Who is it that drafts the spectacularly tone-deaf responses for the UK Government? Whenever a sentence begins “a spokesperson from X Dept/project/official body said”, you can guarantee the coming response will deliberately miss the point, and instead offer a mealy-mouthed platitude.
My most recent favourite is the one given to the BBC about the ancient woodland being felled for the development of HS2. Here it is:
“Seven million new trees and shrubs will be planted as part of the HS2 programme. The new native woodland will cover over 9 sq km of land.”
I might not like writing about politics, but I don’t think people with a platform can afford not to at the moment. Unless you’re already a millionaire, or a member of the rentier class, we’ve all got something at stake, but some groups have far more at stake. Their lives, for instance.
There are lots of ways that you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, so I’m going to put a big list of the resources that I’ve found useful over the last week or two down below, and hopefully they’ll be useful to you, too.
It’s easy to imagine that William Golding’s Lord of the Flies speaks to what really lies at the heart of the human temperament, and that really, all of us are a single disaster away from becoming animals again. It’s certainly what motives lots of the prepper mindset, and I should think, lots of capitalist thinking. Rutger Bergman says that might not be the case. He went on the hunt for a real life Lord of the Flies, and found one.
I’m fascinated by this kind of thing; you only have to look at human history to see that we’re capable of truly horrifying things. There are also examples of the opposite; I haven’t done any serious research, but it’s an interesting question. Is there a definable ‘human nature’ we can pin down, and if there is, is it good or bad? Or is that far too simplifying, and in reality, depending on the conditions humans have the potential to be either? I’m curious.
This one is old, but I discovered it today while trying to find an easy way to annotate things digitally – webpages, documents, everything. Anderson’s meditation on the joy of marginalia is bittersweet for me. I love the idea of writing things in books as I read them, but I have never been able to do it; either I find myself reading with nothing to say (surprising, you might say, for a writer) or I find myself completely stunted by a lurking perfectionism. It might seem neurotic in an absurd way to say that I haven’t written things in books in the past for fear of writing something stupid, but there it is. “Errors, mistakes, even slight… discrepancies,” says Perfectionism with disgust, sliding his glasses further up his crinkled nose, “are not to be tolerated.” And so I put the pencil down.
I discovered The Markup earlier today. They’re a thoughtful, ethical journalism non-profit, reporting on “how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society.”
Not only does The Markup promise not to expose you to third-party trackers, it also tries to collect as little personal information as possible and commits to never monetising the data they do collect. Points from me.
This reddit post ‘What the coronavirus forcing me in lockdown’s taught me about cooking‘ has been doing the rounds, and it’s well worth a read. The post goes into some recipes that they’ve cooked with their limited ingredients, but it’s also a meditation on the creative benefits of constraints and over coming limitations when problem solving. It’s more than just a post about leftovers recipes, is what I’m getting at.
The poster and his fiance also have a youtube channel, where they post cooking videos. I had a look and their videos are excellent; clear, to the point and precise. I want to make their Char Siu Bao; they look delicious.
Gretchen McCulloch wrote a great article about the need for freedom of expression in the language we write. She says that by making sure we don’t come down to hard on creative new formulations of language online in favour of being grammatically correct, we let people convey how they feel more accurately than if they were using proper grammar. I fundamentally agree. Play with language, it’s yours, not the other way around. Try new shit out. Aside from finding more nuanced ways to express yourself, finding new ways to connect with people, you’ll have some goddamned fun, which is all any of us can ask for these days.
I’ve been having a crisis of blogging for the last several months, since the summer. You can see it in the sporadic and strange posts I’ve plastered on the blog, like the stickers you see on lamp-posts and traffic lights and phone boxes. The urge to post, and to write something worthy of posting, has been overwhelming, but my satisfaction with the results has been… mixed.
In early December I read an essay that inspired me to start a small project I thought might be the answer. I thought Peanut Brittle would result in daily content for the blog for the entirety of 2020 that might even mildly interest readers, but we’re a couple of days into the year and I can already tell I don’t want to continue.
The stream was a blast, and I’ll be doing it again, on Thursday. I’ll be streaming Resident Evil 2 from seven. Something terrifying for Halloween.
It was shockingly easy to do and I’d recommend it.
The next step, I think is to come up with a format that would work for creative writing streams – I want to start doing streams about writing fiction and workshops, that sort of thing, but I need to do more background work first. Maybe if I get to the point where there’s a little community, even open mic night streams – y’know, bring a piece of poetry or short fiction and air it on stream for the crowd. If that’s something that interests you; let me know, I might be way out on a limb here.