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Weeknotes 2022.34

A few things I’ve been thinking about this week. The thirty-fourth post of a series.



Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts introduced me to the Italian word for jewellery box: portagioie, which can be literally translated as “joy box”. This initially struck me as beautiful, but became more and more depressing the more I thought about it.


In the TLS, Ysenda Maxtone Graham says

I always feel sorry for the poor consumptives of history, who would probably far rather have stayed in their home bedroom in England, but were dragged off in some bone-shaking vehicle in search of better air in the south of France, where they died anyway.

Now I do, too.



Also from the TLS, I leaned that the bestselling author James Patterson used to be the CEO of Toys’R’Us and also wrote its jingle… and that his autobiography is called James Patterson by James Patterson: Stories of My Life by James Patterson.


Your email signature should reflect the role in which you are sending the email. That is its main function. People who have a list of different roles in their signature, such as professorships and editorships, are basically show-offs who don’t understand basic principles of governance.



Julian Barnes’s piece in the LRB comparing Ingres’s Madame Moitessier and Picasso’s Woman with a Book was fantastic, and made me look at both paintings more closely than I’ve looked at any painting in years.

In the depths of lockdown, Wendy and I said that we’d make an effort to go to more galleries and exhibitions of art in a post-lockdown world, but we’ve somehow still not quite got round to it.


Having only recently watched My Octopus Teacher (without me), Wendy was distressed to see octopus toasties on a menu this week.

It also got us trying to remember the correct plural of ‘octopus’—Wendy thought ‘octopuses’, I thought ‘octopodes’, and we both thought ’octopi’ was wrong. The OED lists all three options, with ‘octopuses’ first… though the 1989 edition didn’t include ‘octopi’ and had ‘octopodes’ as the first option. The right answer is clearly to never have more than one: they are fairly solitary creatures in any case.



The images in this post are all AI-generated images for the prompt “digital art of an octopus reading a dictionary and emerging from a jewellery box” created by OpenAI’s D-ALLE 2.

This post was filed under: Weeknotes.

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