After a very rewarding morning washing a tub of Vaseline out of my three year-old’s hair (in case you’re interested shampoo is useless but talcum powder and then shampoo seems to have helped) I thought I’d chuck up a few links to liven up your Sunday.
The first is a delicious new site called Autocomplete Me, which I found via Spike (who found it via The Millions), which uses the Google’s autocomplete function as a device to peer into the murky depths of the collective subconscious. Having confessed before to the voyeuristic pleasures of eavesdropping on other people’s search terms it’s the sort of site I can’t help but enjoy, but I challenge anybody not to be both fascinated and bemused by the fragmentary glimpses of people’s private worlds the site throws up. Some are cute (“What do you feed a Yeti anyway?”), a lot are weird (“Cheese is the devil’s plaything”) and some are just plain worrying (“I’ve just had a conversation with my cat in the shower about pancakes. We both like them a lot”).
I also thought in the light of my post a few weeks back about the death of the letter it might be worth pointing to Stacy Schiff’s wonderful review of Thomas Mallon’s equally wonderful-sounding Yours Ever: People and their Letters, a book written in the shadow of the disappearance of the form to which it is devoted. Schiff reads Mallon’s book as an elegy for a dying art, suggesting in closing:
“It is next to impossible to read these pages without mourning the whole apparatus of distance, without experiencing a deep and plangent longing for the airmail envelope, the sweetest shade of blue this side of a Tiffany box. Is it possible to sound crusty or confessional electronically? It is as if text and e-mail messages are of this world, a letter an attempt, however illusory, to transcend it. All of which adds tension and resonance to Mallon’s pages, already crackling with hesitations and vulnerabilities, obsessions and aspirations, with reminders of the lost art of literary telepathy, of the aching, attenuated rhythm of a written correspondence.”
To which, my suggestion that blogs and Twitter might, in a very small way, be replacing the letter notwithstanding, I can only say, ‘Amen’.
And finally, a little Sunday song. I know this video’s done the rounds a lot of times already, I know it’s just marketing, but it’s a wonderful thing all the same. Enjoy.
If you haven’t come across it yet, may I put in a plug for LETTERS OF NOTE, a wonderful little blog that reprints and comments on interesting letters from the past: a kid’s letter to NASA, Enid Blyton to Robert Menzies (!). All good stuff.
Excellent – will check it out.