I had a nice chat with Anna last week, who was phoning in from SF.
It’s always nice to ketchup with friends you haven’t spoken to in a while.
A very grounding sort of exercise.
Talking to Anna is always nice because she always makes me feel awesome and this time was no different.
And because I think we have a sort of common experience in that we both have crazy Chinese mothers.
But we also are kind of seeking the same thing in life. I mean aren’t we all, our entire generation, that is. We’re the kids who have had it easy and have had it all.
That is both our salvation and our perdition.
What’s worse is that our parents certainly didn’t.
Our parents had it pretty bad, all things considered.
This looms over us like a dark cloud, weighs down on us like a heavy blanket, less comforting, more suffocating.
We’ve had it easy and we’ve had it all.
So we feel sort of empty inside.
Because maybe we all lack a little bit of purpose.
The kewl thing is is that I think we are all getting to the point where we are sort of realizing more and more what we really need.
That’s the first step and it’s also the most important step.
The rest is very exciting.
So the way my call ended with Anna just left me very excited. Excited for her, excited for, me, excited about this next chapter for our Lost Generation.
Anyway, you may recall that it was also Anna who first clued me into the idea that keeping up with the news was a fool’s errand.
And that’s something I’ve been working on lately. I’ve massively cut down on my news intake.
In a lot of ways, it’s felt similar to like, giving up carbs. At first I was like, no way! Carbs are awesome! It’s the bottom of the food pyramid! I eat so many carbs. I love carbs. Carbs are sooooo yummy.
Then I tried quitting and at first it was kind of hard. You realize that part of it is like an addiction thing. Man, you crave the stuff for no good reason.
You also start to notice that you feel great once you’re off it. But if you go on a carb binge, you feel like crap!
Was I really feeling like crap all the time? That feeling like crap was normalized? And now I’m only starting to realize what actually not feeling like crap is?
The other kewl thing is that once you break the cycle of addiction, the cravings start to go away.
Well, they never completely go away.
I mean, writing about carbs right now, I’m like thinking about carbs and my mouth is watering a little bit.
But once you break the cycle, your ability to say no to those cravings starts to feel like a superpower.
So my addiction to news was sort of like my addiction to sugar. It’s like, every spare moment, my mind would start to wander and that would like freak me out.
Oh man, I’m starting to think.
Oh man, better not think to much, I might have to confront my worst fears, I might have to face THE TRUTH.
Oh man, I better distract myself.
And I will pull out my phone and start reading some article.
Focus, the ultimate distraction.
Anyway, enough about me.
There is a new GQ profile of Aziz Ansari. (I loved S2 of Master of None.) And Aziz took things to the next level. Like, he didn’t just quit the news. He quit like, the Internet basically. He quit email and stuff. I mean, he even basically quit America (he moved to Europe for a bit).
But the way he thinks about things is more or less in line with what we have been talking about:
I heard you deleted the Internet from your phone. And that you deleted Twitter and Instagram and e-mail. No way that’s true, right?
It is! Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or whenever you go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content. It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things. What happens is, eventually you forget about it. You don’t care anymore. When I first took the browser off my phone, I’m like, [gasp] How am I gonna look stuff up? But most of the shit you look up, it’s not stuff you need to know. All those websites you read while you’re in a cab, you don’t need to look at any of that stuff. It’s better to just sit and be in your own head for a minute. I wanted to stop that thing where I get home and look at websites for an hour and a half, checking to see if there’s a new thing. And read a book instead. I’ve been doing it for a couple months, and it’s worked. I’m reading, like, three books right now. I’m putting something in my mind. It feels so much better than just reading the Internet and not remembering anything.
What about important news and politics?
I was reading all this Trump stuff, and it doesn’t feel like we’re reading news for the reason we used to, which was to get a better sense of what’s going on in the world and to enrich yourself by being aware. It seems like we’re reading wrestling rumors. It’s like reading about what happened on Monday Night Raw. When you take a step back, it all just seems so sensationalized. Trump’s gonna get impeached! No, he’s not. None of that shit’s happening. But you are going to read all the articles. So if you take yourself out of it, you’re not infected with this toxicity all the time. Also, guess what? Everything is fine! I’m not out of the loop on anything. Like, if something real is going down, I’ll find out about it.
