Reading … A 7th Anniversary

It turns out I’ve been blogging about reading for around 2/3 the age of supernaut. It still feels like something I’ve only recently begun. This year I’d taken a slight pause from my intense reading bouts, so in part this is a reminder of what I read in the last 12 months, that I was reading, and what I thought then and now.

Yes, I’ve read less than last year, 40-ish books compared to last year’s 54-ish. This has been obvious to me in recent months with my pile being added to but not depleted, not so much reading as chiseling away. Anyway, no more blathering. The books:

The non-fiction, serious stuff:

Half of what I read was superb. When I was performing in Parsifal, I got to read William Kinderman’s Wagner’s Parsifal, a glorious book, which made me love and appreciate the opera even more. I paired that with Dayal Patterson’s equally magnificent Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult, a must-read for anyone interested in the history of the genre, and it supplied me with a mass of new listening. It was on my Book of the Year list until shunted off by a couple of exceptional works. Michel Serres’s was not one of those, but Variations on the Body is a beautiful, poetic work by one of Europe’s most profound and little-read philosophers, who understands corporeality in a way largely lacking in western philosophy.

Adam Minter writing on the recycling business in Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade is a book I’d recommend to pretty much anyone (being aware that much of what I read falls into the WTF? category), and he’s a rare, smart writer on the subject, presenting it in a way non-specialists can understand and enjoy, also a needed critical voice in the global trash industry and China’s role in it.

Another from China: Frank Dikötter is one of my favourite writers on 20th century China, and I’d been waiting for The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957. I’d been interested in this period because of stories a friend in Guangzhou would tell me about her Tujia grandparents holding out for years in the mountains against Communists. I’d also been waiting for Liao Yiwu’s prison years autobiography, available in German for a year, For a Song and a Hundred Songs: A Poet’s Journey through a Chinese Prison System. There is hype around post-’89 Chinese writers, particularly the Beijing and Shanghai urban youth genre. I’ve yet to find a writer of that generation as good as Liao, and as necessary to read. All of his works are unparalleled documentaries.

Finally, there was Julia Serano, her sequel to Whipping Girl: Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. It’s odd to leave this off the Book of the Year list, as it’s undeniably a critical work and Serano is up with bell hooks and Judith Butler (among others) for her writing on feminism, trans, and queer politics and culture. She needs to be read; buy it and read it.

The reason why Serano got bumped is Afsaneh Najmabadi, whose Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity was one of my Books of the Year last year. I heard about Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran late last year and waited months for it. Considering the amount of attention works on trans people (particularly trans women) received in the last year, it’s baffling that Najmabadi goes largely unmentioned. For those engaged in this subject with no interest in Iran specifically, her documenting of the influence in Iran of Euro-Anglo-American ebbs and flows of political, social, medical, legal thought and practice on trans issues and identities is sufficient to make this required reading. Iran though is the dog that’s beaten irrespective of context, and successive Ayatollahs since the ’70s issuing Fatawa recognising trans people as legitimate and in need of help is presented in the west rather as the despotic Islamic dictatorship forcing sex reassignment on unwilling gays and lesbians. As with Excluded, buy it and read it.

Then there was H. Jay Melosh’s Planetary Surface Processes, which Emily Lakdawalla wrote about on The Planetary Society. Along with last year’s Colliding Continents: A Geological Exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram, & Tibet, this one fills my need to look at massive contusions of granite and other rock. There’s a moderate number of formulae, and regular plunges into elucidations of those, placing this somewhere in general university-level and reference book. It is specific and not a casual read, and it’s the one book you want on the subject. Sometime soon I’ll pair it with one on planetary chemistry.

And finally for the non-fiction is Caroline Walker Bynum’s Wonderful Blood: Theology and Practice in Late Medieval Northern Germany and Beyond, recommended by a friend, and just one of those delightful, dense, heavy, demanding works written by someone so phenomenally talented and capable, and who simply loves her work. Completely a joy!

The fiction, also serious stuff:

I read less fiction in the last year, and tried new authors, some of whom I absolutely loved and are firmly helping me get over the absence of Iain Banks. Others … others who everything indicates I should love instead leave me cold, or worse, finding them actually not very good.

