The Bluestocking, vol 247
Somewhere becoming rain
My new documentary on religion and social justice is now available on BBC Sounds.
For anyone who prefers to read rather than listen, here is a write-up on The Atlantic: “treating politics like a religion makes it more emotionally volatile, more tribal (because differences of opinion become matters of good and evil) and more prone to outbreaks of moralizing and piety.”
The Chosen Ones (Guardian, 2006)
Oliver’s mother, Simone, was at her wits’ end. Last summer, at a party, she told her work colleagues about Oliver's symptoms. He wasn’t concentrating at school. He couldn’t sit still. Plus, he'd had a brain scan and they’d found all this unusual electrical activity. And then there were the visions of people who weren't there. Maybe he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
At that moment, a woman standing nearby interrupted. She introduced herself as Dr Munchie (her real name is Manjir Samanta-Laughton). She said she couldn't help but eavesdrop on Simone’s conversation. She was, she said, a qualified GP.
“Well, then,” Simone replied, “do you think Oliver has ADHD?”
Dr Munchie said no. She said it sounded very much like Oliver was in fact a highly evolved Indigo child — a divine being with enormously heightened spiritual wisdom and psychic powers. Oliver couldn’t concentrate, she explained, because he was being distracted by genuine psychic experiences. She said Indigo children were springing up all over the world, all at once, unconnected to one another. There were tens of thousands of them, in every country. And their parents weren’t all new age hippies. They were perfectly ordinary families who were realising how super-evolved and psychic their children were. This was a global phenomenon. Soon the Indigo children would rise up and heal the planet.
Earlier this week, I was randomly reminded of this Jon Ronson piece about “indigo children” from 2006. These kids would be in their 20s now. Wonder if they’ve healed the world yet?
(Also can we get a bit of applause for the fact the doctor is called “Dr Munchie”?)
News from America: Liz Cheney got shellacked in the Republican Wyoming primary by her Trump-backed opponent. Shellacked.
The sad fact is that there are plenty of Republicans who share her analysis—that Trump is a threat to democracy, and potentially a criminal—but cannot bring themselves to say so.
Josh Barro had a good analysis of the “Team Normal” Republicans desperately hoping that someone else will do the thankless work of de-Trumpifying their party: “What the ‘Team Normal’ Republicans would like is the arrangement they had before 2015 — they would like Trump to help stir up their own voters and generate “energy,” but they don’t want to have to defend his unpopular actions and characteristics to swing voters who have a negative view of him and they also don’t want to have intraparty fights with the candidates he supports. What they’d like to do is move not against him but past him.”
The Substacker who wrote that great audience capture piece had a good take on the weird ghouls leaping on the Rushdie news to ride their own hobbyhorse: “ideology turns tragedy into advertising.”
Also first time I typed that I wrote “a good took.” A took is an old take.
A 1997 exchange of letters between John Le Carré and Salman Rushdie.
There’s a fight over who gets to be the next king of the Zulus. My main takeaway from this piece, however, is what Shaka is saying when you meet him in Civ 5 (NYT).
Thanks to Eleanor Halls’s Substack, I have watched Tim Westwood’s interview with Cardi B, and have cringed out a kidney: “What type of weave do you like best . . . Lace front?” Then he suggested that they have sex.
“On that Sunday, we were having lunch at Bono’s house in the town of Eze on the French Riviera, when Rupert stepped out to take a call. He came back and whispered in my ear, “They blinked, they agreed to our terms, we have The Wall Street Journal.” After lunch, Billy Joel, who had also been with us on the boat, played the piano while Bono sang with the Irish singer-songwriter Bob Geldof.” Jared Kushner’s book sounds promisingly Pooterish (NYT).
“Rather than remembering Larkin as the poet who wrote What will survive of us is love, (that sentimental, greetings-card reductionism) we should credit him as the poet of the almost and the mysterious: the poet of somewhere becoming rain.” Henry Oliver unpicks Philip Larkin’s “The Whitsun Weddings” (Substack).
“Is this a break or have I retired from writing?” George Saunders helps writers whose enthuasiasm has flagged (Substack).
Recommendation: Chris Shinn has written some exceptional plays—he was early to campus bullying and sexual shaming with Teddy Ferrara, and Sarah Ditum might never recover from seeing Ben Whishaw engaging in self-abuse six feet from her seat at the Almeida’s staging of Against. His latest work, The Narcissist, is about a political operative and it’s on at Chichester from 26 August. I’ve read it, and I loved his attempt to bring the divided-attention-mobile-phone-pinging-unfocused-everywhere nature of modern life to the stage. Can’t wait to see what the actors do with it.
See you next time!