Kewl, ya?! +1
OK so, let’s see what else.
Oh yeah, I also caught up with my friend Chris recently. (I have been trying to get out more, you know.)
You met Chris in EPISODE 5.
Chris happens to be one of the kewlest guys I know. (Which makes sense, he’s an Arsenal fan.)
And so he is usually the one who is telling me about kewl cultural things like TV shows and podcasts and books and music and stuff like that.
He recently pointed me toward Marc Maron’s podcast, which you should check out. The kewl thing about Maron’s podcast is that he often does these lengthy intros where he will riff on something for a bit, you know, about stuff.
In this episode, he interviews David Remnick, who you may know as the editor of the New Yorker.
And so the intro is more or less an homage to the magazine:
The New Yorker is like a, it’s not a holdout because it stays current but it is a, a sort of an intellectual Alamo in a way.
There’s something about the themes and content of the New Yorker magazine that represents what culture should be.
And I believe this to be true.
Whether you read it or not, IDK, but within every New Yorker, there’s poetry, there’s humor, there’s fiction, there’s uh, there’s cartoons, there’s cutting edge journalism, there’s good journalism, there’s international stories, there’s stories about art, theater, film, painting, sculpture, dance.
It’s just all-encompassing, intellectually and culturally of the things that should be seen as important because they are important they are our lifeline, it’s almost like a portal to where we need to stay and where we’re drifting from that there’s something about involving and including all those different disciplines—journalism, art, fiction, all this stuff that keeps the uh, the American cultural spirit moving forward.
You can’t let that shit drift.
Or we’re just an idiocracy.
We kind of are just sitting around jerking off to various degrees of porn, completely subdued by binge-watching garbage, entranced into a paralysis of eating and just taking in stimulus, tweeting, checking our texts.
You gotta let it breath.
You gotta go out and see the world.
And know that other people are thinking and doing and creating and embracing things that aren’t in your immediate periphery.
“Augh I just got a text from this guy, ahh shit I’m gonna fuckin’ tweet that thing, augh do I have all episodes of this?”
We gotta keep the world big!
The cultural world has to be big.
Has to be embracing, has to be diverse, has to engage the human spirit at this juncture in history, the final quarter perhaps.
God damnit, and look, I’m guilty of not necessarily being, it’s not a matter of, that I’m not open minded, I just don’t have the time to maintain an open mind, IDK, I can’t remember the last time I actually read through an entire issue of the New Yorker, but I’m happy it’s there.
It’s the only thing, I think, it’s one of the only publications that my girlfriend Sarah Cain the painter, Sarah Cain the abstract painter, she reads it, tells me what’s up, now I go read it.
It’s really important.
You can condescend this stuff or you can dismiss it.
But if you throw away or push aside what the New Yorker represents in its context, it’s gonna be a very simple and dark but probably uh, completely engulfing and uh shallowly satisfying culture we live in.
Was that just a roundabout way of me saying that I don’t see enough theater?
Bahahahahahha. Good stuff, thanks Chris!
OK, one more thing.
I am still finishing up the Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu and it is still awesome. The consistency of awesomeness is really something to behold.
Ken bounces around all over the place, different times, different places, different people. And yet, there is a thematic thread, a certain consistency of flow and energy.
And always the lingering aroma of sci-fi-ness though it doesn’t really “feel” like sci-fi. IDK if that makes sense.
But in other news, Sammy just received his copy of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami all the way from Korea (he’s going to be reading the Korean translation).
The book was first brought to my attention by Souren and later Vahe.
So we will be starting that book together tonight.
Let us know if you decide to join in the festivities.
That is all.
Happy (rainy) Monday!
(Top image: Liu fam on the Hudson River this past weekend for my mom’s birthday. Nina’s hair was out of control.)