I have cancer. Don’t tell me you’re sorry | Elizabeth Wurtzel

I hate it when people say that they are sorry about my cancer.


Have they met me? I am not someone that you feel sorry for. I am the original mean girl.

I now have stage-four upgrade privileges. I can go right to the front. But it’s always been like this.

I am a line-cutter.

Which is to say, I was precocious. I was early for history.

I was on Prozac when it was still called fluoxetine. I wrote a twentynothing memoir when there was no such thing. I got addicted to snorting Ritalin before there was Adderall. I was a riot girl, I was a do-me feminist, and I posed topless giving the world the finger on the cover of my second book.

I have always been the most impossible person ever.

I am the woman who made you scream that it’s a good thing New York City has gun control. I’m the one who made you yell that there oughtta be a law – a law to stop me from being my wretched self.

I am that person.

And now I have advanced breast cancer. Cue the sorries.


Continue reading “I have cancer. Don’t tell me you’re sorry | Elizabeth Wurtzel”


Clown School


by Nuar Alsadir

After my first day of clown school I tried to drop out. The instructor was provoking us in a way that made me uncomfortable – to the nervous smiley woman, ‘Don’t lead with your teeth;’ to the young hipster, ‘Go back to the meth clinic,’ and to me, ‘I don’t want to hear your witty repartee about Oscar Wilde.’

I was the only non-actor in the program and had made the mistake, as we went around the circle on the first day, of telling everyone that I was a psychoanalyst writing a book about laughter. As part of my research, I explained, I’d frequented comedy clubs and noticed how each performance, had it been delivered in a different tone of voice and context, could have been the text of a therapy session. Audience members, I told them, laughed less because a performer was funny than because they were honest. Of course that’s not how all laughter operates, but the kind of laughter I’m interested in (spontaneous outbursts) seems to function that way, and clown pushes that dynamic to its extreme – which is why I decided to enroll in clown school, and how I earned the grating nickname ‘smarty pants’.

But if I dropped out, I’d lose my tuition money. So I decided to stay, and, by staying, was provoked, unsettled, changed.




There’s a knee-jerk tendency to perceive provocation as negative – like how in writing workshops participants often call for the most striking part of a work to be cut. When we are struck, there’s a brief pause during which the internal dust is kicked up – we lose our habitual bearings, and an opening is created for something unexpected to slip in. Habit protects us from anything we don’t have a set way of handling. As it’s when we’re off-guard that we’re least automatous, it’s then that we’re most likely to come up with spontaneous, uncurated responses.

It turned out the perpetually-smiling woman was sad, the hipster (who didn’t even do drugs) acted high as a way of muting the parts of his personality he was afraid we would judge, and I found it easier to hide behind my intellect than expose myself as a flawed and flailing human being. Each role, in other words, offered a form of protection: by giving off recognizable signals to indicate a character type, we accessed a kind of invisibility. We cued people to look through us to the prototypes we were referencing. When the instructor satirized those roles, he defamiliarized them so that the habitual suddenly became visible. His provocations knocked the lids off the prototypes we were hiding inside of, in a similar way to how many psychoanalysts, in the attempt to understand a person’s conflicts, begin by analyzing their defenses – what is being used as cover – before moving on to what is being covered up and why.

Continue reading “Clown School”

Elegia podróżna (Travel elegy) | Wisława Szymborska

Wszystko moje, nic własnością,                   Everything’s mine though just on loan,
nie własnością dla pamięci,                           nothing for the memory to hold,
a moje dopóki patrzę.                                     though mine as long as I look.

Ledwie wspomniane, już niepewne,           Memories come to mind like excavated statues
Boginie swoich słów.                                      that have misplaced their heads.

Z miasta Samokow tylko deszcz                  From the town of Samokov, only rain
i nic prócz deszczu.                                        and more rain.

Paryż od Luwru do paznokcia                     Paris from Louvre to fingernail
bielmem zachodzi.                                         grows web-eyed by the moment.

