Hello again, friends – and warm thanks to all of you who have signed up so far. Do please let your friends know, if you would be so kind. If you missed the first installment, it’s here.
This newsletter should appear weekly. More or less. Most of the time. But I’m doing the first two in short order just to get us kickstarted.
Let’s do some fandom.
I said last time that one of the purposes of this newsletter is to watch the weatherwatchers, and one of my favorite weatherwatchers is Adam Roberts. Check out, for instance, this recent novel of his.
The best podcast I have ever listened to is Heavyweight. Its tagline is: “Jonathan Goldstein goes back to the moment everything changed” — and changed, usually, for the worse. Jonathan likes to call himself an “interlocutor,” though he’s not sure how to pronounce “interlocutor”; basically it means that he plunges in to try to fix situations his protagonists can’t see a way to fix. (Sometimes he does fix things.) The most recent episode, “Marchel,” may be the best so far, but you shouldn’t listen to it first: part of what makes it work is how it deviates from the norm of the series. Try “Rob,” “Joey,” and any other single one — then go to “Marchel.”
I am a big fan of the German composer/pianist/producer Nils Frahm, and I think his new work All Melody just might be his best achievement yet. (Here’s an Amazon link — I bought the CD, but then, I’m a physical-media guy) And if you dig around on his site, you can find some fascinating material on how he built his amazing new studio in Berlin’s Funkhaus.
Though I think Stanley Kubrick is a great filmmaker, I’m not exactly a fan — but some people are. “The cult of Kubrick feeds on the illusion of total control: it assumes that nothing in his films is accidental, and it sees patterns forming like fractals across his works. Everything is charged with significance. Take the image of a Native American on a can of baking powder in ‘The Shining’. That is one hint, some say, that the film is about genocide. Room 237, the haunted room in the hotel that the characters are warned never to enter? That number refers to the mean distance between the earth and the moon, and is a clue about Kubrick’s involvement in faking the moon landings. In his films, Kubrick exists as a kind of deep state, while his fans are conspiracy theorists.” — Prospero
My friends at Mockingbird geek out over the late Robert Farrar Capon — see? — and while I’ve long been a reader, I’ve only recently come to be a big fan of the Notorious RFC. I’ll leave you with a passage from his book Between Noon and Three:
Trust him. And when you have done that, you are living the life of grace. No matter what happens to you in the course of that trusting — no matter how many waverings you may have, no matter how many suspicions that you have bought a poke with no pig in it, no matter how much heaviness and sadness your lapses, vices, indispositions, and bratty whining may cause you — you believe simply that Somebody Else, by his death and resurrection, has made it all right, and you just say thank you and shut up. The whole slop-closet full of mildewed performances (which is all you have to offer) is simply your death; it is Jesus who is your life. If he refused to condemn you because your works were rotten, he certainly isn’t going to flunk you because your faith isn’t so hot. You can fail utterly, therefore, and still live the life of grace. You can fold up spiritually, morally, or intellectually and still be safe. Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead — and for him who is the Resurrection and the Life, that just makes you his cup of tea.