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Weeknotes, 23/03/14

I’ve had a really odd week. It feels raw + tender + like I don’t understand what’s going on, so the mystery almost seems profound but remains functionally meaningless. It’s like I can’t quite unlock something but I’m close. This is what all of my working processes + thought streams have felt like, but it’s way less common for my actual existence. My memory’s bad, especially for numerical codes. I needed help with remembering the door keypads + photocopier password this week at college (writing them down feels like insecure cheating) and that seems to have leaked into the rest of my week.

Work was weirdly nostalgic; a cover lesson meant that I was in a classroom with someone that I haven’t worked directly with for 3-4 years, when I was the student. I used to think there was a difference but now teaching feels more like mutual roleplay.

I spent some time messing around with gardening and gardening books. “Derek Jarman’s Garden”, with photographs by Howard Sooley, is stark + gorgeous.  Weeding sounds too vigorous, just picking up the debris of a winter of stormy weather. Meditative, even with noisy headphones on. Judging by the slack in my leggings, I have shrunk by at least a third.

I went to the writing scheme yesterday at the theatre. I’ve been sick for two months and not been able to go; during this time, the girl I hung out with the most died. Devastated doesn’t even begin describe it. Not having known until now feels really messed up + like a betrayal, the massive downsides of asynchronous existence. Completely unexpected. I’m trying to be respectful + keep it anon but that makes it really hard to share anything meaningful.

I have to get the blurb written by the end of today for the end-of-scheme performance/publication so I’m trying to concentrate, but this blank stunned-ness keeps burning through.

Weekend Links, 23/03/14: Criticism credentials + having something to lose

Bella Todd was the first guest speaker at TRBYW yesterday, and spoke super articulately on reviewing + new writing (she’s one of the judges for the Best New Play Award at the Fringe). I’ve been thinking about criticism recently while I’ve been consuming more than creating, collecting a bunch of perspectives while gathering thoughts. The (my) base belief is that reviews need heart + guts more than teeth.

∞ Five stars in their eyes: can you trust unpaid theatre critics?

“A few years ago, at a weird corporate dinner, an actor from a satirical sketch show turned to me and said, “I’ve always wondered, what exactly are your credentials to review me?” I could have obligingly set out my career path. I could have argued that the qualities qualifying a reviewer to review are as ultimately unquantifiable as hers to sit on stage naked in a bathtub doing impressions of the Queen. I could have reassured her that I made a point of never reviewing people I’d sat with at weird corporate dinners. Instead, in the absence of a critic’s exam certificate, I said: “Yes, I see what you mean.””

A Response to a Review And Some Thoughts About Love or Art

“This review would be more interesting and I would give it more value if it were about Nymphomaniac and not presuppositions on Lars Von Trier (I would also give it more time if it were written in a more entertaining manner).  I fail to see how one can conclude anything about any other human being through such a limited and manipulated prism as a singular film.  And what’s more, there are so many elements in a film that are out of the control of the director.  Do you believe Von Trier has some kind of mind control over Gainsbourg and she is merely a puppet on his hand?  She is giving a performance.  She is interpreting, not merely translating.  The same with everyone in the cast and crew.  The notion that a director or writer is the singular vision is completely flawed.

So I dismiss your premise that by examining Nymphomaniac we can know things about Von Trier, which allow us to make judgements on what he thinks about this or that.”


“Surely blogs should be viewed through the same prism we’d regard any other opinion? If my close friend Nicky tells me enjoyed a meal at NoBlowJobNoTable I’m likely to believe her whether she blogged it or not. If a total stranger walked up to me in the street and said, go to WankyNewSmokePlace I’d think, fuck off you nutter; you don’t look like you know one end of a heritage carrot from another.

Publishing your opinion doesn’t give you credentials. Newspapers we trust (and Bob Granleese) provide us with that unfashionable but valuable notion of curation. Blogging requires no such intervention and to my mind is just telling your mates if you liked something through a bloody big megaphone. Does it matter if they’ve been paid or not? If you don’t know who’s blogging it will only matter if you’re the type of person who also clicks on weight loss links on Facebook or uses Tripadvisor to plan your holidays.”

