Media Diet: September 2020

Some things that I have been watching / reading lately to escape the real world.


Two Tribes, by Chris Beckett

Future historians take a look at the 21st century through the eyes of two diarists, who try to form a romantic relationship despite coming from very different social circumstances.

This was a fun read, and gave me some pause to think about the very different worlds we all live in.

Warning: contains Brexit

Exhalations, by Ted Chiang

Only just started this one, but so far so good.


Home Before Dark

Great cast, great acting and a solid plot. I have a feeling that they’ll try and squeeze another series out of it, but this is one of those that would be best left where it is.

The Luminaries

We’ve watched the first three episodes and neither of us knows what to make of it so far. It’s beautifully presented, and the main cast is fabulous – it just doesn’t make any sense, yet. Plenty of good reviews, so we’ll persevere for a bit longer.

The West Wing

Saccharine political drama about a new Democratic administration. It’s brilliant. I watched it through four or five years ago but now feels like the right time to delve into fantasy politics. Imagine having people in charge that valued humanity and fairness. Hah.

The Social Dilemma

Much has been said about this documentary already. I’m reasonably well informed about the problems of social networks, but this powerfully demonstrated the enormous scale of the fuckery involved. It made me a bit angry, and I came out of it feeling more strongly that social networks cannot police themselves and need serious regulation.


Picked these up as I was browsing over the past week or so. Apologies if I can’t remember the sources:

On bubbles

… in normal circumstances people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which makes them aware they have lost credibility. In the Third Reich, there were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged to the upper stratum. On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world, which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world. In those mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times over.

Albert Speer. Minister of Armaments for Adolf Hitler


Acedia was a malady that apparently plagued many medieval monks. It’s a sense of no longer caring about caring, not because one had become apathetic, but because somehow the whole structure of care had become jammed up.

…Moving around is what we do as creatures, and for that we need horizons. Covid has erased many of the spatial and temporal horizons we rely on, even if we don’t notice them very often. We don’t know how the economy will look, how social life will go on, how our home routines will be changed, how work will be organized, how universities or the arts or local commerce will survive.

What unsettles us is not only fear of change. It’s that, if we can no longer trust in the future, many things become irrelevant, retrospectively pointless. And by that we mean from the perspective of a future whose basic shape we can no longer take for granted. This fundamentally disrupts how we weigh the value of what we are doing right now. It becomes especially hard under these conditions to hold on to the value in activities that, by their very nature, are future-directed, such as education or institution-building.

That’s what many of us are feeling. That’s today’s acedia.

The unrelenting horizonlessness of the Covid world / CNN

That’s it. It’s cold out there, so wrap up warm. Hope your week to come is free of troubles.