Any Kanye West fan on Twitter is used to his disappearing (and reappearing) act. After an 11-month-long absence, he returned to the social-media platform on Sunday, once again tweeting like he’s transcribing a Eugène Ionesco play.
Only this time around, his tweets have come more in the form of self-help tips than rants about his personal grievances. On Wednesday, he began tweeting tips on productivity, writing, “When you first wake up don’t hop right on the phone or the internet or even speak to anyone for even up to an hour if possible. Just be still and enjoy your own imagination. It’s better than any movie.”
He went on to muse, “You have the best ideas. Other people’s opinions are usually more distractive than informative. Follow your own vision. base your actions on love. Do things you love and if you don’t absolutely love something stop doing it as soon as you can. Don’t follow crowds. Follow the innate feelings inside of you. Do what you feel not what you think. Thoughts have been placed in our heads to make everyone assimilate. Follow what you feel.”
As it turns out, West isn’t just offering advice for no reason—he’s producing a philosophy book. He tweeted Wednesday, “Oh by the way this is my book that I’m writing in real time. No publisher or publicist will tell me what to put where or how many pages to write. This is not a financial opportunity this is an innate need to be expressive.”
Producing a book in “real time” sounds ambitious but not surprising given West’s work as an artist. He’s constantly surpassed expectations in music production and theatrical staging precisely because he’s a great artist. But let’s talk about the scenario of West as a philosopher, because that’s when I need to stop the track and state facts.
The aforementioned absurdist playwright Ionesco once wrote, “Culture cannot be separated from politics. The arts, philosophy and metaphysics, religion and the sciences, constitute culture. Politics are the science or art of organizing our relationships to allow for the development of life in society. But, in our time, politics have overtaken all other manifestations of the human spirit… Developing as they have by trampling on man’s other activities, they have made men mad. Politics have become nothing more than a senseless struggle for power that mobilizes and monopolizes all the energies of modern man.”
Politics and culture and philosophy cannot be separated from one another, and West’s return seems like a convenient way for him to whitewash his previous political digressions. In the wake of the 2016 election, West, who once famously said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” embraced the notably racist Donald Trump.
In December 2016, after Trump’s presidential win, West met with him at Trump Tower. Trump transition team member Jason Miller told The Daily Beast at the time, “[Trump] is going to be president for all Americans. [Kanye] has had positive things to say about the president-elect” and wanted to “reach out to people both from traditional and nontraditional political viewpoints.” West never fully explained this meeting, considering his militant politics and Trump’s hateful rhetoric.
During a concert before the election, he even went on a rant about how he was going to vote for Trump. “If I would have voted, I would have voted Trump,” West told booing fans on the second leg of his Saint Pablo Tour in San Jose, California. Most of this could be chalked up to West’s mental state near the end of his tour—he eventually canceled the tour before it ended—but West’s Trump-stumping isn’t the only thing he has yet to answer for.
On Feb. 9, 2016, West went on an evening Twitter spree that ended with “BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!” As a West fan, you often practice cognitive dissonance with the more outlandish aspects of his personality and separate the art from the artist. But comments like this remind you of the misogyny that exists in much of West’s work—particularly the misogyny against black women. Yeezus, for instance, glamorizes sex with white women as an act of political defiance while the only mention of sex with a black woman is: “I put my fist in her like the civil rights sign.”
West has largely been able to ignore deeper questions regarding his intentions because of his larger-than-life persona and tremendous gifts as an artist. But now, he’s moved into the arena of philosophy. And frankly, who wants to get advice from a Trump- and Cosby-loving misogynist? It’s harder to separate West’s antics from this iteration of his Twitter feed, because he’s now positing himself as some type of guru. In a conversation with his interior designer, Axel Vervoordt, West said, “I do think that there’s not a balance in the news. Like you said, we don’t want to be influenced, just informed. That’s a big term that people use right now: influencers. I don’t want anyone to influence.”
This belies West’s intentions. If he wants to shape the future, he will be an influencer himself; if he’d like the news to inform, then I can simply say West is a man who has supported Trump and Cosby and now wants us to ignore that because he’s writing a book “in real time.” Don’t let this influence your opinion on West’s return. After all: It’s just information.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mistakenly referred to Virgil Abloh instead of Axel Vervoordt as Kanye West's interior designer. We regret the error.