I do not want to discuss the “New Normal” anymore. That which is new often bears an attractive — or at least novel — lustre, and while our current way of living is only several months old, I find it already burnished and grimy with the residue of repeated clinging to, dirty from the desperate wheeling out in moments of rhetorical crisis to explain the (seemingly) inexplicable. More to the point, I find any reference to it now simply to be lazy — brandished as a catch-all to absolve the speaker from discussion of that which they care not to think about, it’s become an effective means of conversational forfeiture. Put otherwise, it’s a refusal to negotiate a New Future in the specific terms of change, in favor of languishing in an ill-defined, and thus unactionable, present.
But, of course, I personally, and we collectively, mourn the COVID dead, support the necessary BLM movement, and believe in living in the moment. Indeed, there is a subtle balance to be struck between action and remembrance, and to neglect either is to indulge in a dangerous short-sightedness that threatens either stagnation or imprudence. But it would at least be a lie of omission if I did not acknowledge that I am naturally impatient; it is a regular epithet of mine that “it might not be good, but I’ll make something happen.” I am hell bent on changing the literary and artistic landscape while using my platform for change, so there is little time for shoulder-shrugging and thrown up hands. These are not industries that often reward passivity and helplessness, and more importantly, the seismic institutional and systemic shifts that are demanded in our various local, national, and international communities cannot wait.
As we translate this sentiment into action, I recognize that this paradigm shift has created a vacuum. The reshuffling of the social order has necessitated a reconsideration of even the most entrenched practices, manifesting an environment where truly anything goes. For some, this means a complete overhaul of long-standing career practices. Fortunately for us, this means simply continuing to develop as we were — we are not burdened by the weight of “business as usual,” and so can take stock of our own processes as we grow. Instead, this moment has challenged us to pursue the furthest ends of our mission; when the rules no longer apply, we refuse to be hampered by the wisdom of a publishing epoch now firmly behind us.
As it pertains to this issue, we are proud to put a beautiful Black trans woman on our cover, not because we have reoriented our values, but because this presents the next step in embodying our ethos; in proceeding as we had intended, and empowering the very communities and practitioners we were founded to support. Additionally, we are proud to be including a wide array of voices in this issue; we work to bring you a fair and expansive curation of our contemporary world, which means working with a range of tremendously talented individuals, and supporting growth in the communities from which they come. But this is not a proclamation of our successes, only a vocalization of standard practice: supporting marginalized communities does not deserve a pat on the back, much as doing what is simply right and decent does not deserve congratulations. What we have laid out in this issue is not our singular response to a challenging moment, but the standard we expect to be held to until the day we stop publishing, by ourselves and by you all.
Beyond that, I can only say that I hope you enjoy — our work is not without a mind towards pleasure. While you may have gleaned from my tone that this is not the lightest of issues, I can sincerely say it has been both a great joy and privilege to produce the copy you are now holding. We have come a long way in our short life as a publication, but it feels like the important work has only just begun: we have continued to push the boundaries of our practice, progress that I feel is reflected here in this issue. But of course, I’m sure I’ll feel the same way three months from now.
Stay Safe and Black Lives Matter,
Supported by Ryan, Sofie, and Charlie