169. READ.LOOK.THINK.

Freedom to be absorbed, our challenge in a painting, the world on pause, just keep moving, thrilling truths, a perfect French house.

Still Life with a View over a Cemetery, Ethel Sands (1873–1962). The Fitzwilliam Museum.

Hello friends,

Here is our challenge, in one painting: to somehow internalise the horror and not to flinch from it but without at the same time destroying the beauty of what we know of as home.

READ.

“[Y]our writing brain is much smarter than your analytical brain.”

“Showing up for whatever comes next is beautiful. You don’t have to be a hero. You just keep moving.”

“You can still make memories even though it feels like the whole world is on pause.”

Dear Therapist answers her own question.

The books I’m reading are of no interest to anyone, just random political stuff I take comfort in for some reason during tough times. Rachel Johnson’s book is good! This one is not so, but still does the job! Here’s my list of books I do recommend.

LOOK.

Wonderful podcast Still Processing is back. On quarantine.

Jenna’s wellness-focused social distancing.

Emily’s lockdown Grub Street Diet.

The best food films and shows on Netflix.

Coffitivity creates cafe white noise to help you work (very successfully blocks out most sounds).

From 2008, novelist Charlotte Mendleson’s “startlingly ugly” writing room.

On Instagram:

The children have enjoyed making jelly (not from scratch, just packet). Melissa and Doug Jumbo Colouring Pads. Beano annuals. Sofia the First on Disney+. Sending letters to friends. They’re not writing diary entries in the big sketchbooks I talked about last time, but I am sticking in anything nice they make or draw.

THINK.

“Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Usually it centers on death. We feel it when someone gets a dire diagnosis or when we have the normal thought that we’ll lose a parent someday. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures. There is a storm coming. There’s something bad out there. With a virus, this kind of grief is so confusing for people. Our primitive mind knows something bad is happening, but you can’t see it. This breaks our sense of safety.”

“The special trouble with uncertainty is that it’s a doorway to infinity. When you’ve no idea what tomorrow will bring, it’s easy to fill that gap with fantasy, and the world of fantasy knows no bounds. It’s possible to imagine things getting limitlessly bad.” 

“Have you noticed that one of the main features of panic buying is that it is always done by other people, and never by ourselves? It is a label we attach to others in order to make ourselves feel better about our own shopping choices. He panic buys. You stock up. I tirelessly provide food for my family.”

“Endurance was unavoidable, and survival their chief priority. Exhibiting the “blitz spirit” was not. Government researchers found that what people wanted most was sound information, the promise of welfare and rehabilitation, and somewhere to sleep. The sight of destroyed buildings, corpses and body parts was utterly alien to daily life. The trauma this produced was largely unrecorded, and certainly untreated.” The cruel myth of the Blitz Spirit.

“Other than the US, the western country that has spent most time worrying about the rise of China is Australia. Yet as the recent months of unprecedented heatwaves and wildfires show, Australia is already suffering damage from climate change colossally in excess of anything China could do to Australia (short of nuclear war), or would wish to do.” Why global warming needs national solutions.

Jessica

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