Saturday, June 15, 2013

Matias Viegener's 2500 Random Things About Me Too

Have you noticed how fashionable randomness is right now? Random is the new black. - 2,500 Random Things About Me Too

    The virtual documentation of our lives has become so commonplace (and, still continues, even while the NSA rifles through American citizens’ personal data) that the majority of people, including myself, almost don’t remember WHAT the world was like without social networks. Sadly, most of what is written into the ether is ignored. The truth is that the average person can’t cope with the onslaught of compulsive, collective thought. However, for artists like Matias Viegener, interacting with Facebook on a daily basis with a conscious artistic goal paid off with literary results: The memoir, 2500 Random Things About Me Too (copyright 2012 Les Figues Press).

   Viegener, a writer, and instructor at CalArts, decided to write 25 posts a day on Facebook - random things - until he reached 2,500 posts (I believe he reached more than that, but, for the purposes of the book, and this review, it’s officially “2,500”). In reality, this isn’t a big deal. Millions of FB members clog the Internet every day with meaningless drivel. The difference is this that Viegener created a highly personal memoir by not-so-randomly reconstructing the varied facets of his life.
   2500 opens with, People think I am American but inside I am foreign. (post 1, ch i); a great opening line for a memoir, but, one that’s not supposed to be intentional. Fortunately, the human brain is designed to recognize and sort through patterns of thought, and this is reflected in each chapter, though, with the non-sequential chapter numbers, one may be led to believe otherwise.
    Viegener reveals parts of himself that can’t help but tie together; real-time, intimate observations of his dying canine companion Peggy (I intend to let go of Peggy when the time is right. I think she still has a few more weeks. I’m mourning her a little now, while she’s still here to comfort me. She seems not to be suffering, just sort of evaporating. - post 7, ch liii);  pithy, in-the-moment views on art (Some people just pose in front of art. They want to be seen in its company - post 13, ch. ixxxix); sexual orientation (It is interesting that we don’t seem to think of homosexuality as innocent. - post 25, ch lxvii); an anecdotal history of his immigrant parents (My parents had an appreciation for certain things about American culture. Wooden ducks, decoys. Moonshine jugs. Collapsed barns. These must all sound like the cliches of Americana, but through my mother I came to see them as very exotic. - v. 6, ch xxviii); and, the impact of the death of his mother (I’d destroy every conceptual art piece on earth to spend an afternoon with my mother again.” - post 17, ch xci).

    Viegener spends a great deal of time consciously reflecting on the process of keeping his posts “random,” as well as the the effect his posts have on his FB friends (Sometimes people’s comments on my random things are better than my random things. - post 3, ch xxxiv). On the surface, the overall effect of 2500 could be construed as narcissistic, another subject which Viegener opines, however, that is not the case. Viegener has a highly disciplined and well-organized mind, which is reflected in his succinct and engrossing conversational style, and, in the spiral patterns of his narrative. He can’t help but go back to the most important topics - the foundations of his personal history, and those immediate things/incidents which eventually become woven into the tapestry of who Viegener has become/is becoming.  

    2500 Random Things About Me Too serves to the reader an invaluable lesson: in revealing ourselves, even in the virtual world, we cannot escape, and, we must come to terms with, the totality of who each of us “is,” especially under our own scrutiny.

2500 Random Things About Me Too, Matias Viegener, (copyright 2012 Les Figues Press,, 978-934254-35-6, 255 pages, $15.00

book content ©  2012 Matias Viegener
article content ©  2013 Marie Lecrivain

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