YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=DDxZNfSnDTU
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Duration:03:56
Uploaded:2022-10-18
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In which John and his family visit England, look at some art, and visit Plough Lane, the only London fortress* that matters.
Speech from Harvard that I said I would link to in the dooblydoo but didn't like to in the dooblydoo because I'm so tired and uploaded nine hours earlier than I intended to upload. https://youtu.be/EQ3DakqVrvo


* Currently not particularly fortressy but OUR TIME IS COMING.

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John: Hey Sarah, did you know that in England they actually don’t call an elevator an elevator?
Sarah (off-screen): I did know that.
John: Do you know what they call them?
Sarah: A lift.
John: No, it’s an elevatoro!
Sarah: I don’t think this is funny.
John: We’ll see what the people think.

Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday. On Friday I gave the theology-est speech of my life at Harvard's Memorial Church and then boarded a flight for London, where our family saw Plough Lane for the first time, a stadium built by its fans, for a club, AFC Wimbledon, owned by its fans.

The highlight of the match itself was unquestionably the double rainbow that graced us with its presence in the second half; Wimbledon lost 1-nil and never much looked like scoring. As the game ended, my daughter looked up at me and I expected her to tell me that it was such a bummer to fly all this way just to see the Dons lose a fourth-tier soccer game, but in fact she said, “That was amazing.”

Also, Sarah took this ridiculously perfect picture.

It was just thrilling to be there– to see the physical embodiment of what a community can accomplish when it sticks together and has a shared purpose. Getting Plough Lane–a truly magnificent stadium–built was not easy or straightforward. Volunteers worked for two decades on everything from fundraising to planning approval. It was hard and complicated and messy and full of setbacks and discouragements, but when your work is grounded in solidarity and love, it’s incredible what you can accomplish.

So yeah, we lost on the day. We’ve lost on a lot of days recently, but Plough Lane itself is an extraordinary victory.

Anyway, then we waited on a train platform for the train to emerge out of the darkness like a metaphor and then we took one of those London escalators that rather resembles an escalator to heaven and made our way to the Frieze London Art Fair, which is perhaps the snootiest event ever to occur inside of a tent, but nonetheless there was lots of great art there, and I was especially drawn to the landscapes, including these breath stealingly gorgeous paintings by the Brazilian artist Lucas Arruda, and this highly abstracted landscape by the American artist Byron Kim. This beautifully strange underseascape by the Haitian artist Didier William astonished me, as did the Cuban artist Yoan Capote’s landscape made of plaster and recycled metal. Even this lovely painting by the Amerian Sam Moyer combining stones and canvas seemed a kind of place-picture to me, as if the whole show was telling me: TOUCH GRASS.

And so we went outside. London was absurdly autumnal, just like Indianapolis is this time of year. We walked and chatted, and I kept thinking about how to talk about the world, this world with grass. What is the opposite of a metaverse? The, uhh, terraverse? I love the Internet–I have made such wonderful friends here, and had so many deep and real experiences–but the Internet is a complement to the terraverse, not a replacement for it. Look at this light, these trees, and then know that out there, wherever you are, the light is more vivid, and the trees more alive, than they can ever be on YouTube.

When I was first recovering from labyrinthitis, my physical therapist told me to go outside for a few minutes a day. At the time, my brain was having to relearn balance, and to do so it relied more on visual cues than it had in the past, so I was easily overwhelmed by visual information and I would become immediately dizzy because there was just so much visual information. The leaves wobbling in the wind, squirrels running, clouds moving, light shifting. I still sometimes get vertigo when the quantity of visual information gets too high, but I need to be outside. I need to be in the world, and to remember that I am of it.

Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.