Thoughts

On my latest book list

Alright, we got a playlist THANK YOU! Now could we please have a book list?

 

Yes, yes. I know what time of year it is. Fair warning, though. I’ve spent the last long while coming out of my own personal dark night of the soul, so this year’s book list is pretty intense. It’s all about nature and art and death and resurrection. There’s some old-school wisdom and some new-school wisdom. Some of it is candy, and some of it is just plain weird. All of it has helped me gain perspective on who I am and what I believe to be true about the universe.

So, without further ado, here is my latest book list:

 

Religion Without God by Ronald Dworkin

Modern Man in Search of a Soul by C.G. Jung

The Gift by Hafiz

The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell

Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell

On Having No Head by D.E. Harding

Letters From A Stoic by Seneca

Metamorphoses by Ovid

The Republic by Plato

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

The Dark Half by Stephen King

The Omen by David Seltzer

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Tinkers by Paul Harding

I Married You For Happiness by Lily Tuck

The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women Across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor

M Train by Patti Smith

The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Loving & Hating Charles Bukowski by Linda King

I Knew Jim Knew by Jim Walrod

How to See: Looking, Talking, and Thinking about Art by David Salle

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren

Concerning the Spiritual in Art by Wassily Kandinsky

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Thoughts

On the real enemy

Okay, so I may be totally off-base here. But am I the only one who’s suspicious of the consequences of impeaching Trump? Like, maybe that’s exactly what Russia wants us to do?

I don’t know. I admit I know jack about politics and I’m not very smart. It’s just that Russia has always been weirdly out there with their tactics (shit more nuanced and fiction-crazy than some of the shit the U.S. has done — thinking of the Cold War Georgi Markov ricin assassination here). It seems odd that a country with such a complex history of clever subversion would want a cartoon villain for U.S. President, and nothing more. Think about it. All our attention is on Trump right now. Even quite a few Republicans are galvanized to move against him, and we’re all converging on him without really thinking about anything else because, at the moment, his existence in politics is the worst thing anyone can think of. What if that’s exactly what Russia wants? We finally impeach him and we’re so up our own asses with heady victory that we don’t even see whatever it is they have planned next for us until it’s too late.

Am I an idiot for entertaining this idea? Should I hang up my tinfoil hat?

 

Russia is not a person. It’s a country. It has national interests, but not “wants” in the way you’re using the term. Vladimir Putin is a person, and he definitely has wants, but he’s also not a secret evil genius. I mean sure, he keeps plenty of secrets, he is cartoonishly evil, and he has a certain kind of Machiavellian genius, but we also tend to give him way too much credit. At the end of the day, he’s just a crime boss with nuclear codes. His interests are transparent and predictable.

It’s true, one of Putin’s overarching foreign interests is the slow and steady destabilization of Western Democracy, but we all know that. (Well, everyone but the President knows that.) Still, there’s no strategic mystery here, and to the extent that Putin has control over the Russian government, he will use state power to play his zero-sum spy-game of fucking with the United States and other NATO countries.

Now, no one — not even Putin — really believed that Trump was gonna win the Presidency. Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was an effort to destabilize and delegitimize what everyone expected was going to be a Clinton administration, but Putin fucked up and accidentally got Trump elected. You’d think a Trump victory is what Putin would have wanted, but it isn’t. Putin was playing the long game, a low-key death-by-a-thousand-cuts style attack on the West. With the election of Trump, Putin got his hand caught in the cookie jar, and the Russian interference in our election provoked a massive immune response within the institutions of the US government that will likely culminate in impeachment proceedings against Trump.

If this massive institutional immune response ends up inoculating our government against further cyber and psychological warfare, then Putin overplayed his hand. If Democrats win back Congress in November, I think we’ll all see the fever break. There will finally be legitimate hearings into the 2016 election. There will be election reform. There may even be impeachment proceedings. Then again, maybe not. Democrats may not win back Congress. Trump could end up serving out his term, nominating another Supreme Court justice, and maybe even winning reelection. It’s possible, but none of that would be due to any nefarious Russian subversion. It would be due entirely to American stupidity.

So yeah, long story short: Don’t be afraid of Russian subversion. Be afraid of American stupidity and the institutions that foster it. (I’m looking at you, Fox News.) That’s the real enemy. An unsophisticated domestic electorate is infinitely more dangerous than a sophisticated foreign adversary.

In other words, educate yourself, get involved, and GET OUT THERE AND FUCKING VOTE.

