Lilas, Germinal, 228; I'm sorry, I don't know, I'll find out and quarantine cooking

Today we celebrate the lilac. There's not much to say this week. I've been beavering away (I also now know what a busy beaver is) at various bits and bobs.

A lot folks say they feel helpless amidst a landscape of grand projects, initiatives and ideas. Looking out on our own media plateau of designers, critics, digital artists and institutions I can empathise. Folks with the social capital to do live-streamed studio talks or big design investigations and interventions are helping us feel that we can do something to hold society together or even become more resilient while the medical scientists, doctors and nurses do the real hard work of keeping us alive. But some folks are just focussed on holding the everyday together.

So, increasingly, the moral position of these projects is rightly checked: Is it right to seize the opportunism of having (literally), captive audiences, intellectual and cultural capital and put it to your use? Is it right to insist that life won't go back to normal and society requires some sort of doctrinal redesign? Is it right to tell people they're existentially responding to crisis incorrectly? (That last one's an easy one.) I'm reminded a little bit of my old musings on Hirschman's Exit, Voice Loyalty as crisis responses; escaping to an alternative, speaking up and advocating change or sticking with it.

Hirschman's framework didn't really allow for just being in crisis. This is forgivable as it was mostly about commercial exchanges but is indicative of a need to categorise and critique response. It's interesting to see this shift a little bit in the media discourse; there's a call to be honest about the uncertainty and that the goalposts will shift and that we aren't ready.

I suspect we're in a sort of honeymoon of generosity; everything's new and challenging and feels powerful (remember 2008?). We've just been given the brief; it's tough and treacherous but there are possibilities, the rules of the Before World are more malleable; yet to ossify into a new pattern of exploitation that capitalises on the generosity of its cultural and creative actors. I hope it's just my cynicism and I hope there are some folks out there working out how to sustain this flurry of activity over the foreseeable future. But how long before some dark pattern-er at Instagram figures out how to turn all these livestreams into a new revenue stream. How long before some big tech firm starts IP trolling all these creative technologists developing open source worlds? We've already got tax breaks for millionaires and punitive abortion laws being pushed through while we're all locked away, why wouldn't you find a way to make money out of all this generosity?

Hell, maybe I'm too cynical. Maybe the network pattern will change, maybe it never ossifies.

My work ethic is centred on the idea that you have to do what's in front of you as best as possible. Most of that isn't glorious or tweetable or exciting. It's just responding to terrified folks with as much comfort as you can offer or finding out who to ask questions of, or making sure boring papaerwork is done so that folks can focus on more important things. Or just being honest that you don't know what will happen and owning that uncertainty. I've written 'I don't know, I'm sorry, but I'll find out' more than any other single sentence in the last few weeks. My busy beaver's own two states 'I don't know' - 'I'll find out.'

Ugh onto cheerier things. I will use some of this meagre platform to promote what other folks are up to a bit more explicitly. I've already been doing this on Instagram more. I love IG stories but do you think I should use the photos for more work stuff or keep with images I find pleasant?

  • Fictional Journal are sharing reading lists from folks. Look at this lineup of champions: Tamar Shafrir, Sofia Pia, Matylda  Krzyowski. You'd be a fool not to. It's all available up on their Instagram
  • Danah Abdullah has started a newsletter; the Pessoptimist. It promises to meter out cynicism which is very groovy. I'm still not turning this into a newsletter unless you tell me to.
  • Live Talks From are still going with daily talks from graphic designers. Again, Instagram
  • Another Instagram. Some very funny, very smart student at Central Saint Martins is putting together a regular flow of memes about student life; GCD memes.
  • I missed Natalie Kane's call with Joanne McNeil last night on Dirty Furniture because I had calls of my own to do but they've been bringing together interesting people. Again. Instagram. (The gentle tinkle of financial opportunity.)

Channel Recommendation

And finally. I've been waiting to publish this one. Nat's What I Reckon is a newish small outfit of a comedian doing opinion pieces on various things but he's recently pivoted into cooking during quarantine and they're A+. As usual, hits my sweet spots, educational and entertaining but with a heavier emphasis on the entertaining. Check out how to make leek and potato soup and ' 'Don't be scared of Leeks, I know they look weird but they're just tall onions.'

Love you, bye.