Let’s dispense with The Water Margin first. The second volume of five of John Dent-Young and Alan Dent-Young’s translation of Shi Nai’an and Luo Guanzhong: The Tiger Killers: Part Two of the Marshes of Mount Liang. This has to go on my list similarly as I have to have breakfast. Even if I read a hundred superior books, it would still be here. Some books are like that, you may never read them but they’re always around. The Water Margin is—as I keep saying—China’s Chaucer and The Canterbury Tales, or Marlowe’s riotous plays. I’d compare it to Shakespeare but it’s not equivalent: it’s bawdy, rough, uncouth characters and stories, and the writing itself is nearer the former two. Given its miraculous ability for genius turns of phrase, it’s perhaps comparable to Shakespeare for his wordsmithery. The Dent-Young’s translation is my favourite of the lot also, though the price per volume certainly isn’t.

Then there’s Ysabeau S. Wilce, who I discovered mid-this year, ordered the first of the Flora Segunda trilogy, promptly ordered the other two when barely past the first chapter. Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog. Yes, that’s the title. Children’s book indeed. Would that some of the adult authors I read be capable of imagining and telling a story as this. I loved all three, though the first the most. It seems to me in trilogies where the protagonist starts almost from nothing, that the first part establishes the significant growth, and the remaining two are more working with what they’ve already learnt (the Matrix and Star Wars trilogies, for example), and it may be unreasonable to be irritated by this, but it does—books two and three are still wonderful and had I only read either of them I’d be frothing as I do over book one. It’s not in the same league as the two big ones below, but I did love the world and characters.

Another new author was K. J. Parker, who has written quite a bit. It was The Folding Knife that piqued my interest, and I enjoyed it enough that it gets a second mention here.

I almost forgot Imogen Binnie’s Nevada, neither sci-fi nor fantasy, something of an autobiography, a little like reading my own life, rough, punk and trouble. The ending I hated, but the rest, she deserves awards for this and to be read a fuck-ton load.

The two big ones then, and colossal they are.

One the Skiffy side, channelling Iain M. Banks: Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice; and on the Mediæval Fiction side (I keep imagining her and Caroline Walker Bynum together in a bar): Nicola Griffith’s Hild.

Buy these books. Read these books. These are incomparably the best sci-fi/fantasy of 2014. If you’re swayed by other’s opinions, between them, they’ve won or been nominated for more awards than I have fingers and toes. Both of them have my favourite covers of the year. Honestly, if you don’t like either you should give up reading; books are wasted on you.

I cannot say enough good things about either of these two books and their authors. It’s an extraordinary time for sci-fi and fantasy with writers like Griffith and Leckie. It’s unlikely I’ll ever have an experience like my reintroduction to sci-fi via Iain Banks a few years ago, but to utterly give myself over to the author and story as with these two and to be rewarded for that is beyond compare.

An aside: you may notice that many of the writers are female. It’s intentional. A while ago, I decided to put my money where my feminist mouth is. This is easier in fiction because the two genres I read, sci-fi and fantasy have many talented female writers and the genres are going through a renaissance due to these and non-white, non-western, non-straight authors (and a definite shift by the publishing industry to promote them). It’s brilliant. In non-fiction, it’s not so easy. In part this is because I want to read particular authors; in part particular subjects that are dominated by white male authors in the english language sphere. I consciously balance these two biases by seeking out and selecting female authors, and when it comes to a choice I’ll put the female author first. The result of my extraordinary and hegemonic discrimination is that the first twenty books on my wish list are split almost 50/50 between male and female authors.

There follows two salient points: first, on any subject or genre, despite their being anywhere from an abundance of quality women writers all the way down to an equal number as there are men, by comparison it requires sustained effort to find them. Secondly, women writers—or at least the ones I read—tend to take for granted aspects of society that male writers mostly consider irrelevant. (This is my “Easy A vs. Superbad” theory.) Not only do women authors tend to not make assumptions based on contemporary, western ideas of gender, desire, ethnicity in society, they also regard these subjects as self-evidently present even if not immediately obvious and therefore critical to a proper understanding of the subject (or, as my wont, deserving of entire books on their own). Male writers on the other hand far too often see the world in terms of a narrow heterosexual and mono-cultural construction where men are doing all the important stuff.

