🔒 Emily Mariko and over $100,000.
Is this newsletter just a digest of my stray thoughts?
Happy Friday, friends!
What is the appeal of Emily Mariko?
If you’ve spent any amount of time on TikTok, then you’re familiar with viral content creator Emily Mariko.
Emily Mariko’s something of a TikTok it-girl these days—not only is everyone trying to copy her mannerisms (more on this in a bit), style, and signature video format, but she was also the subject of a profile in The Cut a month ago.
Most of the content about Emily Mariko focuses on how she’s “de-stigmatizing comfort food,” including that Cut article.
“She’s eating real food,” said the Cut’s beauty director, Kathleen Hou. “I think it’s the start of a new type of wellness. Less lemon water. ‘Hot girls drink regular milk,’ but they also eat bread.”
I’d like to propose something else. The Cut article touches on this only briefly—her videos, on top of being “easy to watch,” are ASMR:
[…] she makes full use of her tools and surroundings, performing the world’s most delicate version of Stomp in her immaculate, empty kitchen. In that viral salmon video, for example, we hear ice cubes rattling around as she opens her freezer drawer, the faint squirt of Sriracha, the squish of salmon under her fork, and the crunch of seaweed as she takes her first bite.
Because she says so little in her videos, the recipes speak for themselves.
I don’t think that quite captures it though. The soundtrack of an Emily Mariko video, at least for me, isn’t evocative of the food she’s making. And this also says nothing of her mannerisms, which are so… performative? Deliberate? There is something very unusual about the way she conducts herself on her TikTok, and I don’t believe we have the language yet to describe it. Or at least, I myself don’t have the language to describe it.
I’ve written before about non-pornographic porn for UnHerd, and god willing, I have an expansion on this idea being published in another publication in the next couple of weeks.
What is non-pornographic porn? Simply put, it’s the libidinal energy of pornography, re-channeled into something totally non-pornographic, as a symptom of a population that’s de-sensitized to the more explicitly erotic.
Agamben described a similar phenomenon, discussing the surprising eroticism of facial expressions in models and porn stars:
It is this brazen-faced indifference that fashion models, porn stars, and others whose profession it is to show themselves must learn to acquire; they show nothing but the showing itself (that is, one’s own absolute mediality). In this way, the face is loaded until it bursts with exhibition-value. Yet, precisely through this nullification of expressivity, eroticism penetrates where it could have no place: the human face. […] Shown as a pure means beyond any concrete expressivity, it becomes available for a new use, a new form of erotic communication.
I’m not totally clear on whether I think Emily Mariko’s videos are an example of this, but I have a feeling they might be. And if nothing else, I think the way she is physically moving around her space has been totally under-appreciated.
There’s something there. But what is it?
Selling over $100,000 worth of alternative literature
Known enemy (though, I maintain, it doesn’t have to be this way, guys) Zero HP Lovecraft sold at least $120,000 worth of books1 over the course of a single evening yesterday on a crypto-backed book publishing platform.
This is incredible, and for reasons that I think, at least, have very little to do with crypto.