#Peste 6: Lockdown Cooking

I’ve got 15 hours a week of commute back since lockdown. I’ve been working just as hard, but that’s still meant I’ve had more time to read, relax, drink and cook. So for the benefit of my future self, here’s a cooking/eating diary. Warning, nothing interesting about supply chains or observations on how to source ingredients or anything. It’s just photos of stuff I’ve cooked.

First up was prior to lockdown, but was going into the Joy Luck restaurant in Chinatown. Doesn’t tend to be one of the ones better attended by western tourists (though a fair few of East Asian tourists). On the basis of the London Eater recommendation, I go there for the Wuhan Dry Noodles, which are wonderful. On this occasion I also went in out of solidarity with the Chinese restaurant community – business had plummeted in the early days of Covid awareness in the UK (this was 7th March).

I went into the restaurant and the staff were sitting round a table with chins in hands, chatting. I was clearly the first customer they’d had for ages. They sat me in the window, which was perhaps a mistake. The Wuhan Dry Noodles were as good as ever, which as they are also hot, meant I was sweating and snuffling over them for the entertainment and enlightenment of everyone going past.

I don’t really cook Ottolenghi as much as I should, but this recipe for a hot confit of mushrooms with a butterbean mash is one of the best vegan recipes I know. Hot, substantial, and delicious.

Rather a dull looking, but very nice Barnsley chop.

AH, now we’re talking. Minestrone, in this case Marcella Hazan’s spring vegetable soup, is a miracle. I would strongly recommend cooking it, then leaving it a day, but it’s one of the most restorative recipes I know, and freezes ok for a quick sense of vitality and boost on days when you simple cbf’d.

I’m not actually sure what the pasta is here, but the spinach is first lightly cooked as per usual, and then mixed into olive oil in which a couple of lightly crushed garlic cloves have been cooked and then removed. And then squeeze some lemon over it. I remember this being extremely satisfactory.

This next looks rather grey, but it was wonderful. Elisabeth David’s Roman Beef Stew, or Stufatino alla Romana from Italian Food. With some stewed celery and some sourdough from the Aries Bakehouse on Acre Lane. One of those dishes that I think only has about three ingredients in – shin of beef, some pancetta or bacon, and tomato puree. Highly recommended.

So I live in Herne Hill, which these days is pretty bougie, and with the consequence that it has a very good but expensive deli-cum-butchers – the sort where it’s impossible to buy cheap cuts of meat. Also the sort of place it turns out that in lockdown has queues of people willing to stand around for two hours to get what they want. (I don’t know about anyone else, but although this was in part because I wanted to cook more, I also found myself *buying* a lot more. In theory that was to reduce the amount I needed to go out, but I think it was actually more about a changed context for buying food and cooking. I was practicing more what the person responsible for the domestic shopping would do in the past – buying stuff for multiple meals ahead – rather than popping into the supermarket during or after work to pick up a couple of ingredients for tea).

ANYWAY, to avoid the queues, I went to the very good Jones the Butchers down the road – an older type of butchers, and amongst other things bought a chicken. Annoyingly, it wasn’t anywhere near as good as the expensive deli chicken, with the consequence that this roast, although very pleasant, looks better than it tasted, I think.

I did also do Marcella Hazan’s two lemon self-basting roast chicken recipe, which I periodically try, because she absolutely swears by it, but it never really quite works for me, and I should here have stuck to my more orthodox chicken dressed with thyme, garlic, lemon and good butter.

Ah BUT. pasta col tocco d’arrosto – pasta with ‘a touch of the roast’ is one of the very finest things. And of course this is now asparagus season. The roasting pan you cooked the chicken in should be full of fat and lemon and juices, which after a day will have turned into a sort of jelly. Cook your pasta, as usual reserve some of the cooking water. Then tip the cooked pasta into the roasting pan over a high heat, and grate a fuckton of parmesan in. Stir until you go ‘bavosa‘ like the chef here. (This is incidentally the best recipe for carbonara).

The last of the chicken, I thought I’d do a pilaf. I could only find brown rice and had forgotten or possibly never knew that this abomination takes twice as long to cook, with the result that the first attempt at this was inedible and the second attempt was rendered extremely mediocre by me being a-holed.

This asparagus risotto (Marcella Hazan again), was AMAZING. AMAZING.

