What I Read This Week - 4th November

Keats' season of mists and mellow fruitfulness has become, as it always does, the season of fireworks and rain, cheek-stingingly cold nights, smokey dusks, an air of unmistakable, inexplicable excitement. The house parties get louder, more urgent, and the river turns silver. Yesterday afternoon we sat drinking cider in a poorly-lit pub, the windows fogged up, the wood burning stove full of fire. Florence Welch's tortured cries came through the speakers; outside the rowers raced home, trying to beat the dark, and I was actually quite pleased for it to be almost winter. - You Want to Say No (Sarah Menkedick at Vela)

But I think I’m tired of all the palliatives, all those “how to be a writer!” articles full of advice that at first may seem comforting but after a while becomes grating, belittling. We don’t see “How to be a lawyer!” articles including ten platitudes about realizing you’re neither as good nor as bad as you think. There isn’t a constant stream of inspirational or tell-it-like-it-is “How I practice medicine!” and “Why I practice medicine!” essays full of advice on when to drink one’s coffee. So why writing? Is it in part because we hope that if we just understand it enough, if we understand these ten things on this list, and obey them, if we follow these rules and imitate the masters, we have a chance? We’ll make it? Maybe we won’t. And this is what I thought this week for the first time in a long time, hard, unflinching: maybe I won’t.

Best thing I've read about writing in a long time.

- Like: Facebook and Schadenfreude (Francesca Mari at The Paris Review)

Facebook was something you were to outgrow, like Tommy Girl perfume or AOL Instant Messenger. Five years since graduation, I use it more now than ever.

- Cold Facts (Lindsay Zoladz at Pitchfork)

As I checked out other people's profiles, I observed an unspoken, enduring rule about listing your musical interests on the internet: curate, don't index. Paint a picture of yourself in sparse, broad strokes. Listing one or two guilty pleasures makes you seem approachable; more than that makes it seem like you have bad taste. Do not be that person who lists every artist on their iPod in alphabetical order under "Favorite Music;" err on the side of omission and mystery.

The two pieces above are interesting in their own rights, but read in quick succession they also (perhaps) reveal a particularly 20-something tendency to try to stretch time and convert it to authority: five years ago, or even ten years ago, seems like a lifetime, and we recount that fateful night in 2004 when we created a Facebook profile with a precocious mixture of self-deprecation and nostalgia that would be more fitting if we were 40-somethings. But of course, in the context of technology, in the context of Facebook, five years or ten years is a lifetime. We are, as Francesca Mari puts it, "longtime users" - it's just that longtime is not, necessarily, the same as long time.

- Places Designed to Profit People? Shipley Pool as “Secular Cathedral” (Hannah Nicklin)

Emma describes these communal, municipal spaces as ‘secular cathedrals’ – spaces of purpose but also meeting; communion.

Will be really interested to see what comes out of this project; I like the idea of the community swimming pool as 'secular cathedral'.