Today the president was acquitted of abuse and obstruction because we live in an exquisitely detailed form of hell. This feels like the only logical explanation. My eighty-year-old German neighbor and I picked at our omelettes while a television in the corner of the diner delivered the vote count. “God is leading us through these dark days because we must learn humility,” she said. “But that fucker in the White House won’t be around much longer.” I want to believe her, but I’m not so sure. That fucker might be around for a while yet. And I’d like to believe there’s some invisible hand nudging us through trials and lessons until everything makes sense. I wonder it would feel like, to wake up each morning believing in that kind of god.

Tonight I’m thinking about image hygiene after coming across this passage in Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the New Millennium, a series of lectures about the future of literature that he wrote in 1985:

What will the future of the individual imagination be in what is often called the “image civilization”? Will humanity’s power to develop images in absentia continue to develop as it is increasingly swamped by the flood of ready-made images? The visual memory of individuals used to be restricted to the legacy of their direct experience and to a limited repertoire of culturally reflected images; the opportunity to give shape to a personal myth arose from the way in which fragments of that memory could come together in surprising and suggestive ways. Nowadays we are bombarded by so many images that we can longer distinguish direct experience from what we’ve seen for a few seconds on television. Bits of images cover our memory like a layer of trash, and among so many shapes it becomes ever difficult for any one to stand out.

All of which sounds eerily prescient thirty-five years later. Except one image does stand out: the profane face of our president, ever-present like the weather, the visual equivalent of Orwell’s black boot.

M83 – Don’t Save Us From the Flames

From Before the Dawn Heals Us | Mute, 2005 | More

A good night for old maximal M83 songs full of drama and light.