tax write off #4


Long time no see friends and enemies. Zarina and I ran away from the Internet for a few weeks to complete the first draft of our book, and we did it, and it’s 84 thousand words, and we like it. And then we died, and rested. We went to a beautifully reverent funeral together, and ate Thai food on a hot day, and had a chat with BBC Radio 4 in my living room, and we watched Eurovision in my cousin’s house. And after we’d died and rested, we started having ideas again. Thank god for that. Hadn’t had ideas for a while. Been having them when I’m not trying to. When I’m knitting a sleeve, or watching e-sports, or listening to the Mordew audiobook. But I had to run away from my inbox for a while, and I had to consume other people’s art for a while longer, for the ideas to come find me. I’m really excited to write this coming Sunday’s text. I think it will mark the beginning of a next chapter in my criticism. That makes me feel sick and grand. But I mean it. I am going to write something so weird that none of us will know what to do with it – because I am going to say it is criticism, and someone will tell me it’s nothing to do with it. But unfortunately, I’m empowered by rest and by the art I’ve consumed as of late. Here is all the art that is to blame:

kathryn hunter on stage at the lowry in a flannel shirt speaking into a microphone in dark lighting with the hint of antlers behind her

I watched a livestreamed performance of Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (which is now on demand btw) and Kathryn Hunter’s Janina was gut-wrenching. I can’t really get over the casting, can’t get past it. Because she looks like she is going to blow away, but she isn’t going anywhere at all. She sounds like she is about to burst out crying, but she’s about to speak through the ghost of William Blake. Kathryn Hunter holds two realities, two treatments. She flickers between the pathetic old-woman-invisibility thrust upon Janina and the bright feral genius she really is – the flicker is the genius here, in the character and the real woman playing her. Invisible when she needs to be, and conspicuous like a big hot fire when she no longer cares. Made me excited to get older. Made me want to do terrible things. Made me want to plot and scheme and speak to animals. Made me want to run away from the Internet forever!

I watched Hellraiser 2. Worried about how much I enjoy these films. Just find the premise of the Cenobites fascinating – creatures who find pleasure in extreme pain and sensory overload, and who therefore feel like an uno reverse of regular schmegular humans. Some of us anyway. The kink design closes the gap. Play piercings and scarification. I don’t want pins sticking out of my head but I like that the films give me space to think about it; I am in chronic pain because of disability, it’s just always there, and I don’t know how I could ever enjoy it but maybe I should just cosplay as a Cenobite and appreciation the damnation. Plus, in Hellraiser 2, they go downstairs to hell and it looks cool like this:

a young woman hanging off the edge of a path in hell, about to drop down into a labryinth of arches and stairways, in a screencap from hellraiser 2

Gear change: I re-watched the Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana after watching the Lewis Capaldi one. I don’t know what it is about music documentaries — they don’t go anywhere, they don’t say anything new, they don’t reveal anything we don’t already assume of these people and the pressures of fame vs creativity or integrity vs good business — but I am always in the mood to watch them, and I have to accept that that must mean there’s something in the content or the way the content’s presented. The luxury makes it go down so smoooooth. I don’t think I’m even listening to the words most of the time because when they’re over I can’t recall anything specific that was said (and I like that!). Watching this level of pop-music documentary is like having two chunky cucumber slices over closed eyes — cool-cool-slippy-fresh salve that does absolutely nothing.

Speaking of eyes closed, I’ve been watching shit loads of Eskay on Twitch to the point where I have been using her streams to fall asleep. I might have lost the plot but idk — I like that the audio design in Overwatch has rounded cartoon edges like the visuals. Gun shots are soft pops. The sound waves are big loops that circle back on themselves. I can sleep easily while the games play out. A lot of streamers are high energy, shouty, rage-quitting scaries but Eskay is always so composed. I like the scaries sometimes but I have a tendency to full-body clench when the player gets into a fight and I can’t relax until they’re out of it — with Eskay, I stay as calm as she is (((and if Eskay’s not live, I watch Flats because he makes me feel the same silly peace))).

I spoke to a lot of family members when I was putting together the eulogy and I found out then my Nan’s dad used to be away at sea for two and a half years at a time. Once, he returned with two copies of Paul Anka’s Diana for my Nan, and I have been listening to the song a lot, imagining a pre-mp3 time when people got in touch with sea-faring parents through telegrams.

I have also been reading books. I read one book I wasn’t meant to (press copy I wasn’t supposed to have), and another press copy I was outright allowed: Corey Fah Does Social Mobility by Isabel Waidner. I have now read two out of three of Waidner’s books, both of those in one-sitting-summer-afternoon settings with a cold can of coke and a cat to my side. Both times I’ve had similar reactions: I’ve enjoyed them quickly with a tight grip, scared to let go because I only understand what’s happening and what everything means while I’m here and present and going from word to word before anybody else’s words interrupt me. Be quiet, I’m reading. No background music. Nobody better knock on the door. And don’t you dare ask me what happened in the book I only just read. I knew what was happening but I don’t know anymore. I understood the language but I have lost the rhythm of the dialect, and I’m not about to feel bad about that! (How incredible to be able to click the reader’s bones into place for them, before they turn into jelly again once the words are done. That’s how I felt. Big mystery, a good one at that).

Watched American Born Chinese because I am a fan of the original Monkey – fine, harmless. More Disney than I was wanting.

Watched Meet Me In The Bathroom, a documentary about the music scene in New York when The Strokes, Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and LCD Soundsystem were materialising. Apparently the book is better but I haven’t read the book so I enjoyed it enoough.

Did also play 2 games, Norco and Citizen Sleeper, but I was so tired when I played them, I’m still waiting for my opinions to turn up and I’ll have to let you know when they do.

See ya on Sunday for a new review with all of the above knocking round my head.

I want to be her.