Misc.

161. READ.LOOK.THINK.

READ: “In the following months, the author invited me to attend his various lectures and readings around town. I heard him talk about the idea of the paragraph on several occasions. He liked to repeat that he was bored by stories and that he didn’t enjoy reading entire novels. At the same time, however, he quoted works often and with authority, fitting them into literary eras and styles. I couldn’t tell whether his knowledge was gleaned second hand or belonged to another phase in his career when he’d read entire books.” | “My fear wasn’t even of public speaking, per se: It was a fear of people seeing me get nervous.” / “… my brain notices, does everything it can to gauge if what I’m about to say is “right,” then lets me know that “saying the wrong thing” must be risky since I invest my whole being trying to elude it, which supports my fear that my words aren’t right and sensitizes me to any possibility of wrongness — on and on, until now my brain perceives “speaking up” or “speaking in error” as life-threatening.” 



“I have accumulated layer upon layer of bad feeling; of negativity, rage and doom” — on postnatal depression. | “I suffered only for being so blessed, and for my cowardice. I dodged fights, I held my tongue, I minded my rules. Do the work. Deliver on deadline. Don’t sweat the nonsense; you’re not dead. I kept Jane’s picture on my desk.” | “I had wanted leverage, and in some cases I had it. Men had started to act like scared animals, whimpering and then snapping. They had no way of knowing how hostile their very presence could feel to a woman who has been assaulted.” | “If we’re to do anything other than perform false versions of ourselves for the entertainment, or moral satisfaction, of others, we have to be willing to give voice to those words they don’t want to hear the most. Artists, writers, and thinkers are supposed to say the unsayable.” | “Since I’ve stopped my struggle to be beautiful, I am overtaken by beauty more often.”  | The Crane Wife. | This piece by Rachel Cusk about Yiyun Li is now locked for subscribers but here’s a bit I can quote because I whatsapped it so much: the “not-good-enough mother, who leaves a shard of her own self-hatred inside her daughter and then disowns or disapproves of the resulting pain”. | “No one is asked to leave and no one feels anxious about out-staying their welcome.” (Rebecca May Johnson on canteens, or: why I love Westfield Stratford Food Court.) | “I am tired of the struggle […] I am always hungry. All I can do all day is wander about the streets. No one needs me. There is no place in the world for me.” | “A lot of my acerbic, cruel wisdom seems really irrelevant now.” | The ideal woman is always optimising / highly regimented



Nico Muhly: How I write music. | “The Internet seems to me to be something like that, where what used to be passing thoughts and rumors—things intended to be spoken, intended to vanish after a moment or two—have stayed on, frozen, then thawed, then frozen, then thawed.” | “When I see beautiful 17-year-olds now, it’s not as though I’m ignorant of how one could be attracted to them. I can see their beauty and charisma as well as anyone. Maybe I even see it more clearly than those older people who seek out relationships with them, because I can’t imagine sullying it with my cynicism and beer gut and eye bags.” | “It’s now the mundane, the standard, the ho-hum that we want to keep secret, not whatever might set us apart.” | “Plus, I’m alive; I have emotional problems, I’m getting my girlfriend pregnant, all that stuff.” | Skin, stomach, vagina: the anatomy of a depression. | Click this if you need to cry. | A life-altering week on a cruise ship with a thousand lesbians. |  How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell. | You can now pre-order the novel of your friend and mine, Victoria Hannan



LOOK: The Highly Enthused podcast. | LRB 40th anniversary pink tote! | The Man in Seat Sixty-One: the train travel guide. | Amazing interview with Emily Maitlis (whose book is wonderful on audio). | Decidedly not-sweet granola. | Trash Plastic. | Food and climate change made simple. | An artist’s flat. | Smitten Kitchen family meal planning for real life. | Mama eats plants. | On Instagram: Dalston In The 80s RIO Archive, including Hackney women at Greenham Common. | Watching: Thatcher: A Very British Revolution / Everybody in the Place: an Incomplete History of Britain 1984-1992 / Michael Cockerell archive.



