Editor's Note: Spring 2015

April, at 21 South Street, is far from the cruelest month. But melting snow reveals spring breeding: birthing dormant lilacs from our archives, mixing institutional memory with a new, stirring rain. 

Our spring issue resurrects an Advocate tradition of engaging with contemporary issues in a new section called Columns, in which members respond to an aesthetic, cultural, or political phenomenon of the moment. The inaugural edition offers a feminist reading of Broad City, a psychoanalytic critique of liberal ideology, a review of Adriana Varejão’s art and cultural cannibalism, and a cautionary appraisal of outdated journalistic policies that exclude essential voices under the auspices of “objectivity.”

By contrast, the long-form features address questions of fiction: Their writers wind through rivers and inhabit smoke clouds—always with a small, pea-sized urge to urinate tucked away in their pelvic zone. Everything, they claim, happened this way because they said it did. They revel in the question of whether their lives, and the lives of others, are stranger than fiction.

The Fiction Board, meanwhile, has selected three pieces to be considered under the (unfolding) umbrella of the bildungsroman. “Watch Me” juxtaposes the coming of age of one half of the population with a personal narrative, “The Smut Spectrum,” takes the loss of innocence to new and profane heights, and “At the Edges” depicts a protagonist compelled to grow up fast by circumstances outside her control. The board has decided to ignore the semantic issue that “roman” means novel.

The Poetry Board finds itself in a more fatalistic mood. ‘Cypress scepters in the rocks, paint-green water...’ may seem low on hope, but its Rorschach test of a childhood trauma and agile tonal shifts merit close scrutiny. “Aquamanile in the Form of Phyllis and Aristotle” is an ekphrasis like a slow wink, spoken by a voice both alien and domestic. Read it aloud, slowly. Then look up the original—and the legend the artifact depicts.

The Art Board brings us six pieces by three artists, all of which reimagine and reorient us to process, from evolutionary point mutations to aerial military operations. In Sap II and Volatile, organic patterns emerge unplanned and unexpected, as vestigial features reappear further up the evolutionary line. Pools of ink present an unsettling illusion of life: slowly shifting, breathing. Out of the grid’s sterility in Operation I and Territory V erupts a playfully sinister motif of wallpaper polka-dots, while the flesh-colored dreamscape in Untitled distorts otherwise recognizable forms.

In this issue, the Design Board seeks to maintain the Advocate’s traditional aesthetic while simultaneously grounding the magazine in a contemporary context. The cover, illustrations, and designs in this issue are largely process driven, drawing on 3D modeling and simulation techniques to produce a clean, yet relevant design.

Twelve years after the original and for the first time since 2010, the Technology Board has redesigned and relaunched our website: theharvardadvocate.com. In addition to a cleaner aesthetic, the site includes refurbished donate, subscribe, and shop pages and proves to us literary luddites that the simulacrum of a screen need not pervert the intentionality of the printed page. 

2016 marks our 150th anniversary, for which we have already begun work on a commemorative anthology and launched a Capital Campaign with the goals of: digitizing our archives, inaugurating a financial aid initiative, boosting our endowment, and updating our beloved home at 21 South Street, protecting blooms of generations past and fertilizing the roots of many more springs to come. We hope you enjoy the unfurling of this Editorial Board’s first such bouquet.