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Joz Norris

  • Tape 28: Unlearning Language

Unlearning Language

A quick one this week, because I’m in the middle of a funding application for a show and really ought to not be giving myself too many other things to distract myself with. So, here’s a little slice of life advice that my Miranda and I stumbled upon this week for one another.

We realised over the last few weeks that we have a recurring habit of using the phrase “I need to…” when thinking about our lives, for stuff both pressing and non-pressing, work-related and non-work-related. “I need to do a meter reading for the energy people,” “I need to start that funding application,” “I need to reply to Rob about that saxophone,” “I need to make a start on that script,” etc. It generally has a really negative impact on our mood and mindset and is a really small, invisible thing we barely notice until we notice it. But the language we use day-to-day has a huge impact on the way we think and feel and navigate the world. The constant running tallies of “I need to”s generally creates a state of overwhelm, and a sense that we are somehow the victims of our lives, rather than the subjects of them. Our lives become a running list of things that demand our attention, and our own agency to choose the life we want for ourselves is diminished by the very words we use to talk about ourselves.

Our new promise is to acknowledge it every time our brains want to say “I need to do something,” and voice it differently, in a way that incorporates our own agency over our lives into the language we use. So we’ve started to say “I’m going to do a meter reading for the energy people,” “I might start that funding application,” “I’m going to reply to Rob about that saxophone.” “I ought” or “I should” is one we’re currently negotiating – “I ought to make a start on that script” feels slightly more active and empowered than “I need to make a start on that script” because it takes more active ownership over the thing rather than being the victim of it, although it’s not great because it also tacitly avoids actually taking responsibility. Either way, all these alternative phrasings have improved our mood massively. It’s incredible how a small shift in the language you use can have a direct, physical impact on the way your body feels, but there it is. If there are any readers who also sometimes struggle with the feeling of being overwhelmed by the things in their life that demand their attention, give it a try! The act of unpicking the various things we’ve learned that reinforce negative attitudes and habits is a slow and laborious one, but it starts with small, simple steps. I hope it helps! Anyway, here’s a picture of me with a puppy.

A Cool New Thing In Comedy – I won’t lie, this feels like a pretty bad week to be talking about what’s “cool” or new in comedy, because the comedy community’s had a pretty shocking week, losing two beloved stalwarts of the scene to cancer in Phil Jerrod and Lynn Ruth Miller. I’d rather take a moment to honour the memory of two really wonderful people than recommend the latest comedy podcast or webseries or whatever this week, so if you weren’t familiar with their work go and look up their stuff and marvel at how talented they were. If you knew them, then let’s just send our thoughts and love to their loved ones and be grateful they were in the world for a while.

What’s Made Me Laugh The Most – We’ve started watching series 2 of Liam Williams’ Ladhood (which is absolutely fantastic) and because we were enjoying being in the world of it again, we went back and rewatched some bits from series 1 and the bit in Episode 4 where Ralph attempts a freestyle rap is just so funny. I wept.

Book Of The Week – Contact by Carl Sagan. I absolutely love Carl Sagan. The guy is just so utterly overwhelmed and awed and humbled by the sheer fact that we exist, and it’s a very contagious attitude. The vast majority of this novel, which is about Earth receiving an extraterrestrial message, is just about the intricacies of radio astronomy, and yet Sagan has such a joyous sense of wonder at our position in the universe that every page of it is just a delight. I love it.

Album Of The Week – It’s Just Wind by Connan Mockasin and his dad Ade. It’s got the woozy, underwater guitar vibes of Mockasin’s solo albums, but his dad’s on vocal and songwriting duties this time. It’s only marginally less weird than the stuff Mockasin makes when he’s working on his own, so I guess it’s a family trait.

Film Of The Week – The Host by Bong Joon Ho. My first Bong Joon Ho film was Parasite, which I loved so I went back and watched a bunch of his earlier films. The funny thing about them is that, while they’re all great (Snowpiercer aside, hated Snowpiercer), they’re all very shlocky blockbuster-y genre films, miles away from the intense drama of Parasite. It’s interesting watching the sort of populist stuff he made to build his reputation and which threads of that he carried forward when he eventually made a more “serious” film. The Host is great, it’s about a big fish monster kidnapping people and taking them to the sewers and, unnervingly, a deadly viral pandemic.

That’s all for this week! I imagine I’ll be back with more in-depth thoughts next week, but hope this bitesize Tape is of interest to you all! In the meantime, take care of yourselves and have a lovely week,

Joz xx

PS Here’s a short sketch about imposter syndrome that people have been enjoying over on Twitter.

Imposter Syndrome: A Very Short Introduction

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