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Thoughts

On resonance and inevitablity

The past couple of posts that you have written, I have found a resonance with them. Your replies, though less frequent, are very fulfilling for me. There was a cheekiness early on that I LOVED very much from you. But, what you give me now is more adult, less sweet or lurid, it’s deeper. Your words are more important now; they hold more weight. You always seem to write, right when I begin to miss you the most.

I mean this,

I love you very much.

But I still miss you (or the idea of you, or the fun version of you I had in my mind, or the no bullshit cokehead 25-year-old you)

But I like this you. It’s lovely.

 

Thank you. I don’t miss the 25-year-old cokehead me, but it’s nice to know that crazy bitch left an indelible mark on something other than my liver. A decade ago someone asked me how I maintained, and I remember acknowledging the fact that I would eventually have to move the party up the hill. That’s what I’ve done, emotionally, spiritually, and professionally. When I left Los Angeles, I cashed in my youth for a greater sense of purpose, and it was worth every ounce of cheekiness.

I have officially moved into the dinner party phase of life, and as you say, it’s more adult, less lurid, and much, much deeper. The fun part is recognizing that there’s a grand inevitability to it all. I see that in another ten years, I’ll be discovered by the teenage offspring of my original readers and looked upon as some decadent subcultural artifact from the aught years, an era of naiveté when we gave away our privacy for free and still believed that having a bumbling cowboy as President was the worst thing in the entire world.

In the meantime, I get to speak in my adult voice. You find resonance in that voice because we’re all adults now and we’re terrified to discover that not only are we the ones in charge, but that we’re all still faking it, our parents were all faking it, and every generation before us was faking it too. None of us have ever had any fucking idea how any of this works, and at any moment it could all end in thermonuclear war, or worse, because we were texting while driving.

The nihilist in me appreciates how little control we have over our own fate. My inner child has always been the type to let go of the handlebars, so I don’t mind one bit that we’re all hurtling rudderless into the void. I like this part. I’m really good at being the adult in the room, not because I have some special wisdom that comes with age, but because I’m perfectly comfortable with the fact that as a species, we are totally and completely full of shit.

 

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Thoughts

On a bunch of heavy books

Even though September has passed, any chance we could still get a book list?

Yes, yes. I know I’ve owed you a fresh book list for some time now. Unfortunately, my library isn’t as fun as it used to be, but that’s what happens when an incompetent, narcissistic grifter becomes president and a bunch of punk bitch neo-Nazis feel emboldened enough to march through the streets with tiki torches dressed like little racist Best Buy employees.

We live in interesting times, y’all. I’m still hopeful that this country will get its shit together and the Democrats will win back the House in 2018. I’m also looking forward to the day when the Mueller investigation finally sinks the Trump administration. Until then, stay frosty, and enjoy this list of slightly more serious books about the fucked up world we’ve created for ourselves.

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President by Bandy Lee, MD

The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage by Jared Yates Sexton

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

The Retreat of Western Liberalism by Edward Luce

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessions from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

Religion for Atheists: A Non-believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion by Alain de Botton

Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist by Cristof Koch

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time by Sean Carroll

The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk MD

Fuck Feelings: One Shrink’s Practical Advice for Managing All Life’s Impossible Problems by Michael Bennett MD

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan (They can’t all be serious.)

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Thoughts

On who I was and who I will become

Are you the person you have led us to believe you are? Some part of me feels that this was some weird social experiment that blew up beyond your wildest expectations and now you’ve outgrown the gimmick. I don’t ask this in any judgmental way. I’ve grown with you too, perhaps a generation or two apart. I am not the same person as I was when you were still “Dear Coke.”

 

I’ve been completely open about the fact that this was a weird social experiment that blew up beyond my wildest expectations. Anyone who’s come along for the ride also knows that I’ve outgrown several gimmicks. I’m certainly not the same person I was a mere two years ago, much less a decade when all of this ridiculousness started. Hell, we’ve all grown up. It’s what we do.

What you’re sensing is real, though. My life is much less frivolous now, and the world is a much more sinister place. I’m still living a relatively comfortable life, but after changing careers and changing cities, my day-to-day has taken on a much more serious tone. People depend on me, and I’ve taken on very real responsibilities that would have terrified my former self.

I’ve been making all of this up as I go along, and the question as to what happens next has never had an answer that extended beyond the next six months. That’s still the case. I’m not going anywhere, but I have no idea what this will become in 2018 and beyond. We’ll see. All I can say for sure is that this place will always reflect my true character, and the only promise I can make is that even if I end up having kids one day, Dear Coquette will never devolve into some craft-sharing cutesy-ass mommy blog.

