odds and ends / 1.22.2018

From top to bottom:

The prettiest electric kettle (lucky Europeans).
A detail from Fairfield Porter's Lizzie at the Table, courtesy of Katie Merchant's moon list.
Pentominoes socks (pattern by Marlene Pipjersknitted and photographed by fun9): filed under things that make me wish I was a knitter.

Blogging, that much-maligned pastime, is gradually but surely disappearing from the Internet, and so, consequently, is a lot of online freedom and fun ... Blogs are necessarily idiosyncratic, entirely about sensibility: they can only be run by workhorses who are creative enough to amuse themselves and distinct enough to hook an audience ... who work more on the principle of personal obsession than pay.

Jia Tolentino, "The End of The Awl and the Vanishing of Freedom and Fun From the Internet." The New Yorker, 1/18/2018.


The (divisive, corrosive, democracy-poisoning) golden age of free speech.


Santiago Ramón y Cajal's drawings of the brain: 'they describe a fantastic netherworld of floating forms, linear networks, bristling nodes and torrential energies. They posit the thing between your ears as an immense cosmic universe, or at least one of the most intricate of all of nature’s creations.'

(There is a book for those of us who won't make it to the exhibit.)


Landscapes of the mind.


Cosmic latte: the average color of the universe.

As Laurie Penny recently wrote, for The Baffler, the risk of promoting individual self-care as a solution to existential anxiety or oppression is that victims will become isolated in a futile struggle to solve their own problems rather than to collectively change the systems causing them harm. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that beneath the face masks and yoga asanas, many of the #selfcare posts sound strangely Trump-like. “Completely unconcerned with what’s not mine” is a common caption. So is “But first, YOU,” and the counterfactual “I can’t give you a cup to drink from if mine is empty.” I recently spotted another hashtag right next to #selfcare: #lookoutfornumberone. The image was an illustration of a pale, thin girl with a tangle of wildflowers growing from the crown of her head, reaching up with a watering can in one hand to water her own flowers.

Jordan Kisner, "The Politics of Conspicuous Displays of Self Care." The New Yorker, 3/14/2017.

... I brought you
to this world, and I do not regret it.
The sky's still blue, for now.

Amit Majmudar, 'Of Age.'

'no one is coming to save us'

This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it. We need to sit with the discomfort of the president of the United States referring to several countries as “shitholes” during a meeting, a meeting that continued, his comments unchallenged. No one is coming to save us. Before we can figure out how to save ourselves from this travesty, we need to sit with that, too.
Roxane Gay, "No One Is Coming to Save Us From Trump's Racism.' NYT, 1/12/2018.

imaginary outfit: absurd cold

imaginary outfit: crazy cold

Between head colds and extreme cold, it feels like I've been stuck in my house for ages (it's been two-and-a-half days) and my normal appreciation for a spare, neutral palette has become a cabin-fevered longing for bright, jarring color. Four male cardinals are perched in the apple tree outside my window, waiting for a turn at the bird feeder, and I am so glad for the red, and for whatever weird force of natural selection determined that blending in was not the thing for a male cardinal to do (sidebar: Tim Flannery's reviews of bird books in the NYRB are wonderful; 'Objectifying Male Birds' is fascinating; 'Extravagant, Aggressive Birds Down Under' is hilarious and terrifying).

This is when I look at my carefully collected pile of sweaters and feel my soul make a giant, dismissive shrug. Just like every February I remember too late that I really need to escape somewhere sunny and warmish for a few days, in my springtime closet purges I blissfully assume I can somehow make it through the winter without craving some shockingly colored piece of knitwear, which I inevitably feel compelled to acquire on sale in January and wear nonstop in February and March, before a spring-cleaning-minded me determines it is an unnecessary wardrobe outlier and thus must go.

And so, a note to myself: when springtime closet cleanouts beckon, remember the cardinal. When the days are grey and long and cold, color is a joy. Keep the wild sweater.

wild bells

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson. From 'Ring Out, Wild Bells,' 1850.


From top:

ring out

Photo by Gerard Uferas from Viktor & Rolf's 2000 A/W couture show. Discovered here and originally posted on 12/31/2010.