Cool Internet Stuff (Ross Gay on basketball, Alan Jacobs leaves me teary-eyed, and more)

What I think I’m doing here: It’s a links post. Because every blog needs a links post once in a while.

  • Oliver Burkeman closes up shop on his wry and generous This Column Will Change your Life. I’m going to miss it. He ends with a summary of the main insights from his years writing the column, including: “The advice you don’t want to hear is usually the advice you need” and “When stumped by a life choice, choose ‘enlargement’ over happiness.”

The last time I played here I didn’t want to leave. I kind of couldn’t bring myself to. In my head I was kind of begging my friend, my partner in ball, who is no longer here, (don’t worry, he’s alive), to stick around, to stretch the game out. C’mon man. Five more points combined and we’re done. Now five more. Ok, two more possessions a piece. Two more. C’mon. Let’s stay a little longer, don’t you think? Let’s just keep going. Up and back. Your knees ok? The hammy’s good? Ankle? C’mon, let’s hang around. A couple more shots. Your ball.

  • Alan Jacobs’ newsletter always has something good (you can subscribe here), but this one, which told a story I had never heard before, about a teenager named Suzanne Big Crow, is one I’m still thinking about weeks later (he also has a new book out, which I haven’t gotten to yet, but looks great).
  • If your interest has been awakened at all by some of my recent Knausgaard content (and there’s more on its way … I have a problem) but you’re not sure you want to launch into the thousands of pages of My Struggle, you can get a taste of what his work is like by watching his 2017 Windham-Campbell Lecture (published as a short book in English titled, Inadvertent).

But rarely, something even better happens: A painting made by someone in a distant country hundreds of years ago, an artist’s careful attention and turbulent experience sedimented onto a stretched canvas, leaps out of the past to call you — to call you — to attention in the present, to drive you to confusion by drawing from you both a sense of alarm and a feeling of consolation, to bring you to an awareness of your own self in the act of experiencing something that is well beyond the grasp of language, something that you wouldn’t wish to live without.

And later, towards the end of the essay:

He was a murderer, a slaveholder, a terror and a pest. But I don’t go to Caravaggio to be reminded of how good people are and certainly not because of how good he was. To the contrary: I seek him out for a certain kind of otherwise unbearable knowledge. Here was an artist who depicted fruit in its ripeness and at the moment it had begun to rot, an artist who painted flesh at its most delicately seductive and most grievously injured. When he showed suffering, he showed it so startlingly well because he was on both sides of it: He meted it out to others and received it in his own body. Caravaggio is long dead, as are his victims. What remains is the work, and I don’t have to love him to know that I need to know what he knows, the knowledge that hums, centuries later, on the surface of his paintings, knowledge of all the pain, loneliness, beauty, fear and awful vulnerability our bodies have in common.

  • And finally, I’m not sure whether this qualifies as “cool internet stuff” but wasn’t sure where else to put this. I have never figured out a great flow between my blog and my Goodreads account. Goodreads is generally the place for short notes, and I’ll tackle longer, more ambitious things here, but I post pretty much every book I finish there (not the ones I abandon), so if you want to follow along at a faster pace in a more “rough draft” form, that’s the place to go.