Near and far enemies

The words 'protect me from what I want' against a city nightscape
Survival (1985) Jenny Holzer

Dear Reader,

It is nice to write to you again. Recently, I’ve been preoccupied with working on a personal manifesto — explicitly about marketing & publicity but at its heart, it is more about anti-capitalism, ways of being together, and working the trap that one is inevitably in — to guide my work here at Ethos. I’m not sure if it is foolhardiness or just a natural aversion to conventional wisdom but I have never been influenced or felt compelled by the philosophies of wealthy business people. I often think there’s a current of darkness underneath it all.

Instead, I turned to some of my favourite writers and poets hoping to find a polestar to traverse these turbulent ethical and aesthetic waters. I remember David Foster Wallace famously declared that “an ad that pretends to be art is like somebody who smiles at you warmly only because he wants something from you.”

This dishonesty has a sinister cumulative effect: since it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill's real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defenses even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.

There’s still a lot of thinking to do, and I’ll be stealing time during my train ride to the office and in between sets at the gym to continue working through this. But I hope in my time here to never induce such feelings of despair in you.

Short letter this week. I hope you’re all well.


(From March 14, 2020)