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Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

I read Monkey Grip (1977) by Helen Garner last year and I can’t believe that it is a) Australian and b) I’d not read it until now and c) something this good and interesting was written about single parenthood and wasn’t handed out at the door. It’s set in a very different time to now but captures well the compromises you make with difficult men and also, the possibility of freedom that exists as a single mother.

I thought about the patterns I make in my life: loving, loving the wrong person, loving not enough and too much and too long. What’ll I do? How much of myself will be left hanging in tatters when (if: I don’t want to end it) I wrench myself away this time?

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manny-cat-takes-selfies-dogs-gopro-15

I find selfies to be a fascinating photographic trend and this selfie-taking cat’s work is pretty sublime. Snow, rottweilers standing guard, tongue-poking.. great composition.

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It takes at least seven minutes to see how a conversation is going to unfold. You can’t go to your phone before those seven minutes are up. If the conversation goes quiet, you have to let it be. For conversation, like life, has silences — what some young people I interviewed called “the boring bits.” It is often in the moments when we stumble, hesitate and fall silent that we most reveal ourselves to one another.

From “Stop Googling. Let’s talk” by Sherry Turkle in The New York Times. 

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This, “What the essayist spills” by Maria Tumarkin in the Sydney Review of Books is a truly wonderful essay.. and gave me much peace with the time a top publisher pursued me with fascination and then started “wrapping up the meeting the minute” I pitched “a single-authored, adult length essay collection – they reckon it will tank”.

What are essays for? They are for thinking about things that need to be thought about yet don’t get thought about much, or at all, or interestingly, or for long enough. They are for picking up ideas, feelings, forces in the air, still unnamed and amorphous, and giving them a foothold in language. Whatever is in the air and whatever is disappearing – unnoticed, unmourned. They are for resisting choices offered to us that are not true, yet made to seem inescapable. Are you for this or for that? Do you treasure this or that? Identify with this or that? Will be undone by that or this? And they are for picking sides of barricades when it is morally imperative to do so. In an essay, you can take something that happened to you, or to the girl / cat / tree over there, and make a larger space for this experience, so that it may connect up with the experiences of others, but also with the flows of history, politics, culture, science. Essays of this kind are usually not written backwards from a generally agreed-on conclusion (poverty is debilitating, refugees are 100% human), or from some unassailable personal truth (my head hurts from smashing it on an invisible glass ceiling). They are written forwards, into the dusky, marshy lands, into outer space.

 

Which reminds me…

The longer I live the more I mistrust
theatricality, the false glamour cast
by performance, the more I know its poverty beside
the truths we are salvaging from
the splitting-open of our lives.

From ‘Transcendental Etude’ by Adrienne Rich.

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For Simone, her return to the Montreux Jazz Festival was a grudging reclamation of the stage after a period of tension back home. For Hill, her Unplugged performance was a gentle but unapologetic expression of her new identity as an artist. Chappelle’s performance in Hartford felt consistent with his decision to leave his show eight years prior (his departure was in and of itself perhaps the most profound act of self-definition any black artist has committed in the 21st century).
“I still don’t understand awards shows,” West said. “I don’t understand how they get five people who work their entire life, won, sell records, sell concert tickets, to come, stand on a carpet and for the first time in their life, be judged on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it, bro! I’ve been conflicted. I just wanted people to like me more. But fuck that, bro! 2015. I will die for the art—for what I believe in—and the art ain’t always gonna be polite.”From Rod Bastanmehr’s “When black artists declare their autonomy” in The Atlantic.

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Soon I began to realize that my posts were more interesting than my “official” journalism. They were more direct, asked deeper questions. Out poured visceral, accessible scenes and snippets of overheard speech laced with speculation and curiosity, and addressed, in my imagination, to people I knew. The audience was exactly the right muse.

The writer’s point of view regarding Facebook reflects that of many people in younger generations. The need for connectivity and semi-instantaneous feedback trumps any concerns about privacy, intellectual property rights, or targeted advertising.

Before Gutenberg made us a people of print, literature was developed in public performance just as much as it was in private, by a solitary writer slaving over a page. “Hearing rather than sight … dominated the older poetic world in significant ways,” Walter Ong, the scholar of literacy, has written. Homer and the classical Chinese poets refined their works in front of audiences. Even as we fell in love with print, much great writing was done at first as a kind of conversation between people, like the work fleshed out in Anais Nin’s letters to Henry Miller or the poet Rilke’s to the young Franz Kappus.

From Eve Fairbanks’ “My favourite writing tool: the Facebook status update” in the LA Times.

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your auntie & ‘nem done finished the wine & put on that Ohio Players or whatever album makes them feel blackest. they dancin’ nasty & you watching from the steps when you should be sleep. your uncle is usually a man of much shoulders & silence but tonight he is a brown slur in the light, his body liquid & drunk with good sound. you feel like you shouldn’t be looking at how shameless he moves his hips, how he holds your auntie like a cliff or something that just might save him. your mama is not your mama tonight – she is 19 again, unsure what burns in her middle. your not-mama is caught in a rapture so ungospel you wonder if this is what they mean by sin, & if it is, how, like really how, could this be the way to hell? you’ve never seen her this free, this on fire this — “BOY!” she screams at you but not so you’ll go back to bed. she calls you to her, you grab her hands, she shows you where you come from.

From “Notes For a Film on Black Joy” by Danez Smith in Gawker.

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