An experiment in phonelessness

The plot thus far

In 2017, I lost a new smartphone. In the aftermath of its disappearance I decided not to replace it, a feat which I managed for about a month, with an additional few weeks on an old Nokia phone. During this time I found life more serene, serendipitous, and I was happier. It did somewhat improve my relationship with technology, but when I got a new phone I still resumed most of my mindless habits.

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The Clock, Part 6: Dusk

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) is an ambitious 24-hour montage stitched together from feature films and TV shows. Each clip, ranging from a split second to a few minutes, takes place during the time of the day at which it plays. Over the next few months, I will attempt to see all twenty-four hours at the Tate Modern in London, documenting the experience in a way as haphazard as the fractured experience of watching the work itself.

Voyage au bout de la nuit

Part 6 of 6 of this series. I wrote this article after viewing 18:39–21:55 (3 hours, 16 minutes) on 11 January 2019. Seen: 18 hours 29 minutes. I will be unable to see the remaining 5 hours and 31 minutes.

Read Part 1: Introduction, in which I discuss my initial excitement about the return of The Clock.

Read Part 2: Matineé, in which I reflect on familiarity, recognition, tension, time’s passage, simultaneity, and death.

Read Part 3: Graveyard Shift, in which I stay up all night and misidentify noir.

Read Part 4: Interstice, in which I ponder the expectations set by Hollywood continuity style.

Read Part 5: Sunrise, in which I link up The Clock‘s morning montages.


It has been nearly a month since I’ve written on The Clock, mostly because I’ve been drafting a novel. Since last I wrote, The Clock itself has left London and found a new home at a museum in Melbourne,

The experience of seeing The Clock, even after all these hours, remains surreal, as perhaps the best cinema always is. The final night that I went, there weren’t such recognisable features as there were in the morning hours, and I found its impressions less distinctive, the sequences more obscure. But maybe that was just my own fading vigour.

As I wrote above, my final tally, for now at least, will remain at the 18.5 hour mark. I think this is a respectable amount of conceptual art to have seen over a few months, though I’m still in awe of Ari Haque who did all 24 hours in one go.

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On writing at speed

Exactly three weeks ago, on 14th January 2019, I began a draft of my first novel. I won’t discuss its contents here, but I thought I’d write about the experience of writing at speed.

Driving that train

First of all, how quickly have I written? As of today, my word count is 42,903 words, written in 21 days. That means I’ve averaged 2,043 words per day. That is above the pace required for National Novel Writing Month (abbreviated NaNoWriMo) which takes place every year in November. To “win” that contest, one must write 50,000 words in 30 days, which works out to 1,667 words per day. I was forgetful (and perhaps fearful) last year so I didn’t participate (I did, however, write a blog post for every day of November on my other blog.). Instead, I set myself a goal to finish 80,000 words in 6 weeks.

My speed is around Stephen King’s, as he describes in his excellent On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which I just finished reading. In it, he reports writing 2,000 words per day. It is a reasonably high rate among writers. Graham Greene and Hemingway, for example, aimed for 500 per day. Michael Crichton, on the other hand, apparently managed 10,000.

I, however, did not set a single daily word count for the period. Instead I’ve used the excellent Pacemaker Planner, which allows varying the pace, and even reducing it at the weekends. Here’s my graph-to-date:

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The Clock, Part 5: Sunrise

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) is an ambitious 24-hour montage stitched together from feature films and TV shows. Each clip, ranging from a split second to a few minutes, takes place during the time of the day at which it plays. Over the next few months, I will attempt to see all twenty-four hours at the Tate Modern in London, documenting the experience in a way as haphazard as the fractured experience of watching the work itself.

Rosy-fingered Dawn

Part 5 of this series. I wrote this article after viewing 6:02–10:18 (4 hours, 16 minutes) on 2 December 2018. Seen: 15 hours 13 minutes. Remaining: 8 hours 47 minutes.

Read Part 1: Introduction, in which I discuss my initial excitement about the return of The Clock.

Read Part 2: Matineé in which I reflect on familiarity, recognition, tension, time’s passage, simultaneity, and death.

Read Part 3: Graveyard Shift in which I stay up all night and misidentify noir.

Read Part 4: Interstice in which I ponder the expectations set by Hollywood continuity style.


The 2nd of December 2018 marked what I thought was my final opportunity to see the nocturnal hours of The Clock, at least in its current run in London—now, due to popular demand, you can also see it this weekend.

At the start of November I had stayed overnight until 5:35am, so I needed to arrive before that time. So on a cold Sunday morning, at the beginning of December, I dutifully awoke at 3:52, just as one of my flatmates was returning from a night out. I filled a flask with coffee and walked down to the Tate, since my normal transport to the Tate Modern (the 4 bus) doesn’t run at night. The walk was beautiful and surreal. I arrived at 5:03am.

St Paul's Cathedral at night
St Paul’s Cathedral on my walk down, at around 5 am.
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Top 10 Books I read in 2018

I’ve just begun my fiftieth book of the year, The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. Like the last book I read, I discovered it via Derek Sivers, who reviewed it on his site. It’s been an interesting read so far, on overcoming one’s own resistance to ambitious endeavours. It’s inspirational, but so far does not promise to be the most inspirational book I read this year (see Sivers’ own, for example, below). I tracked my progress on Goodreads. Here are the ten books I rated five stars from 2018, in reverse order of when I read them.

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Committing to Meditation

I’ve been meditating daily since November 2016. A practice as short as ten or fifteen minutes per day has drastically improved the quality of my daily experience. Nothing else (exercise, antidepressants, moving countries, changing jobs, successes, failures, etc.) has had anywhere near the effect that a short, daily meditation practice has had on my happiness.

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Redecentralize

Last night I was lucky enough attend a meetup hosted by Redecentralize.org at Newspeak House in East London. This included a talk by one of the organisation’s founders, followed by “project speed dating session”, which provided attendees with rapid-fire eight minute introductions to six projects in the diverse decentralisation space. These included the distributed computing network Holochain, the BBC’s plan to return control of data to users, the decentralised chat network Matrix, the “smart contract” platform Mattereum, the “decentralised secure gossip platform” Scuttlebutt, and the boldly-named Interplanetary Filesystem. I’ll discuss the keynote as well as briefly summarise what I heard from each of the projects.

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The Clock, Part 4: Interstice

Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010) is an ambitious 24-hour montage stitched together from feature films and TV shows. Each clip, ranging from a split second to a few minutes, takes place during the time of the day at which it plays. Over the next few months, I will attempt to see all twenty-four hours at the Tate Modern in London, documenting the experience in a way as haphazard as the fractured experience of watching the work itself.

Meshes of the Afternoon

Part 4 of this series. I wrote this article after viewing 17:02–17:55 (53 minutes) on 4 November 2018 and 16:30–17:02 (32 minutes) on 8 November 2018. Seen: 11 hours 57 minutes. Remaining: 12 hours 3 minutes.

Read Part 1: Introduction, in which I discuss my initial excitement about the return of The Clock.

Read Part 2: Matineé in which I reflect on familiarity, recognition, tension, time’s passage, simultaneity, and death.

Read Part 3: Graveyard Shift in which I stay up all night and misidentify noir.


A few weeks ago I posted about my ill-advised all-nighter. Since then, Ari Haque at the Guardian has outdone me, and seen all twenty-four hours in a single sitting! She observes many of the same things that I did in earlier instalments, including anxiety about the time of day one can in conscience begin drinking, the value of timepieces, the strange habit of steak for lunch, and the relationship between time and death.

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