LISTENING

Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist – a playlist that exposes you to new music specifically tailored to your tastes – is awesome. It is a reason to get Spotify. I guess back in the day, people hung out in record stores and would talk to other people there. I imagine exchanges like this might have happened, “Oh, you like Chastity Belt? You should check out Electrelane.” Well, AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR HANGING OUT IN RECORD STORES ANYMORE. Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist is your weekly mixtape of new music, curated by the algorithm robots that will one day take over the world.

Regardless, the week of April 24th, Spotify recommended I listen to the first track off of Upset‘s 2015 release ’76: “Glass Ceilings.” I had heard of Upset before, but never actually listened to any of their music. Thus, I’m grateful to Spotify because I really dig the song. It’s catchy. It stuck in my brain and I listened to it constantly. Sang it in my head while I walked down the street. Obsessed over how awesome the Patty Schemel drum beat in the chorus is. I ended up listened to their whole album – ’76 – several times. It reminds me a bit of mash up between Tiger Trap and Blink-182.

Fave track: Literally not just one. Like I said, I listened to “Glass Ceilings” almost on repeat, but “Pastey” is rad if you’re looking for something slower tempo.

 

WATCHING

I watched Jennifer Phang‘s 2015 sci-fi arthouse film Advantageous. IT’S ON NETFLIX YOU CAN WATCH IT NOW! I would recommend it to anyone into thinking about the future of the world. As an artsy film, it lags a bit in the beginning. Also since it’s set in the future but not entirely concerned with explaining the specifics of what that future world means, which is good, but means there were parts where I was a little confused. But rather quickly I was invested in the main characters – a mother (Gwen played by Jacqueline Kim, who also co-wrote the film with Phang) and daughter (Jules).

I think the thing I like best about this film was how it made me think about parenting / childhood / purpose of life. The premise is single-mother Gwen gets fired from her spokesperson job and is worried about being able to provide the best education and opportunity possible to her daughter Jules. Gwen’s old company is willing to hire her back if she gets the product the company is selling: body transfer procedure whereby Gwen’s mind will be transplanted into a younger body that was a grown in a lab. Much of the film is Gwen trying to figure out another way to get the money necessary for her daughter’s prep school tuition.

At one point Jules, under the stress of trying to get into the best prep school she can, asks “why am i here?” as in why is she alive. Gwen answers something to the effect of Gwen needing her to make her life fulfilled.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

After Gwen gets the procedure, it turns out she is not the same person. Yes her memories transfer, but Gwen 2.0 does not think of Jules as her daughter. Gwen knew this going in, but realized that getting the procedure was the only way to give her daughter Jules a chance in life. Jules suspects Gwen 2.0 is not actually her mother, so Gwen 2.0 tells Jules the truth. Jules repeats her question, telling Gwen 2.0 she’s not really sure why she’s alive.

I cried while watching the end of this movie thinking about how Gwen sacrificed herself for her daughter, but in a different way than we normally think of sacrificing. I think a lot of parents say they would die for their child, but Gwen didn’t just die for Jules, she created another person as a means of taking care of the person she already created. In a way, Gwen had another child – Gwen 2.0 – and this second child will most likely also feel the meaninglessness of her existence.

I liked this film because it made me thing. It made me ask questions. To me, that’s good art. Even if it lagged at times. It made me think about parenting and how reproduction is actually incredibly selfish and not irresponsible. That being said, I’m thankful I was produced.

 

READING

I DEVOURED Stanislaw Lem‘s Solaris last week. Not really sure why/how. I think because I tried a new thing where I turned off all my electronic devices at 8pm and wouldn’t turn them back on again until 7am, leaving 11 hours of analog time, meaning reading or longhand writing.

I wanted to read the book Solaris because I want to watch the films (Tarkovsky, 1972; Soderbergh, 2002). When I flipped through the book, I thought: oh boy, this looks boring. Large blocks of text. Little dialogue. So I was surprised how fast I read it. I think because it very quickly becomes a psychological thriller. Immediately upon landing on the station on Solaris, narrator Dr. Kris Kelvin learns the man he studied under and was planning to work with on the station – Gibrarian – is dead. Then, very soon after that, Rheya – Kelvin’s dead wife (she committed suicide) – appears as a hallucination-but-real-in-the-flesh, a creation of the planets based on Kelvin’s memories of her.

I began to have my doubts as to if I could continue reading it, mostly because I thought its outdatedness would throw me. The first hallucination-but-real person Kelvin sees is described as a large-thighed, large-breasted negress (the apparition of another scientists memories, not Kelvin’s). Okay… I almost put the book down, but I remembered that it was written by a Polish guy in the 60s.

Kelvin’s creation Rheya isn’t so great at the beginning either. We learn that she cannot be away from him without going totally apeshit and ripping doors off hinges in order to be in the same room as him always. This irked me until I began reading Rheya in a meta way: a character symptomatic of the way female characters are often treated in fiction, created only for the male protagonist and his “journey,” dependent on him and irrelevant alone.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

What really kept me reading was when Rheya realized she was not real. She realizes she is not the real Rheya, that she is a artificial copy. Being more self aware, she keeps herself in check and does not need to be so near to Kelvin. At the same time, Kelvin becomes more obsessed with trying to keep her, seeing this as a second chance at their life together. I feel like this definitely adds to . If I were reading this in school I’d probably try to write something about feminism in this book, but I’m sure dozens of people already have so I will try and find some and read some and you should too.

Overall, I would recommend it as I read it pretty quick and it has some interesting concepts that went over my head, like human exploration (what’s the point of exploring the Universe if we don’t even fully understand our own minds and the emotions therein).

But you can also probably just watch the movies too (although I haven’t seen them yet!).

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