Redirecting my creative energy
No. 17: Pointing your way... why we need to talk about the politics of desire, absurd trolley problems, old Hollywood bloopers and more
Hey! Welcome to issue 17 of my newsletter.
July went and not a single newsletter was sent. It was not a good month for me creatively, fiscally, mentally or physically.
Before getting to my lengthy list of things I thought were worth sharing, I want to talk about what my bad July means for what remains of August and beyond…
✍️ Writing Report
On Tuesday 12th July, I tested positive for COVID. I would continue to test positive until Sunday 24th. The illness and isolation, matched with that disgusting heatwave that hit parts of Britain with 40-degree temperatures, completely derailed my July.
I lost work. I lost what passed for a routine. I lost motivation. And at times I thought I’d lose my will to live.
The COVID symptoms were not so terrible, they were mostly gone after a week. But I was not prepared for how torturous the isolation would be.
During that time, I could not bring myself to blog, write fiction or poetry, or send out a newsletter. All I could manage was to write in my journal. Even if it was just to complain about my isolation. But amidst the whining, I found some clarity through thinking on the page.
A lot of creative energy has been misdirected towards the wrong kind of writing for me. I spend too much time thinking about what I can turn into short-form content, drafting and scrapping so many blog posts, rather than searching for stories. And telling stories is what I really love.
So, I’m going to spend August focusing on writing stories. I’m going to write some fiction, but I want to have a go at writing more personal stories too.
For this reason, I’m not going to send out another newsletter until the 28th to allow myself more time to focus on projects more important to me right now.
📚 REVIEWED: The Right To Sex
Before I fell ill with the virus, I wrote a review of Amia Srinivasan’s excellent essay collection The Right to Sex. My review centred around Srinivasan’s argument for why we should talk about the politics of desire.
🐦 Twitter Treat
💻🛒 Absurd Trolley Problems
From the same person who brought you Spend Bill Gates’ Money comes a new fun little game: Absurd Trolley Problems. It’s well worth setting aside a few minutes for this.
I got a kill count of 60. Feel free to comment and let me know whether you’re a better or bloodthirstier person than I am.
▶️ Some Good YouTube Videos
I’m going to try and consume a lot less YouTube in August. It’s not healthy for my productivity. But there were some videos I watched worth highlighting.
After seeing a specific clip from a 1996 Andrew Marr interview with Noam Chomsky several times, I’ve wanted to watch the full interview. I finally set time aside when I had COVID. Chomsky’s explanation for how propaganda works in the media is just as true now as it was back then and is well worth watching. Afterwards, an interview of Chomsky in 2003 listing the war crimes of every US president from Eisenhower to George Bush then popped up in my recommendations.
Stubagful put out the fifth episode of his series on Brexit, analysing the shitshow of British politics like it were a TV show with a loathsome cast.
Have you ever wondered whether people of previous generations looked older at a younger age than people of our generation? Vsauce investigated.
On Twitter, I stumbled upon a clip of nightmarish bunny rabbits, which directed me towards the 1990 Russian 10-minute animated short film The Scarecrow Pugalo by Rosalia Zelma. The top comment says it all: “Came for the horror bunnies and left in tears.”
Think unsexy thoughts. Ryan Broderick of Garbage Day recommended a YouTube channel that remixes The Simpsons episodes into songs.
For anyone who has seen the excellent Everything Everywhere All At Once should check out Pop Culture Detective’s video essay: “Everyone Everywhere Needs Waymond Wong.”
Finally, Super Eyepatch Wolf did a lengthy deep dive into influencer video courses, especially those promising success on YouTube. They’re all bunk, of course. But what I found most interesting was the second half of the video, where he shared the darker side of being a content creator.
🐦 Another Twitter Treat
🔗 Stray Links
Yeah, there’s quite a number of these. My top recommendations have a [***] next to them.
Universal basic income could improve the nation’s mental health***
The Forde Report lays bare the lie at the heart of of the media’s war on Corbyn***
An English Literature degree isn’t just about ‘reading books'
Five journalists on covering the internet in search of meaning, not viral trends
Thank you so much for reading!
I love putting these newsletters together, but they do take hours to write. If you are not yet subscribed, you can get more issues like this in your inbox by subscribing below. And if you know anyone else who would enjoy this content, I’d love it if you could share it with them.
I’m always open to feedback and would love to hear from my readers. Feel free to leave a comment or get in contact with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!
John Wesley Stammers
P.S. ICYMI: the previous issue of this newsletter included why obscurity is good in the beginning for an artist, advice for uninspired writers, my favourite 2Pac song and more.