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4 PERMA

Issue

THERE ARE SOME THINGS that last forever. We come in contact with moments, and t fucked up. Once again, I’ve chosen a theme that I was passionate and hesitant about in this issue takes wildly different approaches to “permanence”. I’m very happy abou

contributors alex beck alexthebeck.tumblr.com cover

sarah schneider sarah-schneider.squarespace.com p4-5 james sanders p6-8 drew alderfer p9 2

jdsnosince.weebly.com @jdsundeavors drewalderfer.com @drewalderfer


ANENCE

February 2014

nd there’s no forgetting. Death stains life, and love never fully fades. It’s beautifully out, hoping that the submissions wouldn’t have similar concepts. Well silly me! The art bout how thought-provoking it all is. I love it. Enjoy. -Jacob Sanders

rachel merill p10-11

processideas.tumblr.com

kristin mount kristinmountillustration.tumblr.com @kristinmount p12-14 jacob sanders p15 jacob martin p16

jacobsandersart.com @jacobsandersart jakemartinart.com @jacobmartinart 3


Sarah Schneider


It is difficult to think that one could go through human existence without contemplating the concept of Permanence. Many have, do, and will study the seemingly permanent works of great scholars and artists in an attempt to capture some perspective on the subject. It is the subject of permanence, after all, that is at the heart of the debate about signification of life. I am not a scholar, I would possibly just barely pass for an artist, but by no means am I an expert. However, I have had a strong interest in the idea o f permanence for many years. Personally, the conclusion I continue to recognize is that it is actually Impermanence that is the more realistic and invigorating concept.  I am not lofty enough to attempt to devalue any individual’s belief or disbelief in an afterlife, especially since I have never made the trip myself. Also, I would not want to insult the intelligence of any reader who by now should have some understanding of humanity’s desire for said nonspecific afterlife. That is assuming that Zaftig has not yet been distributed to elementary classrooms as an extension of the Scholastic Press. Although, I have no reason to believe that children will not have access to such ideas in some near future, but that is a

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conversation for another day.

More fascinating attempts at permanence include all varieties of art. We measure our creative endeavors against the works that have inspired us to do so much of the same. This publication is itself a fantastic expression of many perspectives. Are these expressions not a mark on the everlasting tally board of the evolving yet enduring human experience?


The advent of the internet now not only allows for these perspectives to be readily available but for them to be viewed as etchings in a more easily-excavated antiquity for future archaeologists. So there it is. You’re permanent. They’ll know your position on marriage equality and environmental policies as well as your preference for Heinz ketchup. With that information, the picture of your time on Earth will be much clearer to the historical observer. However, I don’t know if I would really consider that permanence. For instance, there are services becoming available now that allow your social media accounts to go on after you have passed. Isn’t that comforting?  But just because I have allowed some agent (possibly bot) to use my former identity to let you know I would NEVER forget your birthday even considering circumstances of demise... You would know that ‘Happy Birthday’ post with my face next to it is not authentic. It is not me because I am no more in that scenario. Post-humus Facebook posts are still a new phenomenon that will be sorted out as time goes on, but I wonder if historic record is any different. Is there comfort we find for ourselves in commemoration more than authenticity?  Do we not prefer the romanticized image of Van Gogh as a tortured genius over the idea of him as a needy and mentally-disturbed person with a passion for painting? Or how about John Lennon as an icon of peace and love rather than a flawed individual with a flair for musical expression? The only permanent thing about these previous beings are the ideals we’ve perceived from their art. They may be well-intended, but these ideals, as perceptions, are inherently ill-founded. While it is admirable to uphold moral and ethical convictions, it would be disingenuous to claim such beliefs based solely on the accounts of a cult figure. For instance, there is an interesting story involving the great Chicago Mayor Harold Washington that more clearly elaborates on my message. In May of 1988, a painting called ‘Mirth & Girth’ by artist David Nelson was displayed as part of a private exhibition at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting depicted the popular Harold Washington in women’s lingerie. This may not have received such a controversial reaction had it not been for the fact that Washington had died suddenly while still in office just under 6 months earlier.

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When word of ‘Mirth & Girth’s display reached the Chicago City Council which was in session at that moment, some of the aldermen were so outraged that they stormed over to the exhibit and confiscated the painting. It would seem that these aldermen thought so highly of Mayor Washington that they would not let anything stand in their way of preserving his memory as anything less than idyllic-- including the 1st Amendment. However, Washington himself defended the free speech rights of sculptor John Sefick who had created a critical statue of the mayor in 1984.  The actions of the aldermen in an attempt to protect the reputation of Harold Washington directly contradict with the stances he took to preserve civil liberties. Harold Washington is dead and his ideals were compromised in that instance. I believe this is a clear example of the impermanence of values or lessons imparted by the influence of admiration. At this point, you may be thinking that I am going pretty far out of my way to contest the topic of ‘permanence’. Believe me. Even as I write this, I am feeling the weight of my own exposition. There is a point I would like to get across though. That is that Impermanence is more consoling within the context of life on this planet. Each day, life begins and ends in a cyclical nature, so while nothing is permanent, there is some continuation occurring. Your experiences are passed on to the next generation only to be altered by the perspective they gain through their own experience. In this way, humanity evolves and learns from whatever backstory it has taken part in up to that point. During the French Revolution, thousands of heads were chopped off before the Third Estate reached their desired enlightenment and inalienable rights. Yet well over a century after, countless African American lives were destroyed by the violent resistance of the majority of Americans to civil rights. The broad strokes of progress leave impressive marks of harmony upon a canvas whose blank spaces represent human indifference. This is canvas is quite large I don’t mind saying. We can contribute our best efforts but rest assured others will get their crack at it. Louis Armstrong might’ve sung it best. “I see babies cry. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know. And I think to myself...” YOLO

