Silkworms and Me – a Love Story

Every year, summer’s first few days of sunshine bring back a wealth of half-forgotten activities and hobbies to our exam-worn lives. Iceboxes and swimming gear are dug up from the hidden reaches of our storage, balconies and gardens become pleasant habitats once more, and we finally remember what sunglasses were for. For some, it means the first of many trips to the beach, to others late evenings in the backyard with a glass of wine, or maybe even a couple of plane rides across the globe. To a select few, however, the taste of summer brings a powerful desire to relive childhood memories and bunker down in their bedroom to breed silkworms like there’s no tomorrow.

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Diary Fragments III: A Lincoln Lullaby

Friends, oh my friends,
I hope you’re somewhere, smiling.
Just know I think about you…
—Father John Misty

 

—For J-Wow & Polly


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Sex, Drugs & Romanticism

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite”

The Marriage between Heaven and Hell, William Blake, 1793

In 1792, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge came out with their Lyrical Ballads. To many, this particular moment in time marks the beginning of Romanticism, a movement which opposed the rationalism that had been central in the Age of Reason decades earlier. Plays made way for a focus on poetry and prose, in which themes like youthful innocence, a connection to nature, and the confrontational breaking of taboos started to play major roles. Institutions like the church, the government, and even the education system were consistently besieged with heavy critiques, showing the irrationality within the rationality their so-called systems claimed to have. The Romantics attempted to once again enchant the world, to restore its magic, to bring back the supernatural, and to purposefully not answer all the questions life puts forward, but instead display the enjoyment of clueless wonder, in a language anyone could understand. Approximately 150 years later, a new sense of rebellion came along, partially voiced by artists once again embracing the mysteries of life. In a world just struck by war, seeing the rise of feminist marches, civil rights movements and the developing voice of younger generations, the Hippie movement and Rock ‘n Roll soon took over. Paving the way for the mainstream were people like the beat poets, who, during the 50s, started to write about junkies, the lower class, and homosexuals, thereby actively breaking with conventions. Additionally, the language used became more free verse, more direct, and simply more accessible, therefore strongly opposing the rational, almost pretentiously complex texts modernism had put out the years before WO II. Unsurprisingly, the beat poets themselves felt aligned with the romantics of two centuries earlier. Allen Ginsberg even named William Blake as one of his biggest inspirations. In other forms of post-modernist writing, an enchantment of the world once again arose through the humorous existentialism of, for instance, Samuel Beckett and the irrationally mythicized mundane of the Magical Realists. What more do these similarities tell us about that period, and in what ways has it influenced our own?

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Diary Fragments II

             —For Julz Booth-Jones

Truman Capote, author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, described his diary as a ‘hieroglyphic shambles’. He said that when looking back over his old journals he was frequently baffled by entries of which he had no recollection. ‘God knows what “Thunder on Cobra Street” refers to,’ he pondered. I, too, came across many jottings in my diaries that left me wondering what on earth I was on about.

In addition to these cryptic scribbles, I noticed that I am also quite an avid list maker, though not nearly as obsessive as Susan Sontag, renowned for her exhaustive lists of, well, everything. For example: “Things I like: fires, Venice, tequila, sunsets, babies, silent films, heights, coarse salt, top hats, large long-haired dogs, ship models, cinnamon, goose down quilts, pocket watches, the smell of newly-mown grass, linen, Bach, Louis XIII furniture, sushi, microscopes, large rooms, ups, boots, drinking water, maple sugar candy.”1

Following my last Writer’s Block piece, here are some more of my journal entries and accompanying photos, covering the period of my last few weeks in France and my relocation to Vietnam. Once again, I must mention that I took the liberty to change names and details where necessary. And by necessary I mean wherever the hell I felt like it.

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A JOLLY JOINT INTERVIEW WITH THE WRITER’S BLOCK BOARD

As the end of the 18/19 Writer’s Block board year draws to close, we present – for the sake of posterity – a joint masterpiece that critics across the world will surely describe as ‘crass’, ‘tasteless’ and ‘mildly funny if you’re really tired at the time’ – which we have put together with much love, dedication and nuance. Always wanted to get to know the board a little better? This is the perfect opportunity! All current board members answered a bunch of budding questions about themselves, with exciting, in-depth answers into the mysteries of selfhood, plastic bags and psychoanalysis (just kidding: only one of those three is true, and you know it’s neither of the good ones). Curious to find out about our favorite submissions, childhood antics and weirdest hobbies? This is the article that will answer all of the above, and perhaps leave you with more questions than before. Let’s get started!

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Short Story Competition 2019 – 2nd Place: Old Sparky, by Alexander Sinclair

I never used to drink much.

Only a couple beers here and there (I know you know that I am lying. It’s in my nature).

This thing though, and it is a thing, it grows.

It grows like all things grow and whereas before it seemed fun and made me feel warm, this thing grew and grew and now it’s tearing my fucking heart out.

A bit like you.

You seemed nice and fun.

For a while.

Things gather momentum.

Things grow.

Things spread, like fungus. Like mould.

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Writer’s Block Is Looking For New Editorial Board Members!

Writer’s Block is looking for fresh, new, enthusiastic, talented, and creative editorial board members! Do you like writing, editing, or do you have any journalistic aspirations? Then join the Writer’s Block editorial board!

What/who is Writer’s Block?
Writer’s Block magazine is the student magazine of the English department at the University of Amsterdam, but we have an international readership and contributors from across the globe. In our magazine, which is released every 3 months, we publish articles, essays, reviews, interviews, short stories, poetry, photography, and artwork. Even though the magazines are published in English, we also encourage students from outside the English department to join our board, so it doesn’t matter if you study astrophysics, law, pedagogy, history, or play the clarinet in the national orchestra – everyone is welcome at Writer’s Block.

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