“WHEN I FEEL LIKE PURELY A SET OF EYES I’M AT MY HAPPIEST”

That’s one thing Tavi Gevinson says in this talk. I watched it last night after I watched Swordman II and was thinking about how I could steal the ideas in the movie and command them to write a novel for me about a man who becomes a woman in order to be the greatest fighter ever. Gevinson became pretty famous because of a fashion blog she started when she was 11. She got invitations to all sorts of fancy events like fashion week in New York. She went, but, exposed to so many creations, and having already put so much of her life and enthusiasms on the internet, she started to get depressed about the possibilities of ever being able to make an original thing–to be, she said, like Bjork, a creature out of nowhere, a woodland nymph. She stopped blogging, moped, and a doctor told her she was depressed. Then, in her journals, she got organized about figuring out why she likes what she likes, and what’s unique about the ways she likes them.

She’d already realized that daydreams can be way better than reality. She says that even though she got to be part of “the fashion world” in person, “The things that really shaped me are like sitting on my bed and reading magazines and feeling like I was getting a secret message from another planet.” Watch her talk for more details, but basically it was at this point that she understood: she’s happiest thinking about and appropriating and rearranging what other people have made, and synthesizing lots of information so that she can explain to other people what disparate things have in common and why they’re relevant. The ways she organizes information in her notebooks are pretty great, like the catalog of different types of light (begins around minute 26–listen to her explanation of her note about “glow”). Tavi mourns for the idealism of loving things “purely and from afar”–for the time when it still seemed possible that reality could be as wonderful as daydreams.

I wanted to be able to end with something adult, like about how much more satisfying reality can be than dreams. But do I really believe that? I walked around all day today wondering. I became lost, caught in a bus vortex I thought I might never escape, until I encountered a driver who had passed me much earlier. The bus must have turned around a ways up the road, and now was headed in the opposite direction, the one I was now trying to go. You still trying to get to San Pablo? the driver asked, then got me to a stop that was an exit from the vortex. I went stumbling through the city, meeting nice people but not feeling quite settled enough to enjoy them, then had a long walk down a winding road with no sidewalks to where I live in someone else’s home. Is reality really so satisfying? I’m not sure. But it is nice to have senses, and to be able to look at things–while I was walking down the winding road, feeling cold and hungry for something more satisfying than I knew food would be, I glimpsed, far below, a golden bath in which islands were diving, surfacing, diving. I suppose I was seeing the bay, and that the sun was only setting.