To the friends who know me personally who may’ve been wondering what happened to this space, and to the total strangers who are stumbling on this by accident: welcome, and welcome back. I count each reader as a win.
I’ll get straight to the point. The internet is poisoned. Where it was supposed to equalize, it has reflected our starkest inequalities—and vulgarized them. Armchair critics and entrepreneurs, seeking followings they couldn’t have gotten otherwise, are at the mercy of Silicon Valley algorithms that shun all but the most viral from earning the word-of-mouth and the clicks that could push them to their potential. The social networks that we took for granted would keep us in touch with old colleagues and classmates while building us new bridges in careers, hobbies, lifestyles and romances are cannibalizing themselves to death with their rampant brainwashing and data privacy invasions, atrophying years-long friendships and stranding us at our screens with infections of FOMO. Journalists doing the essential moral work of exposing the extremist bastards that pose existential threats to democracy put themselves at risk of getting doxxed as punishment, crippling press and speech freedoms and dismantling checks on the spread of their doctrines of bigotry and bullshit. Many good guys, on the other hand, spend a great deal of their privilege and time openly wallowing in despair, griping about the insurmountable traumas and crises that the millennials will be doomed to endure through their lives with not a word devoted to the solutions that it is our ethical duty to devise.
So really, what use is there building a writing portfolio on here, trying to cut through this toxic morass with my gab about whatever book I just read or film I just watched? Should I do it the old-fashioned way: pen, paper, publisher?
So what did I do these past four years, as my nation and the world withstood one self-evident political disaster after the next? I took my twenties slowly. I focused on my jobs, through which I was involved in human rights class actions and divorces among families of all classes—both honorable but ultimately very niche. Post-college life has not been ideal. I’ve had my anxiety issues, and they’ve set me back what feels like miles, but I’ve overcome most of them, mainly through diet and sleep hygiene. I’m embarrassed that I have yet to go beyond my niche and try to be part of something historic, or be able to do so with success—not that I can actually expect to before Trumpty Dumpty and his enablers get electorally pulverized. As far as my writing goes, I’ve been obsessing with one project: a screenplay which, I am glad to say, made the semifinals in one network’s inaugural national contest this year. I’ll certainly keep working on that, but I know that eventually, I’ll have to do something else. The issue is that most if not all the ideas I have on the backburner are rather epic in scope and will require a shit-ton of research—on Belle Époque France, Québec separatism, eugenics in the western states, the neuroscience of memory, the Black Panthers, the Tennessee Valley Authority, etc.—some of which, of course, will be unfeasible to a large extent in the near-term. I’m relatively lucky in life right now, I’m well aware, but there are certainly some dead ends I’d prefer to steer myself away from.
And do I want to do some amateur cultural “influencer” blogging on top of all that, in spite of this jeremiad? Yeah, I do. But I’d like to succeed at it and do it my own way: productively yet casually, above the fray of the rest of the kneejerk hyperactive internet, perhaps a sort-of antidote to it, while also doing more than I did before to promote my platform strategically and efficiently. (A change in WordPress theme, for one, might do me well, if not switching from WordPress altogether.) As anyone can do a literature/film/politics blog nowadays, I know I’ll need to create a quasi-unique brand and not just rely on my writing talents and natural intellect. Perhaps I’ll focus on the diamonds in the rough—the neglected masterpieces that may never have been resurrected were it not for intrepid, insatiable hipsters such as myself. I could do likewise for the issues that no one is lobbying for—the conflicts that the media is hardly covering, and the creative long-term solutions that they demand from tomorrow’s bright young minds—synthesize what I can find out, add my own perspective and start the discussion. And, oh yeah, there’s one more additional element I’ve been considering experimenting with for a little while: podcasting. I’ve been told by many that my bass voice is a huge asset. Its biggest endorsement? It came from none other than Woody Harrelson. This was at the Q&A after a showing of Lost in London at UPenn in early ’18. He called it a “radio voice.” He was floored.
This is the first step. It had to be this way. Wrap up the first act, take the intermission to breathe, come back, restart. I’m still young, I’ve still got time, but I’ve matured, as well, and I’ve got plenty of shit to say. Watch this space.