I was the baby of four children who were way older, so I spent my youth not riding bikes but pretending to read the Catcher in the Rye. This experience has left me with a level of pretension that is hard to match. I was also quiz bowl captain and generally restless, so I’ve been to several corners of the world just to walk around art museums ticking off bucket list pieces and feeling cool. I know this isn’t exactly a popular idea, but I think we’re going to have to re-enter lockdown at some point in the near future to ward off the actual apocalypse. If you find yourself with more free time on your hands and no way to stimulate your brain hole besides work (yuck), then I have a list for you! Here are things I loved to consume with explications of the mood that is best for meaningful processing of ~the art~. If it has to do with music, 9.9/10 times the credit goes to my big brother Morgan.
- If you want to feel the magic you felt reading the Secret Garden as an adult. Look up the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch or go see it in person if you’re ever lucky enough to find yourself able to go to the Prado. I think if you stare at it for long enough you can astral project to your past life. I’m only halfway kidding.
- If you’re shaking your fist at the establishment and bemoaning the fact that we were born into a broken system that we can’t do anything about, then listen to Battle of Los Angeles, the 1999 Rage Against the Machine album that changed the game forever. They also predicted Trump’s presidency in the music video for “Sleep Now in the Fire,” so that’s pretty cool. I directly ripped this one off from my big brother, but the heart wants what it wants.
- If you want to be calmed by smart people with their heads screwed on right, check out Brené Brown’s and Russell Brand’s podcast (the one of them together primarily but also each of theirs respectively).
- Okay I’m about to commit art historian suicide, but I prefer early Andy Warhol for days when I’m feeling pensive about the fragility of beauty.
- When I’m reflecting on the past and getting all sad and whatnot, I listen to this old playlist of mine.
- When I get that topsy-turvy feeling of existential crisis, I go to the Surrealists. I like Dalí’s Temptation of St. Anthony (obviously), Miro’s Harlequin’s Carnival, and anything Remedios Varo ever did. Ever.
- At this moment I’m going to take a break and reflect on the fact that I’ve broken through. I am officially as pretentious as I will ever be.
- If I just want to be entertained, I watch Inglourious Basterds.
- If I’m reading, I’m usually reading Joan Didion. I’m not sure why it resonates with me so at this point in my life, but Slouching Toward Bethlehem is god tier.
- If I’m thirsty, I drink a Coke. Don’t tell me that elixir isn’t art.
- Okay this isn’t just a plug because he’s my brother; it’s a plug because this ish is GOOD. This whole album should be famous. I’ll link some of my favorites — one for head-banging, one for feeling yourself, and one just because it’s so freaking good.
Well, there you have it, folks! If more than two people even read this then I’ll be surprised, but I have been lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of good art. Maybe my suggestions will help you navigate this world in some small way.