The Numbers Do Count

At one point I thought I was surging forwards as a Quantified Self, but measuring Culture, rather than Steps or Miles or Quads or Repetitions or Thrusts or Jabs or Dancersizes. The point not being the numbers themselves, the point being to See, as some say this week, All The Things. What I’d been most ashamed of in past life phases was my relative lack of reading. As we know from last time, in 2013 I read 47 books. In 2014, the number of books was smaller – just 40. Last year I was challenged to track this more closely. While in 2013, there was one very long book – Don Quixote – in 2014 I managed The Man Without Qualities (1,130 pages) (even though some think you shouldn’t bother with the later parts), John Dos Passos’ U.S.A. (1,184 pages) and A House For Mr. Biswas (640 pages), which were all Substantial. What I can’t yet provide is an indication of how long it takes to read a different author’s words themselves. I think we can say, Not Bad, and I’m back up to 9 books out of the local library, which is healthy.

Some people think I’m only interested in films, having seen 113 in 2013. Unable to contradict their assertions with any great force, I saw 148 in 2014. This is, of course, slightly short of the magic figure of 3 films a week. Even with the benefits of my various memberships and their concomitant free showings, it’s difficult to imagine being able to see any more in a year, both temporally and financially.

Theatre remains problematic in its availability, with the middle-class mafia slurping up all the tickets as soon as they’re announced, it seems. Nevertheless, I saw 20 plays in 2014, up from 11 in 2013, and explored some venues new to me.

Comedy suffered a slight decline, from 22 in 2013 to 18 in 2014, several of these being Stewart Lee and Tim Key. This may be caused by increasing frustration with the danger of repetition when you become addicted to work-in-progress showings (that are cheaper and feel more Pro).

The biggest change is in what we daintily call Art. In 2013 I saw 107 Art things, whereas in 2014 I saw 290. This suggests much travelling around Ludicrous London at the weekend, working that annual travelcard as hard as it will go. Sadly my efforts haven’t yet attracted patronage from Nicholas Serota.

Music is harder to track than other forms of culture, or perhaps I’m just not subscribed to the right feeds yet. The number of gigs has stayed exactly the same in 2014 at 26, 20 of them falling in the second half of the year.

The underlying impulse is, I think, to appease my mid-teenaged self, watching Film Masterclasses on Channel Four and occasionally lingering in Cornerhouse. From this perspective, I’ve seen Einstürzende Neubauten at last, and Edwyn Collins.

A more proximal impulse is justifying the many vexations of The Smoke, and I think I’m continuing to manage that.

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