Editor's Note: Summer 2015
The Advocate Editorial Board
Summer is the most languorous season. Boundaries deliquesce and bleed into each other the way the calendar warps, slowing toward the crescendo of heat and gathering speed with crisper weather’s approach. Accordingly, the newly renamed summer issue is an envoy to be savored slowly, stretched between May and September, lounging in extended afternoons until the fireflies come out. Suitable to sinusoidal sun waves and climate-controlled cabins alike, the summer issue travels with you. Like many in the estival months, the issue indulges in self-analysis, trending towards meta-reflections on media, narrative, and representation. Columns offer: an examination of how the cultural reappearance of slavery supplants contemporary issues of race, a polemic on the commodification of women writers, and two cautionary analyses—one of our postmodern addiction to SoulCycle, the other of click-happy social media activism.
The Features Board largely remains cloaked in the innocence of youth, with three pieces that attempt to understand childhood, or rather, the childhoods of each writer as they consider the moments that seem to define them, those waddling ducks in the back of their minds. Only one braves the adult realm, unpacking the media strategies of the Islamic State and their moral and aesthetic implications.
This cycle, the Fiction Board publishes “Congregation” and “Love on the Installment Plan.” The stories have about as close to nothing in common as possible, but the board likes to think that both are seasonally appropriate. “Congregation” describes a summer spent on Cape Cod; it is the kind of sprawling, meditative, first-person narrative that could only unfold during the warm, languid months. “Love on the Installment Plan” tackles the subject of mail-order marriages with playful aplomb—a surprising tone that makes it all the more haunting, touched with an air of midsummer madness.
The art in this issue manipulates space in novel ways, compressing and expanding it into otherworldly landscapes. Interior Courtyard, Guiding Light, and Currents entreat the viewer to traverse their virtual expanses, while I Lived Here, Wave, and Forest permit a few stylized glimpses into distant places. Spatial awareness informs, but does not alone define, the value of these pieces. Adrift in a dimming seascape, peering down a corridor populated with figures of art history, and thrust into the commotion of Beijing, the viewer, too, is incorporated into subterranean narratives.
The poetry this round is a rollicking ride. Preston Craig’s “Preparation ritual” experiments with space and silence. Loose and elusively underspecified, it is a dance step we don’t know the name for. Alice Ju’s “Sestina of the Missile JFK” is obscenely full and full of force. With tremendous syntax and end words that have no business working perfectly in a sestina, she seems to have found a subject fit for her form, or the other way around, or made it so. Read this aloud. Michael M. Weinstein’s work too deserves the adjective, already spoken for, “loose,” or perhaps “loosened,” though it is heavy with grace and a scrupulous, responsible care for words. “Official Happiness”—wry and without histrionics—is about outer space and being alone. “I’m sad I’m not a beast...” is based on “??? ????? ??? ? ?? ?????,” by Aleksandr Vvedenskii (1904–1941), a poet who felt strongly that his words were just right the way they were. The present version, however, is more of an imitation than a faithful rendering. We at the Advocate don’t always publish translations, but when we do, they’re loose—and they’re damn good.
The fall semester promises a website tinkered to maximize readability. But, for now, the Design Board brings us melting psychedelic visions and the Tech Board maintains a dynamic, ever-growing online and social media presence. Look for them on Twitter and in the blogosphere, and, in the meantime, flip this issue’s sticky pages to the thaw of summer precipitation, from cascading monsoons to air conditioner drips or the condensation on an icy beverage.