Things that got me through January
#7: Featuring "suggestions for tories", turning small talk into smart conversation, famous writers on rejection, LinkedIn killing off good writing and more.
Based on the conversations I’ve had with people and what I’ve seen on my social feeds, January has been a rough start to 2022 for a lot of us. I certainly languished in the latter half of this month.
However, despite my languishing, I’ve managed to find 10 things I wanted to share:
I created a poem from auto-completed Google search suggestions for “tories.”
I finished Claudia Rankine’s excellent poetry collection Citizen: An American Lyric. Once again I’ve been pushed to reimagine what forms poetry can take. This collection blends essay and images with poetry seamlessly, creating evocative images of everyday racism. An extract from the book: “You are in the dark, in the car...”
A recent issue of Rob Walker’s The Art of Noticing where he spoke to Rob Baedeker really stuck with me. Baedeker offered some advice on turning small talk into smart conversation: “Ask for stories, not answers.” (It also brought to mind what Austin Kleon said about exhausting dialogue and conversational shortcuts.)
20 famous writers on being rejected. Sylvia Plath’s words particularly stood out to me, especially as I’m currently reading her journals at the moment: “Winning or losing an argument, receiving an acceptance or rejection, is no proof of the validity or value of personal identity.”
In my previous newsletter, it was Townscaper that helped me to procrastinate. In the past couple of weeks, I found new games to play in my web browser instead of doing work. DAMN DOG asks you to guess the WikiHow article from the article’s image — harder and more ridiculous than you’d expect. Whilst Wikitrivia, developed by Tom J. Watson, asks you to place a randomly generated Wikidata card in the correct place on the timeline. (My best streak: 10.)
I hate LinkedIn for so many reasons, I could probably dedicate a series of blog posts to my loathing if I felt so inclined. But Hussein Kesvani does a better job than I could of explaining just one reason the platform is worthy of scorn: “LinkedIn seems to be on a mission to kill off good writing.”
From Pscyhe films (the same place I found Sam Gainsborough’s excellent Facing It) comes an intriguing short documentary from Chung Nguyen’s The Hidden Frame series. “Dream World” explores the work of Atomik Media: “The filmmakers who transform fantasies into videos with an audience of one.” (Note: contains adult content.)
Otiose, fudgel, scurryfunge and other obscure words we should consider bringing back into daily use.
My friend Jordan Welsh wrote a great piece for Licence to Queer on the extraordinary life of Richard Chopping. Not only was he the artist behind several of James Bond’s most iconic book covers, but he was also one of the first gay men in the country to enter into a civil partnership. (My own feelings towards James Bond have also changed recently, moving from indifference to contempt. All thanks to my new favourite podcast: Kill James Bond.)
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Hope you all have a great February, and I shall speak to you again on the 14th!
All the best,