#011 — Nothing to Fear and Nothing to Doubt

Hi, hello, how are you? This is Tendrils, your weekly, newsletter-Hi, hello, how are you? This is Tendrils, your weekly, newsletter-sized miscellany from me, Adam Wood, sent to you this week from a hotel room in Burnham Market, King’s Lynn. We’re in Norfolk for a wedding, but managed to tack a couple of days on after that, to ride out the heat here near the coast. Walking into our room immediately made me consider air conditioning to be one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

Before leaving home, I took a couple of photos: your wildflower-patch update, alongside a beautiful dahlia doing its thing. (Also, the bee hotel in the background of the second photo currently has two residents!)

I recently made my way through Kid A Mnesia Exhibition — an interactive experience put together as part of last year’s joint 20th anniversary celebrations for the Radiohead albums Kid A (2000) & Amnesiac (2001). It’s difficult to convey what a uniquely strange experience it was: something akin to visiting an art installation run as a piece of surrealist promenade theatre.

You start off in a (hand-drawn) forest, before making your way into something resembling a capacious gallery space. From here there are branching paths into various spaces that take their own forms, each stranger and more dismissive of Newtonian physics than the last. Walls shift; objects that appear solid dissolve into new forms; doors appear where once there was nothing. Oh, and you’ll encounter crying bears, dancing minotaurs, and animated stick figures. At one point, moving between exhibition areas, I shared a lift ride with this fellow, who (in the distinctive voice of Thom Yorke) repeatedly called me a clown:

The whole experience, of course, is soundtracked by material from KID A MNESIA (2021), comprising the two albums in question, as well as several previously unreleased pieces, alternate versions etc. Headphones are essential, as hearing the soundscapes shift around you in 3D space is a vital part of the disorientation and immersion the piece is working towards. My own playthrough took me into a dauntingly large ziggarut, where I moved through renditions of ‘Like Spinning Plates’, ‘Pyramid Song’, & ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’… before the janitor turned the lights on, and seemed to want me to leave. I followed a dizzying pathway of strobing screens, before being spat out back into the forest, to be greeted by placard-waving bears.

Ever since The Bends (1995), the art and aesthetics of each Radiohead album (as created by Stanley Donwood & Dr. Tchock) has been integral to my enjoyment and understanding of the work. When my group of friends became obsessed with OK Computer in 1997, and spent significant time poring over each page of the CD booklet, I wouldn’t have dreamt that 25 years later I would be able to walk through a fully (sur)realised world of Radiohead artwork. I am sure there are large sections of the Exhibition that I didn’t touch, and I will certainly be putting the headphones back on and making a repeat visit soon.

• • •

The eighth running of the annual Sipped Ink summer read-along reached its conclusion today. It’s a surprise to me each year the extent to which reading, annotating, analysing, and writing about ~110 page chunks of a novel takes up my entire reading brain-space for the duration of the read-along. Now that it’s over for another year, I’m free to read something else! Coming away this weekend I packed Stephen King’s latest paperback (Billy Summers (2021)) to act as both indulgence and palate-cleanser. After that? We’re a little over a week away from the announcement of the 2022 Booker Prize longlist (on 26 July); I don’t intend to read all 13 novels this time (as I did last year), but it’s always an exciting time of year for literary fiction, and I’ll certainly be looking to the list for tips on what I should pick up.

(Speaking of Stephen King, the latest episode of Flux Observer1 is about the film that served as my introduction to his work: Misery (1990).)

• • •

As the stunning first images are published from the James Webb Space Telescope, it should be remembered that the man for whom it is named was a homophobe. There is compelling evidence that Webb was involved in the systematic firing of hundreds of LGBT employees from NASA. The telescope itself is a miracle of science, and is rightly celebrated. It should, however, probably be renamed. 🏳️‍🌈

• • •

• This 9th century shrine in Ibaraki, Japan sets up a summer bee oasis;

• Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been using a new web browser on my Mac. It’s called Arc, and it’s made by The Browser Company. I’ve really been enjoying the experience, and even if Arc doesn’t take off, I’m sure there are features from it that will make their way into mainstream browsers in the years to come. You can find videos from folks talking about it on YouTube, and if you’re a Mac user who would like to try it, send me a message. I have a grand total of one (1) invite that will allow you to skip the waiting list, so: first come, first served.

• I liked this post by Austin Kleon: ‘DJing on the Hedonic Treadmill’;

• Music pick for this week is the new record from Laura Veirs: Found Light (I was a big fan of her 2005 record Year of Meteors, and have paid too little attention in the years since; it was a pleasure to rediscover her sound this week.)

• • •

Putting together the weekly dispatch over on Sipped Ink has also, predictably, been a pull on my newsletter-writing batteries. I think it’s been noticeable here, and I thank you for sticking with me. Having said that, I intentionally set Tendrils up so that I get no notifications of new subscribers, unsubscribers, or any analytics whatsoever. I could be writing entirely to myself, and that’s OK. Whatever the case, I’ll have my newsletter energies focussed solely here for the foreseeable future. Does that mean that next weekend’s issue will be better: more entertaining / more insightful? For legal reasons, I cannot guarantee that. Have yourself a week!


— Adam

  1. Update: the podcast is on hiatus and has been archived  ↩︎