This to me is the fundamental point in arguing for proper representation: it is simply not possible to otherwise understand a subject or imagine a world. And given that there has been prolonged underrepresentation, it follows that what is claimed to known on a subject can be reasonably said to be seriously lacking at best and likely suspect unless it can demonstrate adequate representation.

Another year done, then. More shelves filled. More new, superb authors whom I’m able to enjoy because of the fortunate combination of being able to read, living somewhere I can make time to read, and where books are affordable and commonplace. So (as I said last year) here’s to the writers, and their publishers and proofreaders and editors and typesetters and designers and artists and agents and friends and families who make it possible for them to write so that I may read.

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Museo della Storia di Bologna

The day after opening Parsifal, and I couldn’t even persuade myself to sleep in, so … To the Museums!

Unlike Berlin, where I live and know a reasonable amount about the city, Bologna is entirely new to me (ok, besides spaghetti bolognese). Indeed, this is my first time in Italy. I suppose this means I experience a museum in this city more as it is intended: an educational summary of a specific topic. Dasniya and I decided to go to the Museo Civico Archeologico di Bologna, but it seemed it would close not long after we got there. Across from Piazza del Francia we passed the Palazzo Pepoli, containing the Museo della Storia di Bologna, one of several museums that are part of Genus Bologniae. Open until 7pm and barely 2pm, we decided it would be a perfect choice for an hour or two. It was nearly closing by the time we left. I think the sheer number of photos I took and the number that ended up here illustrate what a fine time both Dasniya and I had.

This is the museum of the history of Bologna, and it goes back to the Etruscans, around 700BCE, when it was known as Felsina. It was also the city of Cassini, the Cassini, a satellite bearing his name orbiting now around Mars, who was a remarkable astronomer at a time of revolution in the field. This, and the art of building time-pieces (along with mercantile families and their ventures, and the famous university) is what the museum is built around. The Palazzo Pepoli of the family Pepoli dates back around 800 years, and while the museum doesn’t cover them as much as I’d have liked, it did devote the last exhibit in the formal dining hall to a series of 11 busts made in the 17th century of generations of women from the family, each of them spectacular in their own right.

I took an audio guide again, after my very good experience with one at the Musikinstrumenten-Museum a couple of weeks ago. It was a good decision, as all the exhibits are in Italian, though they also have information sheets in several languages in every room; the audio guide really adds a fantastic amount. It’s tempting to go through each room as a recollection here, but I think the photos capture something of that, and it’s sufficient to say I understand the city I’m working in far better than I did a few hours ago and have fallen into something of a love affair with the place, and Italy.

So, some flat notes amidst what is one of the most splendid museums set in one of the most beautiful city palaces I’ve ever been in. Despite the Pepoli women mentioned above, it’s unavoidable the museum gives a wide berth to the role of women in the history of the city. Even in the contemporary section, where 48 Bolognese are interviewed, only 5 of them are women; barely clearing 10%. Otherwise, it’s a sausage-fest, which is a pity, as the Pepoli women prove, the city has a history at least as long their family in which women play a central role.

The other, which coming from Berlin could never have been gotten away with in that city, was the exhibit (about a fifth of one of the 35 rooms) covering the Second World War. Or rather, “Liberata. Risorgere! Ai vittoriosi” “Liberation. Rise again! For the victorious”. No mention of Italian collaboration, fascism, Jews sent to concentration camps, just, “April 1945! Yay! … Oh, and the city was heavily bombed … Sad city is sad …” In Germany a museum would probably end up in prison for historical revisionism.

Besides that, this is a brilliant museum, varied and stimulating, beautifully laid out, so much attention to detail and the creative display of exhibits (a red Ducati next to a Roman chariot in the exhibit on the Roman Via Emilia trunk road!). I feel delightfully spoilt, and a little worried; if all museums here are so good going back to Berlin is going to be a torment.

