I'm currently on the only good plane ride I've ever been on.
I usually hate them, a lot. I think I'm going to die every time I take off, convinced that the tail will hit the runway and everything will explode. Once that's through and I'm up in the air, I'm moderately comfortable, but always resentful of everyone around me, close quarters, stale biscotti, artificial air, achey knees. It's a great time to watch movies, but also a great time to be anxious and unable to concentrate on anything.
But today is awesome. I'm flying from Seattle to New York. Total duration is five hours and one minute. But I'm coming off of a somewhat relaxed past few days, and so it's different. For one, I somehow managed to snag the best seat on the plane. It's a window seat at the very back, and due to it being in a strange space, there's double the leg room. Kind of like first class without paying for it. There's a power outlet, so I can be on my computer the whole time, and I have my dad's airplane wifi password. It's basically equivalent to hanging out in bed and surfing the web all day.
So it's good.
But even with all that, I'm lucky that today is a day that I want to be still. Without that coincidental timing, this flight would still be shit. I'm lucky that I'm reading a new book, one that I can tell is gonna be very important to me for a long time.
Last week, I had one of the first moments of stillness in recent memory while sitting on a hill in Prospect Park with my friend Max. We didn't really stand up or move for hours, instead chatting and peoplewatching and thinking. And the longer we stayed, the more comfortable I felt with taking a break from the world.
It's my first week of rest after the end of a busy semester; to sit still and have good things to look forward to is the healthiest thing I could hope for. The day spent in Prospect Park was soothing, healing, positive, relaxed, beautiful. When I arrived home later that night, I found a package on the couch. It was a copy of Claire L. Evans' first book, High Frontiers.
Glancing through the pages, I couldn't help but feel that this book's arrival was confirmation that the day was the first of a new chapter of my life; a clearer, more focused, more realized one. The anxious noise in my head from the past few months has started to ease. Take the useless energy projected outward into the void, and transform it.
High Frontiers is a collection of essays, many of which were published online previously, by Claire L. Evans, one half of YACHT and one of my biggest inspirations for the better part of the last decade. Somehow I'd missed that this book existed - it was released in 2013 - and I ordered it in a YACHT-themed shopping spree after I saw their most recent show in Brooklyn.
The focus of the book is wide: technology, science fiction, cyberpunk, society, the future, the present, health, implication, space, opinion, insight... so far, it's an incredibly clear and unique look into what's going on in the world right now, how it happened, and what we're supposed to do with it - all through the lens of technological progression. I am beyond fascinated with the topic. I've never been into sci-fi that much, but the way she writes about these authors and stories has my amazon wishlist filled with Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. I'm now curating the looming media consumption frenzy that I'm about to embark on after I finish this book; it's like discovering your new favorite band, and then learning that they have 40 albums of material. There's so much I'm interested in and so much I know nothing about. The internet. High technology. Slow media. Surveillance, AI, cyborgs, dystopia, authenticity, permanence, history, psychological phenomenon, dot com booms, alien technology, science poetics, the future, the now. It's crazy. I can't believe I wasn't aware of this interest before. But at the same time, it is happening now, at the perfect time.
Because until last May, I was in a years-long reading and writing rut. There were some books I enjoyed, but if i devoured them, they were an anomaly. I had also never been interested in writing anything meaningful in academic terms, or doing research to actually better myself. But a lot of things happened.
I started reading Murakami, who is now my all-time favorite author. I loved having one of his books with me at all times, and always being able to pull it out and begin reading at any given moment. A year later, I've read almost all of his novels, and the feeling of having a book with me is one that I now never want to give up. So having an important book like Claire's that's not necessarily a flowing novel come into my life at this moment is perfect. Earlier, I would not have found it as significant, I don't think.
I took two classes last semester that allowed me to research what I loved, and have loved for years. And I was able to write two really good term papers. And now I understand what it means to take a text and contextualize it, and process it, and put it into conversation with other media, and get another thing out of it. Claire does this often, and well, in High Frontiers. And I think I'm especially affected by it, and want to pursue it further, because of this recent academic development.
I've always felt strongly about the presence of technology in culture, but recently I've been evaluating my relationship with it more and more. I've deleted the facebook app off of my phone and had to force myself to log out, and ween off of it. It feels like a scary addiction. I'm trying hard to not be reliant on the constant influx of media, to unfollow certain feeds that sometimes are too oversaturated for me to process. To be still and present in what's happening - otherwise, what is the purpose of existing?
Claire's book discusses relationships like this in depth, and so I find it not only therapeutic to my own anxieties and obsessions, but also a tool in progressing my artistic vision.
I have always been an artist of the 21st technological century. I'm good at the internet, and I know when things are meaningful. I've always had a hard time processing what to do with information, and how to translate it into something tangible that one could call a piece of work.
Often it does not progress further than realizing that something is incredible - be it a phenomenon, an accidental piece of writing, a youtube video, an email sign off - and scrolling further. Claire's book really feels like a key to composing meaningful observations.
So, I've found myself being happy and excited while sitting on a cross-country plane ride. The fact that I just had a really fucking fun weekend doesn't hurt, either.
Everything is in transition. My brother just graduated college, and in two days, is moving to a new city with his girlfriend to begin existing in the real world. Everything is slightly unstructured, and free, and we can do whatever we want all the time, because we're in our 20s and hanging out. It's crazy.
I can be still here for a few hours, because I'm not gonna stop moving once I get back to NYC.
This summer will be incredible. I'll be interning at Phoenix Media Group, editing reels and branded content and music media and whatnot. I'll be editing my friend Ryan's senior thesis film, and finishing up Blu Detiger's new music video. I'll be working at Sidewalk, seeing friends in town, CITYtripping, biking, seeing movies, and more. Thanks to High Frontiers, i'll be reading a LOT, and writing, and learning. No anxiety about due dates, just pure curiosity, and the satisfaction of fulfilling it. I've made it through the hard part and now feel directed and purposeful.
I don't know what happened last Wednesday while sitting at Prospect Park, but it was exactly what I needed to enter the next level of this life. Everything is different from now on, in the best way. To Be Here Now is my goal for the next few months. If this coming week has any sort of preview on the rest of the summer, I'm gonna have such a good time.
keep the faith,,,