E gave me this book for my birthday last May, to nudge me to stay playful now I’ve turned 50 🙂

Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul is from 2009.
I thought the first third had the most useful substance for me. The discussion of play ‘archetypes’ was helpful. What I realised reading it, is that the types of play that generally stand out to me are the ones I dislike (the joker that tells jokes, the director where it gets manipulative, the competitor), and that the things I generally enjoy (the explorer, the creator, the storyteller) I don’t think of as play mostly.
It mentions ‘play history’ but doesn’t really help you explore your own.

A key claim is that staying playful is a way of staying flexible and adaptable in the face of a changing environment. It posits that the opposite of play isn’t serious work, but depression.

Most of the rest was about evolution as well. That is interesting, and some elements did jump out to remember, but I at least didn’t get what point it was meant to make, other than seemingly repeating the claim above multiple times.

Een uiterst leesbaar boek, over wit privilege, systeem zien, ons cultureel verleden en de hedendaagse expressie ervan. Over hoe kleine wijzigingen in taalgebruik en iets meer reflectie een hoop kleine agressie schelen. Over luisteren en horen, over ruimte maken. In complexiteit zijn menselijke ervaringsverhalen, met ieder hun eigen waarheid en duiding, de meetlat voor sturing en verandering. Dat is ook als het om racisme gaat het recept. En dat is wat Nzume hier doet, menselijke ervaringen en systeemdenken uiteenzetten.

Dat het boek door anderen wordt gezien als haat, als individuele aanval, en ‘het is ook nooit goed’, ondanks dat Nzume dat nadrukkelijk en bij herhaling anders stelt, is exact het soort simplistische karikatuur waartoe het boek oproept dat nu eindelijk eens overboord te zetten. Om de complexiteit van het menselijk leven te omarmen voor wat het is, zodat we gezamenlijk vooruit kunnen. In plaats van in de opgehouden spiegel te kijken en je boze en vetrokken reflectie voor het gezicht van de ander te houden.

I’m reading N.K. Jemisin’s The City We Became, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. Currently about half way through. It’s set in New York City, and the city is coming alive as a sentient entity. It builds on how cities can feel like there’s something to them that’s bigger than its parts, that constitutes some sort of character, personhood. Berlin does that for me, which attracts and repulses me at the same time. Copenhagen does too, like a comfortable coat during a beautifully glowing, but unexpectedly chilly sunset. London, yes, inspiring and gritty. And NYC, indeed. The image below is from my first visit to NYC, in ’93. With two friends we drove our car from up near Albany to Yonkers and then down the entire Manhattan peninsula taking in our surroundings, right down to Times Square, and exploring from there on foot. It was a grimy city then I felt. Another visit, just weeks after 9/11 it was a griefing city, putting everything into sharper focus, oddly clear sounds in the city’s overall din, more saturated colors, right along side the stench wafting over it all from its deep smouldering wound at ground zero.

Looking at the images, listening to Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind.

NYC in 1993, from Empire State Building, looking down E34th and E33th towards Lexington Av

Came across this interview with N.K. Jemisin about her new book ‘The City We Became’, set in NYC. I had very much enjoyed her Broken Earth trilogy, so I’m curious to read her new book.

Mind controlling other-wordly entities are the rudest of tourists

You don’t say.

While I was at it, I found some other work by Jemisin I wasn’t aware of yet as well, and bought that too to read (Killing Moon and Shadowed Sun, Emergency Skin, and How Long ’til Black Future Month?)

portrait of N.K. Jemisin, by Laura Hanifin, license CC BY

A new novel by Claire North, stretching from a British doctor cursed in South Africa while watching a lynching in the late 1800’s, to the trenches of the Great War. Liked it, though slightly less than other works by Claire North I read.

Choice quote: ““It is my experience that the truth has very little effect on policy. People will believe what they want to believe. They hear what they want to hear.”