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Thoughts

On your los angeles

I just came back from spending the weekend at Coachella. I had an all-access artist’s wristband, gifted to me from the hot drummer I’m currently fucking whose band was playing the festival. It was my first time at Coachella and easily the best weekend of my life.

It’s funny, when I woke up in the late afternoon on Monday, I immediately thought of you. I proceeded to sift through your archives, first reading every post you had written about Coachella, then scrolling through all your old musings. (I still am.)

I started reading your blog when I was a 14-year-old attending Palisades High School, dazzled by your style and dreaming of a time where I would be old enough to experience the LA playground the way you had. I’m 22 now, and ever since I left my parents house at 20, life has been a constant flow of wild and introspective events. I know my Los Angeles and yours are different. But I’m so excited for this one, and I can’t help but feel like you had something to do with this feeling.

Thank you for your steady influence through all these years. Thank you for answering a question I sent you when I was 15 and had just lost my virginity. Thank you for involuntarily being the super cool big sister I never had. You’re amazing, and I hope you’re well.

 

This made me smile. I’m so happy for you. I’m also a little bit envious at the thought of being twenty-two and backstage at my first Coachella. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it, but you’re right — what I miss and what you’re experiencing aren’t the same thing. That’s why I know better than to go back. I’d be looking for something that doesn’t exist, and I’d find something that belongs to someone else now.

That’s okay, though. My time was mine and your time is yours, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’m just honored that you thought of me. Really. That feeling you’ve got, I know exactly what it’s like. It’s so pure and beautiful, and for you to feel like I had something to do with it means the fucking world to me.

This past year has been one of the most difficult and transformative of my life. I haven’t been able to share myself like I used to, and I haven’t been able to give your questions the attention that they deserve. I’m sorry about that. I appreciate that you’ve all been patient with me, and I want you to know that I still read as many submissions as I can. I plan on coming back. I know I keep saying that, but bear with me.

In the meantime, thanks for scrolling through my old stuff. Thanks for sending me new questions to answer. Thanks for thinking of me every once in a while, and thanks for sharing it with me.

Stay wild.

 

 

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Thoughts

On being capitalists

We are not all capitalists. The vast, vast, vast majority of us are labor. We work for a living. Why are you lying to these people? Kellyanne, is that you?

 

When I say we’re all capitalists, I mean it in the same way that we’re all 60% water. If you are alive in America today, then you are a product of late-stage capitalism. Your personal beliefs are irrelevant. Your socio-economic status is irrelevant. Your politics are irrelevant — you are a tiny little piece of capitalism, and you don’t have a choice.

This isn’t about your freshmen level Marxism or your anarchy tattoo or anything else you’ve built into your identity that you think separates you from the system. If you’ve got access to the internet and the occasional cheeseburger, then calling yourself labor is just a distinction without a difference.

That’s not me being pro-capitalism or fiscally conservative or anything else so grotesque as to be worthy of the name Kellyanne. Fuck that. I’m all for infusing the American experiment with as much socialism as possible, but I also have a grip on reality, and I recognize that a deliberate refusal to accept the fundamentals of our economic system is just a left wing version of willful ignorance, and I fucking detest willful ignorance.

Sorry, kid. I’m with Nancy Pelosi on this one: “We’re capitalists. That’s just the way it is.”

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Best-Of Advice, Thoughts

On walking the low road

“To engage with them at all is to walk the low road”. Coke I have been with you since 2010 when I was fresh out of high school. This brings a tear to my eye. We don’t move forward or have our own ideas challenged without engagement. You haven’t lost a reader, I will never allow myself to be in an echo chamber like you are creating for yourself. I started disliking what you have to say for a couple years now, but recognize the value in hearing what someone I disagree with has to say.

 

You’ve missed my point entirely. I detest an echo chamber. I need to be challenged by people with opposing viewpoints. I long for the dialectic, and I am desperate for worthy adversaries.

You don’t need to tell me that we don’t move forward without engagement. I’m with you 100% on that point. The problem is that the Trump-loving religious/alt-right has degraded into an infantile, reactionary horde of the cruel, the ignorant, and the stupid. When I say to engage with them is to walk the low road, I mean it.

Trump and all his little Trumpkins simply aren’t capable of joining the rest of us on the high road, and by the rest of us, I don’t just mean liberals or Democrats or those who think like me. I mean anyone with the capacity for rational discourse. I mean people who can rub a few words together and form an original thought. I mean folks who aren’t actual fucking neo-Nazis.

