Here’s to another Monday, Berkeley.
This past week brought a whirlwind of updates and changes to normal campus life. With classes moving online for the rest of the semester, the UC Berkeley population is undergoing massive change. The mélange of students coming and going produces a sense of departure, if not from the area, then from the normalcy and comfort of routine. So, for this week and the weeks to come, I will be recommending media to fit all sorts of moods. These selections speak to movement and departure, the transition between spaces and places.
If your week consists of departure, tune into Christine and the Queens’ new album, La Vita Nuova, which translates to “The New Life.” The French androgynous icon and her trailblazing group forge ahead in the electronic pop genre to create a space for love and loss. The album’s navigation of complex feelings is worked out through a range of soppy ballads and dance beats, all wrapped up in just six songs. Pay special attention to “Mountains (we met),” as it encapsulates all that arises with saying goodbye.
Speaking of similar sentiments, Björk’s album Debut is a quintessential guide to processing transitive yet fleeting feelings. Another euphoric icon, Björk works through her emotions with happier mixing and a voice that trembles with ecstatic delight in every wail. Personal favorites from this work include “Violently Happy” and “Aeroplane,” both of which showcase lyrics about departure with incredibly rooted rhythms.
Continuing with the transition narrative on Tuesday, leaf through Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.” More than 60 years since its original publication, Kerouac remains at the forefront of American travel literature. Although it has been revealed that Kerouac never actually drove himself, his rambling, simplistic prose speaks for days about never-ending tarmac, with uncertainty afoot. The relatability of “On the Road” might provide some form of companionship in this time of isolation, the work celebrating the very feeling of alienation.
For Wednesday, add to your at-home consumption by following a few more online content creators. Watch James Barkman and his rusted yet trusted yellow Volkswagen van cruise up and down the West Coast, with Barkman occasionally departing to South America to extend his travels. An incredible photographer, Barkman captures the beauty of his surroundings, as well as the feeling of traveling the roads solo. Instead of the expected isolation from constant movement, Barkman communicates the self-reflection he exercises in his days alone, summed up in shots of his van or the occasionally encountered fellow traveler.
An interesting contrast to Barkman’s movement is looking at those who remain in their region for the near, and hard to project, future. i-D magazine recently published a piece on China’s youth, who are turning to creative outlets to flip their current quarantine into a productive period of artistic growth. While confined in their respective cities, people are turning to art as therapy, transforming this era of isolation into a fruitful, introspective period.
Following suit with an ode to isolation, turn to Time magazine’s “A Year in Space” on Thursday. As the title suggests, the documentary follows the American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko on their journey to and residency in the International Space Station. Their time leading up to, during and following the mission is all detailed in spectacularly shot scenes that are immersive and simply breathtaking, with the wonder of human accomplishment and space itself displayed. The film also does justice to the people and places the two men leave behind on Earth, in addition to showing the physical and emotional distances that they are engaged with. The revolutionary work that came out of the mission, however, was clearly worth the time spent in space, especially with their appreciative return to Earth and all that is familiar.
The same feeling of return is fleshed out with Jérémy Clapin’s “I Lost My Body.” The imaginative animated feature focuses on a severed hand as it searches the entirety of Paris for its body. Now on Netflix, this charming film combines color and immense creativity to tell a story about determinism and the grounding feeling of home.
While departure often comes with pain and uncertainty, it makes the return all the more magnificent. Hopefully, these media picks are reminders of the good that can come from navigating transitive emotions, turning this time into productive self-reflection that makes us grateful for the places we leave.
Contact Francesca Hodges at [email protected].