Solitude, Space and a Snack

No Complaints #156

We’ve had an influx of new subscribers since the last time I sent you a newsletter; welcome, I hope you find some of these things amusing or edifying. And if you aren’t already aware, I do another newsletter about audio and podcasting that you can subscribe to here — there are more recommendations and reviews in those emails than I have space for here.

Things to read

“In many ways, solitude had been easy. I didn’t have to think about anyone else. I was at complete liberty. If I wanted to eat muesli for dinner and ignore the washing-up, if I didn’t feel like speaking for days on end, no one else would care, or even know. It’s hardly news for the serially monogamous, but if you get as far into adulthood without cohabiting as I did, multiple emotional skills go unlearnt. Worse, you don’t even know they’re missing.”

I’m a big fan of the writer Olivia Laing, and this article she wrote about her recent marriage after a long period of solitude was very good. Email to Pocket.

“Within the dark interior of the camera is an hallucinating eye enchanted by the passing image of an emotional face or pigeons circling under the sky. It sees things one can’t discern sufficiently and that are on their way to expiration, but the way is so long as to be unimaginable except as an instantaneous, blazing flash in an otherwise soft black depth that isn’t a space but a plunging of space too dark and empty to see as anything at all. One can’t look directly at the sun, either, of course; everything one has forgotten is in it.”

I definitely don’t fully understand this essay about chaos and photography but I think it’s worth my while to keep trying. Email to Pocket.

“If she ordered breakfast, lunch, and dinner fives day a week, we can easily assume she was spending between $40-50 daily. For brunch dates with the girls, I think $75 would be very feasible, and then top that with a weekly bill of $100 for alcohol (hey, the girl loved her Cosmos and martinis). Grand total? $425 a week and $1,700 a month. So deduct food and drink from Carrie's budget, and she's already in the red with -$1,293. Just so we're clear, this means that Carrie is ALREADY in debt.”

A superb economic analysis of Carrie Bradshaw’s lifestyle in Sex and the City. Basically, there is no way that one column was keeping her in shoes and cabs; Carrie had a crippling debt problem. Email to Pocket.

“Who set you free to be the person that they could not be? To understand why Henry Taylor cares about tempo, speed, and the physicality of painting, you have to understand that Henry Taylor is the eighth child of a man who liked to call his sons his ‘bullets’. A man who loved his children and provided for them, but whose love is best remembered by an incident in which he broke up a domino game and threatened to kick the ass of a man named Carl for telling Henry to stop showing off his new car and turn his damn music down. Henry Taylor’s father was a proud man who wanted to raise proud, tough children.”

This new piece about the artist Henry Taylor makes an excellent case for why Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is one of the most talented writers working today. Email to Pocket.

“There is a photograph I have kept of my mother in her late twenties. She is sitting on a rock at a picnic with friends. Her hair is wet because she’s just had a swim. There is a kind of introspection in her expression that I now relate to the very best of her. I can see that she is close to herself in this random moment. I’m not sure that I thought introspection was the best of her when I was a child and teenager. What do we need dreamy mothers for? We do not want mothers who gaze beyond us, longing to be elsewhere. We need her to be of this world, lively, capable, entirely present to our needs. Did I mock the dreamer in my mother and then insult her for having no dreams?”

This is an except from Deborah Levy’s recent memoir The Cost of Living. I found it to be a profoundly moving and upsetting book, which you definitely should read. I interviewed her for our podcast, and she read some of this section about her mother to me down the phone, and it was very hard not to weep incoherently back at her. Email to Pocket.

Things to listen to

This week, I’ve been relistening to Another Round, which is sadly still on hiatus after ceasing production in December 2017. Interviews I especially enjoyed again include: Jordan Peele, Rahawa Haile and Rachel Wilkinson Miller.

+Related: I wrote in detail about the Jordan Peele episode for paying subscribers on my podcast newsletter this week. Sign up here to read it now.

Things to watch

You go, racoons.

Somehow, this dancing made me like this song again.

Me, trying to write anything.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Just a small snack.

The guest gif

We’ve all had a hard week.