Reading: Adam Minter — Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade

Because I’d never seen a photo of him, I imagined Shanghai-based scrap blogger Adam Minter was one of those gruff, 40- or 50-something American expats who manages to keep a blog of his life in China, like not a few others I’ve read over the years. How I came to be reading him … I have no idea, though possibly a connection to Shanghai Street Stories – in a different, older incarnation. Anyway, writing about trash, recycling, junk, waste, rubbish, the burning pits of Mordor, occasionally venturing to Guangdong and the cities I’d been through, of course I’d be reading him.

I’d been waiting for this book for quite some time, one of the many such that have coincidently all been published in the same couple of months. Partly because I have a curiosity for those desolate factories I sped past on the train from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, or the ones I drove through or spent time in, Qingyuan, Shaoguan, Dongguan, anonymous cities of millions that sprouted from nothing in the space of a pair of decades.

Also it occurred to me as Adam described his own family history of the junkyard that I seem to have one somewhat similar. My father, mechanic until it ruined his back (or at least, that’s the limit of what I know of him), had a factory in Scarborough dealing in waste paper. Not recycling it, just that intermediate step of gathering together all the sources and compressing it into massive bales. The old compactor was like a wire-frame elevator, going only down one floor. Paper went in and down; compressed and wrapped bales came up and out. There was also a freshly-concreted long pit, where the new, automated compactor was to go. And a forklift, which he tried to teach me how to drive at age 4. Almost ended in the pit. Though I did get enough of a hang of it for him to slap a pallet on the forks and me to take him all the way up so he could work on the roller door. Perhaps then a more accurate description of him is former mechanic in the scrap trade.

Minter’s book is a surprisingly light and fast read compared to his blog; it’s a different audience of course. A blog assumes a readership which allows for a shorthand when discussing its topics, giving more space for detailed remarks. A book on the other hand, especially one with a particular readership in mind, one that is unlikely to consistently enjoy reading about the Chinese recycling trade for years on end, keeps things much simpler and moving along. And he does move. Across the United States, across China, back to America, back to China, all the time meeting people from across the Americas, Asia, Middle East, Africa, pretty much anywhere people throw stuff out and other people see a way to make a living from that.

When I was in China, it because swiftly apparent to me the dominant narrative on many issues circulating around consumerism were highly problematic. To be stridently against sweatshops while living a first-world life, for example entirely misses the reality that doesn’t fit neatly into a slogan. Even the next level of narrative, that people in Guangdong, the manufacturing capital of the world, would choose to work in such factories simply because it was better than any other available option is an oversimplification. While it’s not David Graeber’s Debt, Adam Minter’s Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade does go a long way beyond these simplifications, showing how recycling actually works on a global scale, and for anyone with only a passing familiarity of the topic it’s definitely worth a read. Oh, and Adam is actually a cherub-faced young one.

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Mitte Museum Berlin

It’s Sunday, so Frances is going to museums! This time with a companion, Dasniya, and to the museum closest to my bed that I know of: Mitte Museum Berlin. The Mitte Museum is one of twelve of the Berliner Regionalmuseen, each covering one of the city’s Verwaltungsbezirk – administrative districts – its history, culture, people, and is just around the corner in Pankstr. I’ve biked past it for years and now that I have my regular weekend museum visit project it was obvious to be one of the first.

I don’t have any plan of which museum I’ll go to next; it sort of emerges in the course of the week, random passings-by spurring my interest or random remark from someone. Today was a very lazy start to the day so it befitted the tempo that I would choose not one of the imperial monsters, rather try something quotidian.

The museum itself is spread over three floors and several rooms. It would be possible to whirl through it in 20 minutes but the reading is as important as the looking and a leisurely 3-4 hours is worth it. The ground floor contains the Mitte-Tiergarten-Wedding timeline going from 12th Century ’til today, and the Alltag, daily life in Wedding around 100 years ago for a working class family living in a Hinterhof, following the work of the mother. They sleep seven to a small room, she is up first, cooking, then once the father is off to work and children departed does the clothes washing (by hand, boiling the water with a fire), cleaning, then off to the market to buy potatoes and bread, returning home to earn some extra income sewing for the garment industry, then cooking dinner – those potatoes, before more cleaning while husband sods off to down some Schnapps at the Kneipe. Sleep and repeat. This leads off to the pre- and post-war housing reform, renovation of Altbau and the building of the Neubau. One of my favourite housing projects in Berlin, the Afrikanische Str Viertel which I thought was ’40s early high modernism but turns out was built in the ’20s.

