CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: NOVEMBER

As I write, the September issue should be on its way (late) to you, and the October issue is almost ready for printing. Thus, we look ahead to November, the month of our beloved publisher’s birth (and that of many other dear Scorpions). Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness? Season of death and darkness? The title of my favorite Flaubert novel, the month before December?

In honor of such auspicious richness of flavor and chiaroscuro, please send us your most complexly variegated texts and images.

Essays, letters, poems, pictures, visions, stories.

We are, as usual, interested in the crux where utility and beauty meet, in questions of how to be most alively human amid so much that is deadening, in the tension between wildness and civilization, democratic participation and imagination, art and politics, and any ideas about how to make all people’s (and animals’) lives more meaningful in the Lake Champlain Bio-Region and Beyond.

Prose texts should be 750 words or less to fit on one page, or 1500 words or less to fit on two.
Images are subject to cropping or the superimposition of words.

Let us know if you have any questions, comments, complaints.

For November, I need submissions by around October 10th, emailed to plus@05401.com.
And no, we don’t pay. Apologies.

Most Fondly,

Genese Gorilekova

Why all the Churning?

Trish and I B & PMud, rain, sleet, sun. We are churning up the muck and it is not always pretty. But it is always beautiful. I went to the Intervale yesterday and there were mushrooms and new buds appearing right before my eyes. A sign told me not to pick the ramps and the fiddleheads. I did not, but I wondered how many others had disregarded the rules. I certainly have picked them at other times, along other paths, innocently enough. People ride by on bicycles. We shed the sweaters, the raincoats, the hats we needed in the morning, and wrap them around our waists or stash them in our bike baskets. People are feeling more feelings than they can stand and in the evenings the music wafts out of the opening and closing doors along North Winooski Avenue, just north of Pearl Street. Who is it who feels alive enough to live up to the Spring? Which of us can meet her without feeling the thorny lacerations of old regrets and new longings? Which of us is stoical enough not to feel disturbed by the stirring of ancient sap underfoot?

 

All the World is Made of

Today, November 10th, we are trying to orient ourselves to the new world order, but trying also to not orient ourselves. What seems most important, in the wake of local and national elections, is that we do not succumb to fatalism or nihilistic acceptance of those parts of the status quo that seem to be winning. They are no more real than the other aspects of our world, they are no more entitled to assert their values than the rest of us who envision something different, more beautiful, more brave. And, in these next weeks, as we regroup, we will be celebrating all there is that is fine and wild and courageous in our complex world, remembering that there is at least as much good as there is bad, at least as much wisdom as foolishness, at least as much miraculous delight as wretched violent vulgarity. We must, indeed, expand the outpourings of our visions, must strengthen our voices, must widen our circles, and carry on.

From the Editor

If a political system were a genre of art, it would constantly invite new practices and perspectives to remain alive.  Not necessarily revolutionary, but vitally evolving, linking past traditions with new realities. And yet governments have a staggering tendency to get stuck in ruts that have little to do with creative processes. Stymied systems continue on, with their accumulated corruptions, calluses and carbuncles. Many point them out, with varying degrees of outrage, but the people most complicit, the politicians and those who influence them, soon lose any perspective they might once have had. The improprieties, the fatal compromises seem less and less egregious from up-close, among ethically lazy colleagues. And yes, governments have always resorted to illegalities.

