Attachment Styles to Time
On Aftersun and Time. Also: 2022 Publishing Numbers, Zelda, and Infrastructure Romance
The past is experienced in the present. This week I was reminded again of that when I watched Aftersun.
The film is experienced through a 30-year old woman watching home recorded footage of a vacation with her father when she was 11 and her father was 30. A thoroughly meditative film that pulls you into their lives through slow, deliberate, and intimate scenes of their vacation.
It resonated, because as with both characters (in the past and the present), I summited the hill of 30-something a few years ago. You’re still young-ish (all things considered), but unlike turning 20-something, you have had a decade of being an adult behind you. It feels like reaching the first plateau of a hike, coming up from the shrouded forest of life underneath and truly seeing the summit for the first time. The peak is visible. The end is there. And so, this new vantage points lends itself to different approaches in dealing with it.
If you could anthropomorphise time as a romantic partner, it feels like you could ascribe coping strategies to different attachment styles:
An anxiously attached person to time will try to arrest it: to find comfort again in a space where time felt distant. A coping strategy is to try and keep things the way they were. To hold onto people and places even if you aren’t present anymore.
You would say things like this line from the film. When the daughter asks her father why he doesn’t want to move back to Scotland, he says:
There's this feeling, once you leave where you grew up, that you don't totally belong there again.
It’s an all too familiar feeling for those that have left home for elsewhere, but it neglects to perceive the place you grew up as a place that can be experienced anew. By leaving and coming back, it’s a new place, and a new opportunity to belong to a new home. You’re trying to arrest time if you want to feel the belonging that can’t be given to you anymore.
It feels like this home found in Zillow this week.
That temporal anomaly: a piece of an arrested Italy inside a home in Las Vegas. A cozy attempt at arresting the feeling of Il dolce far niente, the Italian sweetness of doing nothing.
An avoidantly attached person to time, on the other hand, will increasingly ignore time and its visible changes: keep going like you are in your forever 20s, don’t take care of your health, don’t plan, and hop from people and places as if they would forever remain.
A securely attached person to time sees the sun setting each day and chooses to see its beauty along with its end. A back and forth between them: to grieve the loss of things, but also to remember that with each chapter, there’s new things to experience.
The daughter asks her father in one scene:
When you were 11, what did you think you would be doing now?
Whether you knew, or you didn’t, to be securely attached to time is to be kinder to oneself. You don’t have to be the person your childhood self imagined you’d be. To quote Travis Baldree’s Legends & Lattes (which I read this week). In an inversion of the typical fantasy tropes, a female orc, after years of bloody adventuring settles down and opens up a coffee shop:
Things don’t have to stay as what they started out as.
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Speaking of books:
2022 Publishing Numbers
Filed Under: publishing, books
I’ve been delving more into the book/publishing business recently. Here’s some stats from 2022.
Jason Colavito says:
The publishing figures for 2022 were rather depressing. In a country of 332 million people, only 28 books out of ~300,000 titles sold more than 500,000 copies. Eight were by one author, Colleen Hoover, and no book of history or politics sold more than 295,000 copies.
If you have access to wide and cheap distribution, you’ll get this: a longer long tail + the big hits being bigger. Both can be true. A few making most of the money, but there also never being as many books published as there is now. This can be depressing or can be good: a faustian bargain of sorts.
It reminds me of this article from Scott Galloway:
Filed Under: ai, luddites
Scott Galloway argues and gives a lot of evidence that automation eventually results in net gains. The only cost is in short term hits to productivity as people are retrained.
While this seems true, what’s not usually being accounted for in this article is how technological progress can forever change relationships of power. In media and entertainment, it means bigger big hits and longer long tails.
Even if people are retrained, it’s more fragile if the locus of power had destroyed a middle class.
Cory Doctorow’s tangential take, I feel correctly diagnoses a part of the problem. He argues that to have smaller governments, we need to ban big business.
