WHAT I SAW LAST WEEK: 3rd July
i seem to cycle through week on week off – i do a big fat gallery day once a fortnight bc i can only really justify the time away from my desk when i’m NOT writing. when i AM writing, i am one with the keyboard, i am MACHINE i am the word made flesh and the world around me simply doesn’t exist.
i like writing weeks better bc writing is my favourite thing to do. i hate it, it is painful and stressfull and my attention span infuriates me and i get cross when something isn’t coming together – but it also makes me feel alive and energetic and when something does click into place i feel like this pressure has released in the back of my head. it’s like solving a puzzle, and when you finally figure it out and put it all together – i think, for me, i get like ONE DAY when i feel like the coolest bitch in the world. then it’s back to being like i must make sense of the world around me, i must take stuff and push it through the gentle filter of my human brain and wait until it comes out the other end, like mince in the grinder. it is an urge! an IMPULSE i cannot control. i love it, but it has so many demands on my person.
i say all of this to preface my brand new revelation that is IN FACT not new at all but it is brand new to ME so: i think it is important for me to experience things. I think that is an important part of my job. not just art mind u, it is important for me to experience CULTURE, AT LARGE. i must go out into the world with my critic’s eyes and my critic’s ears, my critic’s hat and critic’s notebook ready to take notes on the bits and bobs i have found. while i am writing, i must focus intensely, but when i am not, it is so important for me to replenish my little cultural health bar. i must restock! i must, it is my job and it makes the writing better.
again, so obvious. but putting it all like that, as work, makes it sound good, doable. this is something gdlp mentioned when she was looking for something to write about post-bingo review & it has j stuck w me!
so: what i saw last week, but WEIRD. all the bits! allllll the bobs! here is what i have replenished my critic health stack with!
- i went to wimbledon
for like, 2 hours after work lmao. managed to weasel my way into a free ticket. can you believe it! i’ve lived in london my entire life, BORN N BRED, but i have never been to wimbledon. i think that’s bonkers but completely understandable bc i simply do not understand or enjoy tennis.
not even messing, but the tennis scoring system is a mess. all 5 games, 6 sets, 15,30,40 love, deuce, match point – at this point they are not speaking english. why am i doing mental maths? stop it. also, venus and serena williams are the only tennis players i know. that’s it! that’s all. i’m not even sorry. it feels MYOPIC. tiny court tiny game bing bong the tiny ball goes bouncing between 2 people – back and forth and i am DIZZY.
but, right, get this. i went. and i think i get it. like it clicked. tennis is actually a war of attrition, i think. it is about grinding down your opponent through a suble process of cerebral psychological warfare, trying to resist any advantage they might have and trying to capitalise on any advantage you could gain access to. scoring is inevitable. the ball’s gotta go flying off at some point, n you’re playing like,,, STEPS ahead to try and reap some meagre benefit. you’re trying to outfox ur competitor to try and win a cosmic mathematical and physical fight – that’s partly about muscle but also partly about MENTAL STAMINA. and i’m rly here for that. gona get really into tennis now lmao.
ALSO! tennis people really care about tennis. there’s an entire like, an entire fucking model village complex they’ve built, IN LONDON, to house this weird and very specific sport. walking around wimbledon felt like being on a campus. i felt like i was on a movie set. everythign was so clean. all the girlies were wearing beautiful summer dresses, straw hats. men were wearin fucking BLAZERS. and pimms was £12, the floral arrangements were everywhere and so minutely in conformity with the colour scheme. like the colour scheme was EVERYWHERE. it was weird, wild. it was like a heterotopia. it was like someone had designed it on SIMS. there was a ralph lauren shop. with special ralphie wimbledon exclusive merch. i think that’s insane. imagine if they had a ralph lauren shop at frieze. hahahahahhaha. with frieze merch, made by RL. stop it. i enjoyed it, but like a voyeur! pressed up against the window, gawking at the spectacle of it all. i felt like i was inside a fever dream, a simulation. i can’t believe that’s there all year round! i want to go on a tour where a guide leads you round and telling you fun facts. ey i bet there’s wimbledon lore. i bet there’s tennis founding mythology we’re not even aware of. i think someone should write about it. hahahahaha i’m not even joking. (just remembered infinite jest literally exists. adding it to my goodreads and ready to become an insufferable person)
- i can’t find a book i can be bothered to finish.