THINK: You can pay more tax if you want to. |  Are you really the ‘real’ you? | Are white girls capable of making art that’s not about themselves? / “To demand someone enter into and entertain your anxious mind-palace and reckon with your complicated and endlessly fascinating individuality can be an act of power.” | Why can’t we just call things unkind? | The politicisation of testosterone. | 1975 Icelandic women’s strike. | The language of transphobes. | Why having a third baby felt like the safe choice. | “I just say I was kind of connected to Australia. I was nearby Australia, so I learnt English from there. I just say something like that.” | You accomplished something great. So now what? | The case for redefining infertility. | Elizabeth Warren is completely serious. | Gutting a pile of books. | Poor pupils’ Xmas jumper shame. | How to bullyproof your child. | The new school bullies aren’t children — they’re parents. | The secret UK government blueprints shaping post-terror planning. | Precrastination. (I’m a sufferer.) | “‘professionalism‘ is mostly just codified racism/ classism/ sexism/ queerphobia/ etc meant to discredit the work & expertise of marginalized groups.” 



Our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a mini-primer: his ten ages / “Let’s play reading” / Sinking giggling into the sea / He can never be found out because his mendacity was never hidden / “I feel 13 again because the old questions reassert themselves. How did these people get here?” / Why boarding schools produce bad leaders. | A poem: Bad New Government. Just before Boris Johnson took over I set up a campaign called 1smallkindthing to try and take an action a day to avoid a No Deal Brexit. It’s on hiatus til Parliament returns in Sept, and I am also battling with whether it’s good for my mental health to be intimately following Brexit, but join if you care to and we can assess together if we want to progress it.



Climate stuff: “Young people have led the climate strikes. Now we need adults to join us too”: Greta Thunberg. Strike on September 20 if you can. | Ten steps for personal resilience in the face of a changing climate. | Roadmap to a UK Green New Deal. | “We have for too long as scientists rested on the assumption that by providing indisputable facts and great data that we are…counter[ing] the forces against science. And obviously that strategy has failed miserably. What we need right now is all the scientists who care so deeply…to shake off the fear that holds them back from engaging in this space.” This was, she says, the first time she had placed her “personal voice and body on the line.” | Authoritarians are less willing to make sacrifices for the environment. | From control to connection: A new ethos of care. 

Misc.

160. READ.LOOK.THINK.

“The result of the referendum was a transfer of angry feelings from many leavers, those who had been economically and socially squeezed, to remainers. There was no escaping the leavers’ fury. We have all had to see the country as broken; to give up the delusion that everyone was OK. Manifestly people weren’t. The question is how to absorb and reflect on the dispossession and rage. The Brexit vote said to remainers: “You will no longer have it your way. You are going to feel threatened as we have felt threatened. You can lose your hope as we lost ours.” How to cope with Brexit uncertainty.

READ: “The people who lived in the portal were often compared to those lab rats who kept hitting a button over and over to get a pellet. But at least the rats were getting a pellet, or the hope of a pellet, or the memory of a pellet. When we hit the button, all we were getting was to be more of a rat.” | ‘Blah blah tragedy, blah blah sexy, blah blah cooking‘. | A bigger life in a smaller city. | “The stereotype is that someone who is attracted to all genders is actually just greedy, and using their sexuality as a shield against charges of promiscuity. We’re supposed to be upset at this accusation.” |  Pleasure activism. | The self-discipline trap: when control is your greatest pleasure. | The Like as read receipt. | In defence of the Instagram reading list. | “Congratulations, you’ve found a new, not particularly original, way to say ‘shut up and cook.'” | The curse of the Twitter reply guy. (I honestly thought only I had this problem. I wish I had read this before I deleted my Twitter!) | Influencer culture has turned vulnerability into a sales tool. | “Stop dating the standup comic because you want to be a standup comic. Drop the guy and grab the mic.” | “… love itself exists outside the framework of justice. There is no court at which to plead your case, no authority who can grant you recompense.” | The Friend

LOOK: AA Gill’s London flat (1997). | How to use Screen Time / Do Not Disturb. | Cute hotel room work out (not that I stay in hotels or “work out”). |Margot Henderson’s recipe for bacon-and-egg pie. | Menocore. | New plant-focused diet would transform planet’s future. | Vegan spaghetti bolognese. | The Stew. | Portraits of a wife through sixty years of marriage.

