Where We’re Calling From
Volume no. 4 – Spring
Art often asks folks to walk in someone else’s shoes. At Newfound, we do this +1.
While we publish work that engages a reader in traditional, dramatic conflict (human vs. human), we deliberately throw the spotlight on place, highlighting moments when the mind intersects its environment, at times catching the very limits. In addition to the shoes, we ask folks to wear someone else’s locale.
Why bother? The easy answer: We believe that planet Earth can be an even better place and that, by understanding our relationship with our habitats and caring about their distinct character, we can act rightly in their interest. Art that emphasizes place inspires environmental stewardship and civic engagement.
And the more difficult answer?
Fittingly, I can best relate it in a story (human vs. nature): When classes last let out for winter break, I (workaholic) continued to visit my office at the university. I climbed the hill daily, crossed campus, and—with the aide of two DO NOT DUPLICATE keys and a swipe card—passed down my building’s vacant corridors to my desk. After a week, the building became mine. Though the AC yet raged against me alone, I nevertheless enjoyed the distinct thrill of blasting my iPhone in the hall, music echoing loudly off the polished tile. A passerby might’ve spotted an otherwise sane man perfecting his moonwalk, performing Yogic sciatic nerve stretches, or arguing with himself “in public.”
One evening, I heard someone slamming against the outside doors. The sound was violent, like a psycho killer attempting to beat through the glass to get inside, to get me. 911 seemed too extreme—what if I were wrong? And I didn’t have UPD’s number—never before had I any use for it. So, pocketknife in hand, I crept around the corner for a peek, ready for anything. And I found this cutie:
Beyond, the eyes of several deer glittered in a grassy overlook beside the smoker’s benches. In a moment, my fear was replaced by elation.
Part of the reason I hadn’t relocated to a café to write is because I have a penchant for abandoned or repurposed public spaces. I spend so much time living in my smartphone or in my head that I too often miss my surroundings. Like “28 Days Later” or that depressing Adele video (no, this one), when people are subtracted from a scene, one’s environs intensify. At these moments, my head will empty of my ego and refill with this non-human other—space. At our finest, Newfound aims to inspire this shift from introspection to outrospection.
A shift in perspective from ego to other can be profound. Daoist landscapes, Romanticism, and the “love your biosphere” messages of recent empathy-advocates like Jeremy Rifkin are a few of our comrades urging that a sublime experience of place is not simply a neat phenomenon, but a necessary one, as awareness of where we’re calling from has the power to beget awe, reverence, and humility.
Newfound 4.2 presents many fresh spaces to gaze upon: Nick Flynn’s “The Replacements” details his disorientation of watching (the story of) his life being filmed, Ra Vincent gives us insight into the creation of fantasy spaces for features like “The Hobbit,” and Michael Kimball’s work revisits a larger-than-life father to try and understand the power of proportionality. And we’re very glad you’re here to visit these places, all our readers and contributors and staff, our wondrous watchers.
Daniel Levis Keltner, Managing Editor