ok so last thing i read that i LOVED was Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex. it was so good, love a long book, love the twists and turns and rambles down little roads that go nowhere only to find that they DO. after that, i tried reading haunted houses by Lynne Tillman and no offence but i thought it was terrible. soooo dreary and stylish, so concerned with the morbidities of womanhood which, tbf is a pretty morbid social category. but i don’t particularly see why i should be forced to LIVE the morbidities of womanhood and then ALSO have to READ about them. dull! dreary! soooooooo very highbrow in the way it packaged up the lives of 3 white women i didn’t care about (bc they weren’t particularly interesting). but i guess their lack of interestingness was kind of the point? if that WAS the point, then maybe this book should have been shorter. maybe it should have stayed as an idea like ‘what if i wrote a book about female interiority in the 20th century, but what if that interior landscape was sooooooooooooooo drab it is actually wearisome’. it’s like. even if they experienced things Of Note, those things were actually also then conveyed to me in a textual style that was sooooooo insipid. i think i just hate americans, especially in prose. i cannot stand the way their sentences are constructed. i think it’s pretentious and tedious. clearly not all of them bc jeffrey eugenides, and i do actually like sylvia plath and a couple of others but i just ! on the whole… NO AMERICANS. they’re sooOooOoOo humdrum! and i think it’s american exceptionalism – to write about something completely banal, in a banal way with banality in mind and in reality, but almost with the expectation that the reader will think it is actually exciting and important – like this author is handing me these beautiful sentences and goodness me they are soooo special because the WOrds! LeXiCoN! goodness they are soooOoOo clever – literally go away. i HATED haunted houses.
but then i also read the first quarter of cormac mccarthy’s blood meridian – obvs bc he died and everyone was saying what a good writer he was, and i had no idea what they meant bc i hadn’t ever read any of his work – and was quite rl pleasantly charmed by his style, the way language kinda acts like liquid and runs into shapes, like words are a plastic and he is massaging it right in front of me. only problem is: blood meridian is soooooo boring nothing happens. it’s bonkers but also nothing happens. how is that possible. i was reading it on the tube on my way to and from the office and everytime: i’d crack it open, read like 5/6 pages and feel deja vu bc there we are: back in the wild wild west where the same thing happens. i felt like reading blood meridian was my personal groundhog day, i got the same note every time, i experienced the same page again and again and again. i think i loved the way he wrote in a very literal textural way. but in terms of storycraft? blood meridian was BAD. it’s funny too – i nicked this copy off my boyfriend and when i realised i was trapped in this book with no hope of escape or even a different experience, i took it up w him like he was personally responsible for it. & he said he’d only ever read up to the same point i was at, bc he had the same feeling about it all. that’s funny, isn’t it. i felt very affirmed. i also didn’t realise cormac mccarthy had written no country for old men, and written it as a screenplay first? that makes sense tho – his writing feels very cinematic, and i think it’s like – wait hold on, i’ll do this in a new bit.
- listened to this blindboy podcast about how james joyce invented cinema
and there’s a good bit where he’s talking about writing in first person, third person and free indirect speech. first person: great, you can peer all up in someone’s head and get how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking. third person: you’re freed from the discrete specificity of one single person’s view or perspective. you can move form person to person and bounce around, in and out of that perspective. esp free indirect speech which is like third person with interiority on TURBO mode. james joyce wrote free indirect speech at a time when the camera was only just invented and. now, when we write, it is almost impossible to not imagine the words turning into image on screen. the moving image is sooo ubiquitous, so embeded in our psychic landscape. cinema and the camera is enmeshed within our own visualisation of language, maybe also even the fact that we are visualising language in the first place. but joyce wrote without rly knowin about the way cinema would expand, the way the cinematic image would become so much looser or unhinged and unstable.
i thought that was fucking neat. and it also made my opinion about blood meridian make more sense. not j bc mccarthy had written for screen before, but bc screens are sooooo embedded in our subconscious, as writers how can we NOT write with the screen at the back of our minds? we could pull it to the forefront.
- i saw these horses
went to a wedding at the weekend and it was in a literal field. i saw these three horses j chilling in a field and i lost my mind, and i didn’t know how to explain to people that i just love horses not in a horsegirl way, just in a omg the horse as archetype way – i came off as socially odd. but horses! love them. mwah mwah mwah.
- to tie up my book complaints
i have started reading that john yorke book (into the woods) about story theory. it is very dense and weirdly formally written. i feel like i’m beign taught by a benevolent narrator who has to very gently coax me towards new information. you’d think a book about writing stories would be written in a style that’s like consciously chosen, so i can only assume it’s on purpose. which makes me feel weird. but i think having someone lay out the basics, the tropes, the things i know but don’t know i know – laying that all out in explicit and clear language – that’s ver helpful. it’s nice to have clarity and vocabulary to make these things make sense.
- also: i have also decided to consciously STOP watching love island, but thats only bc i politically disagree with the sheer amount of adverts – the EXACT SAME ADVERTS EVERY SINGLE TIME – that itv x deems acceptable to like, unconsensually foist upon me. no more. i have had enough. i hope whitney wins, but i shall not be around to watch. i now get my updates in summary format from twitter. i feel UNBURDENED.
«««< Updated upstream anyway, that’s all i saw last week. goodbye! love u! have a nice rest of ur week!
anyway, that’s all i saw last week. goodbye! love u! have a nice rest of ur week!