Another year, another recap. 2023 has been a strange bunch of months for different reasons. Last year I complained about not finding enough motivation with my studies and the book clubs I had joined. 2023, on the other hand, has been definitely better in these regards. I will return to my studies later when I will deal with my favourite books, but in terms of book clubs I am now a member of the Proust Society of Greenwich1 and I have found myself deeply involved in monthly discussions on my favourite author. A rewarding experience to say the least, something I would like to expand on soon.

Anyway, let’s proceed.


I have to say 2023 has seen few experiments with the one and only text editor. I have moved around completion solutions just to rely on the standard, built-in one eventually, because it has been much improved in Emacs 29 and therefore in the development version I use as well.2 The one thing I was missing is a predictable behaviour for the window containing the *Completions* buffer. Basically, I want this window to always pop up at the bottom.

   (display-buffer-reuse-mode-window display-buffer-at-bottom)))

Furthermore, I have been relying a lot on project-compile to run unit and integration tests and execute shadow-cljs when needed. Speaking of Cloure, I have played around a bit with clojure-ts-mode with nothing to be sad about,3 although I have yet to find corner cases which regular clojure-mode seriously struggles with.

Learning French

Early this year I briefly mentioned my intention to learn French in order to read the entirety of Proust’s oeuvre.4 I started with the popular Duolingo, but after a while I was tired of random phrases without context. I cannot learn a language like this. At most this is good for practising and revising.

Therefore I went with the good old way: a proper course with a professional language teacher. I looked for one on Preply until I found the teacher with the right qualifications. Everything has been great so far, my basic knowledge of French has already improved a lot.

Along with the lessons I have been following the same approach I had used in the past to learn English: language exposure. I watched my first French film without English subtitles (Roman Polanski’s J’accuse), I read my first French book with a dictionary on the side and no translation to help me (Neige Sinno’s Triste tigre), I have been reaching for French news (Franceinfo and France 24), and I have been keeping a grammar book next to me for some extra practice.

All of this would not make much sense if I had not set a goal for myself, which is a DELF B2 certification. It will take time, but I will get there.


First, the usual selection from this year’s readings:

  • I piaceri e i giorni (Marcel Proust)
  • Jean Santeuil (Marcel Proust)
  • Saggi (Marcel Proust)
  • Vita di Marcel Proust (Jean Yves-Tadié)
  • Giovanni’s Room (James Baldwin)
  • Teoria del romanzo (Guido Mazzoni)
  • Le vite del romanzo (Thomas Pavel)
  • The Idiot (Elif Batuman)
  • Sulla poesia moderna (Guido Mazzoni)
  • Either/Or (Elif Batuman)
  • Bel Ami (Guy De Maupassant)
  • Blonde (Joyce Carol Oates)
  • Fontamara (Ignazio Silone)
  • Senza intellettuali (Giorgio Caravale)
  • Triste tigre (Neige Sinno)

There is no need to explain again why Proust is there. Nonetheless, here are some additional notes:

  • Literary theory is a wonderful thing;
  • I consider Elif Batuman one of the most interesting writers out there.5 Her newsletter is a nice way to entertain me while I eagerly wait for her next book;
  • Blonde hit me on so many levels that I have struggled to find something interesting to write about it.6 I honestly believe it is one of the greatest books I have ever put my eyes on;
  • Triste tigre started as an exercise because I wanted to read something in French and it has ended up being an emotional tour de force. A Lolita from the other side if you will.

There is another author that has played an important role in the last months, but I have not put him on the list because I have only studied bits and pieces of his writings so far. Still, since it has already been moving me in so many ways,7 he deserves a mention: Antonio Gramsci. Thanks to a course on political philosophy I have finally had the chance to study Gramsci more closely and work on my rather sparse knowledge of him. The more I dig the more he is leaving a mark on me as great as Spinoza’s.


The new records from RVG and Angie McMahon came out right when I needed them this year. RVG showed up with their best album so far, fiercely personal and less obvious about its roots than the two before, while McMahon healed her wounds with an open letter from her heart to the world, as close to a real-life hug as possible.

I should also put Róisín Murphy here. Even though her controversial statements ruined her party, I still believe her latest effort is fantastic. And let’s not forget about Paul St. Hilaire, who came back after many years with all the dub vibes one could ask for.

As for Italy, I am glad the people behind the music festival I mentioned last year are back with a new place for great live music. Thanks to them I found out about Trust The Mask and their lovely Idiom. It was impossible to stay still at the concert, a sign of undeniable quality. I have also the utmost respect for the intrepid Daniela Pes, whose Spira sounds like nothing else around me, and only good words for Marta Del Grandi and The Thugs.

However, boygenius’ the record and, to a lesser extent, the follow-up EP the rest are what 2023 has been mostly all about in terms of music. The vinyl did not come cheap, but the record has been pretty much my go-to album until McMahon stole its thunder. It does not matter, anyway, because boygenius are a storm and they still have plenty a thunder to share.

As for older music, I have fallen madly in love with Ada Oda, who are clearly here to remind me new wave is as relevant for me today as it was back in my youth, and I have found something worth of attention in Andrew WK’s most recent and less appreciated albums. They cannot match the wild rides of his first two works but at least they do find him at peace with himself somehow.


Just as it has been a great year for studying and reading, cinema has found its way to my heart again. The following is a mixed selection of titles from 2023 and from 2022, because I had so much to catch up with.

  • Knock at the Cabin (M. Night Shyamalan)
  • La Nuit du 12 (Dominik Moll)
  • Novembre (Cédric Jimenez)
  • Coma (Bertrand Bonello)
  • Pacifiction (Albert Serra)
  • Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
  • Avatar: The Way of Water (James Cameron)
  • Malum (Anthony DiBlasi)
  • Sick of Myself (Kristoffer Borgli)
  • Bodies Bodies Bodies (Halina Reijn)
  • Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet)
  • Bottoms (Emma Seligman)
  • Ferrari (Michael Mann)
  • Priscilla (Sofia Coppola)
  • May December (Todd Haynes)

As I did with books, some extra notes:

  • French cinema is still able to say things like nobody else;
  • Blonde is absolutely fantastic8 and I wonder if my appreciation for it could explain why I feel so distant from most contemporary film critics;
  • James Cameron is once again reinventing cinema;
  • I am so happy that horror films still talk to me;
  • I did not need Ferrari to love Michael Mann, but I am glad he wanted to make sure my feelings have not changed.

  1. See: Proust Society of Greenwich↩︎

  2. See: Better built-in completions↩︎

  3. See: Clojure and Tree-sitter↩︎

  4. See: Why Proust?↩︎

  5. See: Time and academia in Elif Batuman and Dario Ferrari↩︎

  6. See: Marilyn’s avatar↩︎

  7. So much so that the critical editions of his Notebooks and Letters are already next to me. ↩︎

  8. See: Marilyn’s avatar↩︎