A rant and a manifesto — a rant-ifesto? — plus a perve on my bookshelves and a seasonal puzzle and prize.
I got really angry this week.
It was a combination of things. I’m getting my period, which never helps, but also the Great Substack Christmas Debate of 2023 had me getting angry online left, right and centre (don’t believe me? Check out my last note).
There’s other stuff too. Long-held stuff, long stuffed-down stuff. Every so often, it seeps up, leaks out and makes me RAGE.
“There’s been a spate of idiocy from “important” Substackers recently,” I wrote.
First there was a mega-popular Substacker ranting “what’s the big deal with AI, it’s boring, stop talking about it, you’re boring”.
Don’t talk about something that is re-shaping and changing the world in important ways, even as we speak?
That post got hundreds of likes from, I don’t know, people who can’t read?
On Substack, don’t talk about AI. Also, keep it short, smile more — and mind the national socialists?
Then there’s another prominent writer winking at her readers that she’s “not really a reader.”
That’s okay. I’m not really your reader either.
Finally, there was Substack superstar Elle Griffin. No, I won’t tag her or link to any of her pieces.already has.
I read excerpts (couldn’t stomach the whole thing, life is too short) of her piece titled “We don’t need to colonise the world anymore.”
It was the “anymore” that grabbed my attention. We don’t need to colonise the world anymore?
We don’t need to colonise the world anymore guys! We used to — but phew, relax, we don’t need to do it anymore.
She doesn’t stop there.
I have to admit I’m somewhat apathetic to all of the injustices that have been meted throughout world history just because there’s not much we can do about it now. We used to suck.
We used to suck.
I would respectfully submit that, in Ms. Griffin’s case, it may be an ongoing state.
Apathy to historical injustices —intellectual laziness that cares nothing for history, for learning from the past — is exactly how injustices happen, over and over and over again.
Because people like Ms. Griffin think we’re better now, that it could never happen again — and enquire no further.
It’s exactly like our don’t-talk-about-AI-it’s-boring friend or the non-reading writer.
All of these intellectual troglodytes who assume that they don’t need to do anything — not self-edification, not constant vigilance, not reading, reading, reading what others have written before — to prevent the darkness from taking hold.
Why this pervasive cult of idiocy among our taste-makers? Is it to keep everyone dim, to perpetrate unnoticed horrors? Or is it just a rising, swelling, nausea-inducing tide of wilful ignorance?
I genuinely don’t know.
And, because I don’t know, I read more. I think more. I talk more — about the past, about the future. About what we are doing right now.
In this age of hallowed, touted, lauded apathy, reading an actual fucking book — fucking caring about anything — is an act of revolution.
It’s better than just, you know, doing nothing.
Now, I really didn’t want to get involved in this latest Great Substack Debate. I almost didn’t publish this.
Hamish forced my hand.
Substack’s official response to this mess is to venerate the work of someone who is, in her own words, openly apathetic to historical injustices? (Actually, those are my words, describing her less-good words better.)
What I would like to say is this: I want a home online where I control my own writing. I would like to control who I interact with and I would like no one to tell me what I can or can’t publish.
I also do not want a fucking penny of my money going to support people who revel in apathy, who mock the lessons of history or who profit from the abhorrent views expressed by others.
There’s no porn on Substack. I’m not saying there should be.
But, if you’re going to take a stand on policing sex content, why not the violent racist shit too?
Anyway, as soon as Joel’s ActivityPub-federated writing app is ready, I’ll be there. I am now hounding him daily for updates. Still not ready.
So, until then, needs must.
I meant to write an introduction and a “start here” for the wash of new subscribers that arrived recently (welcome! I’m usually a *bit* less rage-y).
This felt important because, well, I’m not great at first impressions.
I was out with friends a few weeks ago and got chatting to a friend of a friend, a man who works in automobile design.
I mentioned I read (courtesy of the amazing) about how seatbelts have historically not been designed for women.
Instantly, his face turned red and his neck blotchy. He pointed a quivering finger at me.
“You’ve… you’ve got an agenda.”
He left the pub in a lather.
Well, readers, I confess. I do have an agenda. Treat men and women equally. Also, don’t profit from hate.
Maybe there’s a bit more to it than that?
To welcome you to Life Litter, an introduction1 by way of a brief manifesto, such as it may be.
Here it is:
Think for yourself.
Delete apps from your phone with reckless abandon. Then delete more.
Champion authenticity — in your interactions online, in what you write and in what you venerate.
Merry Christmas (or whatever) to all — and to all a good night.
If you need some reading inspiration, you can browse my bookshelves.
I reason that the best introduction to Litter is through my bookshelves. You are what you read, after all.
In the spirit of the season, I organised a Where’s-Wally-style book treasure hunt. Let it never be said that I don’t know how to throw a party. Find the duplicate books on my bookshelves — there are two! — and win a prize (spoiler: it will be a book). Here are the bookshelves.