12/0/20 Phone Tabs

Basically, there are a lot of tabs on my phone and I thought I’d work through them, make a note of what they are and some thoughts about them, and then I’d close them all down without losing anything in the way that I’m always scared of losing something when I close a tab down, like it is cutting off some possible future where I read some article or looked at some pictures and that was what was needed to change my life irrevocably.

Heartstopper by Alice Osman

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This is a gay comic that I’ve been reading on and off for months now. I saw a review of it in the guardian and now it’s basically my comfort reading late at night if I can’t get to sleep

Hiroyuki Doi

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I first heard about Hiroyuki Doi on John Green’s podcast ‘The Anthropocene Reviewed’. I was obsessed with John Green as a teenager. I read all his books and watched all his youtube videos – skipping the ones his brother was in. He embodied a kind of sincerity and curiosity that was at once both childlike and supremely mature. And, being a bit of an angsty teen, his form of adulthood felt like the only one worth striving for. Which is another way of saying I developed a parasocial relationship with John Green that I wouldn’t call entirely unhealthy insofar as it helped me become a smarter, more caring person.

I have a hard time recommending any of John Green’s stuff. Listening to his podcast, watching his videos, reading his books, everything he touches feels like a point on an asymptote of divinity. But, from what I’ve heard from others, his stuff is kinda dumb. And while I can recognise this kinda dumbness, I still have this curated, residual idea of the dude in my head as the last of my childhood heroes. With a knowing that Gandhi slept with kids and diplodocus’ probably never existed, John Green is the only one to weather innocence and experience and unite the two.

So, yeah, I put a lot of clout in John Green’s recommendations. And Hiroyuki Doi is one of Green’s better recommendations from his podcast. There’s something so cosmic and chasmic about his works. It feels formless but also like the root of all things.

Sometimes, it strikes me that the best art is mantra-like. It exists as a way to consume the senses into a meditative state. And that is certainly how it feels to look at Hiroyuki Doi’s work.

How to Grow Old by Bertrand Russel

I first heard about this book in either Michael Pollan’s ‘How to Change Your Mind: ‘ or Jenny Odell’s ‘How to Do Nothing’. I read both books on the same long train journey home from Poland last summer. That, plus the fact that the two books overlap substantially in their treatment of attention as a virtue, means they’ve kinda coalesced into one Experience/Memory – this Experience/Memory being the sum total of books, museums, people I met, thoughts, feelings and coversations I had on that long train journey.

But, anyway, there was this one Bertrand Russel quote in the book that kinda stuck with me so I went to hunt it down.

Make your interests gradually wider and more impersonal, until bit by bit the walls of the ego recede, and your life becomes increasingly merged in the universal life. An individual human existence should be like a river — small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being.

Burnaway

Burnaway is a contemporary art magazine from the American South. I don’t know how I found the website but I love niche magazines like this. I spent ages trying to find an equivalent for the UK or just London but it’s hard to track down. The magazine reviews art shows across the South East of the US along with broader features about ‘The State of Art’ etc.

It’s always fun when you find a very specific corner of the internet for a very specific group of people but feels, for that very specific community, very important. I’ve always wanted to find a magazine that felt like the nervous system of a community. The sort of magazine that Les Temps Modernes was for the Sartre or how I image ‘The New Yorker’ must have felt to certain groups of New Yorker’s throughout time.

The closest equivalent in my own life is Pitchfork for music criticism. I’m sure there is some alt-mag out there somewhere detailing all the best shows and think pieces of the UK (plus with pretty pictures) but I haven’t found it yet.

What I want is to find a magazine worth subscribing to. A magazine that I can devote month after month to. The kind of magazine you can form a relationship to and would rather read than whatever book is on your mind. The search continues

Bruce Lee’s Journals

I never thought much about Bruce Lee before ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…’. I had enough of a conception of him as Not One of the Bad Ones, to feel that his depiction in the movie was unfair. But, not actually knowing anything about him, I decided to look him up.

Turns out Bruce Lee’s a pretty cool dude. A nice guy with impressive moves. The facet of Bruce Lee’s personality which really gripped me was his journalling habit. Apparently, he journalled every day and, from what journal entries I’ve been able to find, the vibe was very similar to Marcus Aurelius’ ‘Meditations’.

