2023 Cannot Be Dreamt Away

Arjun Basu
8 min readDec 22, 2023

Though you might wish it

What a year it was

I am tired of year end reviews.

Years can suck for the writer of the review or for the world at large, or can be good for the writer of the review (but rarely for the world at large) but 2023 seemed to continue a string of crap that started with the pandemic that refuses to leave (it hasn’t gone anywhere just look at the numbers though we’ve normalized the deaths from it to an astonishing degree) and continued on to, oh, the continuing mess in the Ukraine, wars in Burma and Sudan (which, quite possibly, is the world’s worst disaster right now, if we must rank disasters, and probably the most ignored for reasons that are too obvious to mention), and the incredible intractable kerfuffle that is Israel and the Palestinians (not ignored, obviously, but not always for the right reasons) and all the drama and trauma and idiocy and suffering that this latest awful mess is causing both in the vicinity of the conflict but also around the world.

The extremists are winning, in other words. They are always the source of the news. Always. Which is always a surprise.

This was our year. Canada, where I live, feels adrift but this, in hindsight, seems to be its normal vibe. In many ways Canada is not a serious country (and I don’t mean in the right wing pundit talking point kind of way, nor do I mean this in the Quebec separatist kind of way either). It is one that allows you to live and not think about things (and if you do, chances are it is an American thing) and this is a luxury and the result of the privilege of living huddled by the border of a superpower. In Quebec, where I also live, we are led by a party of bureaucrats and careerists who govern by what they think their voters might like, as opposed to leading. So the teachers are on strike, the nurses are on strike, the government promises things no one wants, they go after minorities and/or immigrants because it gets them points in the hinterland, they hate the metropolis because it is so different from the rest of the place. The government in Quebec is the result of a population being tired of politics and personalities and so we are governed by an apolitical bunch that is free of personality. In Montreal, where I live, the city marches on, drifting and defiant, with and without momentum, but livable and charming and creative…

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Arjun Basu

Writer. Complainer. I drink bourbon. I work in content, branding and strategy. Next novel, The Reeds, out in 2024. @arjunbasu in many places.