Intimations, Zadie Smith
I am awed by Zadie Smith’s wit, and also by the revelation that she never, ever - never! - relaxes, as she writes in her brief and wonderful collection of lockdown essays, Intimations. She is so allergic to relaxing that even when she permits herself half-hour massages to deal with the back and neck issues of someone mostly crouched over keyboards, she not only reads during these sessions but also marks work.
I am so attached to the need to seek quiet, solace, isolation and relaxation, and by extension believe that everyone would benefit from these things, that I find it hard to believe this constant tension, of days bundled up into compact parcels of minutes so not a single one is lost, of always being plugged in to something, can be a good thing. But who am I to question Zadie’s method? Her productivity is immense, her creativity gushing, her writing thoughtful, precise, funny, purposeful, necessary, real.
As a postscript, she discusses the idea of contempt with the energy of a virus, spread down through society from governments and authorities. She had the idea it could therefore be wiped out, that we could achieve some sort of herd immunity from all the hatred. She doesn’t think this anymore.