In the sea of faceless humans, we ache to have our identity confirmed through connecting with others who are kindred spirits. On a remote ranch in 1960s Montana, a boy’s lonesome quest to find others who aspire to a literary life turns up a questionable kindred spirit.
How are gendered patterns of behavior ingrained within human beings? Do certain societies seem to praise and prioritize a particular gender above the other(s)? How does viewing the world through a gendered lens determine our values? According to this visual artist, if the human race has hope for rectifying its wrongs, it must prioritize its lost feminine side.
“This is an excerpt from my writings during a particularly tough time in my life. It was a period that made me realize the thin line between sanity and insanity. Each small decision during this time decided the kind of person I have become today.” — Ayushi Jain
How are science, art, and philosophy more alike than different? Where is truth best realized? Amalgamating science, eastern philosophy, poesy, music, and mathematics, the following poem is an attempt to grace the undeniably multifaceted beauty of truth, human psyche, and reality.
“Being a new parent is nice, but not always. Sure, the days are filled with tiny laughs and lots of firsts, but sometimes they’re filled with cries, and sometimes you miss the firsts because you’re off crying in your car. Nothing is always nice, but nothing is awful all the time, either. I hope these poems convey in a real, human way how it is to have an infant.” — Rich Glinnen
The question “Does censorship destroy freedom?” is, of course, impossible to answer yes or no. Certainly censorship can be a tool of tyranny and oppression, as we are seeing in Myanmar and Hong Kong today. But in a society which strives to be “free,” if the censor respects his or her jurisdiction and acts as an instrument reflecting current standards and (perceived) values, then a particular act of censorship can be appropriate and harmless, at least in the long run. The wealthy and powerful tend to enjoy “more free speech” because they have the means to reach a wider audience with a bigger splash, of course.
Academics have written about the “tyranny of iambic pentameter” in English-language poetics, lasting till late in the 19th century. The expression is figurative, though, as there was no actual “tyranny”: only a centuries-old tradition of taste, a vogue, a zeitgeist. Gerard Manley Hopkins (b. 1844) is frequently credited with breaking through and “freeing” the metric line with his technique of “sprung rhythms.” But Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were writing outside of that tradition as early as the 1830s.
Today, many literary journals refuse to publish, and professors regularly tell their students not to write, rhymed or metric poetry. These practices, too, reflect a current zeitgeist. Still, I have noticed that when editors or poetry professors say “free verse,” they really mean “unrhymed, unmetric, and non-formal.” Verse that is not free to rhyme is not really free verse at all.
Censorship is just another way to prevent free speech, a right that is clearly and proudly stated within the First Amendment. People claim that what political preferences call opinion is ‘hate speech’ or, in other words, offensive. This obviously does happen. People can and do use that right with the wrong idea in mind, but getting kicked off of Facebook over political opinion is completely and utterly wrong on a number of levels. Censorship, to most, seems like the responsible thing to do. “It’s to keep inappropriate images and comments off of children’s websites!” Which is fine. But that’s only where it begins. In the end, everyone is too caught up in sparing everyone else’s feelings to realize they’re handing away the precious gift that brave men and women died to uphold and protect. It’s a gift that countries like China do not have, and look where they are now. (If I were in China, I would be killed in a back alley for saying this.) It’s a gift that a few hundred years ago was worth getting publicly executed for. It’s a gift that we have begun to take for granted, and that needs to end. Censorship is a shortcut to destroying our constitutional rights, and we’re letting it slip through our fingers. So, in summary, censorship is ill-advised, unjust, and dangerous to the people of America.
I came up with the Pythagoras argument during one of those tiresome “How can you separate the art from the artist” conversations, and successfully demonstrated how easy it was for us to separate the Math from the mathematician. That prompt, “Would you ask that question about Pythagoras?” turned into this story. In that sense it is definitely the most unrealistic piece I have ever written, but relates to the smothering frustration of Twitter and cancel culture.
In the following artworks, I turn to the problem of prohibitions and censorship in modern society. The mass media space creates a fake reality around us, like sweet candy enticing us down the wrong path. Ultimately, our reality is distorted by fake idols and the promise of freedom.
My essay argues that freedom in society cannot exist without censorship. Because censorship is evident in every society, it becomes crucial in identifying where and how it must be usefully applied. For the questions posed by this contest, I explain why it’s tenable a company would allow a foreign dictator accused of mass murder to be part of a media platform, but not a native-born politician who occupies an elected position. I seek to illustrate the existential damage that conspiracy theories and unreality can do to a democracy if allowed to instantiate itself into the elected hierarchy, and that a suitable way to combat this collective poisoning is to allow various public entities to be engaged in censoring their own platforms. Finally, I make the point that cancel culture is a symptom of social mores and civil boundaries shifting, rather than speech
being shrunk or curtailed. I do this while acknowledging that as large shifts in public expectations change, there will always be anecdotal examples that are generated by these shifts, many of which serve the purpose of alarmists on all sides. The obvious fact is, every society engages in censorship. It’s merely a question of how much, and in what way.