The National, singing in Fake Empire, a song which recently achieved exposure during the closing moments of Southland, a new cop show set in LA, directed in the unforgiving glare of the sun and the submerged, deep shadows of the LA night, with pin-sharp, brutal clarity. The track contains a multitude of emotions tightly wrapped in the beaten cadences of Tom Waits’ poetry and the loneliness of Jack Kerouac’s American nights. The moment when despair and hope collide and it could go either way. This constant wonder of being alive. Everything is bright, everything is in shadow, and you go quietly through the shades in the valley of the sun, because to go any other way might make it all real, and you don’t know yet if you want darkness or wonder. Tiptoe, then, for now. Just like falling for someone, just like writing a novel; you plunge in with abandon and yet you tread carefully, because you don’t know yet what this thing may be, what it could become. You sense its power but don’t know it, although you want it more than you can say. You can only will it into existence. You want it, you want him, you want her. It’s all so close in your mind, so faraway from where you are. The chorus of the song tells us: “we’re half-awake, in a fake empire.” Maybe that’s the state we’re all in. Maybe that’s what it means to be conscious, to be human. To feel, to be in love. It’s our job as writers to find this out; it’s something only we can do.