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.
The following fiction piece explores historical events such as the Cold War, which in many ways still influence domestic and foreign policy in the U.S. It also touches on the current stance the government is taking in relation to the UFO phenomenon, concepts of ‘misinformation,’ American cultural history (principles relating to the constitution and blind patriotism), and the general surrealness of living in the U.S. In “The Perpetual Metronome,” the author attempts to tie these themes together in a way that can be enjoyed as a surreal story laced with the drowsy nostalgia of Rust-belt, upstate New York — or really, anywhere U.S. — and full of historical references and existential dread.
The following poems reflect on the ideas of identity and legacy. Regardless of how humankind evolves, a seminal question remains: what have we left for the world after we’ve gone? Though many of us prefer to assume that we have a special assigned significance in this world, the truth is that none of us are inherently superior to another. As COVID-19 raises our fear of mortality, these poems remind us that the most invisible existence can leave something of value in its wake, but that we must pay attention in order to notice that legacy.
The following illustrations tell the story of the odd and isolated. Those of us who enjoy spending time with nothing but ourselves as we admire all parts of nature, such as beautiful landscapes and the clouds in the sky, experience reality differently than those whose days are filled with to-do lists, deadlines, and other people. Finding peace and relief from the frustrations of the real world is necessary every once in a while, and can entail travelling into a zone of enlightenment to the point at which we start to see the surreal. The following illustrations intend to show the power of taking time to experience the earth and one’s self.
“Paralyzed” depicts a little girl’s first experience with sleep paralysis and how forced religion manifests in her hallucinations. The goal of this piece is to bring awareness to sleep paralysis and the odd ways it may reveal itself. Many who suffer from sleep paralysis are not even aware of the condition until they are well into adulthood, causing them to believe there could be something inherently wrong with their psyche.
The American opioid epidemic has become overshadowed by the Covid-19 crisis, yet it remains one of the worst public health crises in the nation’s history. Addiction is a part of the human condition; however, it can also destroy nearly all aspects of our humanity. The following poems attempt to reflect a similar countermanding by using contrasting styles, voices, and forms while continuing to raise awareness.
It can be easy in today’s world — when many people’s horizons have shrunk to their living rooms, or at most a necessary outing to the darkened streets — to forget that small, seemingly insignificant acts can have both personal and political significance. This also holds true for animals. ‘The Midnight Boys’ attempts to dig under the surface of one household’s experience for the ruff truth of the human condition.
“What Trees Feel Like” explores humans’ relationship with nature and asks how we tell stories about ourselves. It sheds light on how we center ourselves in our narratives and allow other important aspects to fade into the background.
“Us, The Girls” is a flash nonfiction prose piece exploring the complexities of sisterhood, my relationship to which has been based in familial obligation, close proximity, frustration, and unabiding love. It is for anyone finally recognizing the power of a bond they might have previously taken for granted.