This year I am going to approach my usual recap in a different way. Instead of separating best-of lists I will look back at 2022 in a single writing to keep it simple.
2022 will not be remembered as a particularly stimulating time. For instance, I have struggled to keep my enthusiasm alive when it comes to university. This is not solely because of the whole mess with dual lessons,1 but it encompasses the quality of the courses and what I have been learning as well. Maybe I will return on this at some point in the future, but for now let me just add that once again I can’t wait to get it over with. Almost the same reasoning can explain why I left the two book clubs I had joined in 2021. I was not pleased by the reading choices nor by the discussions around them, and more often than not it felt like I was putting obstacles between me and the books I want to read. But let’s set aside the negativity for a while and see what really mattered this year.
I usually document my Emacs adventures on this website so I’ll be brief. For the
ever-present and more reliable software in my computing life this has been the
first year fully away from Magit and MELPA. The built-in VC system has been a
trustworthy companion,2 and the combination of GNU ELPA and NonGNU ELPA has
provided the few external packages I need. Speaking of packages, Eglot deserves
a mention. It’s true that I don’t use it for work, but whenever I deal with
academic writings (LaTeX) or hobby projects (Haskell) Eglot has made me
appreciate some of the goodies that LSP has to offer. Another package worth
being included here is
detached.el,3 which I’ve been using to run commands
shell-mode without losing
control of the buffer. So neat.
After almost six years, in May I decided to leave the default Fairphone OS behind and look for something different.5 The experience with DivestOS has been so fantastic I had to make a donation to this awesome project. My phone battery now lasts longer than ever before and the user interface is generally more responsive, but the true value of this OS is that I have a Google-free Fairphone 2 that works as expected. For a person who has basic needs when it comes to their smartphone and wishes for better privacy, DivestOS is the perfect solution.
From the book lover perspective 2022 has been intense, and I am not referring to the total number of pages I read. What I mean is the profound quality of the works I’ve been through and the hours spent thinking both while reading and after the turn of the last page. Even in the one case where I got angry at the author it was still worth it.6 Here are the most rewarding readings of the past months:
- Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)
- In the Eye of the Wild (Nastassja Martin)
- Cecilia e le streghe (Laura Conti)
- Malvina, or the Heart’s Intuition (Maria Wirtemberska)
- Le Père Goriot (Honoré de Balzac)
- Beloved (Toni Morrison)
- Spinoza’s Religion: A New Reading of the Ethics (Clare Carlisle)
- Horcynus Orca (Stefano D’Arrigo)7
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
- The Pale King (David Foster Wallace)
- In Search of Lost Time (Marcel Proust)
Most of these are classics so you don’t really need my words to pick them up. Still, it’s safe to say that for one reason or another they all are experiences to treasure, worth the time and the effort that they require. If you are wondering where philosophy fits in my 2022 readings, I can say Kant, Hegel, and Deleuze are the authors I have spent a great deal of days on, but there has been room for Spinoza, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, and Adorno too.
As an avid music listener and record collector, I feel a bit ashamed in this regard. The only records I bought this year are Big Time by Angel Olsen8 and II by Liberato, but Olsen’s costed me a small fortune, so there goes my banal excuse for not sticking more with music in 2022.
Anyway, some of my best experiences had more to do with concerts. I went to a little festival last summer, called Upside Fest, created by the same people behind the loveliest place for beer and live music around here that sadly did not survive the pandemic. The festival was all about independent music, workshops, and being friendly to each other, which is the sort of spirit the organizers always put in everything they do. It took place in the small park of what long ago was the castle of the town, a cozy and quiet environment which invites everyone to massive chill out sessions. It’s impossible to come out bored or unhappy when these people are involved.
On the opposite side of the intimacy spectrum, I finally attend a Liberato’s live performance. The show has been postponed multiple times due to COVID-19, but eventually they did it and it was glorious. I am not too fond of big concerts and huge crowds these days, but Liberato is some of the best music Italy has at the moment so I could not miss it. He pretty much remixed all of his tracks, interpolating covers and extending them with new beats for the entire set. We danced (well, jumped around mostly) and yelled Neapolitan words for two hours. Fun times indeed.
I know this is going to sound horrible coming from a self-proclaimed cinephile, but all things considered I have not been able to feel moved, involved, passionate with a film not already part of my Blu-ray and DVD collection. I can mention Elvis and Kimi as pleasant and interesting movies, but titles such as Deep Water, Armageddon Time, and Crimes of the Future were just below my expectations. The only exception to this bleakness is The Fabelmans, which although formulaic, predictable, and not up there with the best from Steven Spielberg, shows love for the art and it understands where the heart fits among the images. It reminded me of Zhang Yimou’s One Second, hence storytelling for the sake of telling.
It looks like I have been approaching films with a precise idea of what I wanted from them, which is obviously not the right thing to do. Cinema owes me nothing and it’s up to me to be open and apply my mind accordingly. I see myself getting tired quickly with recent films, throwing around comparisons and unable to accept what is in front of me. I have not been keeping up with new releases, at least not as much as I used to, so I don’t have the proper tools to understand where cinema is going and why. I hope this is just some sort of vacation from one of my deepest and oldest loves in order to regain the mindset to be at peace with it again.