Writers: Inhabit your delusions, embrace your freakishness
Longreads — my favorite online portal to high-quality longform writing — invited me to be their “featured Longreader” for the June 8 edition of their weekly newsletter. Here’s what I sent them:
My favorite longread of the week is A Psychotronic Childhood, by Colson Whitehead, in The New Yorker. Whitehead and I grew up right in the same era (the 1970s and 80s), and his description of a childhood spent roaming the lurid matrix of cable TV’s alternate universe and the gothic stacks of the video rental age, when you could stumble across life-changing fare like The Devil’s Rain and Dawn of the Dead and Videodrome with no way to contextualize and thus defang it by running to IMDB or Wikipedia, gives me shivers of recognition. Then there’s his truly moving account of being philosophically and artistically educated by these kinds of films — some of them high-quality but most of them residing somewhere below gutter-level — since they liberated his creativity by teaching him that it’s perfectly okay, and in fact spiritually invaluable if you’re an artist or writer, “to fully inhabit one’s delusions, to give in to every kooky aspect of one’s freakishness.” Words to live by, truly.