Monday, June 14, 2021

About The Observer

I spent the weekend with my parents, who still insist on reading the analogue papers of a Sunday morning. I don’t know whether the medium affects the message all that much, but two verbal nuggets caught my eye, both of them related to food.

One is Jay Rayner’s appropriation of a phrase – via his late mother Claire, and ultimately from Bernard Levin – to describe someone who has no faith, but accepts his cultural inheritance through the medium of food: “Pantry Jew”. And from the Reverend Richard Coles, pointing out how every diner’s background and memory is subtly different, making any notion of culinary authenticity fuzzy to say the least: “Nostalgia is bespoke”.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

About Neil Patel

Because what the world needs now is not just mediocrity, but mediocrity that thinks it’s bloody brilliant.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

About Jack Kerouac

From Dear Reader, by Paul Fournel. A young intern explains to a wizened editorial hack how to use an e-reader.

“How do I go to the next page?”

“You turn pages by sliding the corner on the bottom.”

“Like a book?”

“Yep, that’s the prehistoric side of it. A sop for seniors. When people have forgotten about books they’ll wonder why it works that way. Vertical makes more sense. Scrolling down would be more logical.”

“Jack Kerouac will be pleased.”

She doesn’t get it.

The implication being, of course, that you, the dear reader of Dear Reader, will get it. Incidentally, Dear Reader is available on Kindle.

PS: And of course, I’m assuming that you, dear plougher through the Cultural Snow, will also get it.

PPS: On similar lines, I overheard this earlier today in a charity shop. A mature lady spotted a set of wireless headphones and asked the friendly, helpful 20-something on the till to explain.

“So I can put them on my head... and there are no wires?”

“Yes, you just put them on, and they connect to your phone.”

"My phone? Why would I connect them to my phone?”

Saturday, June 05, 2021

About Jeanette Winterson

The very idea of burning books, or any creative product, inevitably disturbs, because of the context in which it usually happens but surely burning your own books (more specifically, new editions of your own books to which you take exception) is a rather different thing? Winterson isn’t destroying the essence of the art, stopping anyone from reading, say, Sexing the Cherry ever again; she’s just turning her own anger at the perceived idiocies of the publishing business into a new work of art, transforming herself into some sort of literary KLF. And grabbing the new editions a whole load of publicity into the bargain.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

About a website, the name of which escapes me

Many years ago. if I saw an online article I particularly liked, I’d enter it into my account on a website specifically designed for the purpose; I could give each piece multiple tags, so if I selected, say “US politics” or “post-structuralist jollity” it would bring forth a ready-made list of relevant texts. It came in particularly useful when I was writing my book about the Noughties, as the bulk of the articles were about that decade; I even namechecked it during one interview when I was asked how I did my research.

And now, for crying out loud, I can’t remember the name of the bloody thing, can’t find any trace of it in my browsing history (forgetting the name doesn’t help here) and realise I’ve probably lost an intriguing trove of about six years’ worth of writing about well, stuff, really. And if I do find it, I’ve almost certainly forgotten the password, haven’t I?

So, unless or until I remember where I left them, I’ll just stick these down here, as examples of the sort of thing I would have entered into the site, whatever the hell it was called; Gary Younge on why all statues, not just the nasty colonial ones, should be torn down; and Will Vigar on why psychogeography has had its day, thanks.

And if anyone does know what I was talking about, please advise.

PS: One more: Princeton students can now major in classics without studying Latin or Greek.

PPS: And if you look past the clickbaity headline, there’s some merit in the notion that yes, the lives of the Mitford sisters were structured reality avant la lettre, with Nancy running the show.