Year end lists aren’t what they used to be. Once a staple of newspaper writing, particularly alternative weeklies in the US, they’ve since faded in importance. Not only because the publications they once featured in have largely disappeared. More importantly, because popular culture no longer holds the same importance it had for young people until the War on Terror.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t reflect on what makes the times we live in intelligible. But it does mean we shouldn’t pretend culture is indispensable, either. As anyone who has ever worked as an entertainment critic will tell you, what they do can be an especially problematic type of journalism, as corrupt as political writing or any other kind of tabloid endeavor.
Still, it is what it is. Culture matters. Nothing allows us to experience the enormity of the everyday better than visual art, music, or literature. We may not exactly know how to interpret it all, but we get intimations of how we might rationalise the world through it. That’s why I thought I’d do a year end list.
The first time in four years, it helps put things in perspective. More, I’d wager, than the products endorsed. I’m certain I’m forgetting a few things, and will come to regret some of my choices. I look at it more as an attempt to reaquaint myself with my memory, of things that I care about, which inevitably got eclipsed by the weight of life and work.
Fatima Al Qadiri, Shaneera (Hyperdub)
Sherwood & Pinch, Man Vs. Sofa (On-U-Sound)
Downtown Boys, Cost of Living (Sub Pop)
The Bug vs Earth, Concrete Desert (Ninjatune)
Taiwan Housing Project, Veblen Death Mask (Kill Rock Stars)
Suicide, First Rehearsal Takes (Superior Viaduct)
Nurse With Wound, The Swinging Reflective (reissue, Dirter Promotions)
Gökçen Kaynatan, S/T (Finders Keepers)
Bell Witch, Mirror Reaper (Profound Lore)
Abu Ama, Naserii (Seagrave)
Mark Bray, ANTIFA: The Anti-Fascist Handbook (Melville House)
China Miéville, October: The Story of the Russian Revolution (Verso)
Eli Valley, Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel (OR Books)
Ella Shohat, On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements (Pluto)
Naomi Klein, No is Not Enough (Haymarket)
Cindy Milstein (ed), Rebellious Mourning (AK Press)
Evany Rosen, What I Think Happened: An Underresearched History of the Western World (Arsenal Pulp/Robin’s Egg)
Mark Fisher, The Weird and the Eerie (Repeater)
Christopher de Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment (Bodley Head/Penguin)
Orlando Crowcroft, Rock in a Hard Place: Music and Mayhem in the Middle East (Zed Books)
Raw, directed by Julia Ducournau
Foxtrot, directed by Samuel Maoz
Berlin Station, written and produced by Olen Steinhauer
Dunkirk, directed by Christopher Nolan
Suburra, produced by Matteo de Laurentiis, Erik Barmack, Kelly Luegenbiehl, and Jennifer Breslow
The Young Karl Marx, directed by Raoul Peck
The Death of Stalin, directed by Armando Iannucci
The Handmaid’s Tale, produced by Bruce Miller
Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino
Insyriated, directed by Philippe Van Leeuw
Screenshot courtesy of Democracy Now!/YouTube. All rights reserved.