Week 1 — the class system really sucks

It’s a weird feeling writing this. My first one was emailed to literally one person, me. Now there’s a small handful of you. Thanks for being here.

I’ve just got back from Porto, where I was attending the Papanek Symposium. It wasn’t what I expected, though I think my expectations were unrealistic. I’m still reflecting, but right now sitting with a ‘kill your heroes’ vibe. Both in that many of the talks on the first day touched on the problematic hero narrative in some way (Ella has a great talk which I think about all the time). But also the danger of putting people on pedestals and the subsequent disappointment. Something I’m trying to learn to stop doing.

Speaking of hero narratives, you won’t regret reading Le Guin’s Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction.

Lowborn: Growing Up, Getting Away and Returning to Britain’s Poorest Towns
by Kerry Hudson

I started reading this on the plane to Porto. I had to stop twice in the first 50pgs so I wouldn’t cry in public. It affirms, along with Educated and my own life, that books really are life-saving magic. I’m not going to say more because it’s my Book Club book and we’re discussing it next week, but I recommend it.

Emoji summary: 🏚 😓 📚

Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered
by Ernst F. Schumacher

Tbh I found it p boring. My favourite thing about it is the title. That’s more a reflection of me, I think all the economics books I’ve read so far are boring.

Emoji summary: 💰 🗺 🤨

The Internet Has Made Dupes—and Cynics—of Us All
by Zeynep Tufekci

Nothing new in the examples, but some interesting points about viewing the internet as a “low-trust society”.

The internet is increasingly a low-trust society—one where an assumption of pervasive fraud is simply built into the way many things function.

There are better ways of beating back the tide of deception. They involve building the kinds of institutions and practices online that have historically led to fair, prosperous, open societies in the physical world. Better rules and technologies that authenticate online transactions; a different ad-tech infrastructure that resists fraud and preserves privacy; regulations that institute these kinds of changes into law: Those would be a start.

Emoji summary: 🤳 🤥 🙅‍♀


Beautiful review of Mark Leckey at Tate by The White Pube.

Leckey’s exhibition as a record of crossing class lines - all the confusion and fallout that must come from his own world beginning at the side of the motorway and leading down here to London, the art world, and now centre stage at Tate. what would have happened if he’d never left the north? do artists nowadays still need to leave Merseyside to actually have a career? and if you do leave, if you’re sucked up by the capital, do you need to make art like talismans to keep yourself safe? are you ever really the same? is it bad to change? and does anyone wish they could go back to the side of the road?

The Watercress Seller by Carolyn Steedman (chapter in Reading the Past: Literature and History by Tamsin Spargo). Interesting in juxtaposition with themes of class and childhood from other texts this week.

We need to make plainer to ourselves the arena of romanticism and post-romanticism within which we describe and theorise childhood. This will involve recognising how little distinction we actually make between real children and our fantasies of children. … that as we watch, talk to, teach and write about children, we desire them, want something from them, which is our own lost childhood.

Currently reading:

  • A Book of Migrations: Some Passages in Ireland
    by Rebecca Solnit


Emoji summary is 100% nicked off my favourite art critics The White Pube. I support them on Patreon, so I hope they don’t mind.