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Even though I've been complaining nonstop about the never-ending toll of winter, March's arrival took me by surprise. 2023 is one-sixth over already? Good god. Time marches forward, and I'm never ready for it.
How have I been dealing with the winter chill? Why, by escaping to fictional worlds drastically different from my own reality, of course!
Some people may hold the incorrect belief that works of science fiction and fantasy aren't "serious," and that these genres are best suited for children. Not only do I disagree with this opinion, but it's also objectively wrong. Objectively! I stand by narratives that develop a dramatized or completely reinvented world in order to explore what it means to be human! Sorry the fiction you love is boring.
These are the things I've been getting lost in this week. Hope you enjoy it.
"Chelsea Manning Traces Her Political Roots Back to the Rave" by Michelle Lhooq. In which drugs and nightlife journalist Lhooq (!!!) attends a North Carolina electronic music festival (!!!) with whistleblower Chelsea Manning (!!!) in 2018, a year after she was released from prison (!!!).
"Manning is best known as the Iraq intelligence analyst who sent thousands of secret government files to WikiLeaks in 2010 — a headline-exploding act that marked her as one of modern American history’s most controversial figures,” Lhooq writes. “To Manning, the anarchic spirit of early internet culture and illicit raves are intertwined — just look at her favorite movie, Hackers. During her keynote, Manning even tells the crowd: 'I like to think I’m living in an ’80s retro cyberpunk movie.'”
Space Sweepers. You don’t watch this 2021 Netflix movie for its deft storytelling abilities. The sci-fi film, which follows a group of talented yet broke outcasts traveling through the solar system, has absolutely no plot cohesion. Backstories for the many, many characters — a soldier desperate to find his daughter, an evil capitalist autocrat, a robot that longs for personhood, and more! — are lobbed at viewers at random points in the film. The theoretical science used to explain spacecraft technology is slipshod.
Instead, you watch Space Sweepers because of what it dares to be, even if its execution ultimately leaves much to be desired. You watch it to see Korean space pilots hustle to evade debt and destruction (in that order), for the adorable Park Ye-Rin playing an upbeat android child, for the Galaga-esque battles in the sky. Even when the ride is bumpy, Space Sweepers is imaginative and fun.
“Follow the Cyborg” by Miss Grit. The leading single from Miss Grit’s new and first full-length album, “Follow the Cyborg” is a world-building rock experience, meant to be played while zooming through a Blade Runner–type city on a motorcycle at night. I’m probably doing the song a disservice by listening to it while crouched over my laptop in a disheveled sweatsuit, but alas. We are who we are.
“Follow the Cyborg” uses dramatic instrumental flourishes sparingly, preferring the sparse minimalism of a single looping synth or dirge-like drum refrain. Only Miss Grit’s vicious, thrumming guitar line cuts through the song’s static — and hints at the explosive emotion belying the song’s poised surface.
“I’m a real living girl,” Miss Grit yells in the chorus. “I’m a real living boy.” In Miss Grit’s universe, the binaries used to impose structure on our world warp and collapse: Machinery informs humanity, which informs monstrosity, which informs femininity, and so on. Despite its futuristic tech themes, ultimately “Follow the Cyborg” asks a question as old as rock music itself: Where do people like me belong in the future?
Wow, you read the whole thing! Thanks for that. If you have a favorite corner of the internet that you’d like to share, send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “reSEARCH.” We may feature it in a future newsletter.