Greetings and apologies for being MIA. I’ve had a health issue (no, not COVID)—and probably like most of you—been entirely distracted by the events of the past month. January feels like it’s been time dilated. Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the snow. Maybe it’s the creeping cabin fever of lockdowns and social distancing. Our attention has turned feedward. The overproduction of uncanny images and confusing fast moving events can make a day feel like a week or week feel like a month. Without the rhythm of normal everyday life, shit is getting weird.
Wednesday, January 6th, 2020
Wednesday, January 13th, 2020
Wednesday, January 20th, 2020
Wednesday, January 27th, 2020
It was a month bookended by weaponized delusion. Conspiracy cult QAnon rushed the Capitol in a last ditch attempt to prevent Congress from certified November’s election results. R/WallStreetBets inspired a still ongoing rally around the ailing brick and mortar retail stock GameSpot. (That the chosen stock is a video game vendor is a cherry on top. My most recent op-ed in The Guardian argues video games are now the most important element of youth culture.)
Meme phrases from both are now ubiquitous—both online and off. “Trust the plan.” “I like the stock.” It’s all very LARP-y. Shaman’s in Valhalla gear and tailgating body paint took photos on the Senate dais. Lord of the Rings, The Joker and The Wolf of Wall Street dominated Reddit trader image macros. The memes have armies now. Scroll through Reddit, between 💎 👐 and 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀 voiceless anons scream: “HOLD THE LINE YOU APES!!!” The desperation for camaraderie is palpable. I’d suggest people get out of the house more, but then you can’t really suggest that right now…
People are testing the limits of how far delusion can take you. It couldn’t change an election. But maybe it can crash a stock market? I’ve certainly realized I was participating in my own little delusion. Many people were. We thought electing Joe Biden as president would be a “return to normalcy.” We imagined the Inauguration would work like a spell, make the chaos go poof! A column in The New Yorker yesterday read like a relic of hope: a missive from the past, written a day too early and published a day too late. Circulating next to speculation that a meme stonk might spark a new financial crisis it looked ridiculous.
We no longer have a meme president. But his impeachment, an investigation into the storming of the Capitol, oh—and COVID—all remain on the docket. Brunch is on hold.
Last month, I published my second Zeitgeist Report in collaboration with Jordan Richman. Bravo, Bravo, Fucking Bravo: An Exploration Into the State of Realityfeatures contributions from Julian Ceccaldi, Thomas Demand, Dis, Nicole Eisenman, Buck Ellison, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Anne Imhof, Ilya Lipkin, the Loud Family, Sam McKinniss, Margaret Mead, Mark Peckmezian, Adrian Piper, Reena Spaulings, Tobias Spichtig, Sturtevant, Martine Syms, Camille Vivier, Andy Warhol, and Issy Wood.
If you really like it, you can buy the print version in Buffalo Zine No. 12. Otherwise, it’s now available online as a PDF.