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9 Drew Alderfer


Rachel Merill


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YOU’RE NINE YEARS OLD. You’re at the children’s table at your aunt’s wedding. You’re wearing a suit. You’ve loosened the tie because it was hard to breathe. You spilled gravy on your good shirt, but your mom doesn’t care because she’s drunk. There are seven other kids at the table. You know only two of them, but it doesn’t matter. You’re having a great time. You’re making towers with the pats of butter. You’re tapping the drinking glasses with silverware so the bride and groom will kiss and you can be grossed out. Someone has tied a green bean to the string of a pink helium-filled balloon and has gently launched it towards the next table. You’re laughing so hard your ginger ale is coming out of your nose. Adults come by to check in. They want to chat. How are you kids doing? Are you having fun? Yes, we are, you think. Go away. But they stay. They want to talk. They have questions. They have the same questions all adults ask. What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you think you’ll get

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married someday? You have no answers. How could you? You’re nine. But you make some up. It’s a seemingly innocuous exchange, but it casts a little shadow. You wonder if you should know the answers, and you know you don’t. As you grow, the shadow grows. The questions don’t stop. In your teens, you’re asked to choose a “career path,” a single trail leading directly to your permanent employment destination. There’s no option to explore other paths, or to leave the path to explore the woods, or to even sit down and rest. You’re expected to choose a path and stay on it. Permanently. And you’re expected to choose the correct path. If you don’t, you’ll have to start all over. And you’ll be behind. It continues. Even love isn’t safe. As an adult, you’re asked to choose a permanent partner. If you enjoy an intimate relationship, you’re expected to consider permanence. Could this be the one? You must decide. You may not simply enjoy it and see


what happens. Your parents tell you they want grandchildren. Your friends warn you about dying alone. The wedding industry wraps the idea in a slick package and casually leaves it on the kitchen table for you to notice. The allure of permanence is powerful. It’s the reason we work so hard, the reason we tolerate pain, the reason we often weigh our choices with fear rather than excitement. We worship at the altar of The One Right Decision. Making the correct choice and molding ourselves permanently into that option is a form of victory. Changing our minds is a form of failure. You spent all that time decorating your house and now you’re moving again? What a waste of time. You just moved up in your law firm, and now you’ve decided to become a high school teacher? Why did you even bother with law school? You’ve been married for 25 years, and now you’re getting a divorce? Now you have to “start all over” or go “back to square one.” It’s a board game, and its object is to accumulate the most points and get to the last square as directly as possible. If you don’t, you’ve lost. You’ve failed. To opt out is a form of failure as well. If you’d rather not play the game, if you’d rather not commit to a single career, person or home, you’re seen as a wanderer. You’re defined as fickle, immature, or emotionally stunted.

Our perception of permanence as the ultimate achievement suggests the impermanent, the temporary, is wrong or bad or not enough. It’s considered somehow less serious and less essential. A permanent choice implies we know the correct answer. It implies there is a correct answer. This places pressure on us to find the correct answer. It frightens us and it stifles us. It makes us less adventurous, less able to experiment and grow and thrive. And we become paralyzed by fear of something else a correct answer implies— an incorrect answer. Fear of the wrong answer clouds our judgment and dilutes the joy of an experience. This is unfortunate. If we see uncertainty as failure, we force ourselves to pretend we’re sure about choices when we’re not. While the comfort and safety of permanent situations have their value and their place, so do the temporary, the experimental, and even the unsure. And they have their place throughout life, not just in the years before “settling down.” Lifelong experimentation, fluidity, and even uncertainty nurture a dynamic mind. They keep us flexible and able to deal with change. They keep our eyes open to cultural shifts and allow us to accept and embrace them. An unquestioning devotion to permanence can keep us from changing situations in our lives that need to be changed. To let up on this devotion a little allows for that

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change. Yes, you did go to law school, and you have worked hard to get ahead at the firm. Does any of this matter if you’ve come to dislike everything about the field? Does is make more sense to start over in game you love or to continue your march forward in a game you’ll dislike even if you win? Allowing for the temporary gives us space to learn, expand, and evolve in ways a permanent situation may now allow. It encourages the evolution of ideas. When we fear change—new theories, new cultural paradigms, or new versions of ourselves—we become static. When we stop changing, we begin to die. Acceptance of the idea that we aren’t meant to solidify into one fixed shape—that our form is meant to slide around and fill different spaces—takes a great deal of pressure out of the decision making process. It allows us to make choices with more latitude. It lets us make “good” choices rather than “correct” choices. And it allows us to enjoy those choices fully—to have something, to hold it, and to absorb it. It allows us to live in it and even drown in it. It also allows us to let it go. Imagine yourself in a social situation. Imagine you’ve been asked what your plans are. Imagine you say you know don’t know. And imagine it’s just fine.

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Jacob Sanders


Jacob Martin


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ZAFTIG #4 - Permanence