41. Just one more thing for 2022
Reflections and a quick list.
Happy New Year, one week late 🤪 I guess that’s how I do things around here now: slowly and steadily, with no outside pressure!
You may recall last time, I pledged to avoid all “new” media for the last two weeks of the year. I succeeded ~95% of the time. The most important lesson: not much makes for truly essential consumption. For example, I realized certain newsletters I used to follow had shifted outside my interests, or books I’d meant to finish no longer gripped me – and that’s okay. I won’t denigrate the hard work that goes into so many production efforts, of course, and I may return to those outlets in the future. But in this season of my life, I am okay with letting those go by simply skimming or unsubscribing and moving on. As we are surrounded by exponentially, near-infinitely multiplying content, I feel healthier and my thoughts more free when I’m extra protective of my attention and energy.
Incidentally, that takeaway is right up the alley of this Substack, focusing on one or mindful art appreciation. I resolve to write more regularly than last year, at least twice monthly. Thank you for sticking around despite the irregular schedule!
Before I return to regular posts, here’s a fun exercise to cap off 2022. I was inspired by the College Essay Guy (yes I still follow him, it’s my job), who made a video on the theme, “If I could recommend just one thing that had the biggest impact on me in 2022, it would be these…” Here is my version of the list.
Just one piece of art:
I discovered Sougwen Chung’s work at the “Imitation Game” Vancouver Art Gallery exhibit in spring 2022. The AI/mechanical theme of that exhibit was not far off from predicting the Lensa AI and ChatGPT controversies last month. I believe the future of AI-generated art is grim unless humans keep ethics and genuine emotion at the heart of the work, and to me, this collaborative piece does so. All the machine-made marks read like fingerprints or calligraphic brushwork, and the resulting composition is simple and striking.
Just one song:
“New Gold” by Gorillaz feat. Tame Impala & Bootie Brown (2022).
I might analyze this in detail later on, but for now, suffice to say this bop carried me through the last third of the year.
Just one book:
I finished more graphic novels than “wordy” books this year 👀 however, I do believe comics can be just as thought-provoking as any other literature. This is a sensitive take on the evolution of friendships over time. The most interesting recurring theme was the seemingly-boring, “in-between” moments of life, which become more memorable than expected.
Just one podcast episode: “How Obligated Should You Feel To Express Your Political Opinions On Social Media?” from Oversharing
An important topic handled well in what I think is a very balanced and wise podcast. Jordana Abraham and her psychologist sister Dr. Naomi Bernstein provide lots of practical advice and constructive ways of viewing various interpersonal issues.
Just one movie:
I saw this twice in theatres and would happily see it again anytime. No other movie in recent memory has been so very original, quirky, touching, and hilarious – not to mention visually, technically and sonically spectacular.
Just one Substack article: “notes from the end of summer” by Rayne Fisher-Quann of internet princess.
Rayne has a brilliant way with articulating complex cultural phenomena, and I especially appreciated her note here (which also happens to align with my mission for Spirit):
i remember the feeling of teenage obsession, and i miss it desperately. few things about our everyday lives are more genuinely magical to me than the way that loving something with commitment can rewire your understanding of time: instead of dates or semesters, i can place moments of my early life inside the year where i only read vonnegut, the month i first loved the smiths, the autumn i spent with that rilke poem. it manages to make time physical — it turns it into something that can be tasted and touched. i want my life to be textured by the periods i spent perfecting a stone fruit hot honey cake or watching murder mysteries. wouldn’t it be wonderful to one day taste a cake and remember how you felt in september?
i have many criticisms of rapid-fire, non-stop consumption, but none are so personal to me as this: when we submit to a cultural landscape that tells us to never stop looking for the new shiniest thing, we lose a kind of language for understanding ourselves and others. loving is a muscle that’s been strategically atrophied by a culture of manic consumption and constant availability.
there is so much of everything now that taking your time with one thing — giving it the attention it deserves, when your attention is so valuable a currency — feels like a kind of rebellion. in many ways, i think it is.
Just one memory:
After driving to my friend’s wedding in the interior of BC, my boyfriend and I extended the road trip to Banff, Lake Louise, Lake Moraine, and Calgary. Since Covid, going somewhere new and seeing such expansive scenery felt like an extra-special privilege.
If you made it all the way here, thanks for reading 💞 looking forward to writing more and appreciating more art this year!
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