I’m much more timely with writing about this than I usually am, because the exhibition is currently running. My friend Zara Carpenter has curated an exhibition of artworks In Chatham related to chronic illness. It runs from the 4th to 27th August at Sun Pier House, Chatham. You can find out more about the exhibitors and philosophy behind the exhibition on the website. There are just some hasty phone photos from the opening night.
I went to the opening party last night. The big opening event was smashing the piñata. Participants in a workshop created a huge grey cloud piñata representing illness, and filled it with bright cheerful odds and ends like pompoms and badges.
Here you can see the printed stories of people’s illnesses on the outside of the piñata. I ended up with a paper crane and fabric flowers from the inside.
Zara also created a suit printed with names of invisible, long-term health conditions in UV ink. The names were only visible under the UV light of handheld torches, representing how debilitating illness are often hard to perceive from the outside.
Anyone thinking of writing an article for the zine should probably read this article I wrote first, to make sure we’re on the same page
Being Editors Issue 2 is on its way, after a long gestation. Issue One was about Diana Wynne Jones (and will soon be re-printed and available again). Issue Two is about C.S. Lewis. It was initially going to be a split issue about Lewis and Philip Pullman because I had too much malicious glee at putting those two together, but then it got too large and Pullman announced he was releasing a whole new series, so I’ll address him some other time.
I’m afraid I can’t pay for submissions– running a pseudo-academic zine about children’s books really is not a money-spinner, but you will get free copies of both this zine and some others as a sweetener. I also reserve the right to turn down articles or request changes to make a certain level of quality is maintained- (I haven’t had to do this so far with the great submissions I received for the previous issue, I should add)
I’ve got three Jewish contributors of varying religious/national backgrounds now. I would love to hear from Muslim, Hindu or Sikh contributors, and people who grew up in fundamental/extreme Christianity which they have now rejected.
Here’s a summary of the article outlines already in place and some topics I’d love to cover. If you can see a gap that you’d like to cover, please email me with a short summary of what you want to write about!
Rough deadline for articles is the 30th of September.
- In which I re-read all of the Narnia books as an adult
- The many ways in which The Last Battle is a hateful book
- In which I re-read the Space Trilogy as an adult and realise how bizarre they are
- That Hideous Strength as a guilty pleasure
- Endless butter, bacon and Turkish Delight: Food in the Narnia books in the context of WWII & 50s rationing
- Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? Wading through the terrible glut of “academic” literature about C.S.Lewis churned out by evangelical Bible institutions
- The problem of Susan and Jane: Sexism in the Narnia & Space Trilogy books
- King Arthur and C.S. Lewis
- Re-watching the 80s BBC show, and comparing the Disney Narnia films
- A.N. Wilson’s biography and Jack-a Biography, compared with Surprised by Joy & A Grief Observed
- Can I really bring myself to read Mere Christianity without throwing it against the wall? (Update- no.)
- CS Lewis and E.Nesbit- the dinosaur influenced by the radical
- CS Lewis and George MacDonald
- Narnia in Israel- (by Gili Bar-Hillel)
Articles I’d particularly like to receive
- Racism & Orientalism in the Narnia – from a contributor with Middle Eastern or South Asian background
- Growing up with Narnia in a hardcore Christian upbringing- from a contributor – did you grow up in ultra Christian surroundings where secular entertainment was banned or strongly discouraged?
- Growing up with the Narnia books in a Muslim/Hindu/Sikh context- from contributors
I’m open to other article proposals for CS Lewis, but there’s so much material out there written from a totally uncritical evangelical American Protestant viewpoint. I’m not interested in that kind of article. Read this introduction I wrote to understand my own standpoint a bit better.
Here is the list of topics for future issues of Being Editors
Please get in touch if you’re dying to write an article about any of these authors. (I’m not covering Harry Potter – check out Sonorus for feminist perspectives on Harry Potter)
3- Edith Nesbit
4– Oliver Postgate
5- Tove Jansson
6– Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Jenny Nimmo
7– The Phantom Tollbooth
8– Forgotten Classics
9– The Wizard of Oz
Here’s a giant slab of cheese from Sweden I’ve been enjoying lately.
Also I haven’t been updating this blog as much lately, because I’ve just been so busy. I went to Croatia, Slovenia and Austria for work and pleasure in June, and then came to Cambridge at the start of the month to teach on a residential course. My contracted hours were already high, and I’ve been doing a lot of overtime covering for someone who was hospitalised. I’ve worked 160 hours in the last three weeks, so it’s no surprise I’ve had no spare time. I only have one more week left to go however, so expect some photos of Austria and the former Yugoslavia, as well as other things.
In the meantime, here’s some links.
So I’ve finally put up all the photos I took in Japan. Below is a summary and links to each post. I have also created some designs for gifts and homewares over on Society 6 with my photographs from Japan. You can find them here.