THINK: Jacinda Ardern is leading by following no one. | There are no real winners in the culture war. | Mothers don’t have callings, they have childcare hours.” | “The fact of this disproportionate labor is further evidence of our incompetence. We didn’t choose the right partner (we are foolish); we didn’t stand up for ourselves (we are weak); we were outmaneuvered in our own homes (we lack tactical skills).” | Under-fives: “the whole problem is that you don’t want anybody else to take over, nor do you want to do it all yourself; you don’t want to be lonely, but on the other hand, the outside world can’t get a look-in – an absolute contradiction that money has no answer to.” | “These activities may sound like torture to the childless version of yourself, but the parental version may find them illuminated by love, and so redeemed. You may end up becoming a different person—a parent.” | Change your understanding of misogyny. | “When I wrote “The Case for Reparations,” my notion wasn’t that you could actually get reparations passed, even in my lifetime. My notion was that you could get people to stop laughing.” | The philosopher redefining equality. | Affect Theory and the new Age of Anxiety. (“Stupmility”: a combination of shock and boredom.) | “…the reason anti-vaxxers give for their stance is that they want to protect their children, which is the same reason there are national vaccine programmes.” To fight denialism, find common ground. | “If someone else is taking the flak you would have got, in eras past, that flak is still your problem.” | “Everything is not going to be okay”: How to live with constant reminders that the Earth is in trouble. | The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution. | Can they save us? | “This is not because I believe I consciously espouse anti-semitic views, but because I do not consider myself immune to them. There is no reason why I should not be prone to a centuries-old virus that is deeply rooted in western society.” | In conservative news: An agenda for moderates / The capitalism of the future demands a bigger role for the state. | Republic now. | Poorer Brexiters voted to be worse off? There’s nothing wrong in that. | The secret weapon of Westminster’s women: WhatsApp. | White people assume niceness is the answer to racial inequality. It’s not. | Help tweens and teens manage social conflict. | The malign incompetence of the British ruling class. | The existence in Britain of a flourishing private-school sector not only limits the life chances of those who attend state schools but also damages society at large. | “Private education is not fair. Those who provide it know it. Those who pay for it know it. Those who have to sacrifice in order to purchase it know it. And those who receive it know it, or should. And if their education ends without it dawning on them then that education has been wasted.” | What chance have you got against an oligarchy that’s endlessly accommodating and flexible?

READ.LOOK.THINK.

159. READ.LOOK.THINK.

READ: How to kill your envy. | The nadir: a second birth story / “It feels like we are going into this alone, but I don’t mind, because I don’t need the posse of hype-men this time around.” | How to survive a visit from your mother. | “… when you pick a partner, you pick a story, and then you find yourself in a play you never auditioned for.” | “May you never see the person you love with tubes running out of their body, I wished for them…” | ‘Right now I hate men,’ [Plath] wrote to her analyst. ‘I am stunned, bitter.’ | The end of endings. | “So this is what a death anniversary feels like. It’s my first one.” | Big profiles: Sally Rooney. Penny Martin. Rachel Cusk. Lena Dunham. Sheryl Sandberg. (And have I recommended Anne Helen Peterson’s newsletter?). Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The lucky thing,” Hall said, “is that Julia’s never been that interested in . . .” “Other men?” she finished for him, laughing. “In other men,” he deadpanned. “She’s cheated so little. . . . I mean, comparatively.”) | “A clean, processed piece of writing with no bumps or snags may not trigger existential shame, but is also unlikely to emit beta elements from your body to your reader’s body, your unconscious to their unconscious—to move them.” | If you haven’t read the Cazalets now is the time to do it.

LOOK: Salmon with buttery harissa. | DOUBLE STOCK. | Stockpiling for Brexit. | The year in stuff / TRACKPANT GLOBALISM. | Samin Nosrat’s beauty uniform. | When an understudy opera singer steps in with four hours’ notice. | Nice working music: Low Power, by H.Takahashi. | How a pop hit is made. | Brown point shoes arrive, 200 years after white ones. | Work Friend (the best advice column). | A visual map of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle.

