Winter 2012: Volume 3, Issue 1
The winter solstice strikes me every year as the most special, if not the most haunting and intuitive, day of the year. These are arguable, subjective claims, to be sure; but the northern hemisphere’s shortest day seems commensurately balanced by our human propensity for reflection, meditation, and hope. We derive the word “solstice” from the Latin solstitium, meaning “stationary sun,” in reference to the earth-centric illusion of our sun stalled at the vertex of its southern trajectory. A similar astronomical event occurs during the sun’s march northward in the summer, of course; but, perhaps, the relative biotic calm of winter—the muffles of snow and hibernation—makes the sun’s ‘pause’ on this shortest day particularly inspiring. This moment of reflection is, perhaps, what Cassandra Goldwater calls, in her nonfiction piece, a “moment of recognition, a mystery with no solution, an ordinary bit of the real. A ball called Earth—soil, water, atmosphere, and roiling middle—covered in experiments in living. This sheltering sky. This moment of atoms passing, shape shifting in eternity.” Or, perhaps a solstice meditation amplifies the material reality of the places we inhabit. As Megan Baker suggests in the artist’s statement for her photo series, “Places that Don’t Exist,” “The world doesn’t feel so empty because there are still objects. There are still photos; there are still things. Things that make my chest ache, and I wonder if there are thousands of tiny ghosts fluttering about inside me.”
Balanced precariously on its elliptical scales, the earth hurtles toward cold darkness the day before the winter solstice and toward summer light the day after. In between, however, in a transient moment, lies a crack in time and an opportunity to plumb meaning from form. Each one of the artists in this issue, the first of our third volume, takes advantage of this crack in time to explore meaning in unusual, often fragmented or splintered contexts. Poems by Éireann Lorsung, Jared Stanley, and Kristi Maxwell expose the structures of human experience for the illusions they represent while answering the question Stanley poses: “what else among us will be loosened?” In fiction, Guinotte Wise’s “Hurricane Oswald” beautifully yokes human relationships to chaos theory and demonstrates the inevitable changes that overwhelm them both. JoeAnn Hart’s “Infinite Kingdom” and Brian Conlon’s “The Day it Snowed in San Diego” explore—from quite different trajectories—disintegration, change, and the universal hope for renewal. In her aptly titled nonfiction reflection, “Cuidado at Isla Negra,” Deidre Pike finds solace in Pablo Neruda, seashells, and letting “wild, fearless joy” fuel her own “reckless hope.” Finally, Trudy Benson’s bold and visually arresting canvasses in “Actual/Virtual” deconstruct space, allowing us to peer behind the scaffoldings we use to make sense of our own realities. In an era of ever-increasing digitization, Benson reminds us of the value of her medium: “The fact that painting is so physically present and is not entirely a controllable practice is what sets it apart from digital and new media. This is precisely what I find so relevant about painting today. Painting is not dead!”
On this shortest day of the year, and for the many winter months ahead, I encourage you to reflect upon the hard work presented by all of our contributors in this issue. Feel free to engage them with your commentary and your reflections, and may the 2011 winter solstice—this grand, celestial pause—ignite the unique, creative visionary who resides in all of us.
Eric Stottlemyer, Managing Editor