Should you finish every book you start?

Back in 2014 the Hawking Index was born, and yes, you would be right in associating it with the great Stephen Hawking himself; but it’s not technically connected with him directly. Mathematician Jordan Ellenberg named it in Hawking’s honour, and albeit statistically flawed, it was invented with the intention of measuring how far people persist with reading certain books. Needless to say it didn’t really work as it could only gather data from very specific book files (i.e. e-book files which were read on a kindle and were compatible with the digital highlighting tool); but the initiative of the project was very bibliophilic in its intent, addressing the age-old controversial question every book lover challenges in their lifetime. To give-up on a book we are reading but not enjoying, or to persevere: that is the question.
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invisible tragedy

The events of 2016 incited a great exodus, an exodus which has continued to expand, strengthen and perpetuate the following year with little to no sign of stopping. What erupted from the shattered remains of the twenty-first century’s passions, hopes and progression was a spiralling pandemic which has shaken the world economically, socially and politically. Scientifically speaking  this epidemic is documented as a ‘social de-evolution’, but by everyone else it is merely referred to as digital apathy. Over the past year social media usage has been in rapid decline. Millions of people across the world began to leave their beloved social media sites: Twitter usage fell by 23.4%, Facebook by 8% (this percentage alone, seemingly small, equates to 132 million people). Instagram also took a 23.7% plummet, and Snapchat 15.7%.

Why? Many theories have been forwarded including boredom, ageing and frustration, but none of these take into account the overwhelming exhaustion users have undergone the past twelve months. Social media for many became a bombardment of tragedy upon tragedy, from gun crimes to terrorist attacks, hate speech, racism, homophobia, snap general elections, US Presidency campaign, and Brexit. People have been leaving social media to escape the tragedy of it all, or rather, what we as society have construed to signify the tragic. Tragedy, you see, shouldn’t belong in the realm of reality, and yet it does. For you see as Oscar Wilde argued: Life imitates art, a hypothesis which has never been demonstrated more poignantly than in the concept of “tragedy”.

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Against Self-Criticism

artwork by Robert Arneson

In the competitive and moral world that we live in, self-criticism, or rather self correction, is essential to evolution, development and betterment of both the individual and society. However, Some of us are so good at this that our desire the better the world takes priority over our own well-being, and we easily fall victim to an excessive version of self-criticism, a state of self-flagellation: a dangerous condition which fosters depression and creative sterility. We go beyond the self-corrective directness necessary for improving our shortcomings, and instead masochistically berate and destroy ourselves over foibles which are largely socially perceived flaws and inadequacies we assign to ourselves upon comparison.

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Victim “Feminist” – Taylor Swift & Commercialised, Superficial Feminism

Before this essay even begins I would like to stress one important, nay, the most important message of the following production: the following critique is not an attack on Taylor Swift, and if that’s what you’re here to see enacted you may feel slightly underwhelmed. Whilst I personally am not a “fan” of this particular singer (being more a hip-hop and rap kind of woman myself), Taylor Swift is, I’m sure, a lovely person. She entertains millions of people and ultimately makes them happy; a service which in of itself is worthy of commendation. I have no interest in “dragging” a fellow woman, attacking anyone’s character of insulting anyone; whilst doing so may be beneficial for online traction and views, it wouldn’t produce a productive conversation, and certainly wouldn’t stimulate intelligent reflection on the self or society.

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