Having to listen to EDM for three weeks

The other day I posted a picture of Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel book on Instagram, with the cover clearly visible. My friend E, the passionate Turkish Aries of whom I met during my year doing MA in London, who has the tendency to talk with her hands flailing and who blushes at any slightest signs of inconveniences (hence her nickname kırmızı domates — red tomato in Turkish), commented, “So are you writing yours?”. I explained to her that this is actually a book of Chee’s essays, and to answer her question about me writing my own autobiographical novel, with almost no hesitation I answered, “I would love to, only I have to find out what’s interesting about myself!” It took me a few days to realise how easily I threw myself under the bus for something I totally am capable to do if I want to (writing an autobiographical novel) and for the flawed internalised belief that there is nothing interesting about myself. Me! Whose personal statement took only two days to be accepted into my MA! Who gallivanted solo across multiple countries, and who lived for a month in a country of whose language I only learned once I set my foot there! Me — who had been dealt with enough fires already and walked out unscathed! How dare I sideline myself and proclaim I have nothing interesting to tell about myself?

Russell Davies, a personal advertising hero of mine, who just came back from a holiday in America, said in his newsletter Afternoon Slow, “A thing I like about holidays is the way you hear different music floating around”, of which he observed of how some of the lyrics from 10,000 Hours by Dan + Shay and Justin Bieber sound like something out of Internet security questions: “Do you miss the road that you grew up on? Did you get your middle name from your grandma?” Russell, staying true to his adman self, posts these interesting, quirky observations like these pretty often which would make you think.

I would also want to propose the statement a bit differently, “You’d also hear songs differently when you are on holidays.” If you have ever listened to Norwegian DJ Kygo’s work, you would notice that he has this signature keyboard/synth tune (I wish I am a better music reviewer, I have no idea how to describe it) that presents all throughout his music. That tune would often take me back to some cold days in a basement Airbnb in Cihangir, Istanbul as Firestone plays on repeat — not by choice, but by the sheer funny punishment that my debit card expired as I was leaving for Turkey, hence I could not renew my Spotify subscription. In leaving the playlist where Kygo’s Firestone was playing, free Spotify account would default to the country I was in (Turkey) instead of the country where I first subscribed it (UK), and that would cause some of my other 200+ playlists unavailable. I had no choice but to have full three weeks of EDM music playing on my laptop in the cramped apartment, accompanied by the blowing of the horn of the ships in the Bosphorus, as I wait for my card to arrive. I could never listen to Kygo — well, if it ever shows up in my Spotify playlists again —without having this exact scene in my head.

In my tabs today:

  • When designing for an international audience with variable levels of literacy and numeracy, then you first need a good framework to measure, amongst other things, digital literacy.
  • As described by Rao himself, this piece is “a sprawling, messy hot take on the State of Textual Media.” A very useful and accessible article on understanding the development of textual media from technology, economic, and cultural standpoints.
  • Last Friday, the World Health Organisation made its debut on TikTok in an effort to combat rampant disinformation about the coronavirus. By Monday, the account had garnered nearly 162,000 followers and 1.2 million likes.
  • “The effects of name-signalling — what names say about ethnicity, religion, social sphere, and socioeconomic background — may begin long before someone enters the workforce. In a study of children in a Florida school district, conducted between 1994 and 2001, the economist David Figlio demonstrated that a child’s name influenced how he or she was treated by the teacher, and that differential treatment, in turn, translated to test scores. The relevant question may not be “What’s in a name?” but, rather, “What signals does my name send—and what does it imply?”” Why our names matter.
  • “Part of the soulful quality viewers find in Studio Ghibli films stems from the empathy shown not just to characters but to the environment and to how both need each other to survive. There is an almost animist relationship between the two, which is threatened time and again through development, war, and pollution.” On why we love Studio Ghibli animations.


  • Reading: Reading progress has been slow these past few weeks, so I am still in the midst of bell hooks’ Teaching Critical Thinking and promised a friend a review.
  • Listening: French clarinetist, Yom. Give Dark Prayer a listen for a start. And this The Ezra Klein episode with Tracy K Smith on poetry.
  • Viewing: The Library of Nonhuman Books.
  • Food & Drink: Infused some tea with cinnamon sticks.

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