The internet at times seems like a neat, pixelized shorthand for our physical lives – avatars vs. bodies and all of that – but that’s too easy a parallel to draw, and a false one, I suspect. Using terms which once applied to the physical world – “chat,” for instance, to stand in for trading typed messages instantaneously – train us toward comfort in the use of these net-based tools, as if they are something close enough to the physical experience to be named identically. But chatting (speaking) casually to a friend on the telephone, or face-to-face, provides a different set of social rules and sensory experiences, than typing on a keyboard: different interactions, different distractions, different results.
None of this is particularly new thinking, but as we continue on our mission of facilitating an evolving community that enmeshes itself with the more permanent/more intentionally formed journal, it’s interesting to think about the way in which we perform this new community, or this annotation to the wider online literary/arts community.
Last October, we had a launch party for the first issue. We mounted several pieces of poster board on the wall and wrote in the center the word “FIRST.” Then we gave markers to attendees and asked them to create a crowd-sourced thought map. The result was at some times broad-stroked and silly, and at others, muscle-slackening in its earnestness. Seeing the results, we decided to pose an assignment to our internet community – show us what is in the space between one word bubble and another. What words or narratives, for instance, may lie between “TONGUE IN MOUTH” and “DOES IT HELP”? In posing the assignment, we were interested in discovering what could be done when uniting a physical community with an internet-based community in a low-risk creative effort.
Unfortunately, we received too small a response to build a folio for Issue Two. There seemed to be lessons in this, we thought – something about balance, maybe. Something about ownership or authorship, about unnatural grafting and limited control…
We decided to ask debut issue contributors to have a conversation about what a creative community is, and what it does, and to talk about physical and internet based constellations, how the two overlap, and to offer ideas about the limits and potentials of both.
“Community is electronic,” writes Ben Spivey in this exchange, describing the way he communicates with some of his own trusted readers and colleagues. Yes. It is a sort of circuitry, an infrastructure, a frame. But perhaps, community is not only electronic but also electric: a network with its own current, spiked with a productive tension, something which can be used as a source of creative power.
In putting together these last two issues, we’ve started to believe that our own frontier region of the larger online creative community has within it a sort of built magic, a dynamism, a tide of its own.
Witness this power in stories from Colin Bassett, Barron Byrnes, Scott Ogilvie, and Chris Dennis. Unpack its bristle from poems by Micah Bateman, Amy David, Phil Estes, Eileen G’Sell, MC Hyland, Becca Klaver, Colby Somerville, and from art by Angela Zammarelli and Francis Raven.
The works published here were created in a state of independence, in personal process, and shared, perhaps, in the maker's immediate physical and/or online communities. In bringing the work into the journal, we are seeking to endow it with a larger point of entry, with a wider potential for communal call-and-response. It is not about adding value but rather adding utility.
We wrote in our first letter that putting together the first issue had been like “hanging out with a roomful of cooler, older brother and sisters.” Putting together this issue has felt less consciously social, with its own new brand of elations…It’s been more about assemblage, orientation, and composition. We like sticking to vagueness here. Now it’s up to you to read it, up to you to discover the specificities.
We welcome you, as always, to submit for the next issue. We’re particularly interested in publishing more form-flexible (experimental) creative nonfiction in the future, a subject near and dear to our editorial hearts. See our submission guidelines for more information. We’ll also have an assignment concerning collaboration for Issue Three. Check the blog for updates on that.
Thank you, and welcome to Issue Two.
Amanda Goldblatt, Ed.