Better than IRL: “Finding your people on the internet of the mid-2000s.”


Having small children is an incredible experience, it can take in your whole world. Years fly by and you can be so very focused on our family and work that, unfortunately, you can lose track of a lot of friends, and your social life pretty much disappears.

When we got to put our heads above ground again in the mid-2000s, I found Tumblr (via Sussanah Breslin) and it really helped me to put my cultural self back together. Sharing work, art and ideas, meeting so many amazing people, (and I didn’t even need to go outside!) it really was an incredibly important time for me and I am very grateful to all of those who made that happen. I suppose the GDSP project was one of the many high points of that.

I left Tumblr behind when they brought in the censorship rules in because it seemed it was leaving the people who made it cool and essential behind, but I have been working hard on keeping my internet positive and fulfilling in that tradition.
It is the history of this spirit and time that Katie West, photographer, writer and publisher is documenting in her new book project “Better than IRL” currently open to pre orders on Kickstarter.

“Better Than IRL is a collection of true stories about the years when the internet first started gaining traction as a place to build connections and community. With 20 essays written by pioneers and participants from online communities, this paperback (or digital book!) looks at how this specific time on the internet changed us, and how we can take the elements that made it so much better than IRL with us into the future.”

“The book will be personal and hopeful. It won’t be nostalgic moaning about how the internet isn’t what it once was—it will discuss how it made us into who we are now and how we can take the lessons we learned about inclusion and belonging to be better people going forward. With talented authors from Canada, South Africa, Pakistan, USA, Singapore, UK, and Liberia, the book covers a wide array of experiences with the beginnings of the Web 2.0.”

Katie began a chat group on Instagram upon the launch of the Kickstarter, last week, and invited many of us who found each other then and it has really brought back many special memories and friendships.

I really hope the book gets funded, I urge you to consider backing the project, and sharing with anyone else you know who might be interested. The money doesn’t go out of you account until the project is fully funded, if that helps.

“All The Names They Used For God” by Anjali Sechdeva

Beautiful, terrible, rebellious, dreamlike. A lovely collection of short stories vary from the good to the very excellent. Recommended if you like your realism magical.

I found this quote by the author in a recent interview:

“Some people would argue that writing stories about rebellious people is not actually an act of rebellion, but I believe those people underestimate the extent to which we internalize a story that really moves us. In the introduction to her novel The Rending and the Nest (Bloomsbury, 2018) Kaethe Schwehn writes, “The most dangerous thing of all is the absence of a story, a narrative to explain what is happening to you … Because someone will always arrive to invent one. Then you will be at the whim of someone else’s story…” I absolutely agree with that, and I think there’s a lot of hope to be found in reading stories where you see people fight back against injustice and ugliness.”

..and on endings:

“My endings definitely evolve as I write the story. They are almost always the last thing I write, and it’s not at all uncommon for me to write three or four different endings before I find one that I’m satisfied with (to say nothing of the additional revisions where I fiddle with the ending to try to get the pacing and the cadence and the final note just right). I have heard some great writers say they always or often write their endings first, or at least know what the ending is going to be when they start out, but I am almost never in that position.”

quotes via PopMatters

All The Name They Use For God” – US/UK


More in #ReadingRecord:

Forms – From concert programmes to chocolate wrappers – The Manuscripts of Emily Dickinson


“The way hope builds his house”, Amherst Manuscript # 450 – Source.


“Although Dickinson did lead an active life outside the home in her youth, her increasing reclusiveness in her later years give the very notion of house and home a special resonance in her work. As such, the unusual piece pictured below is of particular interest, just one of Dickinson’s many “envelope poems” – the focus of a recent book, The Gorgeous Nothings by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin. In this instance, Dickinson has cut apart an envelope so all that remains are the flap and a portion of the body. She orients the paper so the point of the flap is at the top then she fills that peak with words: “The way hope builds his house…” Or, to phrase it more directly, she writes a poem about a house on a piece of paper that looks like a house.”

Mike Kelly 

“Necessitates celerity”, Amherst Manuscript # 540 – Source.
“Alone and in a circumstance”, Amherst Manuscript # 129 – Source.

via The Public Domain Review


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The Schrift-Landschaften drawings by Herbert Pföstl

“The Schrift-Landschaften drawings are composed of a single text-fragment, written in Herbert Pföstl’s distinctly small script, inscribed upon a page from a nautical traverse table. One is reminded of the particularities of calligraphic expression and the meditative processes required to create needlework samplers, chronological tables, weather diaries, or even telegraphic code. Pföstl’s landscapes of script, however, come from a deep reading of and reliance upon literature; these lines are fragments from books gathered over many years and transformed into a landscape of incantations for the artist. What at first appears a wilderness of words on paper soon resolves into a garland of vows concealed within the text. These works are a meditation on the artist’s abiding interest in the liminal space which often exists between drawing and writing.”

