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This week, like the week before that and the week before that and so on, a bunch of things happened that you’ve likely formed a position on. Tittle-tattle going around about a new season of Twin Peaks, long thought an apocryphal pipe-dream, was proved correct. J-Law, AKA my personal hero, has gone public about her reaction to her nudes being leaked. A bunch of impotent fucks/’good lads’ down in Dunedin are sharing nude pictures of girlfriends, ex-girlfriends or paramours on a private Facebook group. Ebola has reached the US-of-A, although whether it’s going to wreak havoc like it’s doing in Africa is another question. ISIS still exists, Islamophobes still exist. Ben Affleck surprises us all by deigning to offer his insight into the situation.
Having opinions on these things come easily. Writing about them is only slightly harder. You take an opinion you have and back it up with fact, you consider other opinions and trounce it with other facts. Congratulations: you’ve got contrived yourself an argument. Throw in a couple of apt adjectives, a sprinkling of words other people might have to google, and you’ve got yourself an article. Here are some some examples of ‘opinions’ I have, some of which are relayed in the form of an argument.
Duck is the best meatstuff I have ever ingested. It should be more commercially available. It has the tender consistency of lamb, the delectable fat of pork, the health properties of chicken. It can be cooked according to preference, like steak and salmon. It’s versatile enough to be complemented by spring rolls, rice, noodles, salad or roast vegetables. It tastes exquisite. Don’t get me wrong, I think ducks are gorgeous specimens too – shit, duck was my first word – but if it hasn’t made contact with your taste buds, you haven’t had all the Anatidae beasts have to offer.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie >>>>>>> The Book
F U C K I S R A E L. Fuck people who conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. Fuck anti-Semites who use anti-Zionism as a way of justifying their grossness.
Law students should be prohibited from taking pride in expressing opinions on injustice. Debaters should not be allowed to publicly express opinions. Debating gives a guise of objective weight to arguments formulated under a prescribed sort of language, reduces important issues to an intellectual exercise. Everything is measured in how well it adheres to certain codes and usages of language, of course, but debaters are just so fucking pompous about it.
Gilmore Girls is the definitive television show. Oh, don’t you raise your DVD boxsets of The Wire at me, or regale me with tales about disporting yourself in front of an aged TV playing The Sopranos; these two shows, sometimes alongside Sex and the City, are regarded as standard-bearers of the ‘golden age’ of television. Gilmore Girls, meanwhile, is relegated to ‘guilty pleasure’ or ‘watchable but flawed’ obliteration. This is shit. The dialogue is razor-sharp, the characterisations wonderful, family dynamics perfectly rendered and then deconstructed until all you have is a tangible kind of love that can’t be addressed in witty bons mots or piquant little sallies, only felt. Pop-culture references abound. Not one forced.
Criticisms about it being ‘over-the-top’ miss the fundamental premise of the show, which is that it is meant to seem hurried and giddily unrestrained. All the cylinders run to provide a means for catharsis; the poignant moments, and there are at least one an episode, are even (bitter)sweeter for the MDMA-direction that precedes and follows them. Claims that it petered out in a disastrous final season should not preclude it from a canonical standing. Also: it’s as comfortable as the embrace of a family member you haven’t seen in ages. Wherever you go it will follow indeed.
Here’s the thing, though: opinions might be ubiquitous, but they’re also invaluable. Through exchanging them, we can change perceptions. If we dissent, we can analyse why they’re different and bolster our own or even change our minds. This is how we make things get better. Writing, in your own words, is crucial to this. I don’t think my farts sound like Miles Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ because I can write okay, but I do know that it provides an outlet for discussion under a voice that is uniquely your own, or at least a compenetration of all your influences. Writing develops you. It helps when times are shit. And it lets you know you’re not alone, or that if you are, you have yourself. You’re not shouting into a void: write for yourself or for a friend, but go forth and write. Put your ingenuity to fine use.
As I reach the end of my tenure as Salient’s feature-writer/rogue vagabond, I have no idea if I’ll ever write for an audience, or for money, again. Jobs in the field are notoriously hard to stumble upon, and, for the sake of financial solvency, I’ll probably sell my soul to MFAT or similar. I’ll develop a paunch, drink only in the weekends, buy a pet. But I will always – always – write. S/O to all the editors I’ve had who told me I could do it; thank you for Elle and Uther, back in 2011, who told me I couldn’t*. Finally: thank you for being my readership this year. It’s been an honour and a privilege. Go get ’em, champs. Breeze ’em out. <3
*This is not intended facetiously.
Philip McSweeney bribed his way into becoming Salient‘s resident feature-writer for 2k14. His life motto is “Check you priv or get a shiv”, and he still coasts on that one time he completed Minesweeper in two seconds. Follow him @neverdenudesz or peruse his music collection on rateyourmusic/~neverdenudesz.