Well, my friends, that week has come and we’re barely at the end of the 1st month of this experiment. The week where basically there is nothing to report because work and family life has been so all consuming. So all-consuming I have been unable to consume anything more, for fear of passing out. My activity tracker is also telling me that it’s been a bit of a weird one physically, with basically me having done no steps almost at all from Tuesday to Friday. I tried to cram in a run which resulted in me thinking I might have some sort of bone disease because of the sheer pain that inflicted. So yeah, work… it’s a doozy.
That said, this was not a completely brainless week.
I found that I have been accepted as one of the 25 lucky Cyberpsychology postgrad students at IATD which means that from Oct this year I will be “back to school”, sort of, studying about why we do the things we do online. I could not be more excited! That has basically resulted in me frantically trying to dig up all the relevant books in my library starting with Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0 which I plan to re-read on my travel to Bucharest next week.
Listening-wise, I have thankfully reached the end of Heidiworld the podcast. It left me with incredibly mixd feelings because I could not stop listening to it, but I literally took nothing valuable out of it, outside the fact that it most likely functioned as a sort of crazy background to my commute. I was so relieved to be reaching the last episode that I basically fast-listened to the last 20 minutes sometimes not really understanding whole sentences. I know it’s on the list of best podcasts, but it did not feel “a best” for me. I have, however, started The Superhero Complex — a series about real-life “superheroes” centred on the exploits of Phoenix Jones. This, again, was on a bunch of “best of” podcast lists, and so far it’s been okay although I suspect it will listen as more of a Lifetime story than an actual exploration of the phenomenon of “vigilante justice” which has been rather pervasive in recent years. I am secretly hoping it will discuss why superheroes have made such a return, why people feel like they need to take the law into their own hands and how this connects with things like American militias and community patrols. Here’s hoping…
On the listening front, still going strong with The Rest is Politics and Oh God What Now, which is interesting as I’ve never been so heavily into politics in my entire life. I need to pick up on the Tennis Podcast which is covering the Laver Cup, but I’ve been unable to watch much of the event so it will be a bit dry to just listen to the details recounted. Oh well.
Rory Stewart and Alastair Campbell’s podcast was actually the springboard for the one and only movie I watched this week, called The Contractor, which Rory mentioned on the podcast a week ago. Interestingly, he had started the movie on a plane and never finished it, and the premise sounded interesting: how American army veterans end up in private contractor positions and doing incredibly harmful mercenary jobs to pay the bills. I am sad to report that is literally the first 20 minutes of the movie after which it regresses into a chase and shoot type thing which I kept watching in the hope of some redemption. None came.
Watching wise, we have finished The Last Movie Stars — the epic documentary series about the life of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. And while the series did justice to the life and achievements of Paul Newman, I was left with so much love for Joanne Woodward whose brilliance and steadfastness impressed me deeply. As a result, I have decided to watch as many of her movies as possible in the coming weeks, possibly starting with The Three Faces of Eve (which Dario has recently watched and enjoyed).
I also started and quickly gave up on “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” on Netflix. It got a pretty scathing review in The Guardian, with the author noting that it fixates on the murderer and leaves very little space for the victims, and that the character himself is — beyond queasily disgusting, very flat and emotionless. To be fair, none of that was among the reasons I gave up on it. I gave up on it because I have already heard the story told in a masterful way in an absolutely brilliant graphic novel (My friend Dahmer), written by someone Dahmer went to school with. And in the novel, as the author works through his own feelings about knowing what type of circumstances Dahmer lived through, we do get a pretty compelling portrait of someone who was fundamentally mentally damaged which makes his actions a bit more …well, understandable. And that is a form of comfort, at least for me, knowing that people are not completely random or completely evil in their actions.
Reading wise, it’s been a BAD week. Other than skimming through Hailey Nahman’s essay on why she won’t get married and then reading this wonderful article on why marriage, the modern concept of it, is maybe not as helpful to society or to us personally as we all think, I read precious little. Except work stuff, of course. There were several articles on TS Eliot’s later years, one in the Baffler and one in the LRB and I managed to get through half of any of those, mostly because it’s become clear to me that this attempt to explain literary genius by going through their private correspondence is not always what it’s cracked up to be. I say this after I developed somewhat of a kicky obsession with Philip Larkin after reading a bunch of VERY SIMILAR articles about his non-literary life inspired by the poet’s own correspondence with various friends and lovers. “Do not meet your heroes”, people. It’s never great to understand that someone who wrote this
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
also wrote about clumsily wanting to kiss the feet of their estranged lover, which to be honest just sounds pedestrian, even if it’s penned by TS Eliot himself.
Anyway, there’s also a good read on some of the more outlandish ideas that Futurism brought about in Wired, who discusses Steven Novella’s The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe which I’ve already put on my listening list.
That’s all folks. Here’s hoping for a week of less late night working and more listening/reading/watching and walking.