WindowSwap

Following up on my recent post on Knausgaard’s Home and Away, if you’re on the hunt for a little shot of “elsewhere” from the confines of your desk, I recently discovered WindowSwap. You can read a little bit about the project here. Basically people submit short (ten minutes or so) videos of a window in their house which you can then view (and they have submissions from all over the world). This is more or less how I use Instagram – a little window into other worlds – but I really like the simplicity of this project. A couple of sample frames below, just to give you a taste of some “away” while at home:

All Good Things

It isn’t all bad, you know. I say this for myself, doom-scrolling the news, earning simultaneous internet PhDs in epidemiology, economics, and political science. I mean, the other blog post currently in my drafts is all about our collective failure to confront death and how it might be driving us crazy, so maybe I just need to lighten up a little (or a lot). Maybe sometimes we just need a little reminder that there is still beauty in the world.

Lately, I’ve been loving this album from Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (no, I don’t know how to pronounce his name – his website offers this: “Kwee-veen Oh Rye Alla”) and Thomas Bartlett, a new discovery for me. Ó Raghallaigh’s “hardanger d’amore” (a ten-string fiddle) and Bartlett’s piano swirl around one another, often repeating and building themes, and then breaking back down again. It’s music that opens up space. And, in a world constrained by the width of my smartphone screen, by the feed scrolling by, infinite in length but so narrow in scope, I need that push towards opening up. I need reminders that there is still beauty and loveliness in the world. And, maybe you do too.

F

The lights in the subway shrink, become a single patch, then disappear. Beauty has no need of art, it has no need of us, either, it has no need of witnesses, quite the opposite. Gaping observers detract from it, it blazes most brightly where no one can see it: broad landscapes devoid of houses, the changing shapes of clouds in the early evening, the washed-out grayish red of old brick walls, bare trees in winter mists, cathedrals, the reflection of the sun in a puddle of oil, the mirrored skyscrapers of Manhattan, the view out an airplane window right after it’s climbed through the layer of clouds, old people’s hands, the sea at any time of day, and empty subway stations like this one—the yellow light, the haphazard pattern of cigarette butts on the ground, the peeling advertisements, still fluttering in the slipstream of the train, although the train itself has just disappeared.

From Daniel Kehlmann’s fragmented, clever, challenging F. In a book stocked with Karamazov-ian echoes (distorted and playful as they are), Kehlmann makes Ivan Friedland his “Alyosha” (i.e. an attempt to write a fundamentally good character) – and in the process gives his Rubik’s cube of a novel a beating heart.