I have had a soft spot for Tom Gauld since his Guardian comics. His longer narrative comics (like Goliath), are lovely, and there is a quiet contemplative nature to them. As such, I was pleased to get Mooncop, his latest, which chronicles a policeman on the moon as people gradually leave to become more and more automated. Devoured in one sitting on the tube, it was dry and hopeful. Definitely recommend.
On a completely different note, I read Red Riding 1974 by David Peace, which is part of a larger series that I do not think I’ll be able to read. It was recommended in a discussion on Twitter a long time ago about the pervading darkness of 70s Yorkshire, and certainly the story of serial child abuse and murder, gruesome crimes and police corruption, as well as a protagonist who is not a good person, was definitely unrelentingly bleak. There was apparently a tv film made, which could be interesting, but definitely one you’d have to be in the headspace for.
Speaking of headspace, I’ve just finished Sara Maitland’s A Book of Silence, which has given me a lot to think about. Throughout walks and time spent in various wildernesses and deserts, Maitland writes about the history of silence and contemplation with regards to inner and outer worlds, and of prayer. Quite engaging, full of personal anecdotes and analysis/awareness of experience exper wheniments and wider narrations. While I have reservations of extended solitude in my own life, having had negative experiences before, there is something to be said for deliberate quiet and thoughts – either in walking or other activities. I find there are moods in which I will go walking, usually at night, through the streets of London, in silent witness of the dark metropolis that so has my heart. I wish I had been more receptive to the beauty of Skye, but was too distracted by midges, by the mundane. Perhaps once with a better sense of self and am less broken. Also, remind me to write about Accidie at some point.
And there’s something to be said about the physicality of action – the walking, the writing, the drawing. While I tend to have some kind of ambient music on as a white noise filter, there is a quiet focus in doing. There is an odd reference in the first Expanse book (Corey), referencing V.B. Price‘s death-self. I looked it up, and found it chime with some of the other bits I’d been reading recently. “Cleaning away the normal patterns and wastes of my day. I prepare to meet myself on the page, to see what is there”.
Girly Juice is a treasure trove of mostly NSFW blogness, which I mention because she also wrote a fab thing recently on scheduling writing that I need to go back to and properly absorb, but talks about how to deal with energy/creative bursts and dearths. Generally through planning – properly caning it when you can, and have reserves for when you can’t. Also useful to remember: having day start/finish rituals, and writing down ideas with more notes than you think you’d need for later. When I’m in a slightly off headspace, I can barely take a moment to process the thing I’d like to think/write about without being bombarded by several thousand other things spinning off, all of which with potential. I recently experimented and wrote a list of things I wanted to cover, as below, as well as as many of the spin-offs as I could.
Pre-emptive thoughts to process once I get back to them deliberately
- on silence (Maitland, Goldsaito)
- on assessing the world (Perec)
- on building your space (Bachelard, supply chain tweet)
- on guilt, on bridges burning/building
- on business with yourself
- the process (idle hands, cooking, drawing)
- the silence of making, the dialogue of making
As you can see, it’s a bit exhausting.
I actively would recommend you taking the time to read Craig Mod’s How I got my Attention Back, which I found through Warren Ellis’ great newsletters. It’s a nuanced commentary on our addiction to the internet and social media without the usual hand-wringing and erasure of those who need those networks to survive.
“But the quieter my mind became, and the deeper I went into my own work, the more I realized how my always-on, always-connected state had rendered me largely useless.”
I recently did a shop at Present & Correct, which seems to be a lovely stationer/art shop of slightly retro graphics and typography. They have a lovely twitter of interesting things too. My fave purchase was definitely their Copper tape, made with real metal. Aside from looking great, it can hold some shapes, so in running it along the bottom edge of a journal page I’m able to kink it to find it more easily. Still using Bullet Journal. Might see what technology can do for me, particularly in regards to providing clean slate grades, with something like a spreadsheet with conditional formatting that blacks out cells once there’s numbers in them, so that I’m able to build data without comparison. Not sure if it’d be massively helpful, but worth a shot as I’m conscious that mood is very much a reflective thing, and so is graded as “better than yesterday/earlier”. I read a thing recently that I can’t find about in order to find something ‘worse’, like a year, say, it’s got to be objectively about 100 times worse for it to register as a new level. So if I were able to have particular indicators of each level, that could be a more objective chart. But who knows.
