This Things I Believe

Simpsons.

ANYWAY. I’m here for so many reasons. Because I feel like writing but don’t have words for the projects I’m actually working on. Because I can’t journal about the thing I’ve been journaling about again and expect to get the same level of fulfillment. Because it has been oppressively cold for the past few days and there’s ice under the snow and Ezra’s been too busy living his best life to keep my walkway clear, but MY GOD. [Preacher.gif] He gave me a balmy 23 F today and it makes all the difference.

Musically, I am currently* obsessed with Monica Martin (and all the groups she’s been in), Violents (sans MM), Tender. I’d post YT vids like I used to but I realize there’s a chance folks outside the US can’t see that anyway, so my laziness wins out.

*Surely you know me well enough to understand that this is a literal allotment of time. This may be applied with certainty only right now, at 12:59 PM EST, on January 15th. Please request a new list of artists if such time has passed.

But really, what I want to talk about are performances/projects that actually surprise you. It’s so rare, to be honest. Surprise is not something you get to experience often, and I don’t think that’s just me. We’re all in the same aquarium, which is why it can be so insufferable when people declare themselves out of the ordinary. Because we would love to experience someone who really is, content that really is, and we know from experience and disappointment how unlikely that is. And then sometimes you find it, and – again, in my experience – it’s not a wholly positive experience. Like I said, we’re all in the same aquarium and as much as we hate to admit it, [insert various qualifiers and contexts] it feels good to go with the grain. Aside from which, it takes very directed effort not to and not to have our expectations best satisfied by the familiar.

BUT ON TO WHAT I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT.

This.

zone one by colson whitehead

And this.

equals the film

My experience of these admittedly very different things actually has quite a bit of overlap, my apologies to Colson Whitehead (which is probably a very elitist thing to say, since I deem his project the more serious of the two, as an act of contrition I shall something something).

Anyway, to start, please keep this between us. 

Thank you.

Zone One was my second or third attempt at reading CW, because his concepts grab me immediately (The Intuitionist, anyone, c’mon), and his language is so satisfying. Until it isn’t, and I’m drowning. It’s not that it changes, it’s that it’s unrelenting. Which makes it feel intentional, it just occurred to me that I shouldn’t be writing this and that I intentionally don’t review things but I feel that Mr. Whitehead is doing well and shan’t be bothered, but also, it comes around.

And Zone One genuinely shouldn’t have been the one that worked for me – and to be honest, had I not gone against my nature and forced myself to finish it, it wouldn’t have been. But the reason it shouldn’t have from jump is zombies. I don’t do them. I do not understand the appeal, and the only zombie movie I’ve watched is I Am Legend, pretty sure, because the delightful melancholy! The inevitable tragedy of it all. Anyway, so Zone One.

Just like my other attempts, I started out like, “Why do I keep forgetting how good he is, homg, this is brilliantly worded” and then the words started to trample me, but I was like, I refuse not to be able to say I’ve finished a CW book, this is ludicrous. (I cannot explain this feeling, since I do not care about reading particular people or finishing books for the sake of it.) And I was legit angry at some point leading up to the middle. I literally told the book to SHUT. UP. Or Colson, probably. Like,

I GET IT. THE CITY IS A CHARACTER AND YOU WILL CONTINUE TO DESCRIBE BUILDINGS AS THOUGH THEY WERE BORN AND NOT BUILT AND THERE ARE SUCH LAYERS AND MUCH COMMENTATION FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND KEEP THE WORD SALADS AT BAY.

(I am so sorry, please remember that it is one of my five star reads and that I am courageous in my honesty right now.)

And then I read on (here I feel it’s necessary to say, no, this will not keep me from DNFing work that is not for me, be quiet). And sweet mercy, that is a come-around for the ages. That book. That heart-wrenching, devastating, foreboding and strangely hopeful book. There are so few times that I genuinely feel the main character was required for the execution, for the resolution. It couldn’t have, wouldn’t have been this story without them. But Zone One is one of the two times I’ve felt it strongly. Colson made me a believer. Ugh.

Excuse me while I just run through different scenes in my head, which is what inevitably happens whenever I try to talk about this book. Maybe I believed it before this book and I’m just agreeing with something I already felt, but he so masterfully composes a world and conclusion that believably proceeds from where we are, and demonstrates why the heroes we’ve mythologized for so long could not survive it, I CAN’T EVEN EXPRESS THIS PROPERLY, COME SIT IN SILENCE WITH ME, WIDE-EYED AND NODDING, KAY.

Me, upon finishing the last page:

bob unhinged

It … just kept escalating.

And then Equals.

So I wanted to see this movie because I like Kristen Stewart (a lot and in a way I probably can only admit because I never saw or read Twilight. I stand by my flawless judgment.) and also the dude, (though he’s only attractive from very specific angles, but he’s tall and isn’t it sad how far that takes some dudes) and because the trailer used a very devastating Aurora sample into which I was deeply immersed at the time.

Pretty immediately upon starting the movie, I was like. Oh. Okay, so this is everything we’ve ever already seen. It’d be easier to just say, “This is just We,” but since so many of you heathen are heathens, I’ll set my tongue on fire and say it in a way you’ll understand: This is just 1984 A Brave New World THX 1138 We. This is just We. Sorry, I couldn’t do it.

Like, I can see that they were really trying to bait me in particular, what with the slow, and quiet, and troubling, and yes, I do think I’m always the target audience, prove me wrong. But like. Justify yourself, Equals. Amirite. Like, why do you need to exist, exactly?

And I felt like that almost the whole way through the movie – which is, of course, much easier to tolerate in a visual medium – especially when the stakes weren’t what they traditionally are. They were stakes which, at first glance, were only stakes to the characters in the movie. Which…actually, I adore from a creator perspective even more, because otherwise, they’re stakes for the viewer’s expectations, which means they’re stakes with which we’re familiar and probably fit a formula, and this is the whole aquarium socialization I was referring to at the onset. They were only life and death if you refuse to live without love. Which. yeah, those are pretty high stakes.

And then – uuugh I wanna spoil this, you don’t mind right?

The end completely justifies the movie, and broke my friggin heart. It was such a Romeo and Juliet IF YOU HAD JUST WAITED TWO SECONDS WHYYY and then the heartbreak of loving someone who can’t love you back anymore. But still honoring the commitment. IT GOT REAL, VERY QUICKLY, IS WHAT I’M SAYING, MY HEART.

Me, at the end:

how

And I have been thinking of them, by myself, ever since. Both. Because I have exactly zero people in my life who have read or watched this, as far as I know, please prove me wrong, someone because I NEED. I have such feelings. Have mercy on me.

Enfin.

MEM releases in paperback in March. Click-y the pic-y to pre-order!

mem paperback cover