Leonard Cohen: The yearning at your core

Posted on November 29th, 2016

Leonard Cohen is a man who lived with inner anguish, but did so gallantly. He celebrated the melancholy of life. He planted the truth of our existence (we die, my friends!) before us without apology. He wrestled with all this, but, again, without apology.

Image via Sanjeev Kugan

Image via Sanjeev Kugan

In the wake of his recent passing, you might like to catch up on how he took five years (unapologetically) to write Hallelujah

And to revisit his beautiful line about how we have to become the ocean to avoid being seasick

The New Yorker published a heart-soaring longread about Cohen and his brave confrontation of darkness recently. I liked lots in it. But this bit stuck with me:

 “Even before he had much of an audience, he had a distinct idea of the audience he wanted. In a letter to his publisher, he said…

“He wanted to reach ‘inner-directed adolescents, lovers in all degrees of anguish, disappointed Platonists, pornography-peepers, hair-handed monks and Popists’.”

The line is perfectly evocative. All six cohorts share the same desperate, grasping and well-meaning pain. All search for love and come up with… death.  Read more

My favourite longreads (for your weekend-reading pleasure)

Posted on November 24th, 2016

Earlier in the week I shared how I longread. I flagged why it is such an important practice for our frazzled brains.

Today, I give you my list of favourite sources for finding long things to read that enrich my mind, make my heart soar, enhance my understanding of the world, while also drawing me in nice and close and focused and away from our terribly toggling world.

Image via polyvore.com

Image via polyvore.com

By way of a nice launchpad, my mate Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief of the the Guardian worldwide, wrote about the value of considered writing for keeping us true to truth in an incredibly rewarding longread a few months back (click on the hyperlink a few words back!), just before we met up in London during my last trip. So we chatted about the notion robustly, particularly in relation to the future of good journalism (pivotal to longreads). I quote Kath:

“My belief is that what distinguishes good journalism from poor journalism is labour: the journalism that people value the most is that for which they can tell someone has put in a lot of work – where they can feel the effort that has been expended on their behalf, over tasks big or small, important or entertaining. It is the reverse of so-called “churnalism”, the endless recycling of other people’s stories for clicks.”

I, too, believe that this is part of the importance of longreading to the human psyche. We relish demonstrations of effort expended. It reminds us we’re here for a reason. It rallies us to be more than our deadline.


A list of my longreads:

The Scientific American. I subscribe to their newsletter and buy digital copies of select issues. Many of their articles are free through their newsletter, however. This one on how we make sense of time was a recent favourite.

The Guardian. I follow their various sections on Facebook. I follow their Long Read section on Twitter at @gdnlongread, and their weekly email here. Read more

This is how I do my longreads

Posted on November 22nd, 2016

Much of where we are feeling we’re going wrong lies in the speed at which we are moving, talking, toggling and…reading. I’ve shared one of my favourite takes on this, by David Malouf writing in the Quarterly Essay not so long ago.

Image via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

Image via teachingliteracy.tumblr.com

Malouf suggests:

We are moving at a speed that’s not conducive to discerning thought.

We can’t keep up. We’re frazzled. We’re missing out on good, deep, mindful learnings. I agree and love Malouf’s way of presenting this idea.

Do you, like me, find it hard to longread? Which is to say, do you find it hard to read long, mindful articles that have been crafted carefully and go in deep, thus requiring more words and focus than a clickbait-y grab? Yes?

I’ve realised the importance of ensuring I do in fact longread on a regular basis. In part to train my brain into more discerning thinking.

This is how I do my longreads:

* I subscribe to and follow various channels specialising in considered reads on social media and via newsletter.

* I save them. I do this in a rudimentary way. I email them to myself (from Facebook or Twitter or email newsletter) and keep in a mail folder.

* I set aside time once a week to read. For a good hour or two. I make a big pot of tea. It’s a lovely ritual.  Read more