reading, listening, watching. let's talk about *manifestor* culture
I want to be straight with you: the more of these posts I write, the less sincere I find myself. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about since that last post on Online Ceramics and Praying. It didn’t feel right to write. It felt like I was pandering to some shadowy audience I didn’t even really want or understand. I was trying to write *for the people* and ended up just betraying myself.
The more people who subscribe to this Substack, the less sincere I feel myself become. I wilt under the eyes of an audience. (Not very flattering to admit but it’s true: I don’t know what to do when people are watching.) Despite craving attention, I hate it once it comes. It’s like ~what do i do w my hands in photos???~* but on a mass creative scale. The more subscribers who come here, the more I want to run offline and disappear from the internet. I’m afraid that I’ll change under your gaze. I’m afraid that I already have. Now I’m thinking about things like structure and speed and how much of myself I should actually reveal online. Should I stop swearing so much? It’s bullshit. This was supposed to be fun. This wasn’t ever supposed to turn real. lol. ugh.
While I’m thinking about (in)sincerity, I’m also thinking about the *healing culture* sweeping out of niche corners of the internet into the mainstream. I’m getting recommended more and more videos about manifestation. I’m seeing more and more posts about spiritual awakening on IG. And I don’t want to judge anyone’s interiority — because what the fuck do I know? that is genuinely unknowable territory — but I just don’t think that *get me a boyfriend get me a good job get me a new apartment* is a genuine spiritual path.
Sure, there’s something to be said for working with the material world as an expression of divine intelligence, but……… “10 steps to manifest your dream partner/career/apartment” doesn’t feel like sincere spiritual work 2 me. And again —---------- I don’t know anyone’s mind. Perhaps you’ve cleared out your ego. Perhaps you’ve resolved old traumas. Perhaps you’ve really divorced your desires to “call in abundance” from the capitalist culture in which you were raised. But I just don’t trust any spirituality that’s rooted in what you can amass. It feels eerily similar to Amazon installing mindfulness booths on factory floors; we divorce spiritual practices from spirituality and use them to make more money to buy more stuff. (Coolest person ever Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche called this “spiritual materialism.”)
Anyways, I made a playlist for girlies (anyone) who want to heal themselves and improve their lives but also hate normies and can only take anything seriously if they can wink while doing it. So scroll to the end for that.
Okay, let’s get into this month’s lil syllabus. We’re talking sincerity and healing here, bbs...
In terms of things that I’ve really enjoyed reading this month and think you might, too, there’s:
“Gender Blur” by Alex V Green, an essay in The Baffler about commercialized nonbinary identity. It’s an essential read for anyone invested in breaking down a gendered society. (We all have skin in this game.) LIL BLURB IS:
A fragrance campaign for a “perfume not assigned to a gender or a time” or “queer space” appeals to a potential consumer’s assumed political sensibilities by speaking to them at the level of affect or aesthetic. It saves advertisers from having to sell consumers on actual ethical practices in the world. Perhaps this is part of why people often react so strongly to the perceived suggestion that they are not “really” queer or that their nonbinary identity is not “valid.” We have so deeply internalized the notion that these labels connote an inherent moral and political orientation that the assertion that we might in fact live outside them is seen as a direct attack on one’s character.”
In other corners of the internet, Sheila Heti is doing some of the best work of her career right now. I gobbled down her conversation with AI chat bots in The Paris Review this month. I’m linking Part 1 here. There are 5 parts. You’ll want to read them all.
And I also recommend checking out “Club Friday Q&A: The Beauty Writer Holding the Beauty Biz Accountable,” an interview with Jessica DeFino, whose INCREDIBLE substackis Required Reading for anybody who’s ever put moisturizer on their face. The interview is packed with jaw-dropping insights and I’ll leave you with one: