We published Issue 15: Root Systems in July 2022. Experience the full issue here.
Issue 15: Root Systems
Politics requires that we forget language is a creation. But if we trace back the lineage of our word-crafting and meaning-making far enough, it’s not hard to see how humans have long used words as a way to obscure, conceal, and confuse. Words like “progress” have been used to gild our culture of perpetual striving and dissatisfaction; words like “normal” protect the powers that demand compliance from those who challenge the status quo; and words like “history” offer up a facade of objectivity when, in fact, memory is inherently inequitable. The biggest stunt capitalism has pulled off is convincing society that “creativity” is a luxury or a privilege, when capitalism is what has actually destroyed the value of it. As writers and artists, our medium is quite literally the message, so how can we hone a deeper awareness of what that very language has worked to conceal?
All our systems are working as they were meant to — including the sprawling mechanisms of language. They are working so well, in fact, that it can feel impossible to tear them down and start over. But this is where our work really begins, at this very precipice. Something has to shatter so that we might rebuild, and we as writers and artists are the ones who must collectively construct the hammer. Awareness of corrupt systems is a necessary first step, but beyond that, how can we use our words to create real change instead of just recycling performative language?
For this issue, we are asking you to dig deep into the root of a word, a concept, or a belief, and to tell us what you find. What are the institutions — family, religion, education, and beyond — that dictate your understanding of the world, and where do you locate the sting of disillusionment? How can we redefine what “satisfaction” looks like within late-stage capitalism, and can we reframe how society perceives and dictates “value”? What do we do when nothing matters? And what words in your life have been obfuscated beyond meaning? We want to know: What truths have you unearthed beneath the falsitudes, and how is what is real related to what’s possible? Tell us: How do we get back to the root of things — how can we pull up the weeds in our work to make space for new growth?
This call was co-curated by Sarah Ghazal Ali, Alysia Gonzales, Swastika Jajoo, sheena d., Avi-Yona Israel, Bretty Rawson, and Joyce Chen.
Our digital issues are now a Digital Residency.
Starting with Issue 15: Root Systems, and for all new issues going forward, each of our contributors will participate in a three-month, cohort-based digital residency that will guide them toward publication. We will select 12 to 16 writers and artists for each issue, grouped into cohorts of four. Each cohort will go through a three-session digital residency experience together, during which they will be able to support each other’s work, gain insight into their own creative practices, and workshop the pieces they are creating for publication within the issue. Digital Residents will also have the chance to opt into several one-time intimate talks that will take place during their residency (these talks will also be open to the public, for a small fee). We have always been dedicated to paying everyone we publish, and this core principle still very much applies to our Digital Residents, who will receive payment for their work ($100).
We have been heartened by the responsiveness of writers, artists, and creators during these difficult times, and will continue to respond to changing realities as humanly as possible. We look forward to getting to know your voice.
Featured Image courtesy Lara604.