Meta Letta 

Welcome back! 

What do you think would work better? Pretending I didn’t miss my deadlines by weeks, or pretend that this would always be the schedule over the summer? I might go for the latter; it’s got no real truth to it, but it does have narrative truth. After all, whose brain is really fully functional right now? Who isn’t going through some sort of crisis, some derailing train of thought?

It’s not only crisis which torments. I recently did a bit of introspection and determined that I am composed of seven lives, seven identities, seven facets of my prismatic self. (Eight if you include a shadow self, but that’s getting too meta for even this space). I don’t mean this in a schizophrenic way, but we all have different draws and pulls and emphases; and as much as we’d sometimes like to pretend there is no delineation between them, there are separations.  Our Employee Self has different priorities than our Creative Self; Our Partner or Parent Self shuffles those afresh again. Those broad categories can be split up again depending on where one feels the delineations are: My identity as a photographer is quite different to that of a creative writer, or the writer of this screed. 

I’ve mentioned before the parable of the Two Wolves that reside within us, the dark and the light, and that the one that thrives is the one that we feed. It works the same way with the prismatic model of self above: The parts of ourselves that we feed, are the parts that thrive. But if we’re fractured too heavily, there’s not enough nourishment to go around. If I feed the creative aspects of myself, which other facets go hungry? Do I neglect my day job? Self-care? 

If an entire facet of the whole is composed of an identity, a self-model, that I pour into this newsletter, would giving it up free me up for other things? Or would it just sit there, like an atrophied arm: Useless, but frustratingly ever-present. A reminder of something I was, as opposed to, say, an appendix: equally useless, but if removed will decrease the chance of dying. 

Many seem sure of whether this thing is an arm or an appendix. And it’s the same with the people around us. I just wish there was a surefire way of determining one from the other.

And to the person who said the Meta Letta introduction “wasn’t sufficiently meta”… How do you like them apples?


On My Screen

Sandman

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings on this, so it’s quite difficult to slide into the broader narrative voice of today. Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman was the first English-language comic I read and loved, and it led me on a dizzying descent into all things Vertigo, setting me on my own little journey through the jungles of sequential graphic storytelling. I could therefore appreciate the repeated refusals by Gaiman to adapt his magnum opus for the screen. Until now.

Netflix’s show is a solid adaptation. 

What, this isn’t the glowing endorsement you were expecting? Look, I liked it, I thought it was well done, I thought the departures from the source worked, and I think it was faithful where it needed to be. Perhaps excepting that over-laborious first episode. But adapting it to this medium has highlighted some flaws that make Sandman a less-than-perfect show. For a start, for many viewers new to the material, it was nigh-impenetrable. Convoluted with endless (ahem) references to concepts and themes that there just wasn’t the time to explore. It was rich and dense in mythology, in a way that many viewers just didn’t feel a decent return on investment. And it was at times so ponderous that unless you knew the payoff, it was easier just to watch something else. 

David Thewlis blew everyone else in the cast out of the water with his portrayal of John Dee, but this also highlighted a different problem: There were a total of three different antagonists throughout the first season, one after the other. Four if you include Lucifer, though that won’t pay off until the second season. Sacrilegious as it sounds, to make it work for TV, I’d have restructured it to make John Dee the principal season antagonist, especially given how well Thewlis did. But the howls of outrage would have been deafening. 

Hence, while I enjoyed it a lot… It was basically a solid adaptation.


Quick Fire Round

  • Elijah Wood is the latest addition to the cast of Yellowjackets Season 2 as Walter, a dedicated Citizen Detective who will challenge Misty. Fun!
  • Batgirl is dead. The movie that is, not the character. Whether due to creative differences, tax reasons or just a general changing of the guard, it’s gone. Literally deleted from the servers. The film featured the In the Heights star Leslie Grace as Batgirl and Michael Keatonreturning as Batman.
  • I have watched no episodes of either House of the Dragon or Lord of the Rings: The Ring of Power. I just haven’t had the time, but I’m tempted by the latter. Let me know which you think I should watch and write about?
  • The next movie I want to watch is on Disney+, the Predator spin-off Prey.

In My Ears

The death of a monarch can have many unintended effects, but the one I wasn’t expecting was the postponement of the Mercury Prize. I was looking forward to getting annoyed that Sam Fender won it instead of Little Simz or Self Esteem. (Please let me be wrong here). But for me Self Esteems Rebecca Lucy Taylor has already won the show. She has reportedly spent hours after the cancelled awards show fighting anyone she had to, to make sure all the food that was prepared for the gala was not just thrown away, but distributed to homeless people. Superstar.

As a reminder, her debut album Prioritise Pleasure won multiple best of year plaudits, and I Do This All The Time is an alt-pop classic. 

Cover of the ‘week’ goes to London Grammar covering Glass Animals‘ Heat Waves. And while you’re on Youtube, why not an orchestral version of Lord It’s a Feeling?

I’ve missed so many weeks over the summer that I felt bad. So, a playlist double bill for you this time!


Denouement

I’ll be honest, I thought I’d have more for you. 

This isn’t to diminish any of the above, but it turns out that in my case the old adage is untrue:

An empty vessel makes no noise at all.

I don’t know which of my Wolves I’ve been feeding, but it’s not been my creative self that’s received sustenance this summer. 

Wish me luck for the next two weeks, and happy travels until then!