There was a time in this country when the political right was represented by some genuinely brilliant bastards. They were privileged pricks with their heads up their asses, but they were articulate and well-schooled, they were worldly, and they could defend their political views with thoughtful debate using legitimate lines of reasoning.

Take William F Buckley Jr. for instance. That dude was one of the most gaping assholes of the 20th century, but he was smart as a fucking whip. His positions were loathsome, but he knew what he was talking about, and his arguments were exquisite. Say what you will about Buckley’s opinions, but the man didn’t just walk the high road; he fucking paved it. Is there anyone in Trump’s camp articulating the conservative world view at the level of someone like William F. Buckley Jr.? Fuck no. Even Buckley himself thought Trump was a monster.

Take Henry Kissinger as another example. He’s one of the most evil motherfuckers to have ever walked the earth, worse even than Dick Cheney, but he was dangerously intelligent and he knew his shit. He was the very definition of a worthy adversary on issues of conservative diplomacy, and when it came to public discourse, he always walked the high road. Is there anyone amongst Trump’s nominees who has half the brains of Henry Kissinger? Fuck no. They’re all Kissinger-sized scoundrels, to be sure, but with the added indignity of being a bunch of lackeys, lickspittle, and know-nothing corporate goons.

Over the years, there have been a number of right-wing thinkers with whom I have vehemently disagreed, but I still followed their work, because I knew they were making the very best case for the other side — magnificent assholes like Thomas Sowell, George Will, Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, and occasionally even David Brooks — but their voices have been drowned out by idiots of such magnitude that I can barely stand to keep listening.

The death of the eloquent conservative voice began during the era of Reagan and finally reached what I thought might be rock bottom during the era of George W. Bush, but things have gotten cartoonishly worse since the rise of Donald Trump. It’s gotten so embarrassingly bad that even Glenn Beck has taken a step back to wipe the shit off his shoes. I’m sorry, but when the likes of Tomi Lahren and Alex Jones are considered legitimate news sources worthy of citation, you can’t deny that there’s nothing left but low road, and you can fuck right off if you think I’m going to walk it.

I refuse to engage the opposition at so low a level, and I refuse to normalize Trump’s administration by dignifying its mouthpieces with any kind of legitimacy. They are simply not worthy of my validation. They are not worthy of yours. If you can’t see that, maybe wipe that tear from your eye and start paying attention.

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On coachella 2017

I feel like you’ve mentioned going; do you have any feelings on the guy who owns Coachella being an anti-gay, anti-climate change piece of shit? Hope you’re well and you had a banging new year.

 

Yeah, I’m done with Coachella. Not because of Phil Fucking Anschutz, though. I’m done because the law of diminishing returns started setting in the year that it became two weekends instead of one, and I know that it won’t ever get any better than Arcade Fire at the Outdoor Stage in 2005 or Daft Punk at the Sahara Tent in 2006. Coachella isn’t that festival anymore, and I’m not that person anymore. That shit was a decade ago, and things change.

Still, you should go if it’s that time in your life, and regardless of what you think of Coachella, it’s a bit silly to suddenly act all woke because you learned that AEG belongs to a rich white bigoted asshole. Phil Anschutz deserves every last inch of bad press he gets, but let’s not kid ourselves. The world is run by rich white bigoted assholes — especially now, and especially the entertainment world. If we started boycotting everything owned by rich white bigoted assholes, we literally wouldn’t have toilet paper to wipe our asses, so don’t let the bastards ruin your good time.

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On not being the least bit surprised

Has Trump surprised you at all thus far? Deporting criminals, refusing a salary, backtracking on the Obama care repeal. All good things thus far. Have you decided to hate him no matter what he does?

 

I hate Trump for the grotesque monster that he is. I never expected him to actually do half the stupid shit he promised to all the hateful mouth-breathers who voted for him, but don’t start cutting him slack just because he hasn’t set the building on fire.

Refusing a salary is just a Presidential-level humblebrag. (Notice that he’s not donating it to charity.) He isn’t backtracking on Obamacare as much as he’s just handing off the repeal to a Republican controlled legislature, and referring to undocumented immigrants as criminals to be deported is a page right out of Hitler’s book.

And of course, let’s not forget that he just appointed a white nationalist as his senior advisor and a sycophantic twerp as his chief of staff. No, none of this has been a surprise. This isn’t goodness or restraint. All we’re witnessing is the bluster and bravado of the campaign morphing into a machiavellian exercise in conniving and self-aggrandizement.

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