Mad in Pursuit Notebook

Thoughts on 2022 (with a Manifesto)

4 Jan 2022. I am not optimistic about the new year. The pandemic rages here in upstate New York. The world is going to hell, suffering from the extremes of corporate greed, politics as blood sport, and ignorance. As we face another year of this and try to pump ourselves up with resolutions and goals, I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking why bother?

On the other hand, if this year is going to be a grinding continuation of last year, I need a fresh point of view. I'm happy to roll along with the same mix of projects--studying, writing, diving deep into family history or the history of found objects, communing with the stars, etc. But to keep it interesting, I think I'll whip it all into my personal METAVERSE--but not the neonate metaverse of Big Tech, which will shove consumerism and misinformation down our throats. I'd like a metaverse of the imagination--some place to "go," supported by books and art and nature.

Or I'll define a coherent world that becomes my own SUBCULTURE, subcultures being all the rage now in youthful social media. I've been reading about the internet subculture of "Dark Academia"--part of a "neo-aesthetic" movement glorifying books, learning, handwriting, and the life of English Oxbridge students. It takes inspiration from the Victorian Aesthetic [aka Arts & Craft] Movement.

The Aesthetic Movement in Britain (1860 – 1900) aimed to escape the ugliness and materialism of the Industrial Age, by focusing instead on producing art that was beautiful rather than having a deeper meaning – 'Art for Art's sake'. The artists and designers in this 'cult of beauty' crafted some of the most sophisticated and sensuously beautiful artworks of the Western tradition and in the process remade the domestic world of the British middle-classes. [Victoria & Albert Museum]

Sounds good, till you dig deeper. "Dark Academia" winds up looking pretty superficial. Candle-lit libraries as Instagram backdrops. Old books and bookbags as TikTok props. A spread in Cosmopolitan featuring Dark-Academia-inspired mini-skirts--really?

I'll have to invent my own subculture. "DARK MONASTERY"--something like that.

Oh, I feel a manifesto coming on! [Read The Atlantic on manifesto-writing.]

Draft Dark Monastery Manifesto for 2022

:: [Work] While civilization unravels, we have mysteries to solve.

:: [Research] We will make sense of things.

:: [Preservation] We will write up our findings as stories or turn them into visual art.

:: [Share] We will be entertaining.

:: [Integrity] We will stay close to nature.

:: [Community] If there are enough of us, we will patch together the unspoiled remnants of the old civilization into something new.

I have much more to say about these points, but no one reads a long manifesto these days. I'm looking down at my accompanying fashion aesthetic: black t-shirt, wool socks and leggings, a heathery charcoal cardigan with patched cuffs, and a long red cashmere scarf I got as a gift twenty years ago. My wild hair is twisted into a bun. Ready to do the work. Let's get this year rolling.


HEADLONG: Over the Edge in Pakistan and China (2018) Traveler's tale of a 1992 adventure. A poorly planned roadtrip takes long-time lovers Susan and Jim to forbidden places and lost times. Kindle.

THE SUDDEN SILENCE: A Tale of Suspense and Found Treasure (2015) Thailand: lovers of ancient treasure tangle with international black markets. Delia Rivera pulls Martin Moon back into the game and their quest turns deadly. In paperback and Kindle editions.

TRIBE OF THE BREAKAWAY BEADS: Book of Exits and Fresh Starts (2011) Time after time, Mary asks herself: Do I go or do I stay? She finds her power in her ancestors: Smart women turn discontent into action. An illustrated memoir in paperback and Kindle editions.

PASSION AND PERIL ON THE SILK ROAD: A Thriller in Pakistan and China (2008) The twin forces of revenge and redemption drive Nellie MacKenzie and Taylor Jackson on a crazed adventure into the heart of Central Asia. They grapple with issues of ethics, trust, rage, and bitter heartbreak -- as well as the intrigue of the international antiquities trade. In paperback and Kindle editions.



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