Using art and tech to cope with an uncanny reality

Dear Friends, 

Earlier today, I posted to a group of friends online, “Do you ever just feel like … WTF is being human? How do other people do this? None of this makes sense. What is right? What is existence? Am I doing everything wrong? Does it matter?” Immediately I got several responses in the affirmative. It may not be safe to say “we all feels this way,” but I admit it’s a relief to know I’m not alone in this one. I’ve pretty much been living on the verge of an existential crisis since the worlds shittiest bully and most bold faced liar set up camp in the oval office. Granted, I’ve always been a little disconnected from reality if I’m being honest. There’s always been a part of me that stands back from the world and looks at it in awe, confusion, and sometimes abject terror. It’s just that there’s a lot more abject terror these days. I’ve been doing my best to maintain sanity via the people and activities that make me happy — playing roller derby, being among friends, and so forth. Autumn can be hard because the changing seasons make me imminently aware of things like mortality and the fleeting beauty of life. I am the type of person who cannot resist a sad but beautiful poem, and the season itself is the ultimate sad, beautiful poem. There’s a reason it’s been a metaphor for our twilight years for so many centuries. 

Lately I’ve been really loving this song called Existential Crisis Hour that encapsulates my current state of mind in a deceptively enjoyable way. I decided to make a playlist from it, of course. And to blog about it, and even make a weird photo illustration to go with it (see above).

I’ve been playing this video game called Control (yes, I promise this is related), where your character is the only person who can save the world from being taken over by something called the Hiss, which is some kind of trans-dimensional horror consciousness. The game makers might not have intended it, but the Hiss offers an apt metaphor for the cognitive dissonance that seems to be affecting an awful lot of us these days … or maybe that’s just me? Anyway, in the game, the Hiss does terrible things. It takes over good people and turns them into monsters. It warps physical space and turns inanimate objects into dangerously spooky shit. And when you get near it, your character experiences mental and physical pain. But the good news is that you never have to be alone with the Hiss because you have this guiding spirit that’s with you all the time. Unfortunately, I don’t have a guiding spirit hovering over my shoulder, but I do have a handful of friends who understand and perhaps a small number of people who read this and feel a little less lost as well. So that’s what I’m here for today.

When my friends started responding to my question this morning, it didn’t chase away my fear entirely, and yet, it’s validating to know that I’m not alone with this experience. It’s as though we’re all falling through space. At first, we’re going so fast, we don’t see anyone else around us, we’re just … falling or flying, not really sure which way is up or down, how far we’ll go, or where we’ll land. It’s fucking terrifying. But now, we’ve been falling for so long that we’re tired of being scared, and now just looking around like, “Ok, but really… where are we going?” At this point, we’re not so much falling as hurtling through space in an undetermined direction, and we start to notice there are other people doing the same thing. And still none of it makes sense, but we’re looking at each other like, “Hey, you too? Do you know how we got here?” And we realize we’re all equally lost, and that doesn’t exactly make it better, but it somehow feels less terrifying.

Anyway, in other news, I wrote a new song that I’ll be attempting to record soon. I just have to get better at playing it first. 😅

Be well this week. Don’t let the Hiss getcha.