Locally, artists are allowed two minutes during public forum, and we may hang signs in City Hall or bring in a cardboard coffin to symbolize the death of the Burlington College land. Last week Council President Knodell gave Ibnar Avilix more than two minutes because he was in the middle of a poem. Our shenanigans will be tolerated, in their place. But recently I spoke out of turn, when Planning Director, David White, misrepresented the positions of the Planning Commissioners yet again.  I was chastised: “We don’t speak out” during the deliberations of the council, said the Council President using the royal “we”; because of course they do speak out, all they want. It is We, the People, who normally do not.  We behave ourselves during meetings and don’t resort to what they call “personal attacks”. I myself have been known to counsel a less adversarial approach in hopes of winning over people who don’t yet know how corrupt the system is.  Some say vitriolic or even humorous satire “alienates” potential supporters. But does politeness do the trick? When the city held a hearing on the Champlain Parkway last year, they successfully stifled opposition by limiting public comment to notes on index cards! The harder questions were shuffled to the bottom of the pile and ignored. We sat there like cows. Outraged. But cows. When the opponents of the F-35 dared to play a recording of the “sound of freedom” another time, the then Council president, Joan Shannon, hammered the table with a gavel. They have their business to conduct.

And yet, it is not theirs, it is OUR business. We elected them to serve us. But there is something broken in this representative system. Is it that people don’t vote? In Burlington, under 25% of the citizens voted in the last few elections, for varying reasons ranging from despair to apathy. How work within a system that is not working? Can we work within it and outside of it? Does any amount of work within it signal an acceptance of its treachery? Does refusal to work within it at all signal a fatalism that has given up on changing it? Ah! And on the national level things are even more troubling: Should one vote one’s conscience? Dare one not vote? Must one (probably) vote so that the lesser evil wins?

Thoreau, in “Civil Disobedience,” notes that disruption is not always worth the upheaval. But sometimes, he thought, it is.  Working within the system is not only desperately slow, but often doesn’t work at all.  But sometimes it does. The Coalition for a Livable City has induced the City Council put a public disapproval question on the ballot to vote down the zoning change that could not be stopped by a charade of public input sessions.  The results of this vote will be binding and it represents a laudable example of the checks and balances put in place to defend against the railroading of public process that occurs in democracies.  Burlingtonians: look for it on the November ballot along with a chance to vote down the use of 22 million dollars of TIF money as a gift for developer Don Sinex (and visit http://www.CLCburlington.org for more information).

But we also continue to work outside of the system. Rather than being outright disruptive, we will tend toward the creative. Yet every good artist knows that things need to be taken apart, destroyed, before they are put back together in new ways. We work to break down the one-dimensionality of the status-quo by speaking in languages that cannot easily be co-opted by the simulated democracy. Languages of art, of irony, of humor, direct action, of beauty and of outrage; languages that cannot be contained by time or space.  May these counter-narratives make people think, feel, and live more boldly, more complexly, more courageously, more beautifully.  There are ways in which the political system should remain traditional (abiding by the Constitution, for example; keeping consistent). Though art too engages with tradition at best, it has more leeway to innovate. Art cannot replace politics, because it would lose much of its freedom and autonomy by doing so.  Although art may seem harmless enough, it is, I venture, one of the most powerful tools we have to reshape the way we imagine and continue to co-create our world.  Politics is not an artistic genre and that is why many of us choose to not run for public office. Instead, we work in conflict and in compromise with the political system, in a sort of dance which hopefully we both appreciate. Art can very meaningfully provide us with alternative ways of seeing that would make the conversations taking place inside City Council rooms and U.N. chambers seem laughable, if only their outcomes were not so dangerous.

From the Editor

An admirer

To the Editor,
At first I was intrigued by the possibility of your publication to provide profound and unique creative writings, until I realized that is only pretentious intellectualism trying to disguise your propaganda platform. Ultimately i’m hugely disappointed by Plus 05401, and perturbed that you somehow acquired my home mailing address (in Jeffersonville!) to deliver your anti-mall rhetoric.

I request that you remove me.

Creatively Yours,
-Diana

There Ought to Be a Better Way

kraktoa_mainToday on the radio, we learned that ISIS is recruiting criminals from jails around the world. It’s not surprising, given for instance that the American west was colonized by criminals who committed genocide on native populations at the behest of George Washington and his cronies. Perhaps ISIS is really signalling  the birth o f a new nation. Sort of like Krakatoa.