So I guess I kept the tab open as inspiration for my own journalling habits.

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There was also this one quote which struck me as the kinda goal that I’m working towards in a very slow and uncommitted fashion.

Above all, I am hoping to actualize myself to be an artist of life

When I was a teenager, I remember linking onto this idea in the Bhagavad Gita of doing every single act as an act of sacrifice – i.e. making every verb a conscious, semi-sacred act. It’s the stance that everything is important. In my head, this is what it means to be an artist of life. It is to make every act a piece of art in itself. To do things not as a means to an end but as an end in itself – to make of every verb a work of art.

After

This is just a dumb romance movie I kinda want to watch at some point but probably never will. I think I found it because I read an article about a farmer who was Ralph Feines cousin and it was talking about the whole family – the Feinnes-Tiffin’s – were cool and eccentric in that great British tradition of bohemian aristocrats and, yeah, it turns out the youngest Feines-Tiffin is an actor and his names Hero Feinnes-Tiffin which is a fun name and he’s in this movie.

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The wikipedia page has a cool description of the genre as ‘New Adult’. I haven’t heard of this genre before but it potentially is a good descriptor of what I like. Wikipedia describes it as ‘is a developing genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket’. It should fit for some of my favourite books – The Art of Fielding, The Idiot, Sally Rooney’s stuff – but, when it lists examples, they mostly just seem to be YA novels where the protagonists aren’t so Y.

Black Magic

I took the last train home from London a few months ago and the people in the seats in front of me were drunkenly playing this game. It seemed cool but I couldn’t work out how it worked until I found this wikiHow article.

Thanks wikiHow!

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I Have Watched Coronavirus Porn and It Involves Lots of Purell

This is classic tab fodder. It’s the sort of article the idea of which is fun and funny but the idea of actually reading is dire and dread-filled. So it lies there and as a tab to chuckle at when you flick through but never a tab to read.

Having read the piece, it’s actually a fun read – and quick too, which feels more important in terms of internet literary consumption.

In “2 Girls 150 Rolls of Toilet Paper,” which is set in the near future, Vancouver-based Loretta Rose and Sofia Blaze wear tinfoil hats and sit in front of a pile of Cascades Fluff, a Canadian brand.

“I am bored as fuck,” says Blaze. “Can you believe it’s been two months of this shit?”

“Can you believe it’s been 10 days since we ran out of food and had to start eating toilet paper and washing our butts in the sink?” Rose responds.

They then bemoan their boredom, the fact that they weren’t quarantined with any men, and discover to their great joy that they are lesbians.

When several people in the comments section chastised them for hoarding toilet paper, Rose and Blaze insisted that, post-production, they’d donated them to a homeless shelter.

The category of quarantine boredom videos is just regular homemade porn clips. But there’s a gung ho, making-the-best-of-it spirit that’s genuinely uplifting

Nick Walker

He did the cover for ‘Die Lit’. It’s one of my favourite album covers

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It’s second only to Brand New’s album cover for ‘Science Fiction’ because apparently my thing is darkness and impending doom from falling.

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Now that I think about it, some of my favourite photographs involve falling.

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There’s a bit in ‘How to Do Nothing’, where Odell expounds on David Hockney’s ideas on the relationship between art and time.

According to [Hockney], an image contained the amount of time that went into making it, so that when someone looked at one of his painting, they began to inhabit the physical, bodily time of its being painted… although us sometimes used [photography] in studies for paintings, he found a snapshot’s relationship to time unrealistic: ‘Photography is alright if you don’t mind looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed cyclops – for a split second… but that’s not what it’s like to live in the world, or to convey the experience of living in the world’

What I like about pictures of people falling is the sense of time they created. The photographs are pure process. When you see them, all you can see is the before and the after. The after is the disaster you can’t help envisioning. The before is the ‘why’ you can’t quite fathom.

Heartbeat in the Brain

I read about this documentary in ‘How to Change Your Mind’. It’s a movie of Amanda Feilding – noted psychonaut and Countess of Wemyss and March – drilling a hole in her head with a dentist’s drill. The process is called trepanation. The aim is to increase circulation of blood in the brain.

I like when people are passionate about something. I’m drawn to an intensity of care. And say what you like about the merits of trepanation, but you can’t help but admire someone for having the courage to drill a hole in their head.

