Appetites #2: What's lost is lost
Beautiful, specific details
Hi friends, hello–
You know, I have this propensity to be overly-clever and coy sometimes. I love a pun, I love a little jeux de mot. I like to think I’m witty, but I also accept that most of the time, I’m just laughing at my own jokes. And it’s fine, I’m used to it, a lifetime of trying too hard. But anyway, it occurred to me that I’d created these sort of arcane headings of Hunger and Thirst and Destruction, appetites, obviously, as an organizing principle for this otherwise random-seeming link round-up. You probably got it, but probably I was being too vague for my own good. Anyway, the categorizations are fairly loose: things I want, a longing, things that are inspiring or thought-provoking, things that are frustrating or irritating, and things I can’t get enough of. Not exactly a rigorous taxonomy, but at least now you can see how my brain works. So, sorry?
Hunger: Words’ Worth
Newsletters as a new literary genre? Sure, I’ll buy it! But…will you? I’m not at the point where I would even dare to ask anyone to pay me for the privilege of being welcomed into their sacred inbox space each week. It’s a tenuous relationship at best, and I’m not about to rock the boat. Yet, as Molly Fisher writes this week in The Cut:
A newsletter reshapes a writer’s relationship to their readers. The first-person informality that has been present since the earliest days of web writing achieves its business apotheosis in the newsletter: from personal essay to personal brand. “Subscribe directly to writers you trust,” urges Substack. In a newsletter, the reader is welcomed as a supporter, an ally — or perhaps even a friend.
As someone who’s been kicking out URLs since those early days, perhaps it’s time I consider that even a labor of love is still, well, labor. It’s a tricky subject. I’ve only just recently worked up the courage to believe that I actually could get paid to write, and let me tell you, that courage is constantly in flux. But it’s one thing to convert a pitch into an assignment, and another to be what’s essentially a penpal with delusions of grandeur. I’m not sure what my personal measure of worth will be for deciding it’s viable to charge for these letters, or whether I will ever attain it. Until then, I accept that my love’s labour might be operating at a loss.
Thirst: Sunrise, Sunset
Maybe it’s been on my mind since reading Helena Fitzgerald’s essays about Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy films. Or maybe it’s that as a woman of a certain age, Ethan Hawke is just always on my mind, living rent-free for the past thirty years (which would be fitting for his inexplicably desirable dirtbag character in Reality Bites.) Either way, something compelled me to re-watch the second in the series, Before Sunset, which might be the best one, at least according to Fitzgerald.
“Consequences,” she says, “are our form of time travel; everywhere we arrive is a story about where we have been and what has brought us there, which is why the past always seems falsely innocent and better than it was.”
I’ve been writing a lot of these stories lately, doing my own version of time traveling, which is just one of the reasons why this movie hit so close to the bone. Towards the end of the film, Celine muses on her experience of reading Jesse’s autofictional novel: “It was both flattering and disturbing, to see myself living in someone else’s memory.” So much comes rushing back as I write, but is it real, is it really how I felt then, really what happened? I re-read old journals to fact-check myself, but, as Fitzgerald reminds me, the “times that seem immediately present are in fact period pieces, stories about memory and not about life.”
Knowledge: This time it’s different
I’m not proud to admit it, but I’ve been known to give in to the will-weakening powers of social media ad-targeting. I’ve signed up for Noom twice, drawn in by its behavioral psychology approach. But it’s never fully resonated with me, having found the whole ‘NoomNerd’ quiz vibe infantilizing, and I’ve abandoned ship. This article in Every, however, shows a darker side to the so-called ‘anti-diet’ app, one that implicates disordered eating behaviors and the primacy of a mindset that continues to promote thinness as an ideal equivalent to healthiness. Curious–anyone else here have experience with Noom? Would love to hear your thoughts.
Life: Lost in Translation
Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast is an endless source of wisdom and inspiration, and I’m sure you already know that. A recent episode features the authors of a new translation of poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, Joanna Macy, a philosopher of ecology and Buddhist teacher and Anita Barrows, a psychologist and poet herself, in conversation with Tippett. Rilke keeps popping up on my radar, the universe obviously sending me a message, and ok, universe! I am listening! (and you should, too.)
“I ask you, dear sir, to have patience with all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves, like closed rooms, like books written in a foreign language. Don’t try to find the answers now. They cannot be given anyway, because you would not be able to live them. For everything is to be lived. Live the questions now. Perhaps you then may gradually, without noticing, one day in the future live into the answers.”
The Guardian covers the teen influencers pushing books up the charts.
Which begs the question…would I have been a BookTok-er?
Insatiable: The Kids are Alright
Bonus, because holy shit!
Everyone knew ‘Cat Person’ was a kind-of true story, but no one suspected it belonged to someone other than its author.