184. READ.LOOK.THINK.

A lot of stuff about the horror of writing, a solution for Twitter, parasocial relationships (love 'em!!!) -- also, sardines.

i) men's wedding band, 25mm diameter, 18 carat, hallmarked Chester 1901, "TED" scratched on outer edge. ii) women's wedding band, 20mm diameter, 22 carat, hallmarked Birmingham 1907. Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes’ wedding bands are being auctioned by Sotheby’s.

Influencer voice: Hi guys!

READ.

Everything is a subject for art and literature; everything can be shown, whatever can be imagined can be described.”

“It is only slightly exaggerating to say that everything about publishing a book is terrible, even when things go well. [...] The idea that some sign of outward success, some award or sales figure, could satisfy us is a mistake, I think. The soul one pours into a novel or a collection of poems, the years of effort a book represents—what possible response from the world could be adequate recompense for that?”

“There’s a rising wave of attacks on art and authors often involve not just misreadings or bad faith readings, but no readings.” Art should be a doorway not a mirror.

This woman thought the viral short story Cat Person was about her. A good summary: “The constant need to ferret out the ways in which fiction written by women must somehow be “real” or “autobiographical,” in ways that male authors are not held to, is a denial of the woman as artist.”

“So, how does she feel about inserting full stops into that text document? What do her actions tell us about the relationship between her working life and her sense of self? It’s usually the writer’s job to answer those sorts of questions. But I decided not to give myself that job this time.” Sally Rooney on the extract from her new novel in the New Yorker.

“I don’t care if it’s good for me. It doesn’t need to be good for me for me to be allowed to do it.”

“As we parted ways, after two hours of fluent erudition, she muttered, ‘I hope it was all right.’”

Beginning a book is unpleasant.

“Once during a phone call, he used “Leonard Woolf” — the name of Virginia Woolf’s famously nurturing husband — as a verb. Michels said he’d spent a lot of time “Leonard Woolfing” his wife that day.”

“I’m an unsuccessful writer, how can I escape these feelings of despair?”

“Writing is stupid. I just want to be alive.”

Crying at the happy ending.

“When I think about how we looked back then, I see us as inseparable; twins, Geminis, back-to-back, like the Kappa logo.” ❤️

I love this profile of Lil Nas X (we listen to Old Town Road daily in this house.)

LOOK.

A family photographed over thirty years.

Alison Roman on tinned sardines.

Just as I was sending this a new Women Cook For Me came out with Charlotte Mendelson!

Sounds of nature: a soundscape of NSW national parks. “Pay attention as dry wind is heard blowing across the landscape, along with the calls of characteristic arid-country birds.” I’m really thinking of everyone in Sydney and elsewhere in AU with your lockdown, so tough — no one emotionally budgeted for a hard lockdown in the second half of 2021.

I’m enjoying After School, a daily email newsletter about youth culture. (I think I copied this from Natalie.) I actually also just paid for the Highly Enthused newsletter! I never pay!

Beauty writer Sali Hughes went grey overnight (on purpose).

I’ve also been experimenting with Tweet Shelf, which aggregates the top links shared in your feed or on your lists, like Nuzzel used to before it was shut down. It’s helpful for the days when I want to be moderately in touch (to receive news and read pieces) but can’t handle the negative emotions that wash through Twitter like bad weather.

“This followed their eviction from their previous home in Chelsea (featured in the July 2018 issue of House & Garden), after the Russian government claimed it against alleged debts owed by Alexandra’s ex and the father of her children, the oligarch Sergei Pugachev.” Okay! Alexandra Tolstoy’s home tour.

THINK.

“…crying selfies interspersed with FaceTuned ones; public diary entries written beneath aesthetic tablescapes; political rants next to tagged outfits; Notes app apologies between party photos; calls for authenticity from faceless corporations. We all contain multitudes, contradict ourselves, are constantly evolving, but I don’t think the mishmash of intention that’s become commonplace in our [Instagram] feeds reflects the human condition as much as our neuroses.”

I literally couldn’t live without a nice balanced portfolio of diverse parasocial relationships!

On overthinking. (Guardian agony aunt Annalisa Barbieri has a new podcast.)

People who voice audiobooks with diverse characters are squirming.

“The notion that knowledge asymmetries lay at the root of all political conflict was quickly transmuted into the basis of policy itself. If liberals became masters of the world due to their superior respect for facts, then education — not redistribution — was the only hope for the dispossessed.” Liberalism is not working.

“… over the past 15 months, we have witnessed one of the most remarkable acts of collective sacrifice since 1945 – of the young for the old, the low-risk for the high-risk. This is something to be recognised and celebrated. Instead, our political and media gerontocracy have simply pocketed the gift and barely mentioned it again.”

A sizeable minority would like personal freedoms to be restricted permanently: A quarter say nightclubs and casinos should never reopen; almost two in ten would support an indefinite ban on leaving home after 10pm “without good reason”.

Lying flat.

Australia ranks last for climate action among UN member countries.

Sorry I don’t know how to top and tail these emails with personal reflections any more! I hope you enjoy!

Jess

xx