The first floor contains the various histories of the land and its use, from the days of Gesundbrunnen being just that, a health spa, to the height of the industrial age when it was wall-to-wall factories and squalid apartments, the post-war demolition and rebuilding, and the post-boom years dwindling of the same factories, putting thousands out of work and preparing those factories for occupation by artists such as we in the Uferhallen.

One room was devoted to the culture of the district, especially that of the revue theatres, from Friedrichstadt-Palast to the sadly destroyed Lichtburg, the vast 2000-seat theatre where Marlene Dietrich once played, now replaced by the equally vast yet wholly mediocre Gesundbrunnen mall at the Bahnhof. I thought this could be an exhibition in itself: the history of Berlin’s theatres, which then made me wonder just how many theatres are there in Berlin? Proper theatres, that is; not converted factories or other repurposed sites, but ones that were built for stage and live productions.

Amongst this all were maps, photographs, documents, dioramas (I especially liked the one of Barricade Wedding, a pitched gun battle in the 19th century between army and revolutionaries); the history of Red Wedding is another that deserves its own exhibition. Also quite surprised to find that Luisenbad and its gardens were right around the corner, more-or-less where the Library is today. And there was a massive immigration of Huguenots in the 16th century during their religious persecution. Perhaps not quite enough on the Turkish history here, considering they make up close to 1 in 5 of the population of Wedding and Gesundbrunnen. Oh, and a lot of breweries.

Lastly there are books, various histories of Wedding, which like all books in this city are improbably cheap and simply encourages profligacy. Also there is a donation box, because the Mitte Museum Berlin is entirely free.

Reading: 1840s–1940s 上海百年掠影 Survey of Shanghai 1840s – 1940s

A completely unexpected find yesterday while haunting Saint George’s (new China Miéville just published and miscellaneous sci-fi to pick up). Rummaging through the large books section, looking at the graphic novels and wondering if I should buy something easy to read, when I discover 上海百年掠影 Survey of Shanghai 1840s – 1940s, published in 1994.

Besides those three words of the title, it’s all in Chinese and traditional at that, but mostly it’s large photos covering those hundred years, including some aerial surveys (and some bizarrely awful polarised section frontispieces), and utterly an excellent find – absolutely no idea what it was doing in St George’s; I expect waiting for me.

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Pankufer Weeping Willow

What the fuck is it with fucking men with chainsaws in Wedding the last year or so? Firstly they try and chop down a 100 year old huge and beautiful Plane tree. Thwarted! By a bunch of deadbeat artists and activists who chained themselves to the boughs.

I suspect this thwarting unleashed some kind of psychopathic need to fell anything arboreal within view of Uferhallen.

About a year ago, they returned and lopped two trees opposite us. ‘Not so old, in the way of the pipes’, said Berliner Wasserbetrieb. And for good measure, they repeated the act further down the road. Just to rub it in, once all the digging and filling of trenches was complete, they left two squares of sandy Berlin dirt to be placeholders for the local’s affliction with having their dogs shit anywhere horizontal.

Not even getting warm, in late-autumn, they (I suspect the same chainsaw-wielding philistines) returned, and began at one end of Uferstr and continued till the street ran out. Outside my window, what was once a charming youngish thing reaching above the 4th floor roof was reduced to an amputated caricature. Oh, I suppose it grows back all bushy in spring, but what the fuck? Do these guys get paid by the branch? And looking at the black chopped up mess out my window throughout a typical grey and dim Berlin winter doesn’t do much to alleviate seasonal slash-the-wrists syndrome.

Late last year, I could hear chainsaws and tree pulverisers at work across the road, and hoped, like the plague, they were receding into the distance. Not bloody likely.

This morning, in a direct line from window through aforementioned tree butchery and across the Panke canal, a beautiful weeping willow eight or so stories high was the latest victim of the serial killers. It’s possible it too will grow back all bushy in spring, but for fuck’s sake what was the point in this pruning?

