This Ain't No Holiday
New writing, new zines, new trembles.
I’ve been writing and doing (what’s new) and thought to do a download of all that’s been happening over here.
This month I was invited to join Monocle’s 2021 Media Summit in London, which was all about ‘What – and who – is making the news.’ I was both bemused to be considered and confused as why they would want somebody like me there (historically I am anti much of what today’s lifestyle media businesses are about). Nevertheless, I went along and had an interesting time.
Their founder Tyler Brûlé read my book over the summer and sent me a very kind mail afterwards (he also wrote about it here that same week…and again here the following). What people told me about publishing a book (before I had done it) seems to be true; you never know where it’s going to end up. And also that books take on a life of their own. They travel.
What touched me most was how considerate they were with handling my ‘anonymity’. Anonymity is not quite the right word. I just don’t like to publicise my face and write under a pseudonym. As time goes on, this seems less and less of a big deal. As in, I can and will continue to write as Jess Henderson, but who Jess Henderson is doesn’t really matter.
However, whenever I need to do things for press or ‘IRL’ it highlights just how weird it is for somebody not to want to be photographed or become a public persona, and reminds everyone involved (myself included) how commonplace the desire for those things has become. The feeling of being decidedly different isn’t exactly comfortable – I don’t like the practicalities that come with writing under pseudonym and how they impact the work of those around me. As they say, perhaps it just is what it is.
It was also impressive that the event went unrecorded. That it was a moment for those in the room and not immortalised as nominal YouTube dust. Bravo to Monocle for that decision.
The Pause for Thought Project
I also published a piece titled It Isn’t with the Pause for Thought project, run by Scott Wark and Tom Sutherland. Last month they hosted several workshops around the theme of ‘high speed society’ and invited writers, researchers, artists, and the likes, whose work circles the topics of how we deal with the increasing amount and speed of media in our lives. Here’s a small excerpt:
Over the past two weeks I’ve recognised my own complicity in creating the conditions of self-exhaustion (thank you Emma Cocker) and accidently found relief in reading novels. A lot of novels.
Shock, horror, how radical to read non-fiction again…
*I want to point out how thoughtfully this project is being run in terms of consideration and remuneration for the time and energy spent by invited participants. If only more cultural initiatives were practicing what they preach – more of this, please!
Some of you may be familiar with the independent Offscreen Magazine out of Berlin that ‘examines how we shape technology and how technology shapes us.’ Founder Kai Brach works hard to publish about ‘the human side of technology’ and has been doing so since 2012.
Kai asked me to contribute a piece for their latest issue after reading Offline Matters and feeling a resonance with what he is doing with the magazine, and where their audience is at with these topics.
Together, we decided to re-address an excerpt from the book called ‘In Praise of Aiming Lower’, adapting it to the context of doing creative work during the pandemic. What can be found in the issue is a treatise on the counter-cultural process of slowing down amongst increasing acceleration, titled ‘In Praise of Aiming (S)lower’.
I’ll attach an image of the printed piece if you want to click and enlarge to read it. Once again, thank you to the Offscreen team for dealing with my lack-of-portrait-photo. Now I have a magnificent illustration of the back of my head!
Band of Burnouts Zine
Last but not least, the zine my research lab with the School of Commons (Band of Burnouts) has been working on—full of wonderful contributions from our open call—is finished.
We decided to take a very analog production approach resulting in a small run of 30 one-of-a-kind publications, each one slightly different and numbered accordingly. Although they are not for sale, you can check out the ‘Anti Burnout Zine-Making’ principles that we lived the project by. I hope to do more projects this way, implementing work methods like “First thought, best thought!” and “Spend Min. Time on Computer.”