“Flight of Fancy” explores themes of adolescent attraction, personal freedom, disappointment, and misunderstanding. There is a strong focus on the ego as part of the human experience and the way it disrupts relationships. The protagonist is guided via his perception of supposed “signals” of attraction and acts according to what he believes is expected of him. There is rarely a display of his honest feelings; rather, he often interprets the behavior of his female companion in terms of what the other boys at the school yard have told him. There is a mode of behavior, a template, which he believes dictates female displays of attraction. That mode is of course incorrect, but the protagonist is too young and inexperienced to escape that mentality. This exploration of the protagonist’s expectations is relevant today because it speaks to the very human difficulty of establishing stable relationships early into one’s life. Due to simple inexperience, a potential relationship can be abandoned or ruined based on perception and a lack of open communication.
‘Caul’ is a short story about the passage of time and how memory is what ties us to our existence. In this short story, the narrator observes and understands what was taking place in his family and the lives of his neighbours; through this understanding, he empathises with their experiences. No matter how much time passes, memory is still relevant and is part of identity — even if the physical environment has changed, the history that underpins a place is still relevant.
How have the conditions of our daily lives changed over the last year? There’s no question quarantine, social isolation, a global pandemic, and political and social unrest significantly alter our daily routines — but these events and situations have highlighted our adaptability and fragility simultaneously. The realization that we control very little of our own lives has come to the forefront for most in the past year; in turn, this realization has spurred the need for action. How do we maintain a sense of control in the midst of overwhelming evidence that we are at the whims of greater forces?
Everything we do on this planet has expectations in one way, shape, or form. Deviate from that, and everything starts to fall off the rails. What happens when we keep pushing against that barrier? On the brink of an alcohol/drug-induced bender, the main character feels herself slipping further and further away from the habitual norm of society’s day-to-day life. The question is, is this so wrong? In “Living Room,” we explore what it means to have these sexual, political, and social transgressions in today’s climate.
Loss can present itself in a variety of ways: death of a friend or loved one, a relationship breakup, leaving home or moving to a new place, loss of physical ability, loss of financial security, etc. Sudden loss (like crimes, accidents, or suicide) leaves no room to prepare, while predictable loss creates grief related to the anticipation of the loss, as well as the loss itself. The experience of loss is profoundly human, yet it is often something we suffer alone, in solitude. How do we build resilience against future losses? Can we ever replace that which we grieve?
What makes us human? Is it our opposable thumbs, omnivorous diet, and ability to wield tools? Our individual and collective ideological belief systems and Earth-bound nature? What about our ability to empathize and (simultaneously) our inability to and the resulting creation of “us vs. them” group dynamics? Does our violence, domination over nature, technological innovations, and need for advancement make us human or will these traits one day lead to our demise? Are we more human today than we were at the advent of homo sapiens sapiens 125,000 years ago, or less?
The story “Movier & Stillier” looks at how, as adults, we accept the use of misleading language as normative and how, when our perceptions are challenged, indeed, even when our perceptions are bested, we revert to what we know. It also bespeaks the use of language for control: in the story, a young girl decides to use more honest language, and is teased for it, thereby causing her to abandon her principled stance on word use. In short, this is a story about human habit, and how words are used to enforce that habit.
How do different art forms affect both the viewer and the creator? Is art an integral feature of the human condition? What does it mean to be an artist? We asked a digital artist these questions and more in an interview about art and its essence.
“The Complicated Life of a Fictional Therapist” uses satirical humor and quirky point of view to delve into how the people we consider the most “put-together” are honestly struggling with average problems like caring and motivation.
As humans, we are relational beings. Most obviously, we develop and rely on relationships with others (e.g., family, friends, or work associates), creating a sense of community. Less obvious are the relationships we create with ourselves, with activities we do that give us purpose, and with nature. The following poetry collection touches on a variety of impactful relationships between an individual and the self; parents, grandparents, and cherished things; community during a crisis; tribal/clan culture; and God and nature. Who are we if not a compilation of who and what we choose to surround ourselves with?