My relationship with the term ‘vibes’ follows the fool’s journey of new slang: At first I found it irritating, then I started using it ironically, which lead to using it in earnest, and now I use so often it’s at least meta-ironic, and definitely the expense of my sanity. Vibes operate as a form of loose connection — opening up a world of referential possibility with no explanation required. This cafe has wine-mom vibes. Solidarity is the opposite of bad vibes. I’ve been vibed out of Toronto. What keeps me tethered to the word is it’s impressive ability to die on the vine. It offers complete meaninglessness. “Anything that’s vaguely popular online must be defined or decoded and ultimately, reduced to a bundle of marketable vibes with a kitschy label,” writes Terry Nguyen in “What Is A Trend Anymore?” No longer just embarrassing slang, vibes truly represent the notion of rapid disposability. Vibes are the neoliberal management of difference. Its shallowness renders art and human endeavor so static that it can no longer be ‘good’ or even quite ‘beautiful’ but something more like ‘readable.’ On the whole, my concern is more that, in reducing things to vibes, I’m indulging in something deeply avoidant — filling my head with loose-ends without actually having to do the anxious, repetitive, boring or awkward work of finding meaning for myself.
Which is something I think this issue does particularly well. I won’t lie to you and say that being part of this masthead does not bestow me with a certain degree of power over what we end up talking about. However, I can’t take credit for the ways in which writers find meaning for themselves. Writers have to find something to open up, they have no easy way out. Platitudes can only get you so far with a 2000 word count. Take, for example, the inner-monologue which Atira Naik crafts in her profile of local artist, Ma$$ank. She writes — “I decided to present her with the analysis I wrote the night before, at my desk under candlelight with the picture of my High-school English teacher smiling graciously upon me.” Or, the way Phoebe Telfar begins to shake out a conversation about conversations with Abril Soewarso-Rivera from the Van podcast, Love In Public. This issue also features the line, “Punitive Damage plays punk like a chainsaw fighting a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat.” So, yeah. Get in loser, we’re going beyond a single vibe.
Open the thing up and listen to the oscillators for a while,