Week 7: headlines and deadlines

We had Monday off from recording the podcast, which has freed up time but also made the week seem all long and loose and unstructured. We very seldom have a Monday off, you see. Here are the headlines:

  • Had yet more great stuff in for the paper and am highly impressed by the standard and general enthusiasm for it all. I’ve asked for everything to be in by Monday, which is also the day we’re due to interview two brilliant women for the show, and the day of our already-legendary episode 50 party.
  • Enjoyed my trip to the fancy riverside loft of Made by Many, met new people, talked about a games pitch we shouldn’t give up on, and – following a minor breakthrough – prototyped like a mental with an excellent collaborator.
  • To be honest, most of this week has been spent thinking about a new idea I had for the newspaper which solves some of the problems I’d be having before and is fun.

More to the point though, what was I thinking about in my little head when all this was going on?

  • Memory puts a bias on everything. What I’ve written down in the ‘notes’ thing on my phone is: “No anomalies in history – a sense of everything being just as it should be, because it was.” The present always seems strange and original and anarchic but it’s some sort of necessary mass-hallucination that drives society forward. Like there’s some desperation to differentiate ourselves from the near past. We’re only a couple of generations from the Victorians but we need to think we’re a different species. A couple more generations down the line, will people think it was terribly old-fashioned of us to make our kids have “P.E lessons” or our need to go on “seaside holidays” and watch people pretending to be other people – while doing something actually very similar themselves. (P.E lessons specifically strike me as particularly anachronistic.)I don’t think this is as banal an observation as it sounds, because it struck me like a thunderbolt, this week. We’re far, far closer to our ancestors than we think we are, but our view of the present and future is furiously guarded from history. The fact our memories make everything look “as it should be” reinforces (or creates) this sense that the past was concrete but the present is special and in flux, and anything is possible. Maybe everything is not possible; maybe the horizon is narrower than we think.
  • We interact with animals as animals. I don’t want come across as massively reductionalist, but I have been thinking about how we think we’re so bloody special when we’re going round the zoo or watching nature programmes. What does a dog see when you’re training it? Another dog. A big two-legged dog. A leader, but a leader of a pack that’s similar to him. Dog training happens on the dog’s terms; make no mistake. To beat the dog, you need to speak in the common animal languages. Animals see us as other animals, because that’s what we are. Isn’t that a big thought? We’re monkeys cuddling puppies in a photo in the Metro.
  • The Best Thing Ever. I was thinking how there is less grey area than there seems. When you ask someone to do something, you kind of expect them to do The Best Job Ever. When someone asks you to do a job, they’re really hoping you’ll be Perfect. We see people as perfect; we hope people will be perfect – or else we expect nothing at all from them. This is why it’s important not to care too much what other people think. They are rating you against their best possible scenario, not what’s fine for the job. This is why brilliant plays are rated badly on the West End. It’s not fair, but it’s human nature and we can’t do much about it.

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