Tulips by Cy Twombly
While my brain continues to reboot from winter to spring (and one home to another), this week’s newsletter is another brief assortment of links that might be of interest.
Hope everyone is doing well :)
While I do devoutly believe in the power of literature to challenge, to deepen, to change, I also know that buying books by black authors is but a theoretical, grievously belated and utterly impoverished response to centuries of physical and emotional harm. The Bluest Eye was published 51 years ago. As Lauren Michelle Jackson wrote in her excellent Vulture essay “What is an anti-racist reading list for”, someone at some point has to get down to the business of reading.
‘White people, black authors are not your medicine’ - Yaa Gyasi for The Guardian.
In January, I booked a visit to the 71st Street store. It was a cold day and slushy, and the shop was empty except for a few salespeople. There were little treasures scattered around. I could smell like La Fille de Berlin with a spritz of a Serge Lutens; I could go home with a sterling-silver lighter, a collaboration with the 19th-century French maker S.T. DuPont, with a psychedelic, neo–Dead Head graphic selected by the sisters. No ashtray that I noticed; a friend of a friend of the designers whispered to me that Mary-Kate won’t use one when she smokes. “The ash fairy will get it,” she apparently says, ashing wherever.
Beige Ambition (On Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s luxury fashion brand, The Row) - Matthew Schneier for The Cut
…In a society reflexively suspicious of rest, getting a restorative break tends to require a formal mental-health diagnosis. Otherwise, you risk getting called a slacker… This got me thinking that maybe we need to bring back the nervous breakdown, to protect the nation’s collective reserve of nerve force at a time when it’s stretched so thin. What would the modern version of a culturally accepted, nervous-breakdown-precipitated time-out look like?
Bring Back The Nervous Breakdown - Jerry Useem for The Atlantic
There’s something very tempting about the New York lifestyle. You can settle your life how you like it. Lunch here and dinner here and if someone gets in your way for a second, you’re ready to rip their head off. But life should involve things you don’t want to do. Complication and uncomfortable things. Back in London, my life returns to its previous state...
I think I so wanted my life to be ordered. I’ve been traveling for 10 years, trying to live this writer’s life, without anyone bothering me, and then as you get older, you realize that all those people bothering you—that is your work. Without it, what are you? Just some global, international writer thing. There’s nothing there. That’s an empty life, you know? So it’s good to go home.
Zadie Smith interviewed by Christopher Bollen (in 2012) for Interview
Last week, I watched the MATANGI/MAYA/M.I.A. documentary that I somehow missed when it came out in 2018. As well as being funny and touching, it gave me a big nostalgia pang for the brasher, brighter, far less filtered London of my teens.
Scented candles are for life, not just the pandemic. I just ordered this one from Home by Ronan Mckenzie - an artist-led, Black-owned, multifunctional creative space near my own new home in North London that will (hopefully) reopen IRL in April, with a debut solo exhibition by Cece Phillips. See you there.