Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Imaginings of Quarantine Letters, or Rather Essays, Monologues?

As I read more of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and 1993 essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and US Fiction, I feel as if I am morphing into a white man. His characters are troubled skinny white boys who smoke copious amounts of marijuana and have existential crises concerning their erudite brilliance. Of course the tennis academy's skinny white drug dealer reads books entitled Cambridge Refractory Indices of the Camera Lens, 4th Edition or something along those lines; and the skinny white author self-insert has an interest in Byzantine erotica; and the not-so-skinny white older brother regards women as inconvenient objects, pieces of furniture to serve his character; and of course they all have issues with fatherly disappointment and social anxiety and glory. White boy problems. 

I, personally, would love to be concerned with my own brilliance if I could bring myself to give an unhealthy shit. At times I do feel discernment, or rather pride, towards my own wit that can translate to dry humour that can translate to the complex funniness of my entire being. I have taken on the priorities of an overthinking white boy who simultaneously watches the Kardashians and 'that girl' videos on YouTube. 

In my admiration of Wallace's writing, I have become inspired to expand my vocabulary. Nobody does the internal monologue better than Wallace - with his essay-like structure backed up by nil evidence and a paragraph finale of a colloquial, jesting sentence that is inappropriately out of place.

A word: 

solipsism (n) - the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist

If this does not scream overthinking white male, I don't know what does. The word also accurately encapsulates the experience that is quarantine, social isolation, solitude. No mind seems to exist outside the entity that is my own anymore. She is whirring of her own accord, desolate, uninfluenced, going rampage.


dilettante (n) - a person who cultivates an area of interest without real commitment or knowledge

Synonyms include dabbler, dallier, myself in each new phase of quarantine

As I read Wallace's outdated essay regarding the US population's addiction to television, as I read the fact: The average American watches television for 6 hours a day over and over again because he writes the phrase incessantly, I feel guilt toward my own perpetual media consumption here indoors. However, to Wallace I must say, I would love nothing more than to be living my very real exciting life if I were allowed to live it. My dear dead brilliant friend, you could not have predicted this global pandemic. You also could not have predicted the predicament that is social media as it is today - inclusive of all its addiction, anxiety and vanity - though you came close, and your imagining of the way such an invention would affect people was almost spot-on, and you would be frightened if you saw society today; but that is a whole essay in itself.


Working on my thesis is so mind-numbingly boring that I must blast music to get through the transferring of references from this side of EndNote to that. In 2021 there has been the release of Kanye's Donda (very thinks-he's-brilliant-esque, but I do love music with a God complex), Halsey's If I Can't Have Love I Want Power (I think the title says it all), Lorde's Solar Power (very disappointing), Drake's Certified Lover Boy (eh, it's just Drake), and the soundtrack of Shang-Chi (so underrated). My personal favourite noises, however, have been the blasting of Charli XCX and Grimes, and my latest playlist consisting of angsty 2000's teenage music. I kind of wish I were a teenager in the 2000's - like Julia Stiles driving her car to Bad Reputation or Cher giving Tai a makeover to I Wanna Be a Supermodel.  I think you can tell what mood I'm in.

One day as I was perusing through Spotify, I noticed three boys I had previously hooked up with all listening to the same song at the very top of the activity bar. Okay, they weren't actually listening to the same song, but this is my analogy for the fact that I came to the realisation that they all have similar music taste. Perhaps I have a type. As I had a quick scope of each of their playlists I came to the conclusion that their tastes seem to chronologically improve.

We begin with the first boy, who listened to an abundance of Tyler The Creator. He was symbolic of the aforementioned skinny white boy - the one who does drugs and ruminates on his white boy problems. The second had neatly organised playlists, more relaxed, more endearingly revealing; only slightly cringe but still respectable, admirable even. And the third had playlists thirty hours long. Who has playlists thirty hours long? They were playlists of a variety of genres, playlists of somebody who clearly loves sound, playlists of somebody who I now recall asking me, "do you ever just empty your mind, and like, think of nothing?" God, his Spotify almost makes me wish I weren't so horrendously depressed when I met him. 

I'd have loved to turn my telling of these boys' Spotifies into a David Foster Wallace-esque commentary on pop culture, but alas, I cannot make fun of them (and myself). It feels too disrespectful. Perhaps there was no interesting story here to begin with either.


Spring commenced with bike rides with my father. Canberra truly is the city of lakes, cycling and hiking. I recall a high school friend of mine once describing Canberra as a valley between mountains, with seven peaks from which you can see the whole city. I'm not sure if that number is correct. I recall her driving us up to secluded lookouts with views in the middle of the night overlooking the speckling lit city after a party or post-KrispyKreme runs; or on a scorching languid summer's day, where we would sit and gossip about irrelevant people and things.

There are differences between riding back then and riding now. The hills surrounding the lake used to feel insurmountable, but I can now ride the kilometres without even changing gear. I guess that's what happens when your legs are a little bit longer, when you're a little bit stronger. While I used to ride in front of my sister, I must now ride behind because I cannot help but slam the brakes when encountering a downward slope or remotely sharp turning. I guess that at some point over the years I must have developed fear.

We rode past that red slide that used to seem so gigantic, but now appears rather quaint. We rode past the bench at the top of the hill where I used to always complain of thirst, but now instead look over the lake at the tower while taking an appreciative breath of fresh air, Eat Pray Love style. Being Spring, it is swooping season, and there is a single stretch of road in the suburb called Ainslie guarded by one menacing magpie. Head down, unthreatening, fearful but quick, you must cycle through the dangerous stretch. I feel bad for refusing every cycling trip with my dad throughout my teenage years. 



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