In this post, I want to share some personal updates and recommendations, fascinating, brilliant or simply interesting things I discovered last month.
I hope this post won’t take much of your time and attention but help to discover something new. I’m willing to send a letter like this about every 30 days of my writing journey, or when I discover enough things I have the itch to share.
I started this newsletter a month ago. After that my Twitter activity has plummeted but I’ve written my first three essays:
Space, Time, Lockdown and Flâneury (7 min read). In this essay, I talk about observations on the last year, how the pandemic affected me and my perception of the world (apart from starting writing).
Make Life Strange Again (11 min read). Writing it was a very spontaneous decision. I got fascinated by the concept of ‘defamiliarization’, an artistic technique that makes objects unfamiliar and strange to help us see them anew.
Liquids and Useless Knowledge (6 min read). I talk about random seemingly useless facts, cocktail recipes, etymology and the importance of radical curiosity in the learning process.
Combined they are approximately 6000 words and 35600 characters. Which would make around 3-5 tweets per day, a lot of content, arguably. However, I have no idea what I tweeted 30 days ago but these essays are still live in my memory.
Thanks to all 18 of you who signed up for The Lifeboat last month. I am really grateful and appreciate your support. Special thanks to Ajeet Gill, Luke Burgis, Matt Criscuola, MediaWisdom and for helping me with the ideas and drafts.
Now, we sail to the recommendations.
Ordered by reading / watching time.
Craft your own renaissance with tips from Boccaccio’s Decameron (7 min read). The essay discusses Decameron in the context of uncertain times. Dan Turello discusses in an inspiring way how social and cultural climate affects art and what lessons we can learn from Boccaccio in our uncertain times now to create our own new Renaissance.
A Primer On Feel (8 min read). This was recommended by someone in Thomas J Bevan premium Discord (an amazing place by the way). This spellbinding essay was written by Michael Beinhorn, a renowned music producer. Beinhorn dives into the nature of music recording and how instruments work together interdependently.
The Copycat Cinema of Quentin Tarantino (17 min watch). This video essay by one of my favourite Youtube channels evokes a larger discussion rather than being just another rumble about Tarantino’s style. It’s about the concept of post-modernism in cinema and music, what is authenticity and originality, how “stealing”, influence and homages work.
Fevers Of Curiosity (17 min read). The essay explorers the history of the concept of flâneur introduced by Charles Baudelaire, who also described it as “a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness”. Matthew Beaumont, the author of the essay, also draws a line before two flâneur archetypes - mobile and immobile. The former is a stroller who “hurls himself headlong into the midst of the throng”, while the latter is the convalescent who sits in a café sipping a hot beverage and observing the crowd through the glass.
Art as Technique (45 min read). It was published in 1917 by Victor Shklovsky. He discusses many topics – from the way we perceive art and the world, to metaphors and literary techniques, especially ‘ostranenie’ (‘defamiliarisation’). Shklovsky argues that to give us a truly new vision of the world, objects, events and life, art must make objects unfamiliar, strange, difficult in perception. My essay Make Life Strange Again is inspired and based on this work.
The Foundation Pit by Andrei Platonov. It's a dystopian yet based on reality symbolic novel about builders digging out the foundation for a massive building. Platonov employs highly stylistic prose which is a bit laborious to read when you start but really pleasant when you get used to it. Facts: The novel wasn't published in Platonov's lifetime; Its translator, Robert Chandler, translated the book twice because he likes it so much
Zoo or Letters Not About Love by Victor Shklovsky. I was fascinated by Shklovsky’s work, in particular the essay I mentioned above, so I decided to dig more and this book appeared very unusual to me. This novel is an embodiment of how curiosity work being put into constraints. While living in Germany, Shklovsky was writing letters to Elsa Triolet, who he fell in love with. He was forbidden to write about love, so instead, he was writing about his observations about contemporary life, art and literature.
After Hours (1985). It is a Martin Scorsese’s film, a comedy about a guy who meets a girl in the cafe and goes on a date after work. Getting to an unknown area of the city, he consecutively gets into neverending adventures and troubles, seemingly unrelated and random, but masterfully tight together.
Sound Of Metal (2019). A recent film by Darius Marder and Abraham Marder, with a theme of self-acceptance and addiction wrapped into a story about the musician. The screenwriting behind the film is brilliant. Marder brothers wrote 800 pages together with backstories and alternative endings, but only 90 pages got into the final version. The ending blew my mind and I was thinking about it for a few weeks after watching.
Thank you for taking your time.
If you stumble upon something great, don’t hesitate to share it with me. I’d be happy to read or watch more great pieces you find interesting.
Beams of appreciation,
Until next time,