(image description: a dark blue ocean wave. overlayed text: “a lump of pure sound. a newsletter about chronic illness and disability in media”.

Welcome!

This newsletter takes its name from Virginia Woolf’s essay “On Being Ill,” wherein Woolf describes the impossibility of using language to convey the depth of one’s illness or pain (emphasis my own):

Finally, among the drawbacks of illness as matter for literature there is the poverty of the language. English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache. It has all grown one way. The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare, Donne, Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made for him. He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the inhabitants of Babel did in the beginning) so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out. Probably it will be something laughable.

… but I will try not to make this newsletter a total bummer.


In this newsletter, I plan to analyze several pieces of media in each themed issue. The types of media will vary from novels to essay collections, TV shows to movies, written profiles to video features. I will mostly feature positive representation of disabled and chronically ill people, but will be honest in my review towards anything I think may be helpful or harmful. If you have a recommendation for a piece of media to be featured in this newsletter, you can respond to the email, or DM me on Twitter at @puresoundletter. And this may be a little far-fetched at the moment, but I hope we can establish a friendly community in the comments section.

love,

Alex