Other joys have been creating cocktails with Briottet’s Liqueur de Coquelicot de Nemours, which I was introduced at The Jolly Botanist in Edinburgh, where I had about five of its eponymous cocktail gleefully. At home it’s simpler – some poppy liqueur, some Unicorn Tears gin and tonic water. I was also reminded of the glory that is Mr Fitzpatrick’s Blood Tonic Cordial, having had copious amounts of it with lemonade (and later with gin & tonic) at the lovely Vout-o-Reenees surrealist club on various occasions – most recently at Molly Parkins’ private show of paintings. (On that note – Parkins’ paintings had an odd feel to them: that the landscapes within them had been brought forward in a wave to crush against the window of the canvas. There was a deadness to them that worked in the darker sea images, but elsewhere less so.) Have attained fruitbat status at work, and have started eating a lot of mangoes, for some reason. Also must go back to Brü in Harrow, which has the fab distinction of actually being open late.
Absolutely thrilled to have seen Escaped Alone at the Royal Court, as I have wanted to see Caryl Churchill performed professionally for years. The cast of four women were really good at the fragmented conversational quality that is so hard to get right written down. Their inner worlds were so fleshed out, with hints throughout that frame their trapped-ness. All the while is interspersed satirical apocalypses, from cave ins to plagues, with society breaking down acutely and generations developing differently, in a viscerally wrong way. We came out after the 50 minutes with knees broken from the ‘restricted legroom’ seats, and chatted about Mrs Jarrett’s role, where from her ‘terrible rage’, her outsider nature in class, in relationships, in history.
In other theatre news, saw a scratch night at the Omnibus in Clapham that showed a lot of promise. Amy Acre (who I’ve definitely reviewed once or twice over at Sabotage, performed her new show, Insomniacs’ Sleepover, which showed some promise and definitely stopped too soon (due to the nature of the evening, not the actual show). The surreality and desperate attempts to try anything to get to sleep, self-help recordings and lectures and possibly new friendships as relationships break down. The other show I caught was When We Died by Alexandra Donnachie, which was a darkly comic narration of a woman at a funeral home confronted with the body of her (I assume) rapist. The character’s voice is great throughout, and only alludes obliquely to her past with the man on the slab, with heavily pregnant pauses and nervous nattering. Both very different, but worth catching.
Actively loved T2 (Trainspotting sequel). While it does have its flaws (notably in its use of women), it had a script could both have me in stitches and emotionally invested in the characters. Well, particularly Spud, obviously. It did so much good to have rewatched the first one very recently, as why I particularly loved it was the cinematography and music, which stood well on itself but worked best in its sometimes very clever and subtle callbacks to visuals from the first film. Obviously sometimes this was a bit anvily, but I think they acknowledged that (“this is just nostalgia!”, he shouts, up on Arthur’s Seat), and kept it strong nevertheless in a story about having grown up, and revisiting the past (in locations and relationships). The past is a different country, and all that.
Catching up on The Good Wife, slowly, though had forgotten a large majority of the plot. I miss Kalinda. Finding Taboo interesting, with some inconsistent characters, but Tom Hardy gives it his all as a slightly bizarre creature. Not sure how (or if) it’d get resolved. Saw Mean Streets, which made me sad rather than anything, on behalf of Keitel’s character. Also Full Metal Jacket, where I suffered from crowd blindness and thus could not actually differentiate most of the characters. Enjoyed the pilot for Mr Robot, so will probably go back to that.
Have managed to get over the issue I had with Destiny, and enjoyed it thoroughly for a few days.Definitely looking to go back to it and play more, though I am continually annoyed by its lack of local co-op. On that note, I am also slightly frustrated by lopped off content within DLC, which I may purchase at some point (but not right now.). Started Dragonage: Inquisition as a single hand hatchet wielding dwarf, and have thusfar not managed to die *as* often as I used to with games where you control whole parties. Having only watched people play previous games, a lot of the plot content is one I don’t have, but I shall trust my current companions and see what happens. On a completely different gaming style, I started Stardew Valley, which had a similar kind of frustrating learning curve as Destiny, except perhaps more so. While I’ve liked games like that in the past, there doesn’t seem to be as early a payoff to grind to make it actually worth it. Also the 2am KO is frustrating as all hell. Started playing Two Dots on my phone, which reminds me of snake crossed with connect 4, and all the addiction of candy crush. This’ll do nicely.
The last two weeks has seen a rash of orders to the Prince Charles Cinema. I shall look forward to, in the next month or three: A Streetcar Named Desire, Stalker, Electric Dreams/Her double feature, L’Age d’Or, The Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou, Ikarie XB-1 [Voyage to the End of the Universe], Things to Come, Ghost World and Mad Max: Black & Chrome. Gosh.
Fab things online
- Citylab code for creating x-ray like layouts of cities
- Fantastic twitter thread on supply chain infrastructure
- tiny baby crocodile robot cameras and their mum
And to finish with something glorious: