Monday, December 31, 2012

Year-End Round-Up


I stopped using Goodreads and stopped counting books. Thus, I haven't got the exact number for books I read in 2012. However, doing some quick arithmetic and searching my memory, we're probably looking at a number somewhere between 105 and 110. Not as good as 2011, but still quite impressive. Since I no longer have an exact list of the books I read, there's probably something I'm missing when I decide which is my favourite book. This means that I'm not going to do a Top Ten or anything like that.

A relatively new trend grew in 2012: I read far more nonfiction than I've ever read in my life. In fact, I probably read ten times more nonfiction this year than in any previous year of my life. I read a history of the Crusades, of the post-9/11 wars, of Britain in the 80s, of the decline of violence, of the birth of the prison, of guns, germs and steel, and some others. I read some philosophy, some cultural criticism, some journalism, some essays, and some others.

Even though I didn't formally review it, Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature stands as an extremely important and extremely fascinating document of the decline of violence in civilization. It seemed like every page has a fact or an idea that shifts a paradigm. It's an interdisciplinary methodology that every writer should look to as a superlative example of excellence in research and approach. It's the best book I read all year and I read a lot of good books. I can't really remember every single book, but I know that Pinker's tome was the one I thought about the most and the one I was the most excited during the reading experience.


The best film of 2012 was without a doubt, Tarantino's Django Unchained. Relatively nothing come close. While I loved The Dark Knight Rises, it wasn't quite as good as Tarantino's return to cinemas. Django Unchained is a bloody, emotional, hilarious, tense, and ridiculous love letter to exploitation B-movies, spaghetti westerns, and America itself. I saw more films in 2012 than I did in 2011, but I saw very few prestige films. Just like in previous years, I'm losing interest in film as a medium. Slowly but surely. It's going to take a lot to get me interested in a film nowadays.


However, I did play a lot of video games! More than ever. The winner, after much deliberation and careful thought has to be Batman: Arkham City, even though it came out in 2011. I purchased the Game of the Year edition and played it constantly for about a month. The story was intriguing and had a twist ending I didn't see coming (a rarity in video game narratives) and the gameplay immensely satisfying and enjoyable. Close seconds are Far Cry 3, Dishonored, Saints Row the Third, and the Black Mesa mod. There's something about video games that draws me in better than film can right now.


I'm eschewing top ten lists and whatnot this year. I can't be arsed to list everything I've done, read, and watched this year. It doesn't even matter. Mindlessly accumulating culture as if it were products to be acquired is counterproductive to the project that is self-improvement. Thus, I'm terribly uninterested in mobilizing lists that reduce artifacts to numbers. I'm also irritated by the Internet's amazing unaware tendency to produce year-end lists so early. Top Ten Lists are growing in number and in volume to the point where they're encroaching on other months. Soon, year-end lists will begin in August. It's not surprising, considering culture's near-constant attempt at de-historicizing everything and anything.


In terms of New Year's Resolutions — who gives a fuck. New Years only serves to remind us of the inexorable passing of time, the slow creeping methodical way in which time never stops, never slows down, never relents, and always, we the mortals grow weaker and grow wrinkles.

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