There’s a reason some read the words out and others write them

Cate Blanchett:

As a person working in the arts sector, the lockdown was strangely familiar on one level – a lot of actors get stuck in a kind of limbo waiting for someone else to give them permission to do what they are good at. It was as if we were all waiting by the phone for our agent to call. It was also strangely unfamiliar because the community that holds us together, the audiences, as well as the changing of the shows and the new releases, were all put on hold too. The flow between us all was severely affected, and I was both heartened and horrified when it began to surface online. Heartened because the urge to express ourselves and the desire to communicate seems undaunted by anything. Horrified because the worst place to rehearse and perform is alone in the mirror, and sometimes the phone is just a mirror.

It was amazing, though: the opera singers belting it out on their balconies, the dancers doing their solos in their living rooms, the DJs setting up on the verandahs of their apartments. Communication is definitely a need and not a want. And talent has to express itself. That need is like the roots of a tree seeking space and nutrition, and that single cell in the root hair that is the porous gateway between the soil and the plant – that exists in all of us, in our need to communicate and make shared sense. The porous gateway between audience and artist is just that – a two-way street where both seemingly separate worlds are alive together. The pub choir where everyone got on a group Zoom and sang. For themselves? Yes. For each other? Yes. For the uni- verse? Yes. Wonderful space that came alive and thrived and tried to reach across the divide.

That’s just horrible.

I don’t know why – I’m not a good enough writer to know. But it is. Dreadful.

So what has Covid-19 ripped open? The fragility of social space and the robustness of our need to share. The catastrophic misdirection of the past 30 years of economic and social planning (the guiding non-principle being that there is no such thing as society).

Yes, the ideas are shit too.

22 thoughts on “There’s a reason some read the words out and others write them”

  1. What economic planning? I thought the whole thrust of the last 40 years was a movement away from economic planning.

  2. I just got lost in the metaphors of trees, souls and two-way streets.

    Also, I now take the deliberate misrepresentation of Thatcher’s “No such thing as society” quote as a good indication about the integrity of the person doing it.

  3. She doesn’t seem to get that it was Big Government doing it to them. In fact she wants Bigger Government, Corajus Government. She is slightly conflicted in her thinking:perhaps some Elysian tuition might help or a swift dose of Newmania

  4. umm. yeah. A rellie joined weekly Zoom quizes with the inlaws. Bit of fun in lockdown. 6 months later it’s proved an ideal substitute for IRL – woe betide anyone who misses it, is late, doesn’t take it seriously, is pendantic, is pendant intolerant, asks silly/easy/hard questions. How they would moan about each other without it is anyone’s guess.

  5. I can’t be the only one who reads something like this and just thinks, “well, that’ll be the last time I ever bother to watch anything you’re part of”.

    @Geoffers

    Yes, to use the modern parlance, the Thatcher/society thing is triggering. The mention of Boris saying he wanted to be ‘world king’ too.

  6. Every national treasure (or aspiring national treasure) should be legally required to employ a ‘court’ jester who’s sole job is to take the piss out of them at every opportunity.

  7. Like life, art can be a business. But like life, art is not all business – and it is that endangered space where life and art are not just about money that government is there to help safeguard.

    The whole article exists for that last line, which says, “Subsidies, please.”

    Magnificent Cate may not be as daft as she seems.

  8. ‘The porous gateway between audience and artist is just that – a two-way street where both seemingly separate worlds are alive together.’

    I do scream at the telly occasionally.

  9. “a lot of actors get stuck in a kind of limbo waiting for someone else to give them permission to do what they are good at”

    No you’re not, dear. You’re waiting for someone to offer to pay you for doing what you want to do.

  10. Dennis, The Pauline Kael of Central Ohio

    It’s both cloying and childish. As mentioned above, as if written by a 14 year old.

    But it’s the cloying tone that makes it awful.

  11. @Steven Crook,
    Didn’t Julius Caesar employ someone to stand with him on his chariot and keep whispering, “Do not forget that you are merely a man”?
    I’d be quite willing to stand behind our Cate and whisper, “Do not forget that you are merely a pretentious twat.”
    I’d even do it for free, plus expenses.

  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memento_mori

    ” Tertullian claimed that during his triumphal procession, a victorious general would have someone (in later versions, a slave) standing behind him, holding a crown over his head and whispering “Respice post te. Hominem te memento” (“Look after you [to the time after your death] and remember you’re [only] a man.”). “

  13. Communication is definitely a need and not a want. And talent has to express itself.

    Never start a sentence with a conjunction.

    That need is like the roots of a tree

    A metaphor would work better than a simile.

    seeking space and nutrition, and that single cell in the root hair that is the porous gateway

    Now she used a metaphor. Either it’s like a plant, or it is a plant.

    between the soil and the plant – that exists in all of us, in our need to communicate and make shared sense. The porous gateway between audience and artist…

    Don’t torture the metaphor. This writing breaches multiple U.N. conventions.

    I haven’t written anything substantial since schooldays, but these basic rules were hammered in deep enough that I can still spot breaches a mile off.

  14. She really should be taught the lesson that in most languages the art of writing is to say more with less words.
    You’d think she’d have noticed with all the stuff she’s done. She’s definitely done the lines. Obviously didn’t learn a thing.

  15. She is a Guardian writer. These critiques don’t apply.

    ‘that single cell in the root hair’

    The root hair is an outgrowth of a cell. ‘that single cell in the root hair’ is ignorant, and more. I.e., she’s stupid. The internet is there to verify or correct your beliefs. Writing a column for the Guardian, she can’t be troubled with a few seconds of internet searching. Accuracy not required.

    More: ‘That need is like the roots of a tree seeking space and nutrition’

    ‘Seeking’ sounds pretty active . . . for a fvcking plant.

  16. “Isn’t that one of those made-up rules?”

    English class rule.

    Then creative writing class then shows you how to use it to enhance your writing.

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