) is a special building in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada where polar bears that are considered troublesome or dangerous are isolated before they can be relocated”

That’ll do for now! I need to pee and then go to therapy. Also I need to unpack all the boxes of books stacked precariously on the rickety floorboards of my new place; if I leave them any longer I’ll invariably fall halfway through the floor and my legs will be waggling about in the living room ceiling, Laurel and Hardy-style. Proper one next month. And then only one more to go! Goodbye forever!