Epidote Press

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Dostoevsky: the drawing as writing


 “Indeed, Dostoevsky was not content to “write” and “take notes” in the process of creative thinking, he moved in the space and time of the particular artistic universe of his notebook, where the meaning and significance of words interact reciprocally with other meanings expressed through visual images, a method of work specific to the writer.”

from Dostoevsky: the drawing as writing by Konstantin Barsht


represent that key moment when the accumulated proto-novel crystallized into a text. Like many of us, Dostoevsky doodled hardest when the words came slowest.” Some of Dostoevsky’s character descriptions, argues scholar Konstantin Barsht, “are actually the descriptions of doodled portraits he kept reworking until they were right.”

Konstantin Barsht


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Jaws (1975) – The Indianapolis Speech Scene

I recently caught Jaws on the TiVo and watched it through a few times. I hadn’t seen it through in decades. I had it on VHS as a teenager and it was one of those films I would turn to again and again. I actually made a comic book out of it, pausing the tape and writing down the dialogue. I did this with a few of my favourite films.

What struck me most I think, upon watching it this time was the lack of polish, something you get used to with Spielberg films of late. I think this was only his third feature(?) and he was still in his mid-twenties at the time. It has the multi-layered chaotic dialogue style he uses in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (a film he was writing as he filmed this one). In both cases this form of naturalistic dialogue style offsets the fantastic subject of the film. In CE3K’s case it was multi coloured UFOs and here it is the notoriously unrealistic shark. The point is though, as outmoded the effects are compared todays super CGI realism, you inevitably get pulled into the story, the film making is so strong.

One example of this storytelling is Quint’s Indianapolis speech which comes midway through the all-at-sea who is hunting who section. It provides a pause, but intensified and deepens the tension. Robert Shaw’s performance is extraordinary and there are many tales of how the speech came about.

Here’s Spielberg talking about how the scene came about:

I owe three people a lot for this speech. You’ve heard all this, but you’ve probably never heard it from me. There’s a lot of apocryphal reporting about who did what on Jaws and I’ve heard it for the last three decades, but the fact is the speech was conceived by Howard Sackler, who was an uncredited writer, didn’t want a credit and didn’t arbitrate for one, but he’s the guy that broke the back of the script before we ever got to Martha’s Vineyard to shoot the movie.

I hired later Carl Gottlieb to come onto the island, who was a friend of mine, to punch up the script, but Howard conceived of the Indianapolis speech. I had never heard of the Indianapolis before Howard, who wrote the script at the Bel Air Hotel and I was with him a couple times a week reading pages and discussing them.

Howard one day said, “Quint needs some motivation to show all of us what made him the way he is and I think it’s this Indianapolis incident.” I said, “Howard, what’s that?” And he explained the whole incident of the Indianapolis and the Atomic Bomb being delivered and on its way back it was sunk by a submarine and sharks surrounded the helpless sailors who had been cast adrift and it was just a horrendous piece of World War II history. Howard didn’t write a long speech, he probably wrote about three-quarters of a page.

But then, when I showed the script to my friend John Milius, John said “Can I take a crack at this speech?” and John wrote a 10 page monologue, that was absolutely brilliant, but out-sized for the Jaws I was making! (laughs) But it was brilliant and then Robert Shaw took the speech and Robert did the cut down. Robert himself was a fine writer, who had written the play The Man in the Glass Booth. Robert took a crack at the speech and he brought it down to five pages. So, that was sort of the evolution just of that speech.

Steven Spielberg


see also The Last Speech of Tom Joad.

”The Eyes of Orson Welles” by Mark Cousins (2018)

Just caught up with the Mark Cousins film, “The Eyes of Orson Welles”, a personal and expansive love letter to Welles himself.

The film shows many drawings by Welles, something I had not previously seen, it really builds an understanding of how he saw his ideas and the world around him.

It’s an unusual documentary with hardly any talking head interviews or people in frame at all really, unless they are drawn or filmed by Welles himself. But it touches on the nature of drawing, film making, film making as drawing, cameras as pens, calligraphy, notebooks, writing and creativity in all its forms, something Welles engaged with his whole life.

I don’t think it’s on the iPlayer anymore but there is a website here that has various links to different ways of seeing it.