The Tyranny of Best-Of Lists
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THE TYRANNY OF BEST-OF LISTS
When you make things for a living, you spend a fair amount of time battling doubts, internal and external obstacles, and people’s belief in you.
The bumpy uncertainty paving the road to publication or production—whatever entrance into the world your work must pass—is uncomfortable, and the hike can take years; years puckered by loneliness.
When you finally finish your project, you are ragged and exposed, emotionally charged and packed down with hope and craving, knowing what’s ahead is an experience whose outcome your years of work cannot predict or control.
One bad review can derail a career that hasn’t started or end one that’s been gaining strength.
Critics have tremendous power and don’t often understand the gravity a bad review can have on the soul of an artist, at least not until their own work is assessed in the same manner.
The presence of a bad review crushes as much as the absence of your work on year-end roundups and best-of lists.
But let’s be clear: there is no such thing as a “best” anything.
There is only “out of the narrow pool of things I managed to experience this year, here are the ones that most moved or impacted me.”
A best-of-list can be entirely subjective or entirely political. Artists who can afford to often hire publicists to help themselves get on a list. It often feels rigged, and perhaps it is.
Of course, if you DO land on a best-of list, you’ll vibrate with validation, and your core wounds will feel resolved until your next project is upon you, and it all begins again.
So, instead of a best-of list, I am offering A HANDFUL OF MY FAVORITE THINGS from 2023 and A HANDFUL OF MY LEAST FAVORITE THINGS from 2023.
My favorite things delighted, taught, invigorated, and inspired me.
My least favorite things left me gutted and dissociated.
HERE ARE A HANDFUL OF MY FAVORITE THINGS from 2023.
FIRST, THE PERSONAL:
Feeling grown enough to end therapy after 23 years.
Inbox Collective (when you have a newsletter, there are things you didn’t know you needed to know, but Dan Oshinsky knows them!)
Jeremy Caplan’s Wonder Tools is for those who can’t stop trying out new tools, apps, and platforms.
Product Hunt is your new rabbit hole if you love being the first to hear about tech products.
FAVORITE READING EXPERIENCES
FAVORITE THINGS TO BROWSE
LEAST FAVORITE THINGS from 2023
Losing Paul La Farge
Losing Rebecca Godfrey
The nearly 400% rise in Antisemitism
The incomprehensible loss of innocent Palestinian lives
The incomprehensible loss of innocent Israeli life
The incomprehensible division between friends, family, and neighbors.
Losing Sinead O Connor
Losing Robert Gottlieb
Losing Tina Turner
Losing Harry Belafonte
The list of deaths is too long, so I’ll stop.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION:
Keep track of everything I love in 2024 so I don’t forget almost everything like I did in 2023.
Got any 2023 favorites? Share them in the comments!
Until next week, I will remain…
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