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Good morning angelfish!
Twin Peaks finished recently, which you would know if you a) like Twin Peaks or b) use Twitter. I’m in camp b: I like shows with strong structures and arcs, obvious symbolism and narrative pay-offs, and my existence is a disappointment to David Lynch.
But seeing the discussion did make me realise how much I miss watching shows in sync with people, and being able to pull apart episodes and speculate on what’s gonna happen next. I remember after Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so much speculating! You remember the big questions (Is Snape a bad guy? Is Harry a horcrux?) but there were small ones at each stage (“Oh man, Karkaroff is so fucked. How much do you wanna bet the first chapter of Book 5 is his body washing up on a beach?”) It was just fun.
There’s huge value in something being a phenomenon! I wish I liked Game of Thrones! Most other prestige TV you end up binge-watching. People are like “who do you reckon the killer is?” and you just have to clamp your hand over your mouth and try not to wink. This is why people watch shows with their partner. But you shouldn’t need a partner, or a partner who likes the same shows as you, to have that experience!
If only there was some kind of… club… where you all read the same book…? But for TV shows?
I think this is a genius idea and I’m going to set one up as soon as I have a spare minute. In the meantime, if you relate to the above stuff, you should make one too, I’m serious.
- Decide on a show, set up a facebook group, and you watch one episode a week (maybe two?)
- If anyone watches ahead, they’re out of the group until the start of the next season. BE HONOURABLE.
- Within that group, you can talk as freely as you like, without worrying about spoilers.
And so long as you don’t actively google the show, you probably won’t get accidental spoilers from twitter (which you absolutely will for Game of Thrones / Twin Peaks / etc if you don’t watch the episode the day it comes out).
The other advantage is for shows like, say, Serial, where it kinda feels like if you didn’t listen to it when everyone else was, you’ve sort of missed the boat and there’s no point now, because the conversation’s over. You can collect all the strays who never got around to it at the time, and re-create the buzz! TIME IS NO LONGER OUR MASTER.
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
SAYS YOU OMAR KAYYÁM.
The blobfish vindicated
The blobfish, so-called ugliest fish in the world, ONLY LOOKS LIKE THAT WHEN IT'S BROUGHT UP TO THE SURFACE. It's a deep-sea fish with kind of no bones or muscle, that normally lives under thousands of pounds of pressure. That pressure holds its body together in a normal shape. It only looks the way it does because it's decompressed! [source, has some more interesting details]
The treatment of the blobfish is like if you put Chris Hadfield into space without a suit and then, after all his blood vessels and eyeballs burst, called him 'the world's ugliest astronaut'.
You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.
-- Erin McKean (strong recommendation to read the whole post, if you like the paragraph)
The Library of the Forest
"At last count Miquel Angel Blanco's library consisted of more than 1,100 books. It now occupies the entire ground floor and basement of an apartment building in the north of Madrid. But its books are not only books, but also reliquaries. Each book records a journey made by walking, and each contains natural objects and substances gathered along that particular path: seaweed, snakeskin, mica flakes, crystals of quartz, sea beans, lightning-scorched pine timber, the wing of a grey partridge, pillows of moss, worked flint, cubes of pyrite, pollen, resin, acorn cups, the leaves of holm oak, beech, elm.
"All his book-boxes contain objects he has collected while walking; the results of chance encounters or conscious quests. Materials that liberate secret images. Unfathomable abysses, deep lakes, infinite spaces, storms, creeks, fires may open inside a small box. Microlandscapes. The found objects are held in place within each box by wire and thread, or pressed into fixed beds of soil, resin, paraffin or wax. Thus mutely arranged, each book-box symbolically records a walk made, a path followed, a foot-journey and its encounters."
(excerpt from Robert MacFarlane's The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot. Book depository.)
My life has been united by trees, which I have considered my equals. -- Miquel Angel Blanco
Technobuddhists launch cryptocurrency to fight religious corruption
Their tagline is 'Decentralized religion: a complete Buddhist and secular meditation ecosystem on the Ethereum blockchain'. (Ethereum is a type of cryptocurrency; the most famous is bitcoin.) The blockchain allows for radical transparency – you would be able to follow the money trail of any donations you made.
It's part of the Lotos Network, which is intended to be a digital network of temples, more in keeping with Gautama Buddha's original vision: "The Buddha envisioned a new society in his discourse The City. The City symbolizes a flourishing communal life based on the principles of Buddhism. His “assembly” (Pariṣā) of students and teachers offer a model for how such a society can operate. In this community, all members are equal in training they receive, regardless if they are men or woman, monks or laypeople." The aim is to have real-time interactions, classes, etc., to be a proper community, and for governance to be voted on by users. [Article]
(The image is 'Cybermonk' by HolyVarus and is totally inappropriate for this article, as is the term 'cybermonk' itself and also 'technobuddhist'. They emphasise that they are not creating any new type of Buddhism, just communicating it in new ways, but I emphasise that cyberpunk monks are awesome so too bad.)