Good Friday iirc. The super easy Belgian dish Waterzooi – very very good indeed, hard recommend.

A rather careless spaghetti bolognese or ragù or what have you. VERY NICE ALL THE SAME.

Fuck I’ve eaten so much Ritter sport. This is the best. It is the best.

I do think at least once or twice a week you should cut it out and just have a snack or an olive in the evening. Aubergines are wonderful, griddle them and eat with garlic.

Oh! And I bought some South African pears from the excellent grocers near me. Stewed them with cloves in red wine. I think that’s marscapone or creme fraiche. Very good. Don’t normally do deserts.

😬 The cornflake one wasn’t as interesting as it looked?

For some reason the roasted potatoes here look rather grey, but this sirloin steak, asparagus and roasted potatoes was pitch perfect. Absolutely wonderful. A strand throughout this generally is that the less interesting it looks, the better it was.

eg – this lancashire hotpot (scrag end from the proper butchers) was delicate and lovely. One of those dishes close enough to a provençal daube to make you realise that our own simple cooking, done well, has as much room for excellence and delicacy as the more garlanded continental versions of peasant cookery (and they are very nice). Has to be scrag end. Not enough fat/flavour otherwise.

Puy lentils with garlic, parsley and lemon and an omelette. A favourite.

This salad looks great, but it was in some respects A Mistake, namely the presence of asparagus in it. It would have been much better for both asparagus and salad for them to be presented separately. I was taking my lead from the excellent Richard Olney who encourages experimentation and thought in his cooking, on the basis that this is the way you will learn, and he’s right. I learned not to put asparagus in a salad with fennel in. The flavours confused each other. It was still very good.

I started baking! I hadn’t baked for about 18 years, since I made a loaf denser than a black hole. Following the fantastically fucking irritating but really very good Bake with Jack, I came up with these two wonderful wholemeal loaves. They were excellent and I felt so proud I kept on going in to look at them cool.

Ok, the Sicilian classic of sardines, with fennel, pine nuts, raisins, saffron etc, with bucatini. Except I didn’t have any bucatini at the time so I did it with spaghetti. The sardines were the quite expensive Ortiz tinned sardines worth every penny.

Another sirloin steak and some roasted peppers.

THIS is one of the best recipes. Inexplicably not had it before – Marcella Hazan’s Aubergine with chilli and tomato. The heat works very well with the aubergine, and is slightly surprising as it perhaps looks like ratatouille. Really great.

Couldn’t be fucked to cook other than to do the asparagus with a dressing of boiled egg and vinaigrette. Some good italian salami which I absolutely STUFFED MY FACE with.

When I did the lancashire hotpot it reminded me how much I liked this recipe for Provençal daube – the key ingredients for me are the orange peel and the cloves, both of which give it a light and slightly strange taste – troubadours and venice and southern france rivers and abbeys. Like so many stews it is approximately 100 times better left a day before eating. NOTE PLEASE home baked bread.

A poor photograph of a childhood favourite this: smoked mackerel and potato salad from Jane Grigson’s incomparable cookbook Good Things.

I burned da bloomer. My oven thermometer was giving me bogus info.

This bloomer was better but had bust out at the side, i assumed because I had underproved it.

A very welcome delivery from the excellent Grappin Wines, providers to some of the best restaurants and drinking holes in London. Saving the premiere cru from when I can have a guests round. Won’t invite them. Will just drink the bottle.

Fresh trout with an order from Pesky Fish – direct from fisherman to home they say. I hadn’t read the order properly, and was hoping for a whole trout, to do in a beurre blanc or meunière. As it was a fillet, I poached in a court bouillon, which I strained and then whisked some… far too much actually… butter and some as you can see not at all properly chopped sorrel. This was very nice, but the bouillon sauce was fucking rich innit.

This was supposed to be an artisanal loaf. I think this time it was underproved?

Mussels with my fish order. An attempted moules marinière. The mussels were meagre, end of season farmed mussels, very tasteless, and I hadn’t done enough of them in the broth to flavour it properly so it tasted overmuch of wine.

And throughout, where would I have been without my Canopy Beer order?

Sentimental Revolutions

Reading the Blanchot essay From Dread to Language gives me the feeling I get when I read existentialism: that this sort of writing is no more than the fag end of Romanticism. As such there is a a sort of highly decadent awareness of the refinements of Romanticism, such that an entire serious essay can explore the minuscule and rarefied space between dread and language, with meaning.

