2022: The year in review – Part 1: Culture

It’s time once again for the annual audit of my engagement with contemporary culture. As ever the full story is on our Tumblr; here are the best bits:

Television – I still subscribe to several streaming services, but despite this I’ve been watching a lot less TV this year compared with last. I was going to say it was mostly lightweight genre programming, but looking back I see it was actually exclusively lightweight genre programming; I evidently no longer have the intellectual stamina for the sort of serious dramas that the critics recommend. I liked Moon Knight, and The Rings of Power was pretty to look at if ultimately rather unsatisfying, but, judged by the speed with which I binge-watched it, my vote for most enjoyably diverting show would have to go to season two of Only Murders in the Building.

Film – At the start of the year I took out a membership at our local arthouse cinema, fully intending to get back into the independent movie habit; let’s just say that hasn’t quite worked out, though I did manage around one film a month. Honourable mentions go to Amsterdam, Licorice Pizza, and Nightclubbing, but I’ll try to maintain my cinephile credibility by nominating a film with subtitles as my favourite; The Worst Person in the World.

Books – My major literary project this year was reading The Brothers Karamazov, which I found every bit as good as its reputation suggests; satisfying philosophically but also narratively, with characters so vividly drawn that one never feels they are mere mouthpieces for Dostoyevsky’s ideas, rather than living, feeling individuals. I have some regret that I didn’t tackle this great work years ago, but on the other hand I also believe that the books that stay with you are the ones you read at the right time in your life; perhaps late middle-age is when I needed to meet Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov and his sons. My other obsession in 2022, inspired by my trip in the summer, involved books about life in California; highlights in the fiction category included works by Bret Easton Ellis, Edward Bunker, Joan Didion, and Armistead Maupin. My favourite book of the year was something more contemporary though; I Fear My Pain Interests You, by Stephanie LaCava.

Music – I’ve purchased rather fewer albums this year than usual; I think it’s because I’ve not been listening to the radio or reading the music press much. Still a lot of good stuff though; here are my top eleven, since I can’t quite edit it down to ten:

I didn’t get to see much live music this year; of the shows I did attend Kim Gordon was the one I really enjoyed.

So that’s the year in culture; not particularly adventurous I guess, but not totally ossified either. Next up: blogging.

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