Welcome to Issue #8, Volume II
This writer must confess to a belated binge-watching of the late '80s-'90s episodes of Sci-Fi series, "Star Trek, The Next Generation," with Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. What struck me about the Picard character is not so much that he is portrayed as completely tech-literate, as one might expect of the captain of a spaceship of the size and complexity of the Enterprise, but that he is also, unabashedly by golly, literate. The e-tablets the crew and staff tote are for tech purposes; they are tools. In contrast, for edification and pleasure, Picard reads printed books. In conversation, he refers to the Goths striking fear into the hearts of the Roman Legions at the onset of the Sack of Rome. To free a character from hostile alien clutches, he does a spontaneous and simultaneously hilarious mock-declaration of love by quoting several Shakespearean sonnets and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Observed reading Homer, Picard refers to the need to know more of human myth after engaging with an alien species for whom myth is speech. He almost gives in to torture when the alternative dangled in front of him is a life of reading good books, investigating archaeology, and having stimulating intellectual discussions...
When creating a vision of the future, the "Next Generation" creators clearly believed that literacy and education mattered. Nor were they, themselves, media dunderheads, driven to hide their intelligence under a barrel. They assumed a general knowledge that in the first two decades of the second millenium seems to have gone south in today's screen addicted world: Picard even makes reference to the (as yet unsolved in the '90s ) formula of medieval mathematician, Fibonacci; another character notes the Mobius phenomenon. Their various speculations on what it means to be human, through the character of the android, Data, is not driven by banal New Age cliché.*
Thus, being mindful of not descending into a latter day Dark Ages,** we continue our consideration of notable books with two reviews, and in addition offer our annual Summer Reads list, appearing under our penultimate heading, REMARKABLE READS. Some of our readers/contributors have also generously made noteworthy suggestions.
In quite another summer, a number of years ago, I flew in from Buenos Aires to Uruguay to meet Eduardo Galeano for an interview at his home in Montevideo. In conversation about his latest project, and to make a point, he turned in his chair and pulled out several little, obviously handmade, booklets. "Historias de cordel," he explained. Along those lines, we have posted one of my favorites, a single "story on a string," by Galeano, reproduced from the back of a publicity post card which he gave me. We include a further discussion of these strung tales in an afterward to the piece itself.
This issue, we are also pleased to bring you a special Pocket Anthology, curated by Mark Wyers, and consisting of work by young Turkish writers, hitherto not translated into English. Wyers has ably translated—and provided the reader with a brief introduction to—these writers, new to those who lack their authors' mother tongue. Unfortunately the original Turkish was not available; our profuse apologies to our Turkish readers.
We also continue to offer excerpts from Chris Lauçanno-Sawyer's Memoir, Becoming. Yes, we know, same title as Michelle Obama's memoir, but as you read Chris' you will see that it fits. He did it first! We also note that Sawyer-Lauçanno now has a chapbook out via his Paris publisher Alyscamps, Just Words: Homage to Roman Jakobson. See details at the end of this issue's Memoir selection.
This issue's PORTFOLIO, "Ghosts," features portraits by Chicago artist, Tim Milk.
Under "CANTICLES," editor Eric Darton gives us a compilation, one that melds William Carlos Williams, Rockin' Robin and a few other thoughtful delights. Another, on the past New Yorker craze which featured "Pale Male," a rather special bird and long time inhabitant of that city's Central Park. Canticle? In Darton's words. a "canticle," as we use it here is, "something for the birds, as in of a feather. But it’s from canticulum, i.e. sonnet or little song or short incantation."
After our second InSight, our Essay(s) section features an article on translation, by the eminent sinologist, François Julien. The editors would like to thank Margellos Republic of Letters/Yale University Press for permission to reprint the article.
In our ¡VIVA! section,please find a reverent/irreverant en memoriam of Dr. John, who recently passed away in New Orleans. We also commemorate the 50 years since New York City's Stonewall Uprising.
Our Colophon concludes this issue with a meditation on the Fabulous, the first of a series on that subject.
We hope you have enjoyed our in-between issues Extra! feature, designed to allow us to share moments of irresistible inspiration with you. In addition to an off-issue piece directly from us, you may also receive "Editors' picks." Both can be accessed via the email and our site, after which you can also take another look at the current issue.
En fin, enjoy the read and many, many thanks to all our contributors, to fellow editors Eric Darton and Hardy Griffin for their redoubtable efforts, and you all for your appreciation.
- Bronwyn Mills
*By the way and for the record, dear reader, people who read books—we are not talking about magazines and periodicals here—those folks live longer, according to a Yale study and a more recent article on ageing from The Guardian newspaper.
**This past month we also note the value of reading for the young. This writer was struck by what appears to be the obvious, the wonder of a world constructed entirely of words.