The ref has to be more powerful than the players.
It’s a call for dynamism. Good anti-trust + enforceable competition law is important to ensure a healthy market. It only functions at scale (above the level of a tribe, essentially) if there's some system of enforcement. I always likened a market to a common good that can suffer from its own tragedy of the commons. That being said, my gut feeling is that there's a better, dynamic way to reason about this in our era simply than saying we should ban big business or go back to a world where cheap distribution doesn’t exist (along with a different power law distribution). I reckon you'd get reasonably good results if you just “ban big business”, but it doesn't feel like it's THE answer. Do I have one? Nope. It's just a feeling.
To quote Scott Galloway:
We know technology will continue to bring prosperity. The bigger question is will it bring progress.
The accelerationist belief in capitalism + technology isn’t all its chalked up be. As Viv, the orc in Legends & Lattes says:
Things don’t have to stay as what they started out as.
A more refined indulgence into technology and introspection is healthy. Rebecca Mqamelo’s introspects on being a technologist.
Many people growing up with technology became enamoured by its potential (myself included). Something is amiss and technology can fix it, but it can be mired in insincerity.
The insincerity, the rampant performativity, the illusion of urgency, the obsession with constructing futures at the expense of the present – for better or worse, these are all things I associate with being a technologist. And when I speak to my technologist friends, most of them share the same inkling that something is amiss.
I support the growing call for better technological literacy – the study of not just how to use tools, but why we use them, and how they in turn use us.
Technology has already eaten the world. We are now all experiencing the digestive discomfort and awkward gaseous action that makes us question what we’re putting into our bodies. But rather than pause, we continue to chomp as the buffet grows ever larger.
I agree. I don’t know the answer.
Like emerging from water, you suddenly realize that something is no longer there. And you like it a lot better.
Revisiting “Post-Royalties”; Open Editions, and New Digital Rights
Filed Under: music, nft, open editions
Music has always been a good example of how an industry that once innovated is now trying to hold onto its fortunes. It thus leaves me with a bit of schadenfreude when the big record label oligopoly is worried about losing revenue from AI generated playlists on DSPs like Spotify. Even is this scenario, though, musicians unfortunately are always left with the least. I like Dan’s proposals as a way forward for musicians.
Switch Sells 122 Million Units
Filed Under: switch, nintendo
The Switch hit 122 million units. That’s great, but I can’t hear you over the noise of:
Tears of the Kingdom’s “GREAT PLATEAU” - The Legend of Zelda
Filed Under: zelda, totk, botw
I’m incredibly excited for the new Zelda game out this year. A new trailer dropped this week.
I found this video detailing how Zelda changed its opening game experience with Breath of The Wild to be quite interesting.
NEOM is hiring a macroeconomist
Filed Under: neom, economist
This sounds like the start of a good short story. The macroeconomist arriving at a city that’s one long line in the desert.
Filed Under: romance, infrastructure
As a storytelling + urban nerd, this post was great. It talks about a specific genre of romance in which the urban environment is an important part of how the characters interact with each other.
Fan Theories + Writers
File Under: storytelling, writing
Pretty accurate. But hey, that’s what writers are in the business of. To make you feel and see something that you might have missed. Go watch Aftersun.
Cause love's such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves.
Take care friends. Enjoy the sunset! See you next week! I’m going home to where I grew up and I’m excited to experience it anew. I bet next week’s newsletter might be a bit shorter as a result. ;)
Thanks Simon. Your piece really spoke to me today. I definitely have an “anxious attachment” with time. The way you talked about it also reminded me of this Japanese concept:
“Mono no aware (物の哀れ), lit. 'the pathos of things', and also translated as 'an empathy toward things', or 'a sensitivity to ephemera', is a Japanese idiom for the awareness of impermanence (無常, mujō), or transience of things, and both a transient gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing as well as a longer, deeper gentle sadness about this state being the reality of life.”