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A meandering 2022 collage.
I am in Los Angeles. Location seems to matter less and less in social media’s globalized technocracy, but distance from New York is a salve. I can retrieve my consciousness from the minor preoccupations of city life and retreat into my psyche. Earlier this year, I stopped listening to podcasts. Doing so seemed to interfere with my inner monologue, which surfaces out of boredom. I was rarely talking to myself at random; instead, I was supplanting myself with another’s voice and opinions, letting them rattle on through my cochlea, day and night. In my neglect, this voice in my head became harder to coax out. Even my shower thoughts became infrequent. Technology already inhibits boredom by facilitating constant connection and distraction (a topic that L.M. Sacasas has very thoughtfully written about in February). It’s even more challenging to attend to your psyche in a city loaded with stimuli: You never get bored.
I suppose that’s why I like Los Angeles. Most of the day is spent in transit alone, cruising through gridded, forgettable boulevards. “There is about these hours spent in transit a seductive unconnectedness,” wrote the artist Ed Ruscha. “Conventional information is missing … Such tranced hours are, for many people who live in Los Angeles, the dead center of being there.” I feel more psychically porous in the desert — entranced, perhaps, by the ritual of driving. “The unfolding of the desert is infinitely close to the timelessness of film,” observed Baudrillard in his 1989 travelogue America. Here, the minutes and hours abide by road-time. The clock slackens and contracts depending on the time of day, like asphalt.
This year was my Jupiter return — my animal year, according to Vietnamese/Chinese cosmology. I wrote about this briefly in a post on over lychee martinis, my second newsletter on Asian girl culture: “Animal signs do not change by the Sun’s seasons. They occur once every twelve years in accordance with Jupiter’s slow orbit. And with one’s animal year comes great change and turbulence, revelations and disenchantments.”
The stars weren’t wrong! I did as Rilke advised and tried to change my life. I got a new job. (Subscribe to Dirt if you haven’t already!) I moved apartments. I fell in/out of love. I auditioned for an HBO show. I went to Europe alone. I did shrooms in Marfa and realized that there is (and I quote from my journal) “a plane of truth hidden above this current dimension.” I read 46 books (complete list attached), 15 of which I wrote about for The Millions’ Year in Reading. (Karen Tei Yamashita’s I Hotel was my favorite novel of the year. John Berryman’s 77 Dream Songs and Lautreamont’s Maldoror were my favorite poetry collections; thank you Mark for those two stellar recommendations.) I started submitting my poetry and fiction for publication. I have a love poem about eggs in The Quarterless Review, a lightly Catholic poem in The Red Lemon Review, a flash piece in Stanchion Zine’s ninth issue, two ekphrastic pieces on The Poetry Project, and some more lined up in the new year.
Other favorite pieces of published writing:
A 4,000-word investigation into venture capital culture and the emergent role of “Gen Z VCs.” (Dirt)
A missive against trend reporting. (Vox)
A review of Katherine Dunn’s Toad. (Los Angeles Review of Books)
On the fe/male gaze and Lucy Liu. (over lychee martinis)
On the video artist Shigeko Kubota and how we post for posterity. (gen yeet)
Here is my in/out list for 2023, originally published in Dirt’s forecast.
IN: Estate sale shopping: Inflation has not spared the price of used goods (vintage sellers still have to earn a living), and estate sales are one of the few places to score coveted deals — unless, that is, the auctioned items belonged to a famous writer. Generative art, programmed by artists. Workplace affairs (not a moral endorsement, just an observation): The internet castigated one man for his mutually consensual workplace affair, only to applaud another (better looking man) for the same offense. With more employees back in the office, workplace dalliances are to be expected. May Ziwe’s star rise from James Corden’s disgraced, tiny, cretinous shadow. Posting on Discord.
OUT: “Trend brain,” a term I coined in May to describe the frenzy of trend forecasting and categorization on the internet. Everything and anything can be declared a trend, but we may finally be tiring of imparting significance on meaningless, viral fads. Calling GPT-3 AI-generated images “art.” Online dating has always been terrible, but between New York Magazine bemoaning the sad sinkhole that is Tinder and the New Yorker
endorsingruining Feeld, IRL flirting (and not of the Bumble-sponsored variety) is in desperate need of a comeback. On that note, fuckboys (including the ethically non-monogamous sort) are out. Awkward men in the mold of Nathan Fielder are in. The Amalfi Coast — not the rest of Italy, which is still very much in. The golden age of streaming is over. Ads are back, and shows are suddenly disappearing from catalogs. “Disrupting” TV didn’t get us very far. Posting about Twitter discourse.
Apropos of nothing, I leave you with my favorite Baudrillard quote from America, influenced by a recent viewing of Paris, Texas: “You always have to bring something into the desert to sacrifice, and offer it to the desert as a victim. A woman. If something has to disappear, something matching the desert for beauty, why not a woman?”
If you need me, I’ll be in my Southern California hometown, where the soil aches of rotting strawberries.