Notes for week of 28 April, 2024

⤳ Here we are in May and… Yep, it’s still bucketing it down.

⤳ To be fair we had about half a day of sunshine on the bank holiday Sunday, so I made the most of that by walking the dog around Crystal Palace park and doing a few bits of gardening. All this rain has really brought the slugs out though, it’s me versus the slugs in the battle for the veg patch now. My money is on the slugs.

⤳ On Saturday I went to Somerset House, to the Courtauld Gallery, to see Frank Auerbach’s charcoal heads. They are impressive portraits, very beautiful in their own way; but also slightly repressive and nightmarish in a Francis Bacon way. While I enjoyed the exhibition, it was nice to come out into a room full of Manets, Van Goghs and Whistlers, all full of colour and light.

⤳ Over the bank holiday I managed to watch Love Lies Bleeding and Late Night with the Devil; two films that are (enjoyably) messed up in their own particular ways. While they are quite different films, they both feel quite pulpy/grindhousy; and if that’s what you’re after then you could do a lot worse.

⤳ Some interesting things I’ve read this week:

From Alex Morris’ Strat Scraps newsletter: “Embrace your smallness. Nerd out. Be nice to one another.”

From an article about Walter Kirn in The Atlantic:

Now the famous writer offered the cowed students an icebreaker. “I have a game I like to play,” he said. “I like to edit, or revise, Shakespeare.” On long flights or when he was bored, he would take Shakespeare’s speeches and try to improve them. He gave an example of a line he’d adjusted from King Lear. “Isn’t it plainly much better?” Borges asked. Whether it was better was not what interested Kirn. Borges was revising “some of the greatest pieces of oratory in the English language,” Kirn recently told me. He was still, 40 years later, amazed. The lesson he drew was that no authority was beyond question.

From an article about dinner parties in the NY Times;

“A good dinner is of great importance to good talk,” Virginia Woolf, a professed fan of the feast, writes in “A Room of One’s Own.”

From an article in the New Yorker about the battle for attention:

Years earlier, I had heard of some thing called the Order of the Third Bird - supposedly a secret international fellowship, going back centuries, of artists, authors, booksellers, professors, and avant-gardists. Participants in the Order would converge, flash-mob style, at museums, stare intensely at a work of art for half an hour, and vanish, their twee-seeming feat of attention complete. (The Order’s name alluded to a piece of lore about three birds confronting a painting by the ancient artist Zeuxis: the first was frightened away, the second approached to try to eat painted fruit, and the third just looked.) I had tried then to get in touch with the Order. My efforts had led nothing…

Probably the best thing I’ve read all year (although you’ll need a Paris Review subscription to read it - it’s worth it!): The Beautiful Salmon by Joanna Kavenna.

Baker’s Dozen by Charlotte Ivers in The Fence - contemplating Londons’ boozers past and present through the lens of Tom Baker.

⤳ Listening to: