I have not written for this site in quite some time. I do not miss it, and I do not feel that I have anything additional to say on the subjects I had hitherto explored within these digital pages. However, as the site still exists in the world for people to discover (mostly people still eager to read about Prometheus for some reason, or people woefully misdirected while searching for shunga porn), I can’t shake the feeling that I should have given it a proper burial. So, that’s what this is, I suppose: a funeral oration.
In 2017, when I had posted my final essay (a piece on Wonder Woman), I had felt strongly that it would be – and that it should be – my final statement. I was growing less interested in writing about art and movies. More than that, I was growing wearier of my voice and opinions, primarily in the way I would apply them toward criticism of any sort.
One need only plumb the depths of what has become known as “Film Twitter” to see that a lot of what constitutes criticism these days amounts purely to taste signaling. That is, people who want to belong to a certain tribe of film critic, movie buff, or cinephile, must let people know that they like the right things (e.g., David Lynch) and, more importantly (and more loudly), that they do not like the wrong things (e.g., comic book movies). I was as guilty of this as anyone. I wanted to be taken seriously as a critic; I wanted to belong to that tribe. Having studied screenwriting in graduate school, and having studied literature as an undergrad, you bet I thought I had good and correct opinions about what constitutes true cinema and true art. I also wasn’t immune to using good old-fashioned contrarianism as a strategy to garner attention (hence my piece decrying the use of taxpayer money to fund arts programs). I have since removed some of the more embarrassing examples of my desperate validation seeking from this site (and I have likewise deleted countless “snarky” tweets from my Twitter account), but the smell lingers.
And yet – despite my dreams of film critic glory, my focus on the site was always a bit more philosophical (albeit of the armchair variety). For a period of about six years, I had used this space to evolve my personal ideas on art, aesthetics, and taste. As I wrote on my “About” page, I wanted “to know why people like certain things and dislike others.” Sometimes I would focus on a specific work to explore its philosophical and aesthetic dimensions; other times I would broaden my scope to look at an entire genre. More often than not I would invoke Nietzsche (my relationship with whom has developed in quite interesting ways since I first read him back in 2001, but that’s a subject for another time and another place).
In the end, what did I accomplish? Beginning with my eight-part “How Food Can Be Art” essay (adapted from work I completed for a Philosophy of Food course at Boston University), I think I began to broaden my view on what art can be and how it actually functions in people’s lives (on a related note, I am grateful for learning the word apotropaic from Camille Paglia). Also, I finally began to break free of constraints I had placed on myself while taking certain schools of philosophy too seriously as an undergrad. My view of art continued to expand after this, and the circle widened to include video games and even pornography (please read the essay before judging me too harshly for that one).
Overall, I am still happy with the story of intellectual development that these pages chronicle in their own weird way (which, of course, is still ongoing). In fact, anything you can still read on this site is something that I still believe has some value (and that includes the comments, most of which are by my most faithful and engaged reader, the poet Kent Leatham).
And there were some other nice highlights I’d be remiss not to mention. Due to shameless self-promotion on my part, or (very rarely) writing the right piece at the right time, my site found its way to some academics and industry folks whom I greatly admire and respect. Not only were they gracious enough to read what I wrote, but they had nothing but kind or complimentary things to say about my writing. I was fortunate to have both comic book legend Peter David and Nietzsche scholar Ken Gemes comment on my “Sublimation and Repression” piece (both found it interesting). I was thrilled when Teller (of Penn & Teller) told me that my piece on Tim’s Vermeer was the best piece he’d read on the film. And when my brief defense of Banksy was selected for WordPress’s coveted “Freshly Pressed,” it brought in a lot of new readers and some fun exchanges. The pieces I wrote for The Artifice were also high points. Acclaimed film writer Mark Harris even thanked me for my civil and thoughtful rebuke of his critique of Hannibal.
My piece on Mankamana proved most prescient of all, however. Using that unique film and David Bowie’s “Station to Station” as a jumping off point, I tried to explore the meaning and possibility contained within liminal spaces. This has continued to be an area of interest for me, as my focus has shifted to Buddhist philosophy and the fertile possibilities found within the state between death and rebirth.
And now, with the subject of transition in mind, this seems like as good a place to end as any. Besides, I had come to bury this site, not to praise it. This site served me well for many years, and for that I am grateful. I am not the same person I was when I started writing here, and by that metric, the undertaking has been a success. Thank you to my readers; I hope I have provided you with at least something interesting to think about (if even for just a few minutes). In any case, “if I don’t explain what you ought to know, you can tell me all about it on the next bardo.” See you on the other side.