It’s not as though it’s old or rotten. The way they’ve been hacking through the streets, I think these tree trimmers take pleasure in fucking over huge old trees like this. It’s some kind of jerk-offery to reduce something majestic that gives so many people and animals pleasure to a sad stump and a truck-full of wood chips in a single morning.

(and yes, blah blah, danger to public, pollarding, willows are hardy etc, fuck off.)

Reading: Gordon Mathews — Ghetto at the Center of the World

I once stayed a night in Chungking Mansions, when a flight from Canada arrived too late to catch even the cross-border bus to Guangzhou. I was given the address by a woman at the information booth just past the exit gates from customs, and probably told to make certain not to get off the city bus one stop too early. Someone was waiting for me, amidst the hysterical confusion of touts, and led me into the depths, up an elevator and to a small guesthouse, run by an older Pakistani man. My room even had a window, from which I could see the street below, washed in rain, with a throng of bodies like no other.

Another time, after a climbing trip on Hong Kong island, I went with a group for dinner in a Pakistani restaurant. Once more up elevators and along corridors. As we departed, I glimpsed through another door momentarily opened and saw groups of serious islamic men eating their own dinners around wooden tables.

I stayed there because of course living in Guangzhou and having a fascination with the Pearl River region how could I not hear of this place with the dangerous reputation — especially given my taste for Wong Kar-wai’s films. Were I to get stuck again in Hong Kong now, I’d likely stay there again, given at least it’s a name I know.

There is a compulsion in accounts of globalisation and the developing world to make the story about us, we who live in the global north, who either speak english, are of european descent, or both. That there could be a parallel yet predominantly disconnected globalisation, a flow of trade, people, ideas and culture is often seen as irrelevant or incomprehensible to the central narrative, if even addressed.

Gordon Mathew’s anthropology of this building, Ghetto at the Center of the World — Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong appealed to me for more than just what goes on in the confines of its seventeen stories and five separate blocks. As he points out in the introduction, the history and culture of the building is also one of low-end globalisation. This is not a narrative of the developed world’s arrangement with China in providing cheap, off-shore manufacturing, but rather that of a globalisation in which Europe and America are at best ancillary nodes on multiply-layered and discrete trade routes that span from Africa to South-East Asia by way of Dubai, India, and Guangzhou, and more often simply don’t occur at all in the narrative.

I’ve already spent much of the morning perched on the windowsill in the sun, having knocked off half the book in a sitting, which should give an idea of how fascinating I find the topic and book.

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drilling foundations at night

Riding home from Yoga+Bondage with Dasniya, around 1am the city still, especially along my favourite to-and-from Kreuzberg route. From Oranienplatz a detour leads beside the wasteland of the wall, now an impromptu park and wild, overgrown space.

Through an upheaval of new inner-city apartments (as if Berlin can ever be anything but inner-city, yet still …) before turing a bend and arriving at the river. Which will be on one side until we cross and leave it at the far end of Museuminsel.

It’s always peaceful this way, no cars and few people. Arriving at Unter den Linden and passing through the heart of Berlin, at night on a bicycle, the Dom, Fernseherturm, the pit of the Palast, all the museums … I often think what a joy to live here.

Leaving the Spree, over Oranienburgerstr and winding through the small streets near Sophienstr, up into the industrial and public housing parts of Wedding, alongside Volkspark Humboldthain and home.

More night construction along the banks of the Spree beside Neues Museum…

The last free people on the planet

I started reading Neuroanthropology a couple of years ago at least, and it has been one of the first blogs I suggest when I find myself in discussions around certain topics, particularly the cultured body and this specifically in dance, theatre and other physical situations.

Today I have read a number of articles and blog posts that are high exemplars of thoughtful analysis and to me underscore the brilliance of new media as it has grown in the past several years; individuals who are unabashedly passionate about their fields on interest and recognise the importance of their voices in providing not just a bulwark against the endless mediocrity and often willful disingenuousness of commercial media, but often altruistically providing considered, articulate, educated writing that could exist nowhere else.

Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology today wrote a piece that at its absolute minimum is all this: ‘The last free people on the planet’. It’s over 11000 words (and that’s before even clicking any of the extensive links or further reading), so find a spot in the sun if you’re in Brussels, along with something to drink, take an hour and read this.