SO NICE TO MEET YOU AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER Welcome to Issue Four
In writing this letter for Issue No. 4, I have been having some difficulty putting my thoughts together in a coherent or even syllabic manner. This issue’s folio has to do with the concept of persona, and this strummed on my jangled mind-strings as I left my St. Louis home for parts north, to take up a new part of life.
It was not until this departure that I realized how reliant I was on my own context. Persona in art is an intoxicating proposition, and entails the kind of scary and holistic control over a speaker’s identity and context. The creations of persona must, necessarily, include the evidence of a world created around it. In this new town I yearn for that kind of grounding, that kind of control.
I loved, loved, loved living in St. Louis, and I loved who I became in St. Louis: a working writer, someone who took creative risks, who adventured. I possessed the city as best I could; I knew the place for cheap good wine, and the location of the front yard that hosted a series of signs that read, from left to right: “JUST REMEMBER” “NO MATTER” “WHERE YOU GO” “PROTECTED BY BOB A CONGENIAL OLD MAN WITH WIT” “THERE YOU ARE.”
This knowledge was part of my self-definition, and never was that more clear as when I mopped up the last of a pile of lentils with a small scrap of injera at the Ethiopian restaurant where I sat with a small group of students. They had been attempting to fashion themselves as of the city and now that I was leaving, could I give them a list of places?
Let it be known that of the beautiful, complicated, Arch-mantled city, I knew very little. Only, what I knew, I loved, and I was fond of myself for this reflexively.
And now I am here, a new place, where I really know nothing. The void is absolute, seemingly unconquerable. Moreover, I know next to no one. My context is a delicate scrim: a new set of habits, taken up self-consciously. I write in the mornings; I take a walk; I try to make the gym attendant remember me. I find myself often nervous, or with the great wavelike feeling of smallness.
There are lots of joggers here. There are lots of people on bikes. They smear past my window and I am, ego-laden, bewildered by how many people do not know me.
I am interested in the way this discomfort is pressed upon when it comes to the idea of persona in art. It is just as much about what you lose as what you willingly put down, take up. In the works here, both within the folio and outside of it, we present to you a series of selves and half-selves and masquerading selves: artmakers finding forms in words and sounds and the visual to communicate concept and context, to present expressive entities and the universes they carry with them.
Gabriel Blackwell forms himself into William S. Burroughs, while Carlos Hernandez takes on the rebellious form of a man named Eugenio Infantíl. A crew of breathless contributors from the last issue correspond with each other, not knowing who is who or what is what. An essay from Chris Malcomb takes the form of a list, and then investigates the form for meaning. Adam Peterson makes a diagrammatic series of biographical moments in an excerpt from his project “Sire Lines of America,” and Joe Milazzo pressurizes a life under the weight of clotting, circuitous structure in “Accessible.” Kellie Wells offers us an excerpt of her novel and with it, the presence of her heroine, a winning giantess. Near-epic poetry by Joseph Wood surveys the self from gorgeous and unflattering angles, while Kerri Webster pries open different sorts of quiet evaluation. Steven Karl and Angela Veronica Wong unite to make a series of disintegrating and vivid missives, while Alec Hershman tests the fragile weight of assertions and values. Megafortress offers us a new sonic landscape for the future era – where all of our personas may bliss out prayerfully – while artist Brandon Anschultz upturns traditional conventions, for the better. In our first video contribution, Kate Brandt addresses self and performance with confrontation and humor in equal shares.
Issue Four, which marks for us two years in the online journal business, is madding crowd of beauty and risk, for which we are grateful. This is Assistant Editor Joe Collins' first official issue. He is the reason for the studious warmth which emanates from this little packet.
Welcome to the throng. It is so wonderful.
Amanda Goldblatt, Ed.