Z bulwaru Saint-Martin zostały schodki    Boulevard Saint-Martin: some stairs
i wiodą do zaniku.                                          leading into a fadeout.

Nic więcej niż półtora mostu                        Only a bridge and a half
w Leningradzie mostowym.                         from Leningrad of the bridges.

Biedna Uppsala                                               Poor Uppsala, reduced to a splinter
z odrobiną wielkiej katedry                          of its mighty cathedral.

Nieszczęsny tancerz sofijski,                        Sofia’s hapless dancer,
ciało bez twarzy.                                             a form without a face.

Osobno jego twarz bez oczu,                        Then separately, his face without eyes;
osobno jego oczy bez źrenic,                        separately again, his eyes with no pupils,
osobno źrenice kota.                                      and, finally, the pupils of a cat.

Kaukaski orzeł szybuje                                  A Caucasian eagle soars
nad rekonstrukcją wąwozu,                          over the reproduction of a canyon,
złoto słońca nieszczere                                  the fool’s gold of the sun,
i fałszywe kamienie.                                       the phony stones.

Wszystko moje, nic własnością,                  Everything’s mine but just on loan,
nie własnością dla pamięci,                          nothing for the memory to hold,
a moje dopóki patrzę.                                    though mine as long as I look.

Nieprzebrane, nieobjęte,                              Inexhaustible, unembraceable,
a poszczególne aż do włókna,                      but particular to the smallest fiber,
ziarnka piasku, kropli wody                         grain of sand, drop of water—
– krajobrazy.                                                   landscapes.

Nie uchowam ani źdźbła                              I won’t retain one blade of grass
w jego pełnej widzialności.                          as it’s truly seen.

Powitanie z pożegnaniem                            Salutation and farewell
w jednym spojrzeniu.                                    in a single glance.

Dla nadmiaru i dla braku                              For surplus and absence alike,
jeden ruch szyi.                                               a single motion of the neck.

Here’s a bomb | to blow your mind | Jefferson Hack | The Quotation Game

FireShot Capture 6 - Jefferson Hack - http___www.jeffersonhack.com_


No code: recode. The rules are broken. Re-write the rules.


FireShot Capture 7 - Jefferson Hack - http___www.jeffersonhack.com_


You should dig him.


Jefferson Hack (co-founder of Dazed, AnOther, NOWNESS, and perhaps more)


The Quotation Game

There are very few people I have met who have the ability to think on their feet as quickly as Jefferson Hack, who I’ve had the honour of working with on a number of books. Having conducted twenty-plus hours of interviews with him in the process of the team effort it took to pull We Can’t Do This Alone together, I suggested it would be fun to play a game in which I would fire a phrase at him that he had spoken about and record his quick-fire response within a strict two-minutes on the stopwatch. It was intended as a way of crystallizing some of the concepts at the core of We Can’t Do This Alone and of creating an alt-glossary, of sorts. Importantly, it was also a nod to the beat doctrine of valuing intuition over pre-considered analysis – a celebration of the ‘first thought, best thought’ mantra of Allen Ginsberg. We called it The Quotation Game and I guess it was not unlike the classic BBC Radio Four game ‘Just-A-Minute’ – in which contestants speak on a chosen subject without pause, repetition or hesitation – although it was double the length, and not quite as draconian in its rules, as that would ruin all the fun. The results are below in full – taking into their sway everything from ‘art directing reality’ to the ‘the fourth dimension’ – and they hit the page more-or-less straight from the horse’s mouth. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed playing it. It’s an insightful wander into the mind of a guy who is constantly thinking way ahead of the curve at the rate of a rock’n’roll finger-click, both seeking and providing constant, intuitive, inspiration.

– John-Paul Pryor




The Re-Wired Generation is a mindset that thinks differently – re-wiring being a metaphor for developing new thinking patterns. It’s about new directions not revolutions – as exciting as a revolution sounds they always lead to failed utopias. To re-wire is a way of re-directing energy, and a way to re-program the system so that we can engage in the creation of a positive future rather than opt for replacing one power structure with another.