THINK: “It feels like getting on an airplane to fly home, only to realize mid-flight that this is it: You’re going to spend the rest of your life on an airplane.” | Anger and disgust, trust and hope, childhood and experience: this podcast with Martha Nussbaum explains everything. / Six year olds should be allowed to vote. | “This country is built — capitalism is built, patriarchy is built, whiteness is built — on the idea that trauma can be offloaded on the least of us.” | “Well I turned out fine.” | Dealing with past trauma may be the key to breaking addiction. | Post-partum intrusive thoughts. | More hormones! My fascination. | Retweet slaves. | “They’re not special at all,” [Michelle Obama’s mother said about her kids.] “The South Side is filled with kids like that.” | The world’s on fire. Can we still talk about books? | Self-care won’t save us. | “I like we have a space where it says you know what it is OK to be in life? Smart, well read and a nice person.” | “Why ruin my day by getting into this?” | “I always tell my daughters they can be anything they want, so long as they don’t make other people feel uncomfortable.” (j/k) / The imagined threat of a woman who governs like a man. | How to save people from suicide. | Why are young people having so little sex? | Don’t despair: the climate fight is only over if you think it is. | A cure for cancer? How to kill a killer.

READ.LOOK.THINK.

158. READ.LOOK.THINK.

READ: The last Swiss finishing school. | No Makeup, by Sharon Olds. | No one wants to hear the truth. |  Meaghan Daum’s affair with the intellectual dark web. | “While I’m doing those secretarial tasks, the book begins to secretly take form.” An interview with Olivia Laing, plus screenshots. | The sunburnt country. | Chinatown. | When you were six. | Cusk. | I want to read a whole book being inside this woman’s mind. | Lily Allen narrates her autobiography My Thoughts Exactly. | Nigella has recorded How to Eat as an audiobook! She commented to someone on Instagram that it will soon be released outside the UK. | Importantly, The Line of Beauty is also on Audible, the same incredible droll, poignant recording I had on CD that cost me about £50 to get off eBay many years ago.

LOOK: “May I accept my sadness knowing that I am not my sadness.” | I often find recipes online by just googling what I want to cook +Felicity Cloake Perfect. Excited for this! | Watch Salt Fat Acid Heat and fall in love with Samin Nosrat. | Even if you never went to my favourite restaurant in Hackney, Railroad, you should buy the Railroad Forever cookbook. Every single recipe is simple but wonderful, like home cooking but about 20-25% better. When will the chef Lizzie Parle get a TV show? I’m desperate for it! | Everything that rises must dance. | 18 around the world. | A former vicarage. | The Old Parsonage. | Braving the cold with Hampstead’s women swimmers. | How to minimize repetitive stress injuries from carrying a baby. | Jam bars.

THINK: Neoliberal perfectionism. | “The glou glou aesthetic applies to more than wine. Glou glou is a stripped-down renovation that showcases a building’s “bones.” It’s not wearing makeup and looking great, because you’re well rested and have an elaborate skin-care routine. (Natural wine, like natural beauty, requires long-term commitment. Minimalism works best when it’s minimal only on the surface.)” | The almost impossible difficulty of being a woman barrister. | Should art be a battleground for social justice? | “It’s amazing that a tech company can make me—me!—divide my self-worth into endless discrete moments and distribute them among people I’ve never met and on average don’t think are very smart.” | Instagram Stories have helped men accept their strange faces. | Erectile dysfunction or performance anxiety? | “If you intend to have children, but you don’t intend to have them just yet, you are not banking extra years as a person who is still too young to have children. You are subtracting years from the time you will share the world with your children.” | It’s okay to have children. | The man who knew too little. | Blow, pick or swallow? A definitive guide to clearing a blocked nose. | Between the ages of 8 and 14, girls’ confidence levels fall by 30 percent. | Of the four parental ‘feeding styles,’ only one is good for kids’ health. | Why white parents need to talk to their children about race. | It’s really okay to say no to playing with your child. | Very good and reasonable podcast episode about attachment. | “It is painful to watch a woman caught and torn in the gears of a man’s progress.” | The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method. | “The intimacy that develops within fraternal circles between men who care for each other necessitates a vigorous performance of heterosexuality in order to combat the appearance of homosexuality.” | “Poor souls. It was best not to provoke them.” | How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour. | All career advice for women is a form of gaslighting. | Everything you know about obesity is wrong. | The idea that sperm race to the egg is just another macho myth. | Group therapy for the end of the world. | No one likes being called out, but here are some things to say instead of getting defensive. | Open marriage is a neoliberal pathology. | A relatively small, single-food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact. | Britain’s middle-class Brexit Anxiety Disorder. | How to raise optimistic kids in pessimistic times.