Obligatory shilling. I wrote for The Critic about how British politics disfavours young people economically and culturally.
I wrote for the Spectator World about civilisational instability and the quiet wisdom of prepping.
I wrote for my paying subscribers about Samuel Beckett, media and memory. I also wrote for my paying subscribers about changing moral norms and the inward turn of progress. In the archives are posts on everything from Ballard to Betjeman, Polish gangsters to Polish poems, and brain damage to body image.
Bad art teaching. My takeaway from the instantly notorious New York Times “Bad Art Friend” essay is that “creative writing” has become a giant pyramid scheme. The woman at its centre got an MFA in creative writing and began to teach creative writing without, as far as I can tell, having published work. Inspiration and feedback are great for writers. I used to love being in a little writer's group. Extended formal study? Bollocks. Just a way for universities to enrich themselves and struggling writers to find work. It's not surprising that the con drives some of them mad.
Fury's road. No one comes to THE ZONE for feel-good inspirational content but it is genuinely shocking that Tyson Fury can come back from a crippling depression-fuelled booze and coke addiction that left him looking like a sad whale to win and defend a heavyweight championship. The human body and brain are remarkable machines.
Outside coverage priorities. Abigail Shrier reports on new frontiers of medical experimentation:
Earlier this month, Anderson told me she submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender healthcare providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times passed, explaining it was “outside our coverage priorities right now.”
Failures of empathy. Becca Rothfeld admires the small-scale ambition of Jonathan Franzen's new book:
Russ is prone to failures of empathy; he has particular difficulty believing that women have inner lives. Upon glimpsing his extramarital love interest in her house for the first time, he is assailed by “an unsettling strong hit of her reality—her independence as a woman, her thinking of thoughts and making of choices wholly unrelated to him.” Because he is in the business of penitence, Russ cannot avoid the certainty that he is a sinner, but he is also so constitutionally self-congratulatory that he finds a way to savor even his moral decay.
New arrival. The great writer Matt Labash has a Substack:
There will be a little politics, of course. Though after our last half-decade of binge-drinking political toxins, you probably can’t have little enough. So we will also tackle whatever comes (and by “we,” I mean me and my new editor, Grammarly): life and death and family and music and books and fishing and God.
It's really against my own interests to keep recommending other, possibly better ‘stacks. What I should say is that the great writer Matt Labash absolutely does not have a Substack and you definitely should not consider subscribing to him rather than me.
The Amis Brothers. Tim Chapman considers two visions of social mobility:
Monday might be Plato’s Republic. On Tuesday, she’d tuck in to ‘Gerrard: My autobiography’. She’d save the Amis brothers for the weekends.
One day, she came across that book. That book that would change her life forever.
Well worn, well thumbed, with a bit of the paper curling on the front cover:
‘The Liar’ by Stephen Fry.
Fundamental properties. An old but excellent essay on beauty by the great Sarah Perry:
The Koons dog is an extreme example, but I think that being surrounded by forms that are obvious products of top-down planning, the factory system, and ego is harmful to us in real and direct ways. Most modern houses, offices, shopping areas, cars, and objects have this quality. Offering nothing to our perceptions, they cause us to turn inward rather than outward, and not in a good way.
Always let me know if you have any comments, and have a lovely week,