Declare Independence is a call to action. It’s a point of provocation and it’s a point of difference. It’s also about accepting that we belong to a tradition, tribe or philosophy that puts art and honesty before commerce and power.


For me, it’s about the emotional experience that good storytelling can give a reader – that sense of empowerment that comes from emotional engagement. It’s about the transference of energy from passive to active.


The best magazines are the ones that you learn something from – they are manuals or toolboxes to open up the mind and inspire and evoke multi-dimensional conversations. On a sub-conscious level we make associations that we may not make with the rational conscious mind. Intuition is the melody that holds the lyric, which is the information. In that respect, I often imagine a physical magazine as a collection of songs, where the information is a layer, and sometimes an ambiguous one at that!


Counter-intuitive intelligence leads me to improbable thinking. It’s about unlikely scenarios. Not impossible ones but achievable ones. Improbable thinking is about not following trends. It’s about looking elsewhere, under the surface, under the radar of the mainstream.

Continue reading “Here’s a bomb | to blow your mind | Jefferson Hack | The Quotation Game”

William Cronon | The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature | long read

by William Cronon

In William Cronon, ed., Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1995, 69-90.

The time has come to rethink wilderness.

This will seem a heretical claim to many environmentalists, since the idea of wilderness has for decades been a fundamental tenet—indeed, a passion—of the environmental movement, especially in the United States. For many Americans wilderness stands as the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth. It is an island in the polluted sea of urban-industrial modernity, the one place we can turn for escape from our own too-muchness. Seen in this way, wilderness presents itself as the best antidote to our human selves, a refuge we must somehow recover if we hope to save the planet. As Henry David Thoreau once famously declared, “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” (1)

But is it? The more one knows of its peculiar history, the more one realizes that wilderness is not quite what it seems. Far from being the one place on earth that stands apart from humanity, it is quite profoundly a human creation—indeed, the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history. It is not a pristine sanctuary where the last remnant of an untouched, endangered, but still transcendent nature can for at least a little while longer be encountered without the contaminating taint of civilization. Instead, it’s a product of that civilization, and could hardly be contaminated by the very stuff of which it is made. Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural. As we gaze into the mirror it holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is Nature when in fact we see the reflection of our own unexamined longings and desires. For this reason, we mistake ourselves when we suppose that wilderness can be the solution to our culture’s problematic relationships with the nonhuman world, for wilderness is itself no small part of the problem.

Continue reading “William Cronon | The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature | long read”

Toni Morrison | entertainment, the fall of Adam and Eve

on entertainment nowadays:

“The pop stuff – it’s – it’s so low. People used to stand around and watch lynchings. And clap and laugh and have picnics. And they used to watch hangings. We don’t do that anymore. But we do watch these other car crashes.

“Crashes. Like those Housewives. Do you really think that your life is bigger, deeper, more profound because your life is on television? And they do.” She says she’s getting bored with entertainment. “I really want some meaning. It used to be easy to toss it off. Now it’s harder and harder. You have to navigate just to find something that has nourishment. It’s the absence of nourishment. What do you do in place of nourishment? It’s usually junk. Either it’s junk food or junk clothes or junk ideas.”



an interpretation on the fall of Adam and Eve that’s so different (from, say, Milton’s Paradise Lost):

“When the dying Dorcas asks Felice to tell Joe that “There is only one apple,” she reminds him that life does not exist without death; the ‘fall’ of Adam and Eve, while condemning eaters to mortality, also endows them with the knowledge of life. To refuse that knowledge is to refuse life.”

Aguiar, Sarah Appleton. “‘Passing on’ Death: Stealing Life in Toni Morrison’s ‘Paradise.’” African American Review, vol. 38, no. 3, 2004, pp. 513–519., http://www.jstor.org/stable/1512451.