Fun climate content, Kubrick's period drama, Audre Lorde on poetry, and more.
Digest #29 - July 18th 2021
Hello lovely readers,
Yes, I’m still alive! But barely. I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me (49 days to be exact). A lot has happened. You can scroll to the end for the micro-version and The Seven content is below as usual.
Our whole household has been sick — first Leo, Alex, Mum, and then me. Despite all adults being fully vaccinated since April, I suspect it was COVID, given Mum had a lingering cough for about five weeks and Alex still can’t taste properly.
And on top of that, last week my poor Mum broke her ankle! I’ve been helping her with daily tasks since she has limited mobility, and also feeding and walking her two dogs. Mum usually takes care of Leo during the days, so we are now trying to also arrange alternate childcare. On top of full-time work… it’s been a lot! But mostly I’m grateful Mum’s so close by so I can support her.
I’ve also realized how hard it is to consume new things to share in this digest with such limited time available, and a toddler who is almost always with me. A toddler who likes to close my books while I read them, insists we only watch The Wiggles, and doesn’t much like my music taste. I could probably write a very good weekly digest for a two-year-old demographic, though.
All that aside, I haven’t had a chance to tell you about my fellowship! I was accepted into the Georgia Women’s Policy Institute’s 2021-2022 Reproductive Justice cohort. After having my own child here in 2019, with the backdrop of the "Heartbeat" laws trying to limit women's access to safe reproductive healthcare, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to move beyond discussion and try to do something about it. It will be a huge challenge, especially with everything else on my plate, but I look forward to learning about the state legislative process and trying to become an advocate for women and girls in my home state.
tl;dr - My family’s been sick/injured, consuming media is challenging with a toddler, and I’m going to be even busier soon.
Doing my best to share things with you, but if you don’t hear from me for a hot minute, please assume I have a good reason (or three) ;)
Can you watch a show about the climate crisis without getting depressed? Yes! Céline Semaan and Sophia Li have teamed up to create a fun show that still thoughtfully tackles the most important issues of our lifetime — climate change and social justice. It’s solutions-focused, and instead of focusing on problems that feel insurmountable, it talks about what we can actually do, right now. The first episode I'm Just One Person, What Difference Can I Make? is only ten minutes long and is entirely worth your precious time. If you’re only going to take one thing away from this digest, I hope it’s watching this today!
"During the pandemic, everyone was like, 'Oh, humans are the virus. Mother nature is healing.' And we're like, 'Well, no.’ Humans are not the virus because indigenous communities have been living in equilibrium with mother nature since the beginning of time. It's capitalism, consumerism, colonialism. That is the virus."
Unpopular opinion: most of my favorite films are extremely slow-paced. There’s something I find so engaging about cinematography that quietly and firmly holds its own space and power without flashing around trying to snatch our attention. Maybe its because it’s the antithesis of our loud, ad-filled world, but slowness brings me a lot of calm satisfaction. A few weeks ago, my husband Alex and I watched Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 period drama based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon. It’s incredibly long for a film (187-minutes), so we watched it over two sittings. Alex doesn’t appreciate the slow burn like I do, so got frustrated with the pacing at times, but was invested in the plot enough that he wanted to know how it ended. The costuming, cinematography, plot and acting were all brilliant. It was very different to the other Kubrick films I’ve really enjoyed (A Clockwork Orange and Lolita for example) and I was surprised by his ability to so well-execute this genre. If you like faster-paced plots, I don’t recommend it. If you’re more like me, enjoy!
I’ve finally been reading the works of Audre Lorde, and finding much comfort in the way she expresses her ideas. I suspect I’m not alone in this, as culturally we in the West have elevated the views of a rather small demographic (cis, hetero, white men) for a very long time… I can’t relate to those experiences, and nor can the majority of humanity, statistically. One essay of Lorde’s that I found particularly striking is called Poetry is Not a Luxury — I’ve left two small excerpts below. The essay is quite concise, and I highly recommend reading it through for yourself. Perhaps aloud, as I did (to my son Leo) as it felt more powerful verbally resonating than simply floating around in my mind.
“The white fathers told us, I think therefore I am; and the black mothers in each of us - the poet - whispers in our dreams, I feel therefore I can be free. Poetry coins the language to express and charter this revolutionary awareness and demand, the implementation of that freedom.”
“Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.”
I’ve verbally recommended this show a lot recently, and realized it’s probably time to add it to a digest. I’m a huge fan of well-developed time travel plots and am invested in exploring multiverse theory right now, deep-diving into the relevant concepts of quantum physics, and good sci-fi world building, hence my recommendations of Dark Matter and Dark in the last digest. Devs explores these themes, in ways I don’t care to spoil, while also examining the concept of the power of tech company CEOs, and the way they can come to be deified. The name of the show is clever, as Devs is both a play on ‘developers’ and in latin (where the letter v is a u) it says Deus - or God. That’s all I really want to say about the show so I don’t ruin it for you if you watch it, but it gets pretty extreme and throws you in the deep from episode one. If you’ve seen the film Ex Machina, it’s by the same creator, and the series and film are intended companion pieces… that’s right… Deus… Ex machina. Nerding out over here.
This song is just beautiful. Almost as beautiful as Jorja Smith herself. I love everything about her so much that I was inspired by her to briefly get box braids a few years ago. The racial experience I had to navigate after that was a little too complicated for me, so I think I’ll stick to my wash-and-go for another decade, but that’s completely another story for another time. Listen to the pretty song for now.
My love for Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes seems to only intensify as time passes. I am enamored by how fresh everything is and how the bold flavors always come from plant-based ingredients (currants, chili, lemon, herbs and more). But especially I love how openly he encourages substitutions and experimentation. I saw this amazing Instagram reel and had to make this tomato salad immediately, but used a number of substitutions based on what was in the fridge. I aggressively encourage everyone I know to grab one of his cookbooks and use it as inspiration to learn some new flavor combinations and start making some kitchen magic. Or at a minimum, just follow him on Instagram because his team’s new reels have been drool-inducing. This recipe is from Plenty More, which is my favorite of his books alongside SIMPLE and Jerusalem, the latter of which is co-authored with his business partner, amazing Palestinian chef Sami Tamimi.
It’s meme time! The highest-clicked part of this digest is always number seven, which probably is a surprise to nobody ;) Another one supplied by my friend Max (‘the Meme King’), the highest-cited referral source in this digest to date. I also don’t know why I put asterisks above. I’m Australian, I swear plenty. Maybe for those of you who are more language-sensitive, I want to respect your sensibilities. Or, likely I’m thinking about Leo ending up like this girl because of me.