I've been enjoying longer rides through the frigid airs of winter. People run just a little bit slower, and pockets of sunshine feel especially welcoming to those lucky enough to receive it. Streets are quieter, and shops cozier; there's no greater feeling than shedding layers beneath the heater.
I've always felt comfortable riding in the city. I learned to ride a bike in college, but I never felt uneased in large crowds and heavy traffic. Perhaps it was the sense of exhilaration; of breaking away from earthly tethers. The control of private transport, with the freedoms of open air and loose traffic laws.
Terry Barentsen's videos have served as a constant reminder of my love for cycling and all it can be: a social congregator, a solitary meditator, a humbler and free-er and empower-er. An extension of your muscles and emotions, a reminder of what it feels to be and be within.
Over the last few months, I've warmed up my editing fingers in similar fashion. I went on an impromptu bike ride to the FDR memorial, and recapped my family's time in Tokyo. In January, I'll be taking out footage from the Taipei archives.
On the programming side, I've been tending to a few gardens:
What I'm Reading
Maggie Ferguson on the feeling of shame in loneliness.
Somebody only feels lonely because they’ve had the experience of not feeling lonely. In other words, this is reactive to something – somebody feels lonely because they know they’re missing something they have once experienced. They know there’s something good in the world that might appease their loneliness. That seems to me in and of itself a promising element. So once someone’s feeling lonely, I think, in a way, it’s a sign of hope.
[...] But I kept wondering, after speaking to her, whether there were less radical ways in which people who are alone can learn to convert the desolation of loneliness into the richness of solitude.
[...] For him, loneliness is a “failed solitude”. In his experience loneliness contains a “terrible feeling of failure, and there’s shame in that. Lonely people feel they should be connected, and if they feel disconnected, alienated, then that must mean they’ve made a mistake – or that they’ve been pushed into this by fate, or by something they’ve done. This can often involve a combination of paranoia and a very high level of judgmentalism about others. So they’re trapped both ways: they feel judged and they’re also judgmental.”
Anne Helen Petersen's piece on millennial burnout feels like an essential read for healing. Mentioned, but not prominent, is a segment on how social media is reshaping our social behavior.
“Branding” is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes: a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play. There is no “off the clock” when at all hours you could be documenting your on-brand experiences or tweeting your on-brand observations.
The rise of smartphones makes these behaviors frictionless and thus more pervasive, more standardized. [...] Now, your phone is a sophisticated camera, always ready to document every component of your life [...] and to facilitate the labor of performing the self for public consumption.
Taylor Hatmaker adds:
[...] social media companies have habituated us to the feeling of not owning anything we create. we don't remember what it feels like to create just for creation's sake.
that process of carefully projecting our selves online is fueled wildly by internet products tuned to be addictive for profit. we're realizing this leads to lots of unsavory stuff: isolation, compulsive behavior, lack of an interior life, etc"
Elizabeth Schambelan scratches the surface on campus gang rape, complicity, and the dementedness of the credibility economy.
And for the new year, Douglas Toft on letting go of goals.
Getting what I want usually translates into I’ve got everything in place. I have the job I want, the lover I want, the friends I want, the home, the car, and all the rest. This approach to happiness is fundamentally about control.
But there’s so much that we don’t control. Friends die. Jobs end. Lovers leave. Health fails. Money is lost. Seeking to get what we want can send us on a fool’s errand — trying to impose permanence on unpredictable events.
What I'm Watching
On the topic of impermanence, another magical realist film to add to the collection: Happy as Lazarro. Along with BWDR's prompt on time, this gave me some thoughts in respect to a similar film: The Tin Drum (1979).
At the core of The Tin Drum is a desire for control. Oskar holds tight to his ideologies at the beginning of the film, even as he wishes for change in others, but to do so, he must take the time to change himself.
To reject growth is to reject the uniqueness of humanity: the capacity to learn, and the capacity to empathize. In halting his growth to protect his innocence, Oskar becomes ignorant of the complexities of life and the human condition. He doesn’t want to listen, and he doesn’t want to understand; he wishes only to impose on the impermanent, and to change that suffering which has always been permanent.
Happy As Lazzaro (2018) — ★★★★☆
A modern, reserved, Polish take on a Casablanca'esque tale.
Cold War (2018) — ★★★★☆
A mostly-lighthearted affair from Yorgos Lanthimos.
The Favourite (2018) — ★★★☆☆
And a film of extremes: entrancing beauty and utter mundanity. Scarlett Johansson drives a van and learns what it means to feel alive, day by day.
Under the Skin (2013) — ★★☆☆☆