Dry November

The week has gone well. Sobriety does not appear to reduce the pace of time, nor is its effect on productivity too palpable, and yet it has been a good week. I wrote a lot, had several enjoyable one-on-one chats, and finished a fair bit of planning for the coming holidays.

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Halfway there. It's been a good few weeks and productive, though what to do next with my life is not yet clear. But one day at a time. Today I'll be writing on The Clock, Bergman's Dreams, and General Magic.

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Today I retrieved the notebook I lost yesterday. A restaurant rang me and said that they had found it. It proves it's a good idea to put one‘s contact details into notebooks, and to request their return with a smiley face. I read the notes contained while waiting for an acquaintance. I’d speculated that my equanimity about losing it came from its relative shortness and the fact that I hadn't re-read it previously, and therefore had not become attached to its contents yet. This was wrong; nothing in it was worth remembering.

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Last night, after a day at the British Library, a doctor's appointment, and a catch-up meal with a friend, I took two buses home. I could have walked the roughly two miles, but as I'd been rained on at some point during the day, I was feeling wet and lazy. En route, standing at the bus stop at King's Cross Station, after digging through my pockets and bag, I realised I had lost a notebook. It was a moleskine cahier (e.g.) which I'd started a week or two ago. Actually, I can tell you exactly when I started it: it was one week ago, the 6th of November, and it was my 62nd notebook. I know this because the cover of the previous one is labelled: 2018-10-10 to 2018-11-06, with the number 61.

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On Thursday night I went to a contemporary dance performance called MK Ultra at the Southbank Centre. Since then I've learned that this is an almost impossible thing to talk about without sounding mad, as its creator Rosie Kay herself found out when she started research on the topic in 2015. Named after a twenty year illegal mind mind control program conducted by the CIA (yes, a real thing), the piece looks partly at that program itself, and partly at later conspiracy theories that arose from it.

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Another dry weekend has ended well. Yesterday we went to brunch at a friend's, which was perfect. After a tour of her airy new house in Richmond, we discussed a multitude of topics over brunch. Naturally I banged on about The Clock, but also General Magic and MK Ultra. A friend tried to tempt me into mimosas, but the prosecco remained hardly touched on the table as we talked. Once again, once the conversation got going, I was not tempted.

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Yesterday, I went to a screening of a pretty remarkable documentary called General Magic. It premiered at Tribeca in July, and has not yet been released. The first I'd heard of it was from the friend that invited me, and I believe he had learned of it on Twitter. It was screened at Picturehouse Central, as one of the final events of Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, an annual event that apparently started in 2006 but about which I'd also not heard.

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As promised, I've been thinking this week about why my Dry November has been a bit despondent so far. There are a few possibilities. As mentioned at the beginning I've had an annoyingly persistent illness, which has put a damper on this year and my previously (in June or so) unbridled optimism.

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l# Dry November: Day 8

I awoke today with a song from a decade-old album stuck in my head. A noteworthy album, for me at least, by Of Montreal, and memorably titled: Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? It's the first song on the album. “We just want to emote 'til we're dead,” it opens. “I know we suffer for fashion or whatever.”

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I dreamt I had a drink. I don't mean that I dreamt of drinking; in the dream, it had been inadvertent, had already happened. In my fitful sleep I was somewhere on the Southbank, where I've been spending a lot of time, in some concrete cleft, and I had drunk some beer with friends. In the dream, I do not remember ordering it, but merely “coming to” and realising that I'd failed in my resolution not to drink. My first feeling was fear of how my friend, with whom I'd agreed to do this dry month, would feel. My second was about how I would explain the lapse here, in writing.

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