not so idle thoughts on a good tweet
or, my daylight nightmares
Been writing a lot about books lately. To those of you who don’t care about books, I am both sorry and curious how you ended up here in the first place. But the rest of the month seems to have lots of bookish posts. If you want more videogame posts, come watch my newborn so I can finish this gosh dang Elden Ring game.
I love this tweet. I love it enough to write for the next few minutes about it.
For those who don’t know, horseshoe theory is a blatantly false theory that the far right and far left are the same1.
I’ve talked a bit about this phenomenon that Lincoln Michel2 points out here in a few places and I don’t have time to track them down3. But it seems fundamentally true to me that the tumblrification of media analysis has just obliterated people’s ability to talk meaningfully about art or even engage with it in anything approaching good faith. It also seems unequivocally true that right wingers could not understand irony or satire even if the author screamed it in their faces4.
But I love that Matthew McConaughey—who happens to be an actual real life person—not endorsing the actions of some people he has pretended to be is causing people’s heads to cave in.
Honestly, I’m being completely serious. I love this so much, I wish I could tattoo it on someone’s back.
I often get depressed about the fact that I believe technology, which once facilitated our own evolution, is now stripping humanness from us while it also cannibalizes what was once understood as culture. I’ve never been the sort to believe in objective truth, but I find the way information has become diseased and necrotic to be both very interesting and cataclysmically unfortunate.
I think often about the fact that the truth is paywalled but the lies are free and how that is eroding the consensus of reality. I find this perhaps the most troubling.
I’ve been meaning to write about what it was like to grow up with reactionaries or how people I have known my entire life now live in a version of reality that seems both inescapable and so obscurely related to what is actually happening in the world and their lives, but I often find my words fail me.
Or perhaps I just don’t want to spend 20,000 words making you all understand something that is bonedeep in me. But I may start trying.
I began this newsletter as a way for me to begin to talk about myself without artifice5. What is has become is what my writing has often become: a look outward that avoids forever looking inward.
Of course, this is likely related to very dumb theories I have about fiction and characterization and even philosophical tendencies that, too, are so deep in my critical guts that it would take a metaphysical enema to clear it from me. I have always avoided abstraction, in part because, as I’ve often said, I am an idiot, but also because I believe our behavior (and the behavior of fictional people) matters far more than any internal monologue.
What I think matters only to the degree it impacts my actual behavior, for it’s behavior that is everything in life. We are not what we say or what we tell ourselves.
We are what we do.
And so I find myself forever at this strange delta. Rivers of reactionary right wing conspiratorial thinking has flowed through and around my life since I was a child, and the water has only gotten murkier, the current ever stronger. It has met with the Catholicism of my youth and even come to define much of it. These once separate rivers joining together to flood the marshlands of my life. And then there’s all the art I’ve buried myself in for these thirty plus years. As I approach what may be the midpoint of my life I feel a growing need to define all of this or at least to unpack it and package it in something new6.
The question, as always, is how to begin?
How to discuss mass media’s colonization of thought, of propaganda’s tireless appeal, of the mass disenfranchisement of especially young men and how they are led to radicalism because those are the only groups willing to reach out?
I trace my nightmares and write them down as a talisman, a way to pray they never come true, come creeping after me.
And, yes, a shitpost about the media literacy of Breitbart led me here.
This is why I try to stay off the world wide web.
I like Lincoln Michel. I don’t recall if we ever met, though we swam in the same small, insular pool of small press indie lit back when that was a community. His newsletter is pretty good! It’s far more bookish than mine and intended to discuss things of craft and the business side of literature, as well as the discourse surrounding it. I did not like his novel, so I wouldn’t recommend it, but, given what you may now know of my taste, may function as a ringing endorsement.
lmao, as the kids say
We can discuss Death of the Author (but I won’t!), but the fact that right wingers have so thoroughly attached their worldview to a misunderstanding of a movie made by two trans women is neverendingly hilarious
One idea brewing in me is a metafictional science fiction novel that has to do with a new pope, quickly assassinated, while I discover the as yet unwritten neo-monarchism treaties published decades hence by my reactionary grandson. If this sounds like maybe too much nonsense for one novel, wait until you see the fiction I have written.