I should probably be upset by the name but honestly I would love a bamboo wife. She would be the perfect partner, so gracious and kind and strong, but she would never let me see her feet, and one day I would sneak up on her when she was bathing and see they were just straight stalks of bamboo, and she would shake her head sadly and grow into a shady grove before my eyes and I would never get to speak to her again, but I could walk in the grove and think of everything I'd lost because of my lack of respect for boundaries.
Anyway, let's call it a "summer body pillow".
They cool you down by opening up your body position and allowing airflow, so your sweat evaporates and cools you instead of just... collecting. Wikipedia says they've largely gone out of use because of air-conditioning, but, uh, my house doesn't have air-conditioning? Neither do a lot of Australians I know? Or if they do, it's just in the living room and not in the bedroom. So maybe we should consider this. I could only find one online for sale, but I reckon you could find one pretty easily if you went to Korea or South-East Asia.
ANCIENT WHIPPET <3 <3 <3
"A dog scratching his ear on an Athenian red-figure cup by the Euergides Painter c. 500 BC."
From the Ashmolean Museum, who should absolutely follow on twitter. And I guess... visit? It's in Oxford though. Just follow any museum or art gallery on twitter/facebook, it's good content. British Museum does these "guess what this object was used for?" posts that are great.
Unsolicited Advice: Don't insist on seeing your bamboo wife's feet!
Or taking off her velvet neck ribbon, none of that. Even married people are allowed to have something that's secret and private and just for them.
I think about trust a lot; people use it in really different ways. For example, the above thing about transparency around donations - they talk about "building trust". But that's not trust, it's, hm, accountability, it's having no way to get away with things. And it's totally appropriate for the circumstance! But trust is not needing total transparency right? Like you shouldn't need to read all your partner's texts in order to trust them. And even harder, sometimes it's, in a fight, "I don't understand in any way at all why this is important to you, but I believe you. I trust that you are being sincere and not just on some power trip."
For me in relationships (of all kinds) trust means knowing they will tell me if there is a problem and not allow resentment to breed. That is hard work, because it's very tempting to want to avoid hurting someone's feelings by telling yourself you can let something go, even when you can't and you have to shave off a little sliver of your regard for that person in order to let it go. So trusting someone means trusting them to be vigilant about protecting your relationship, by protecting their regard and respect for you and speaking up when it's threatened. I can't feel safe if I don't trust someone to give me negative feedback.
Segue to Lord of the Rings, where Frodo's deep dark secret that he has the Ring and has to leave the Shire. But Sam eavesdrops on him and finds out and tells the other hobbits and they all conspire to leave with him. And Frodo is really upset about it and feels betrayed, especially by Sam.
Sam: 'Gandalf has some sense, mind you; and when you said go alone, he said no! take someone as you can trust.’
‘But it does not seem that I can trust anyone,’ said Frodo.
Sam looked at him unhappily.
‘It all depends on what you want,’ put in Merry. ‘You can trust us to stick to you through thick and thin – to the bitter end. And you can trust us to keep any secret of yours – closer than you keep it yourself. But you cannot trust us to let you face trouble alone, and go off without a word. We are your friends, Frodo.’
I guess the advice is, 'trust' means different things to different people, and it's so important, so you really really gotta talk to your friends/partners about what it means to each of you.
If you want solicited advice, send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or just reply to this email.
Plug for a Fringe Festival show in Melbourne
If you live in Melbourne, have $25, and you're free this Saturday or Sunday night, or next Friday or Saturday night, I cannot recommend this highly enough.
It's a showcase of award-winning comedians and entertainers doing the stuff they've always wanted to try on stage but couldn't because it was too weird. Last time Demi Lardner [vid of her Comedy Festival Gala bit] got fake blood on my jacket (it washed out), a comedian got an on-stage haircut, and a ventriloquist did a shadow-puppet play about Laika the astronaut-dog that actually made people cry.
Tickets || Facebook
Even if you don't see this, see SOMETHING at Fringe. Melbourne's art/comedy/music/etc scene is amazing and it's wasteful not to go be part of it every now and again.
(I didn't get paid for this but one of the presenters is my partner. But I wouldn't be recommending it here if I didn't genuinely think it was amazing and warm and idiosyncratic and Whippet-suited.)
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