"The Substack Is A Little Old Place Where We Can Get Together, Substack Baby" Edition
Obligatory shilling. I had the dubious pleasure of reviewing Hillary Clinton and Louise Penny's new novel State of Terror for the Spectator World.
I had the unqualified pleasure of appearing on Scott Veritas's podcast to speak about the media, culture and more.
I had the overwhelming pleasure of writing for my paying subscribers about landfill indie, noughties culture and pitfalls of criticism.
Nyms and names. My friend Bethel McGrew, who has been writing under the name Esther O'Reilly, comes out as herself:
Something Douglas Murray had said in an interview also stuck with me, a moment of impatience with people who lower their voices to say what they think: “Just speak. Don’t expect somebody else to do it for you. Don’t siphon it off like some wing of government, like the Free Speech Center. It’s for you to do. It’s for us to do. It’s for everyone.”
I cannot really remember why I started writing under my real name. I had no professional opportunities or the potential to get them. Looking back, it was a bit of a risk. But perhaps I just imagined that no one could possibly think “Sixsmith” was a real name.
The devouring dream machine. Mary Harrington defends reticence:
We may all need to think more concretely about what’s off-limits, if we don’t want the dream machine to devour everything we have, and flatten what’s left into a tundra of base emotion performed for clicks.
For me, that list includes (but isn’t limited to) my family; my traumas; my body; my home; my social life; the sky, when I’m out running; and, of course, where I live.
I agree. I do my best to avoid discussing my private life on the Internet. Sometimes I do - but only when I have convinced myself that it transcends “content”.
The blame game. Ann Bauer rages against “expert” arrogance over COVID:
…recommendations changed at a furious pace, echoed by not only public health officials but their inner circle of a tech giant, a nutritionist, a sociologist, a health care entrepreneur, which now enjoyed the support of both the U.S. government and the monopoly tech platforms that control what we are allowed to see and read.
I'm sure I have not been above arrogance myself. (Have you?) Bauer goes on:
The more the cures failed, the greater the fault of the public. The flaw was never in the remedy, but in those who failed to “behave” and thereby brought the plague upon themselves.
People are still doing this to obscure the failings of the vaccines. Now, when I say “failings” I do not mean the vaccines “do not work”. As far as I can tell - and take this with a pinch of salt because I am essentially “some guy” - they have a significant impact on the severity of COVID and something of an impact on its transmissibility. But a lot of people are so invested in EVERYONE must take the vaccine and then NOBODY will die YEEEAH that the continuing existence of COVID must be the fault of wreckers, saboteurs et cetera.
The whistleblower who risked nothing. Andrew Orlovski reports on the “curiously synthetic” campaign against Facebook:
The campaign now also has wealthy foundations lining up behind it, too. For example, Pierre Omidyar’s Luminate, which has funded dozens of privacy and data NGOs in the UK and Europe, recently announced a change of emphasis to focus primarily on Facebook instead. This week at Westminster I passed a slick anti-Zuckerberg art installation, funded by an American NGO with no previous UK presence — journalists were invited to call a US number for an explanation.
Zuckerberg and his colleagues are weirdos who have the understanding of human connection that a pot noodle manufacturer has of Japanese cuisine. But it is patently obvious that the liberal press has it in for them because they blame Facebook for Brexit and Trump.
Foucault and Lasch. Blake Smith considers a surprising intellectual friendship:
Christopher Lasch and Michel Foucault are rarely read side by side. Yet the two thinkers praised each other’s work, recognizing themselves as involved in a common project. Both assessed, on the one hand, the ways elites use networks of expertise and injunctions to moral “liberation” to strengthen their domination—and, on the other, the ways that modern people have come to look for knowledge of themselves from such experts.
Left posting. The irrepressible Niccolo Soldo interviews the interesting Swedish political theorist Malcolm Kyeyune. Kyeyune's thoughts on red tribe/blue tribe dynamics are worthy of consideration.
Prime sitcom material. Charlie Peters discusses the insane housing market in London:
It was only after popping to the ATM for the £700 cost of the room that I met my new flatmates. In a three-bed flat, there were seven of us.
The living room had been converted into my bedroom, with the three actual rooms occupied by two Moldovan brothers, a single Moldovan, and a small Nepalese family.
Cultworld. My friend Paul Brian has a book out, Cultworld, which combines sociology, memoir and a provocative critique of modern life. Paul is I think the only writer I know well in person. He lived in my town in Poland for a while and we discussed our favourite and most hated posters and columnists in smoky little Silesian bars. A surreal experience. Paul is a fine writer with a treasure trove of stories, who I enjoy agreeing and disagreeing with.
Adventures in old atheism. The Catholic philosopher Edward Feser pays respect to Schopenhauer:
But, again, will as Schopenhauer understands it is not associated with intellect and it does not aim at the good or indeed at anything. Blind and pointless, it can never find satisfaction.
The embattled king. Simon Evans offers a moving portrayal of an artist in his senescence:
Collins may have issues with his actual spine, but watching his endurance onstage, I don’t think anyone could gainsay his metaphorical one, or his guts. There was sinew in this rejection of dignity, of polish, or even a bit of slap. He resembles an ageing, embattled king, determined to prove to a devoted court that, despite all his trappings of wealth and prestige, he remains unable to turn back the only tide that really matters. It was tough to watch.
Have a lovely week,