January 15, 2016
Dear Intrepid Readers,
This week, the internet’s been a very complicated place over the death of David Bowie.
This past Monday, we launched a new feature on Rhizomatic Ideas, our Monday Links roundup, where we bring you links to the best reads of the previous week. This coming Monday will be our 2nd installment of this new regular feature.
Over the week, there’s been a lot of heated debate over David Bowie: the man, the music, improprieties, how social media has changed the process of public grief, and what constitutes a person’s legacy. I also recommend going back in the Rhizomatic Ideas archives and visiting guest blogger Jilly Dreadful’s series on enjoying art created by problematic artists. The Internet will never agree on the legacy of any celebrity. That’s just a sad fact. But one of the ways that the internet community changes how we grieve (publically and privately) is as fascinating a topic as it is a repulsive one: this week, what I noticed more than anything, was the policing of other people’s grief. This is disturbing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it assumes that there is some sort of authority on how other people can or should express their feelings, the idea that another person’s expressions of emotion are somehow subject to another person’s value system, and scariest of all, that a person can be performing their own emotions incorrectly. These are ideas that, when transposed onto other situations, would terrify us: what if we told new mothers that their love for their children was insincere because they expressed it publicly? Or if we told people that they’re only allowed to grieve for people who have never transgressed? (Because your Nana probably fucked up at some point, shocking and scandalous as that might be to consider.)[Lise’s note: My Nana has never committed a single sin ever. Putting dimes in your ears is weird, but not morally wrong.]
This week, in addition to me visiting the music (and fashion, let’s be real) of David Bowie, which, to me, was completely transformative, I’ve been wrestling with the dual ideas of humanity versus artistic legacy, and how those concepts are bound together, yet can (and sometimes should) be pulled away from each other and valued independently.
Some people put the best of themselves into their art, not into their person. If you love the art a person creates, perhaps you shouldn’t explore the dark labyrinth of who they were (or are.) There is a great possibility that you will be disappointed. These are not demi-gods, even if what they made brings you closer to grace. They are humans, who channeled something brilliant, otherworldly, and beautiful outside of themselves, and created art that transcended their own mortal flaws. The second issue of NonBinary Review, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, was the first time we’d had to grapple with that dichotomy (the artist vs. the art) from an editorial position: How do you curate an issue focusing on the art, when people as a whole, are fascinated with the artist? I’m going to be honest with you: I still don’t know. Trying to answer that question is a lot like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands: I’m pretty sure that it’s possible, but the road to getting there is slippery, wiggly, and probably going to end up with me falling in the river before ever becoming successful in the endeavor. So as you move through grief (or suffer through social media where other people are working through their grief), remember to be a little gentler and more generous to other people than you might be otherwise. Remember this whenever an influential celebrity dies. Though on the surface it may seem silly to some people, remember that artists, musicians, writers, directors, actors—they reveal us to ourselves through their art. So the grief you’re seeing isn’t always about the person who’s died, but rather, the people left behind who know themselves better for having been touched by the art.
One of the best parts of being an editor is that being influenced by art is actually part of my job (I know, right? SCORE!) Last Friday, we closed the submissions portal for NBR #8, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and we’re diligently working our way through the submissions queue, which is shaping up to be a very intriguing blend of work and very diverse approaches to the 13 principles of Sun Tzu’s original text. We’re continuing to be blown away by the many ways that this 5th century B.C. text remains relevant, relatable, and timely in the 21st century A.D. This week, we also began the new cycle of Alphanumeric previews of NBR#7: The Woman in White—the second story, Paper Girl, by T. Imel, has been incredibly well-read and re-shared, so if you haven’t already, take a moment to read the story that our followers have made a fan favorite!
So, in closing this week, I want to remind you that we’ve still got two submission portals open for issues #9 and #10 of NBR—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, part of the Sherlock Holmes canon, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
If you want writing prompts, silly writer memes, inspirational quotes, or books that get us ready to curl up in a chair, follow one of our boards on Pinterest, and see what Kolleen’s been pinning for you. On Facebook, you can follow our pages (Zoetic Press, Lithomobilus) to keep up with the latest happenings, online features, blog posts and book reviews as well as the Zoetic Press Facebook group to find Alphanumeric features.
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Until next week—