Given everything that is going on at the moment, I’m amazed we made it to the end of July. However, there’s enough good stuff out there to take your mind off the malestrom. Here’s a few things I’ve enjoyed:
- I can’t remember how I stumbled upon it, but Ken Liu’s story Paper Menagerie is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read recently. An incredibly well crafted fantasy story, it is simple but with depths of emotion.
Got to have that perfect coffee
As someone who perpetually has three different notebooks on the go at any one time, this article resonated with me. Particularly, the conclusion is excellent:
A notebook should be valued by the words with which we fill it, not by its edition or availability. Paper is a commodity. Good ideas are not.
It’s hard when you have a perfect, clean page to break through it and scribble something unimportant. But it’s useful and necessary to generate new ideas. My notebooks aren’t going to win any Instagram beauty contests, but they are incredibly useful.
- Brain Pickings once again chimes in with a relevant letter from E.B. White, which is incredibly heartening as a rallying cry for hope. It is still inspiring all these years later. It starts:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time.
It is also worth checking out Letters of Note, which has been unearthing excellent letters for a while. One of their most recent ones, from a soldier wounded at the Battle of the Somme, is heartbreaking.
- Mark Mason run a special series on science fiction style technology, and this was my personal highlight. It’s an enquiry into the nature of the self. What makes us? If our consciousness is transferred to another body, are we still the same person? How will advances in society and technology change our perception of ourself? One thing is sure, if only a fraction of this stuff comes to pass, the future is going to be interesting.
Published at the end of May but still relevant, this video explores ideas of the self as well:
On that topic of advancing technology , can you tell if these poems were written by a human or a machine?
Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean is hands down one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. It is about a film director who is dying, but manages to be so much more than the sum of it’s parts. It’s a meditation on mortality, on the point of art and the desire for apocalypses. The art is stunning in a unique Dave McKean way. I might write down my thoughts on it at some point but I think it may just be 500 words of gushing about how brilliant it is.
Hope this all distracted you from the outside world a bit. If the earth is still standing, I’ll post some more in July. Have a good month.