Love Me & Fuck Me

The closest thing I have to a gravitational magazine – the kind of thing you could orbit a life around – is i-D. I like their stuff and have been reading semi-compulsively since Lockdown started. 1585241111192-LOVE-ME-ID-3

These tabs are interviews with Josh Kern about his two photo-diaries Fuck Me and Love Me. I love the idea of a photodiary – a mix of visual and literary expression – and the way Kern lays his out is kinda stellar. Big shout out to the picture above with the torn photo at the center of the page. Plus, the scrawledness of the writing creates the impression that the meaning of the words are more important than the neat presentaiton. In a world of bullet journalists and the fetishisation of minimalism, I’ve always aspired to writing as expression and nothing more.

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As much as anything, what draws me to these pieces is the suggestion of a life more exciting than my own. I’m pretty sure this feeling is one of the permanent sensation of the early twentieth century. We all feel like everyone else is living a more exciting, sexier life than we are. The feeling is always there. Irrespective of whether there is a specific Better Life to FOMO over, the feeling persists. Fundamentally, FOMO is an intransative verb. When it takes a specific object – when there’s an exact event or kinda life that you feel you consciously are missing out on – that’s a blessing. That’s what I like about these picture.

One thing I kinda like about lockdown is that no one else is going out and having fun. It’s one of the few times in my life when FOMO has been on the low. So that’s a plus. And, when I see these pics, I think about the future I can live rather than the present I’m not attaining.

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Self-Portrait / Cutting by Catherine Oppie

I read about this piece in Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts. As with many of the references in the book, they were more comforting to imagine that to witness.

The book concerns itself primarily with Queerness and how it relates to the family. When I think of queerness, I naturally think of it as conventionally attractive. It is TV shows like Euphoria and Pose where everyone is beautiful. It is music like Moses Sumney and Kevin Abstract where, again, everyone is beautiful. At it’s most Out There, it is the works of Robert Maplethorpe and the peach scene in Call Me by Your Name. But, while it might be a bit out there, it’s still beautiful people.

When I think of queerness, I think of something sexy more than sexual. When it is sexual, it’s primarily vanilla-adjacent, well-lit and involves strong facial symmetry. When all TV and movies show you are the beautiful things, it’s hard not to limit your imagination to that.

So when Maggie Nelson starts talking about a woman cutting a childlike family drawing on her back, I’m picturing a beautiful, well sculpted back – the carvings delicate and clean and even.

Essentially, I’m picturing a variation of Le Violin d’Ingres by Man Ray.

So when I saw Catherin Opie’s fat back and crude cuttings I was shocked in the way that radical queerness is meant to be shocking. Though, tbh, there is nothing properly shocking about Opie’s back. It’s probably the average looking back for a woman of her age in modern society. The cuts are the way human flesh looks when it it cut. The shock isn’t so much the queerness of the picture’s reality than the humanness. It’s hard when one is young and watches TV and movies and pictures of young and beautiful people to encounter something so queerly human.

Queerness has an elastic repulsion for me.

The comparable example that comes to mind is a lego set I had with some magnetic peices. I made a small shoot with a magnet at the bottom and then dropped a second magnet from the top of the shoot. The magnets had alike poles so, when I dropped the second magnet, it would fall towards the first, getting closer and closer until it got repelled out again. Then gravity drew it back down the shoot before the magnet repelled it out again.

I consciously seek out queer media and queer spaces, but whenever I’m confronted with fully fledged, unabashed ‘queerness’ – deviancy, unconventionality – I get scared. Which is obviously something I have to deal with. I have to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is conventionally beautiful or even trying to be conventionally beautiful.

As much as this is a problem with queerness, it’s more so a problem with humanity. The raw fact of bodies – unadorned, composed of meat, human animals – it’s kinda repulsive. When there isn’t a conscious attempt to be more than that – whether it’s keeping a body in good shape or titivating with clothes and make-up – I feel very ill at ease.

Hopefully I’ll be okay with this at some point.

I’m Not Gang Gang. Please Don’t Let Drake Find Out.

This is just one of my favourite pieces of comic writing I’ve read in a while. It’s dumb but I find myself cracking up over it at sporadic and intense moments. It’s embarrassing how much I enjoy this post.

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