How does celebrating Halloween allow us to transform reality? In what way does the tradition of wearing costumes, and thus, taking on new personas help us grapple with fears or changes in reality? The magic of Halloween brightens reality, making it possible to confront fears, or change itself, to ultimately appreciate mystery and the inner spirit.
In this living state of existence, we are constantly faced with the inevitability of death, although our self-preservation instincts may try to avoid the topic until its inevitability becomes unavoidable. Memories fade and evolve, and we must ponder that which is lost or forgotten as much as that which is remembered.
We will all eventually die, and although that seems an unhappy fate, fiction, fantasy, and celebrations can help us cope with that inevitable end. “Drowned Dreams” is about abuse, fear, and death. Halloween is a celebration where such topics are permissible in circles they would normally not be spoken of, creating an environment where necessary topics are briefly considered non-taboo. My story is in part a reminder that all time is borrowed time, and we will all eventually give our bodies back to the earth it came from, decay being a form of freedom and rebirth.
Dia de los Muertos blurs the boundaries between the realms of Life and Death. Altars bearing the photos of lost loved ones keep them close to the heart. Families picnic on the graves of ancestors, dressing as vibrant skeletons festooned with flowers. Death need be neither hated nor feared. Indeed, welcoming Death with joy banishes fear and heals grief.
These watercolors aim to capture the prevalence of death and decay in our daily lives, but also show how even now, we blend it into the background, not wanting to look. Halloween and fantasy help us come to terms with death being all around us by letting us engage with the frightening and alien on our own terms, giving us a sense of control over our loss of control. Additionally, Halloween’s creative side reminds us that death and decay provide opportunities for new growth and life.
“The Winning Way” examines the slow, insidious chipping away of one’s own conscience through adherence to rigid belief systems, which provide a comforting certainty. It takes a hard look at what humans are willing to give up to feel connected, and how easy it is for us to fall prey to sinister ideas and beliefs when we are hungry, nearly starving with unmet needs. This story taps into a drama currently playing out in the world, as COVID-19 runs rampant, along with conspiracies. Many families are watching as vulnerable loved ones cleave to groups such as QAnon. They ask themselves, “How can they believe these things?” This story is a response to that question.
Whenever we hear of genocides, they have either run their course or are in progress. In today’s world, we can receive so much news at once that any action seems inconsequential. However, solutions for genocide prevention at the government down to the individual level must be addressed. If we can push for thorough and unbiased education at the school level and universal accountability at the governmental level, we can prevent the spread of ignorance. In the end, it is important to share that genocide needs to be everyone’s problem, even if isn’t labelled as such.
How do governments, societal groups, and individuals respond to national and international crises? “And so I went to Peter’s well” is a polemic regarding the world water crisis, specifically the activities of the Nestlé Corporation and its continuous pillage. The title references an Austrian Folksong that reflects the late CEO’s name, and he quoted another folksong in a documentary which the poet quotes in the epigram. The words serve as a chorus. “Threnody” was written when 50,000 people had died from COVID-19, which was more than the population of the town the poet grew up in. Now, with over 1 million deaths from COVID-19 worldwide, it is important to take a step back and analyze national responses around the globe. Are some nations better prepared to deal with crises than others? What accounts for the differences and how can we improve national and international management to safeguard against inevitable tragedy?
In the 1950s, Harry Harlow performed a controversial psychological experiment in which he separated baby monkeys from their mothers and placed them in isolation for months. The effects included: mental distress, depression, aggression towards self and others, and obliteration of social instincts. Animal rights supporters’ outrage led to the criticism of solitary confinement for humans in prison — if the effects were this debilitating for monkeys trapped in a cage, how then can humans cope with the same conditions? On a larger scale, the past year (2020) has introduced large swaths of Earth’s population to governmental lockdowns due to COVID-19. Though much of the world has since reopened, we have been faced with the reality of isolation and its trade-offs when it comes to contracting COVID-19. “The Rabbit Hutch” grapples with the effects of social isolation and the desire for freedom despite what might be waiting for the narrator outside of lockdown.
In the popular mind, older generations are generally more conservative and younger ones more open-minded and willing to embrace change. It’s a dynamic often played out in popular culture — think of the conservative administrators in Dead Poets Society who don’t take well to an upstart professor with an unconventional approach to teaching young minds. The modern history of the United States is a primer in the tension between generational values. The baby-boomer generation (the hippies and protestors and activists) are widely seen as having broken free of the traditional ethos handed down by elders and as having applied idealism and passion in the name of promoting peace and building a better world. But the real picture is far more complex than the stereotypes. In some cases, members of the younger generation turned out to be more conservative than their elders. The following family history challenges generational stereotypes by describing how a mother, who lived in New York at a time of radical upheaval, found a very different political identity from that of her progressive mother.