Watch, Read, Listen: Sense8, Palimpsest, Disintegration

At the risk of sounding like the most boring person ever, I really enjoy sleeping. I am that person that will opt for a night in and an early bedtime over a crazy night out 9 times out of 10 because a good night's sleep is usually just worth more to me. I'm also a little bit obsessed with dreams. There's something about them that feels more immediate and more magical than the real world does. I look forward to them when I go to bed at night, and I'm always pleased when I remember them the next day - it feels like my mind is trying to tell me something about myself, so I do pay attention to them.

Maybe that explains why I've fallen so in love with the newest original series from Netflix, called Sense8. Watching it feels like seeing my dreams projected on a screen in waking life. Sense8 is a show about a diverse group of people around the world who suddenly, seemingly inexplicably develop a psychic connection after a mysterious woman appears to each of them simultaneously, then abruptly ends her life. Little is explained in the beginning - all that we know is that somehow, despite the distance that separates them, these characters find themselves seeing, hearing, and feeling what another person is experiencing, or sometimes seeing the other person themselves.

One of my favorite characters is Sun, whose ass-kicking is always handy when it comes to saving the day.

One of my favorite characters is Sun, whose ass-kicking is always handy when it comes to saving the day.

The show is getting mixed reviews, and I understand a lot of the critiques. The pacing is very slow, and it's several episodes in before there is a significant action sequence or much exposition about the whys and hows of the "sensates". Some people will see this as a weakness, but personally, I felt that giving us time to get to know these characters made the action and the plot developments that much more meaningful.

The characters really are the centerpiece of the show. There's Lito, the Mexican soap star hiding his sexuality behind a macho exterior; Nomi, a trans woman, hacker, and activist living with her girlfriend in San Francisco; Riley, an Icelandic DJ with a heartbreaking past living in London; Capheus, a Kenyan bus driver who remains sunnily optimistic despite an AIDS afflicted mother and a struggling business; Sun, a Korean businesswoman and underground martial artist who grapples with her family's indifference towards her; Wolfgang, a German thief and gangster whose hardened exterior belies a deep resolve; Kala, an Indian drug developer who is conflicted about her impending marriage; and Will, a Chicago cop whose compassion is an asset his partner and superiors disapprove of.

Each of these characters is fascinating on their own, but it's the unexpected connections between them that really give the show heart and depth. In the moments when they are vulnerable, unsure, or struggling (sometimes for their very lives), the bond between them opens up, and suddenly they're not so alone. Sometimes the only thing that they need is emotional reassurance. Other times, being able to call on someone's ass-kicking, hacking, or sick driving skills means the difference between life and death. And frankly, any time Sun fills someone else's shoes, prepare for a crowning moment of awesome.

This show is not afraid of an earnest monologue, and it's also not afraid of sex - straight sex, queer sex, group sex, whatever. If you're looking for something family friendly to watch with your kids or your grandmother, this might not be the right show.

If, like me, you finish Sense8 and find yourself hungry for something dark, dreamy, and seductive, I highly recommend picking up a book called Palimpsest. In broad strokes it's actually very similar to Sense8, in that four strangers find themselves linked both in real life and a magical, terrifying dream world. Marked from the experience by a striking black map that appears somewhere on their skin after they experience the city, they are compelled to find others like them as they try to find a way to stay there. Catherynne Valente is one of my favorite authors - dark, dreamy, and seductive might as well be tattooed on her forehead, because they are the words that I most associate with her writing. There's such poetry in the language that she uses, and as soon as I finish one of her books I just want to pick up another one. She building the kind of worlds that you just don't want to leave, which is, actually, kind of the point of this book.

Looking for some music to accompany the lonely wanderings of your soul? I've got The Cure's Disintegration spinning on repeat at home, but I'm also really digging Gothic Summer from the San Diego based band Prayers.

So what culture have you guys been consuming lately? Have you noticed anything in particular that they have in common?