But the whole reminds me of what CS Lewis says in his ‘study in Medieval Tradition’ The Allegory of Love: that romantic love, originating at the end of the eleventh century in Languedoc is one of ‘perhaps three or four’ ‘real changes in human sentiment’ in history:

There can be no mistake about the novelty of romantic love: our only difficulty is to imagine in all its bareness the mental world that existed before its coming – to wipe out of our minds, for a moment, nearly all that makes the food both of modern sentimentality and modern cynicism. We must conceive of our world emptied of that ideal of ‘happiness’ – a happiness grounded on successful romantic love – which still supplies the motive of our popular fiction.

The Allegory of Love, CS Lewis

In this I think he is entirely correct. As anyone who has had to wade through this blog will know, I am very much a product of this Romanticism. I think in many respects it has been a great poison, a philosophical wrong turn, if it is meaningful to say that of something so long and deeply embedded and productive of so many things I love and of which I am made. I’m sure we would have found other poisons. Nevertheless.

My perception is that the self is now so heavily and transparently commoditised, and has, due to many forces, from the internet’s ability to allow people of common feeling and synthetically constructed identity to find each other, and from the increased questioning and exploration of gender and sexual identity, that we are coming out of a great tyranny of Romanticism and the Self, which is in the process of being liquidated. In this respect I feel like the opposite of the canary in the mine, more like a useless but sympathetic confessor of the old errors to the new generations: The Last of the True Romantics saying: ‘this is the nature of the gas which you must expunge so you may breathe and kill my confreres and the things I love’.

There will of course be a great deal of psychological suffering and social conflict born of this liberation. To lose the Self is suicidal – I mean that in a very compressed way of course – a way of saying entire edifice of psychological thinking is built round it. We should be thankful for yards Deleuze and Guattari have put in in this respect.

Apocalypses usefully describe the conditions of change by which the old world ends – oh fearful relativism! – and the new one begins.

This is not why I sat down to write this though. What other three or four ‘real changes in human sentiment’ do we think Lewis means? The word ‘sentiment’ must be relevant here. I might otherwise go for the turn from feudalism to global capitalism – Braudel memorably cites a 15th century(? iirc – i can never find the reference) muleteer on a road from one town to another as ‘the first capitalist’. Or the enlightenment and science coming out of the cauldron of the 17th century, again, the birth pangs of which are memorably collected in Paul Hazard’s wonderful La crise de la conscience européenne, 1680-1715.

But what are those real changes in sentiment (CS Lewis explicitly excludes Christianity’s role, at least in this formation of romance from the equation)? It feels like something must be coming from the industrial revolution, the sense of class belonging, the emergence of the middle class perhaps? Nothing so purely aesthetic as Romanticism though (oh yes of course it had its expressions within capitalism and colonialism). National identity perhaps?

Answers on a postcard.

The Ascending Logos

Last year I went through a long period where I couldn’t read. This was nothing new; boredom, laziness, indifference, computer games, have all led to this pass before.

This time it was because reading caused me pain. I was going through a period of emotional trauma – love, grief, the usual – and this meant it was too painful to read anything worthwhile.

Reading anything worthwhile – and I do not at all necessarily mean literature – involves attention. exploration of oneself and with oneself: your thought and your emotions, your body and spirit. If these are not available, or if these cause you pain, then you cannot read with attention. At a basic level I would cite the effect of an acute physical pain on your ability to pay attention to other things.

What actually happens? You attempt to read and then halfway through a sentence, or a paragraph, or an observation, you are brought up short, as if something had tweaked a nerve, and you think you about your own situation, rather than extending yourself to the words you are reading.

There is a fog of attentiveness.

Reading anything too abstracted from those important feelings, pressing in, pushed away, seemed not to have any meaning or point. I simply couldn’t concentrate on them. Braudel on markets, Flann O’Brien’s newspaper pieces, Arthur C Danto on aesthetic transfiguration. Irrelevant, funny but I don’t want funny, irrelevant.

I don’t want to be distracted from myself.

Then I was able to read again. What happened? Did I get over my pain? No. But language and words re-formed, found a way round the problem. As they do.

But I had help.

