THE ZONE Turns Two!
THE ZONE turns two this week. I hope you have enjoyed following the publication, and I thank you so much for doing so.
I have certainly enjoyed producing it! These Monday newsletters help me to refine my reading (and to seek out nice places to photograph). Writing pieces for my paying subscribers has given me the chance to explore ideas I may not have got past click-minded editors. I am sorry for the times when they could have used a bit of editing but I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on everything from life, to love, to cigarettes, to scepticism, to identity and experimentation, to anorexia, to organised crime, to professional wrestling. I hope you will continue to follow my work.
Obligatory shilling. I wrote for The Critic about a popular novelist, veteran and political commentator who doesn’t actually exist.
I wrote for The Spectator about the vidyification of war.
I mused for my paying subscribers on war, guilt and whataboutism.
Nothing happens. Niall Gooch assesses long, wasted years of Tory governance:
In fact, the Tories seem absolutely incapable of achieving anything significant. Housing costs are higher than ever and still climbing, shutting out young people from the kind of experiences that might one day make them more Tory-minded: marriage, parenthood and home-ownership. The Channel migrant crisis continues. Growth projections are unimpressive. The tax burden is at a 70-year high and grand, transformative infrastructure projects remain elusive. Policing is in crisis, especially in London, where the Met is hampered by a ridiculous requirement that they recruit men and women on a 50-50 basis.
And yet nothing happens.
Swiping and griping. Katherine Dee addresses technology and the sex recession:
Many of these trends go back much further than dating apps, but the failure of dating apps to deliver on their promises calls into question the broader ideology of progress and cult of technology. Indeed, there are good reasons to believe that “swiping” leads to a cheapening of sex that harms our ability to form relationships.
England’s elegist. Simon Evans contemplates Le Carré:
If one had to choose a single word to sum up the default atmosphere, the subtext communicated by TV, film and radio adaptations of this book, it would have to be “moribund”. Bannen, by comparison, at least looked like someone who would still bleed.
Moscow memories. My sister Lucy writes about her time in Russia:
It turns out I get strangely nostalgic listening to the 2004 Green Day album American Idiot. I keep thinking, though, about the Russian teenagers on summer camp throwing themselves into the title song for their evening performance; how that was 2014, too. I’d like to know whether Russian teenagers singing ‘American Idiot’ at a time of increasing anti-American feeling is an example of American culture exporting anti-American sentiment strongly enough to do the propagandists’ work for them; or whether there’s just something about electric guitars, eyeliner and pretentiousness that speaks to the teenage soul.
Lucy is a beautiful writer. You should read the whole thing.
A bit worse. Justin E.H. Smith discusses the prophetic gifts of Michel Houellebecq:
Think of our world and how it turned out to be in spite of all the mad predictions that both wildly underestimated and overestimated its transformation by COVID-19. This is the same world as before, but a bit worse, and it took a resolute romantic pessimist to feel the world’s fear and to distill it, as if spontaneously, into something as unexpected as it is true.
Q&A. As promised, here are some answers to questions:
Favorite dead writer?
What's a piece you wish you'd written?
Writers, being a petty breed of people, are often jealous of the professional opportunities of their peers. Sometimes we are also jealous of their ability to write. I often find that with pieces by Ed West or Scott Beauchamp. It’s like being a chef, eating a meal at another chef’s restaurant and thinking, “This is delicious. You bastard, this is delicious.” Most recently, though, it is Graeme Wood’s interview with an ISIS propagandist who claims to have lost his faith.
Would you rather give up Monster or WWE
Would you ask a man to choose between his children?
"The Zone":reference to Tarkovsky (& does that make you the Stalker)?
Or to the cult (i.e. unknown) 1990s novel by Jean Rolin about a psychologist who spends his time travelling on buses in Paris suburbs & staying in cheap hotels rather than go home to his wife?
To be honest, I don’t remember, but it could have been Tarkovsky! Then again, it could have been a reference to “the Impact Zone”, home of TNA Wrestling.
I wrote about that in a post for subscribers but to celebrate two years of THE ZONE I’ll make it public. Here you go!
If you were forced at gunpoint to read any British newspaper cover to cover, which would you choose?
Probably the Financial Times. Their reporting can be interesting, their interviews are great and I can read the financial news aloud to bore my captors to sleep.
Thanks again for reading!
Have a lovely week,