∞ Hatchet jobs, anonymity and the internet: being a film critic in the 21st century

“The world is full of people (many of them middle-aged men) who feel duty bound to be sniffy about Twilight without having seen the films…

Only if you have something to lose – something valuable, such as your heart, your reputation, or your job – does a declaration of love become anything other than simply talking dirty.

For a critic’s opinion to have value beyond the mere joy of the savage put-down or the well-constructed defence, I believe they must have something personal at stake, something they care about and are in danger of forfeiting. Whether praising or damning a movie, it is the risk to the critic’s reputation and livelihood that ultimately lends weight to their words and ensures the integrity of their review. And if no one knows (or cares) who you are or what you have done, then what have you invested in your review? What do you have to lose?”

Site Spotlight: British National Corpus

“The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written. The latest edition is the BNC XML Edition, released in 2007.

The written part of the BNC (90%) includes, for example, extracts from regional and national newspapers, specialist periodicals and journals for all ages and interests, academic books and popular fiction, published and unpublished letters and memoranda, school and university essays, among many other kinds of text. The spoken part (10%) consists of orthographic transcriptions of unscripted informal conversations (recorded by volunteers selected from different age, region and social classes in a demographically balanced way) and spoken language collected in different contexts, ranging from formal business or government meetings to radio shows and phone-ins.”

- The British National Corpus (BNC)

Site Spotlight: ONOMOllywood

“Co-authors Senegalese Omar Victor Diop ( and French-American Antoine Tempé (antoinetempé.com) are both photographers based in Dakar. They were invited by the hotel group ONOMO International to create a series of photographs set in the group’s hotels. Their series comprises twenty images inspired by iconic moments of great American and French movies, with a cast featuring a representative sample of the cultural scenes in Dakar and Abidjan, where these images were shot. The complete series of twenty images is currently on view at hotel ONOMO Dakar Airport and will be exhibited in Abidjan and Libreville from early 2014.

Why cinema? Cinema is probably the form of art that is the most universal, as it transcends all barriers, be they geographic, cultural, or racial. Great movies of the past, as well as most recent ones, feature iconic scenes that have tremendously influenced pop cultures of very different societies. African major cities weren’t left out…”


Weeknotes, 02/02/14

I didn’t go to the theatre thing yesterday, and proceeded to sleep for 18h 12m in a 24h period. My default is pretty gross while getting on with a limited amount of things (broken up with horizontal days) but this week has been the most atrociously fucked I’ve been for a while. Constant bed rest! Vomming! Fever! Pain! Opiates! Wider temporary paralyses! Impending doom! Any respite hours were spent semi-vertical & reading in the dark with herbal tea. 10h 51m screen time = ~0.63% of my week. Above is Miranda Ward‘s “F**k The Radio, We’ve Got Apple Juice”. There’s a video and an extract on Unbound, and another extract on The Quietus:

“As summer ended I found that the thing which had initially given me comfort had become something that felt safe, and one thing I knew was that music should not feel safe. It didn’t always need to rile or challenge – I knew that, I knew it could comfort or soothe – but it should do something, and I had started to feel nothing at all when I heard the man place air quotes around “the punk phase”, followed by the first predict- able rhythms of the song. So I dyed my hair back (our school had a rule about hair, anyway – it had to be a natural colour, and I was pretty sure that Merlot was considered natural amongst vintners but not hairdressers or school authorities). Our school had a rule about shirts, too: they had to be long enough to cover your entire torso. My appearance regressed but I had moved forwards, moved on. I didn’t want a steady beat and a scrawny twenty-something boy whining about the hot girl who had snubbed him. I wanted a different rhythm and a different song.”

It’s thoughtful + wandering + (positively) vague, not high maintenance or hard work at all. And kind, which feels surprisingly unusual. It’s like everyone is trying to tell a story or make a career by shafting someone else: constant scandals, outings + hate-attention. I’m much more jaded/impatient/pissy when I can’t move and I feel foggy even when I’m restless, like I’m back in hibernation.