Pre-reading log. I wonder if this shouldn't actually be filed under 'delightful surprise log', although it might end up being the only entry, which would be unutterably sad, even for a blog named Sorrow. Well, I was delightfully surprised to receive an out of the blue invitation to turn up to the inaugural meeting of an Essay Club. So good when someone just organises something cool like that, without making a song and dance about it. I love my friends.
The essay chosen by the host is Rebecca Solnit's "Hope in the Dark: Untold histories, wild possibilities." Blurb says "At a time when political, environmental and social gloom can seem overpowering, this remarkable work offers a lucid, affirmative and well-argued case for hope." Blurb goes on to explain that the essay traces a history of effective, consequential political activism. First published in 2005 mind you, and chosen by host before January 20 but after 8 November. The book has been sitting on the kitchen bench for a couple of weeks. I've held off reading it because I'm taking this whole Essay Club thing probably a bit too seriously and I decided to do a small and unscientific experiment, viz write down my current views on the topic the essay appears to be about, then record however it is that the essay shifts those views, followed with any further shifts after the momentous meeting at 3 pm on February 19. (I have just paused for a brief internal debate about whether to write something self-deprecating about how ponderous and self-important this is. Decided against it, I mean this IS my blasted blog, I CAN take myself infinitely seriously here, that's the whole POINT!!!. Sorry not sorry)
So by putting off the reading of the essay, the task I've set for it gets harder with each day that passes - each day that makes it seem more and more of a ludicrous proposition that activism and political engagement can & do bring about positive social change. Things have sometimes changed for the better, I don't deny that, but my sense is that it's a bit like what happened here and there on the Somme and the hindenburg line - positions were ceded, at the expense of thousands and thousands of lives, because the occupying powers decided that giving them away wouldn't do the challengers any real good in the long run. It's kind of a shell game. So that's my first thought: scepticism, cynicism I guess. But my next thought is that activism, or protest at least, is nevertheless an obligation which is required of anyone who doesn't like what's happening. It often feels futile, and it is. Sometimes it's not just futile it also generates negative consequences all of its own. Still needs to be done. I think that probably covers it. I'll just add that Rebecca Solnit is someone I feel annoyed with, awed by, and grateful to, whenever I read her stuff, including last night when I read her great/depressing essay on Trump's misogyny in the current LRB. Right, now I can get started.
Remembered reading log. I remembered a few more of the books I read during the lapsus.
Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial
Alexis Wright, The Swan Book
Brian Aldiss, Greybeard
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
James Bradley, Clade
George Megalogenis, The Australian Moment
Charlotte Wood, The Natural Way of Things
Lenore Taylor, Shitstorm
Rose Tremain, The Road Home
Kerry-Anne Walsh, The Stalking of Julia Gillard
Footwear log. I love shoes. Oh yeah. Sorry not sorry about this as well.
Pre-haircut log. Got a hot date with my hairdresser tomorrow night. It's been a long time. I am nervous. Will she still somehow magically know how to give me a great haircut? I don't know what to ask for. I'm thinking something appropriate for post-apocalyptic street wars, or at the very least, something that I run a sporting chance of not seeing on the heads of all the other school mothers of Brunswick East. Yes, I am a school mother now. Argh!