I also wrote a zine about the trip, but it isn’t available until I return from teaching summer school in August/September. If you’re interested in ordering one, you can sign up here to be emailed once it’s back in stock.
Japan Playlist– A selection of songs by Japanese artists and others I listened to on the trip
All Neon Like– instagram photos of Tokyo
Miyazaki’s Reading List- a visit to the Studio Ghibli museum and bookshop
Ema– Japanese good fortune plaques
Moss is Slow Life– the Zen gardens of Kyoto
Naoshima– Japan’s Art Island
Okunoshima– Bunny Island
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Deer– Nara’s tame temple deer
Here’s a Spotify playlist I made while I was in Japan, of Japanese artists and music that matched my mood at the time. (All the Japanese bands are marked with a J).
- Drop- Cornelius (J)
First up Cornelius, from Tokyo. Keigo Oyamada was really big in the late 90s/early 2000s, but seemed to drop under the radar a bit in recent years. Wikipedia has now told me that he has a new album out this year, so I need to give that a listen.
- 1979- Smashing Pumpkins
I have no shame. I was a big Smashing Pumpkins fan as a teenager, Zero shirt and inadvised bleached fringe and all. I stuck some 90s mix on the hotel tv’s youtube app, and this came up, and I remembered just how fun the video is. (James Iha also has roots in Japan).
- (circle)- Boredoms (J)
ALL THE DRUMMERS YOU COULD WANT.
- Soon- My Bloody Valentine
I don’t think you could do a Japan playlist without any My Bloody Valentine. I never made it to the Tokyo Hyatt bar from the film (it’s an expensive place). However I did get to stay at the Kyoto Hyatt after winning a voucher, and the included breakfast was the best and most comprehensive I’ve ever seen. Please note that I certainly did not smuggle any bags of extra cakes or fruit back to the room for lunch. Didn’t happen.
- Farewell- Boris (J)
A playlist of Japanese music wouldn’t be complete without Boris. Here they are at their most relaxing.
- Knife Party- Deftones
I’ve been on a Deftones kick lately after having not listened to them for years. White Pony still holds up great 17 years later. One of the few Nu Metal bands with any brains.
- Oto- Sakamoto & Fennesz (J)
A collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Christian Fennesz, mixing Sakamoto’s piano music, and Fennesz’s ambient sounds. One of the strangest little details about regularly going to work in rural Austria, is that I often go to Fennesz’s home region, Burgenland. It’s the smallest region of Austria (and used to be in Hungary) and they don’t have many famous people aside from Liszt. So they’re unusually proud of Fennesz and you find his records for sale in unexpected places like the Austrian equivalent of WH Smith’s.
- Apple- Cibo Mato (J)
Still going strong with or without the membership of Sean Lennon.
- Panda- Dungen
Not from Japan at all, from Sweden and in Swedish, but their early 70s kind of sound seemed to fit my mood well crossing Japan by train. Also named after a panda of course.
- Sometimes- My Bloody Valentine
- Last Target On The Last Day- Melt Banana (J)
Every time I have ever seen Melt Banana live I have come home completely covered in other people’s sweat, but with no regrets.
- Astronaut- Beach House
Every time I have seen Beach House live has been a sleepy mid-afternoon time on the second or third day of a festival either in warm weather or indoors relaxing on the floor. I think that sums them up in the same way “other people’s sweat” does for Melt Banana. I listened to this album a lot running along the shore of the Seto Inland Sea by rickety banana yellow local trains much like that in Spirited Away.
- Aware- Sakamoto & Fennesz
- Ghost Ship In A Storm- Jim O’Rourke
Jim O’Rourke despite being associated with Chicago, now lives in Tokyo. For some reason I always associate his songs with Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes. I guess it’s a similar view of life in their writing.
One of our final stop-offs in Japan was Hiroshima. Hiroshima is most famous for being the first city (and so far 50% of all cities) to be nuclear bombed. Nearly everything in the city was destroyed, and at least 50% of the population died, with the survivors often suffering extreme health problems afterwards. Nearly all the buildings in the city are modern- the Atomic Dome pictured above was one of the few old buildings standing. Visiting Hiroshima has only increased my belief in nuclear disarmament. (And I’m for unilateral disarmament- something the UK government had the chance to do last year but didn’t, with choosing to renew the Trident missiles).
An important aspect of Japanese shrines and temples are ema plaques (the name 絵馬 literally means “picture horse”). These are small wooden signs with a picture on one side. You write a wish on it and hang it up (or take it home as a souvenir). Each site has its own design, so I made a collection of photos of different ones I saw in Japan. They are originally a Shinto tradition, but can also be found at Buddhist temples. At bigger sites you can find messages written in a lot of different languages.
While we were in Nara we also visited a traditional Japanese tea garden. Unfortunately the tea house was shut, and it was raining, but it was still a lovely garden.