“I’ve been destroyed by life and I feel fucking good!” – Pardoner, Came Down Different
Happy 2022 fellow lurkers,
There’s no easy way to describe what it is this issue turned out to be. Let’s start by acknowledging we’ve made it through another year of Susan Sontag’s Illness As Metaphor. The gauntlet of idioms such as, “Strange And Uncertain Times” and “New Normal,” to flatly describe a year fractured by precarity and dread, have run their necessary course. What we have now is a real knowledge of what it’s like to live at our limit. I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but there is a certain level of ‘i’m fucking done’ that moves the needle from life as a multi-player sport, to transcendental-Cartesian levels of “fuck it, I’m just going to manifest a new car.” Absolute doneness leads to that kind of magical thinking. A squirrel drops a kleenex on your doorstep and it doesn’t have to mean something, but it probably does. This is not a very deep way to start, but here me out. A small thread I’ve pulled from this year is that chaos orders us. That the mental kettle, the one that surrounds you with unease and dread, is something worth unraveling. It doesn’t have to, but what if it did? In Clara Dubber’s review of Eric Tkaczyk’s /ˈsent(ə)nəl/, they do just that. Dubber writes, “those points of friction, those chapped, chafed points, indicate where we can loosen our grip.” Artmaking at it’s limit can be a warning and a celebration. In Amanda Thacker’s interview with Dust Cwaine, they likewise conclude, “Darkness has a habit of encroaching this way; subtle until devouring. Cwaine is no stranger to this phenomenon, but so too are they acquainted with the chain-breaking resurrection made possible by periods of darkness.” This “chain-breaking resurrection” Thacker refers to does not happen when one is feeling optimistic and powerful — it happens when you reach a limit. When you’re done. And it feels like shining light on shapes in the dark.
Anyway, here’s wonderwall. The January/February issue takes the temperature of 2021 and makes it a little more spiritually percussive for the year ahead. We welcome the direction of new Associate Editor Fabio Schneider, and cover one of my favorite albums this year — Anti-God Hand’s “X.” as R. Hester writes, “what is illustrated by his pained screeches and wails throughout the music is the difference between the performance or description of a feeling, and actually emoting it.” Which is to say, what we found most exciting this year was the music (and art) that didn’t want to be an escape. It found a way into the fervor, not out. It let darkness become magical thinking. We find respite in our “Dreams dashed,” as Dora Dubber explores in the cancelling of Shindig. We wrote these things at the end of our rope — but it feels ok this time. It feels fucking good! As Jess Driscoll writes in “x-files map of vancouver,” “When I returned to the Lower Mainland, after a year on the east coast, all I could see were the mountains. They were bigger than ever, and closer, I’d swear. They were right there in my face, like they knew I’d been missing them. And then they faded back, like the rest of the city of my youth. I came back to Vancouver on the other side of 30, and I didn’t need to be here to prove myself anymore. I was ready to move on.”
Like the little poisonous animals we are,