Cool Internet Stuff (NBA bubble life with Ben Golliver, Oliver Burkeman newsletter wisdom, and more)

What I think I’m doing here: It’s another links post.

  • The news your life.” Oliver Burkeman is now delivering wisdom in newsletter form. I have definitely been a bit derailed by distraction these past two weeks. I mean, this about sums it up.
  • On a related note, I find myself hungry for competence and am thinking back to the NBA’s “bubble” – which looks like more of a success with each passing day. Ben Golliver wrote up one of the best reflections on NBA bubble life. Not sure what the next season is going to look like – but hoping they can pull something off.

The most damning thing about Substack is not any of these theoretical structural mechanics, it’s the easier more intuitive understanding that nothing great will be written here. Each piece we read and publish is a bite sized dose of momentary stimulation. It follows an unwritten contract between each party–I will not try too hard to writing anything serious, you will not try too hard to understand my writing, and both of us will be happier for it–that feels less like patronage, and more like a cheap imitation of actual craft, something that fulfils its surface level goals but goes no further.

On the whole, I find the shift towards so much internet writing being distributed as email newsletters extremely irritating. Even the newsletters I like end up over time feeling like some sort of spam. RSS readers exist! They provide a significantly better reading experience!

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Home and Away

Sometimes the right book arrives at the right time. Karl Ove Knausgaard and Fredrik Ekelund’s book of letters, Home and Away: Writing the Beautiful Game was a book I gulped down in a series of summer evenings, stretched out on the living room floor, trying to survive central California in July.

The book is a series of letters, ostensibly about the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, between Knausgaard, at home in a sleepy village in Sweden, and Ekelund, who is staying in Rio de Janeiro. I say “ostensibly” because while there is plenty of soccer analysis, the letters typically overflow their banks with a flood of other topics: class, memory, gender, parenting, culture, literature, meaning. We hear about trips to the local pool with the kids (Knausgaard) and pick-up soccer games on the beach (Ekelund). It’s about all of life, more or less, but grounded in a particular moment, with the spectacle of the games providing a through line for the reader to follow.

She smacked her forehead. Who’s going to read it?! she said. Is he in the stadium watching while you watch TV here? Yes, I said. But I write about other things too. Like what? she said. Whatever’s on my mind, I answered. Don’t write what you’re thinking about, Dad! she shouted. That’s what I do, I said. Today, for example, I’ve written about the drive to the theatre. How nice it was. Oh no! she said.

Knausgaard’s daughter on the project of Home and Away
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Reading as Vice

[C.S.] Lewis was already acquiring the skill and taste to claim, one day, the mantle of twentieth-century heir to Samuel Johnson, the most widely read man in eighteenth-century England. To generations of students, astonished by his prodigious literary memory, he would give this simple counsel: “The great thing is to be always reading, but never to get bored – treat it not like work, more as a vice!”

From, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings by Philip and Carol Zaleski.