Text 1: “Imaginary Letters” by Mary Butts

I was lucky enough to be in a pub with Tim Hopkins, the craft, brains and heft behind of The Half Pint Press. He’d brought his latest remarkable creation, “Imaginary Letters” by Mary Butts, and was kind enough to allow us to unpack the vivid object into its component parts.

Yes the first paragraph caught my eye: A cycle of miseries now known by the heart.

But it was the physical words, the tangible imprint of pressure and ink, on the page that caught my attention. Reading those words on that page, made me want to read again. The words themselves seemed to be additionally vivid because of the craft of the page, the care and artistry of the imprint. Words once again seemed to have a value beyond their reference to my pain. (The only value, my Self would belligerently declare, bruising my heart and smashing my chest around, a bundle of tantrum-ing id in its cuttable, bleedable, scarring, bruisable cage.)

I think as I say that it was that the value of the object itself, the care taken over it, which renewed the sense of the word; the words as imprinted objects seemed to have more value because of the context of the artefact.

Those words on that page had partially gained an aura, not of the work’s unique originating existence or authorial motive, but derived from the care and effort put into the new object onto which they had been imprinted. This process had done something to revive in the word* the ‘quality of its presence’, which famously, ‘is always depreciated’ by mechanical reproduction, according to Benjamin. Perhaps there was after all something of ritual about it all, something sacred which suggested meaning outside me. (The unreading me: so narrow, so self-centred, so dull).

(*I had originally said logos here, which I think is wrong, certainly in a neoplatonic sense, which in a relatively uninformed way is my meaning – logos cannot be revived as such, it can only be re-attached, by using word i hope to find a middle ground between logos, the authorial word, the crafted imprint of word on the page, and the word within me. And maybe after all there is a Jungian sense, an attempt to connect logos and eros via the medium of print.)

(Actually logos, inscription, writing, print are not best approached by Benjamin’s essay – there is of course an entirely separate and vast literature of religion and critical theory to deal with the Word and its authority – but it done now, as my brother would say.)

The beauty and care of the object in which the words were contained – tissue paper, envelopes, fine letter paper, the hidden object of the press – helped hoist me back up into a desire to read the printed word, no matter the object in which they were contained. At the time it felt, quite simply, that the words burned more vividly and had more meaning than I had felt the printed word had had for a while. (Again, those words – burning, meaning – words of ritual and the sacral).

This in itself perhaps shows how far I had regressed. An ability to understand, perhaps more importantly to feel the value of the word abstracted from its context seems to me to be a valuable capability developed by the age of print, and more vital and necessary in the age of digital media. Perhaps it was a problem of technology, perhaps I was suffering from some sort of tribal historical regression. And perhaps in some respects it had analogy with the ability to be able to read without forming the words with your mouth, described by Augustine of Bishop Ambrose here:

“When he read,” said Augustine, “his eyes scanned the page and his heart sought out the meaning, but his voice was silent and his tongue was still. Anyone could approach him freely and guests were not commonly announced, so that often, when we came to visit him, we found him reading like this in silence, for he never read aloud.”

Alberto Manguel, Chapter 2 of A History of Reading(New York; Viking, 1996).

‘His heart sought out the meaning’. A technological advance. That was the very thing my heart was not able to do, because it didn’t want to. I didn’t want it to.

I went rambling off an unresolved direction here, which I’ve put at the bottom of the post*

I came out wanting not just to read again, but seeing the word in its environment, the word as environment again. It was someone had started shovelling coals again onto the relevant part of my brain, firing up in recognition, having previously been sunk in inattention.

I felt doubly grateful to Tim, because in fact as well as the fire, he was also responsible on that same evening for the focus, by recommending Eley Williams in general, and specifically the collection of short stories Attrib.

Text 2: Attrib. by Eley Williams

Words can be very direct. And direct contact with my heart and feelings was fatal to the words. Indifference to my heart and feelings had been fatal to the words.

A problem.

My first thought when I started the short stories collected in Attrib. was ‘oh, this person is having fun.’ In this respect it reminded me of the sheer stimulating enjoyment of reading Helen deWitt’s collection Some Trick.

The second thing that I noticed, with a sort of growing excitement and relish, was how Williams showed the pressure of emotion on the form of language. There was an indirectness that allowed me to approach the stories. A poet’s sense of something, to use Isaac Rosenberg’s fine words, understandable and yet ungraspable.

The first story The Alphabet is a story about loss – loss of language, loss of memory, loss of awareness, loss of love. It’s also a story that very efficiently and effectively builds up the distilled structure of those things in order to express their loss, in this case largely through the letters of the alphabet, those letters of love: ‘the taut bow of D … an empty workman’s clamp: G‘ and the description of R as ‘a thrown magnifying glass embedded in a wall’ is one of those gifts that will stay with me throughout my life. (Writerly gifts are the best gifts.)

It’s a story that asks the question, what does it actually mean to lose one’s mind? Because it also means the loss of love. Feeling the loss happening as it’s happening. Anticipating the loss and knowing that it’s going to happen.

This is a story of a relationship break-up that happens because of aphasia. It happens in language.

My brain unpinned you without me wanting it to and now you have gone.

It is not necessarily clear if the partner has actually physically gone because what he relished – the shared communication – is gone, whether he is still there but the memory of his face and of what he has meant is lost to the narrator because of their loss of language. Their faces and love fade with the loss of language itself, as if the tale itself evaporates in loss:

I want to be able to tell you that I miss you, and the way you had with me, and the way you had with all the words that – at the time – I had for you.

If I say there is something indirect about the stories, I do not mean that the words are not direct, they are, direct enough to break the heart in the first one, but that the shape of emotions is realised through the shape of language. It allowed me to approach it, where more conventional expressions would have stopped me reading: do not try to speak to me of this, you do not know me, this is not mine, this is not me.

A wonderful example is the second story, Swatch, where two young boys playing hide and seek, hide in a wardrobe together and see how many marshmallows they can stuff in their mouths. It is also a description of pre-sexual-awareness sexual arousal, as full of sugar and close intimacy they gaze into each others’ eyes, and find themselves in ‘tangled, bored tussles for space’.

It is in the eyes that this sexual and emotional pressure of desire is realised, because one of the boys’ fathers runs a paint shop that has produced a deep awareness of the exotic landscape of colours and their names, Peter’s own eyes are variably, strangely coloured, so with the industrial language of colour palettes, they form an entire cosmos of a world reconfigured:

He saw Cocoa Latte in his eyes some days, Truffle Leather 3 during others. There was even a greenish contour of Enchanted Eden 2 to be found if he examined his eye in strong morning light … If Peter stared himself down in bright summer sun he could see a notch of Tangiers Flame in one of his eyes and the shadow of a shadow of Amethyst Falls right beside it.

Williams strongly conveys the material presence of language and communication, and through that material presence, its plasticity (in the sense of the plastic arts – which are a theme); it’s one of the chief pleasures of the volume. (I just saw a line from the first story: ‘Aphasia is now an autocomplete on my laptop’s search field.’) H0w language communication can take place outside the traditional vehicles or contexts for that communication. For example, in Mischief, the intimate communication between a mine-sniffing rat, and the sapper disposing of the mine.

To put this back in the context of Imaginary Letters, here Colours are the book, Letters are the book, sounds are the book which contain the imprint.

Physical things are the book. It was during reading the story Rosette Manufacture: A Catalogue & Spotters’ Guide that the third observation occurred to me (oh and did I say how much I enjoyed the subtitles of the first story, The Alphabet (or Love Letters or Writing Love Letters, Before I Forget How To Use Them or These Miserable Loops Look So Much Better on Paper Than In Practice) – ‘better on paper than in practice’, what a phrase to turn over and consider when applied to writing – it sort of gets at the heart of the business Williams seems to be about).

So, yes, that third observation. After the fun and the indirectness (that still isn’t the right word is it). The rosette story is something of a natural history of manufactured rosettes – the political candidate kind, the dog show kind – out of which an entire system of manufactory and ecology is inferred and condensed (Williams is very good at these condensed systems).

It seems almost written to bring about the extraordinary, dream-like, final paragraph:

We will never resign or leave you. We will go on making our false flowers for non-lovers with the jaguars and monsters for you, in our false garden, in the shade.

But it was a specific phrase that caught my eye:

Sometimes – and not even in very high winds – the plastic false-silk ribbons that depend from a rosette overlap one another and it looks as if a cross or a wavelength or a gene or many other lapel-less things have appeared above your heart.

‘Lapel-less’. This reminded me of two things, the second of which I’ve only just worked out, which is Leigh Hunt’s poem The Fish, the Man and the Spirit, especially in the fish’s description of the man:

Thou that on dry land horribly dost go
   With a split body and most ridiculous pace
   Prong after prong, disgracer of all grace,
Long-useless-finn'd, haired, upright, unwet, slow!

But at the time the implied ontology reminded me of Wittgenstein’s essential communication system represented by the Slab!, and his depiction of language in Philosophical Investigations:

23. But how many kinds of sentence are there? Say assertion, question and command? – There are countless kinds; countless different kinds of use of all the things we call “signs”, “words”, “sentences”. And this diversity is not something fixed, given once and for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence, and others become obsolete and get forgotten …

The word “language-game” is used here to emphasise the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life.

Philosophical Investigations – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Wiley-Blackwell

Language-game. Sprachspiel. Slab! or Platte! Each of Williams’ stories a constrained system of language and communication, of play and yes, to return to my first observation, of fun.

(Going back through the stories, I saw in Swatch, that the first line is ‘Peter noticed the unspeakable colour during Stuart’s twelfth birthday party’ and later in the same story the school song is remembered, ‘The halting tongue that dare not tell the whole‘, both reminding me of that earlier famous piece of Wittgenstein from the Tractatus, ‘Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.’ Nevertheless, one must add in relation to Williams’ stories, it will find a way to express itself even if the central object remains evasive because it doesn’t exist in the system (the pre-sexual awareness sexuality in Swatch).)

And to return to my second observation – that indirectness – those language systems were not attempting to communicate with me, but were internally coherent worlds expressing emotions and feelings for which I had analogy, but not the same language.

I do not in any way wish to say that Wittgenstein is the ‘solution’ to these wonderfully rich and enjoyable stories, only that this observation helped me explore further into them.

Something about all this reminded me of something once said to me in psychoanalysis. Childhood is the place we learn to survive, to succeed, which is learned within a space of parental, familial (or institutional) rules. When we grow up we can to a certain extent create the environmental rules which will define survival and success – the internal rules by which we find satisfaction no longer need to be the parental rules – but very often these are buried deeply, and we seek to replicate the same moral or emotionally regulatory environments in which to psychologically survive.

Language seems to exist like flora and fauna in the spaces Williams creates.

That was what allowed me to approach this wonderful volume of stories … no, that was what allowed me to let this wonderful volume of stories in.

Text 3: Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge – Empathy, Conjunctions, 1984

Some time at the back of summer last year, I was in the excellent second-hand bookshop The Second Shelf, browsing through the old literary journals, and found a poem in Conjunctions by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, called Entropy. Having scanned more or less carelessly through the other pages, words in Bersenbrugge’s poem caught my attention and I read it through more carefully.

It seemed to speak directly to my heart, albeit in an elliptical way. Elliptically direct.

I made a note in my notebook to return and buy it – for some reason that wasn’t possible at the time.

And I kept on reminding myself and kept on not going, to go back and buy the periodical in question, but only got round to it a few weeks ago, just before the Covid lockdown.

It had been sold, inevitably. The context of the words is now memory. But although the importance or shape of the words burns brightly, I can’t remember any of them specifically. I just know the text had seemed important to me at that point.

I’ve just realised in the course of writing this that I can look it up and find it. At the time I wasn’t sure of the notebook in which I’d put the details, which was some sort of excuse.

I’ve found it now, and yet I’m strangely reluctant to go searching.

The space in which the language is operating is defined, the language itself is undefined. It is all absence. All evasion. Burning meaning, no expression.

Reading, it seems, even when you’ve started again, has its limits.

disjecta membra

*[A desire to return to the word with all one’s being again, regardless of context is not just a matter of being able to consume the word in a mass-produced paperback, nor is it being able to feel the heft and value of the thing you are reading on the internet where packaging and the ‘value’ of packaging needs interpreting differently (how do we value writing on substack, on github’s blogging capability, how do we compare this to the FT’s UI, or the i‘s ‘unreadable’ UI). With regard to twitter the word ‘attentiveness’ seems important again – twitter, for me, seems to yoke itself and foster a wider inattentiveness, other than to itself (that is not to say that I am not led, on a daily basis, to more excellent reading via twitter than most other platforms).]

Oddly, and to stick to the sacred, it allowed a resurgent gnosticism – that is to say an attention to the word where the external casing, shell or context is at its filthiest, ugliest (there are things to do with the glitch aesthetic on the internet here, which I want to explore separately).