A Note About Our Launch
“No interesting project can be embarked upon without fear. I shall be scared to death half the time.”
– Francis Chichester
Many and many a year ago, I edited a small journal back in California. We had no money, no resources, no way to compete with the established journals. I was typing things – yes, on a literal typewriter – cutting them out, and gluing them to blank pages. We had to have a party to assemble the photocopied pages, fold each copy, and staple things together. And yet, people seemed to like the result.
This time, we have no money, no resources, no way to compete with the established journals. There’s just me, and Kate, who handles the business affairs and keeps me on track, and Ed, who advises on content, and Michael, who knows the publishing world. And a whole slew of writers, artists, musicians… talented, energetic people we’ve met over the years, and many more we haven’t met. Someone asked me, “How will you keep up arete?” Yes, she’s good at Greek… the word means quality, virtue, fulfillment of potential, effectiveness. And I answered, “So many people are doing such wonderful things, all over the world, our biggest problem will be to find a place for everyone.”
Speaking of the world, we find ourselves in difficulty. Now, it’s true, the world has always been filled with adversities, impasses, unseemliness and worse. There’s a place for all those things in Art, I myself have written of them extensively. But there’s also a place for beauty. One way of looking at what Diotima of Mantinea had to say on the subject would emphasize the beauty of the loved one. From there we move to a more general appreciation of beauty, from there to the condition of the beautiful, and from there to the source of beauty. It’s another way of approaching what Kate calls “life-affirming art.” I’ll leave the philosophical underpinnings to others, I’m not a philosopher. But I do know that when Kate sings, something moves within me, and in everyone who hears her, and the source of this movement is what we call Beauty.
Why now? This journal has been in the planning stages for a long time. What shook me out of planning and into production was a statement a good friend and colleague made at a poetry conference not long ago: “Most web journals don’t take advantage of the web.” He was right: they still think in terms of issues and volumes, they don’t incorporate all technology offers. We are determined to be completely different. And to be perfectly honest, who better to move aesthetics and technology ahead? It’s time for a great leap forward, and we hope to be part of that leap. Rumor has it Odysseus sailed through the western gates into the unexplored sea. The world is full of possibilities. And as the poet said, “through the unknown, we’ll find the new!”
Which returns us to Chichester. He was a pilot trying to fly over the Tasman Sea before aviation instruments were available. He didn’t even have a working compass. So he had to use “off-course navigation,” heading deliberately slightly off-course so he’d be sure at least of the direction of his error. He made it, from New Zealand to Australia. But what I love the most about the story? After he wrecked his aircraft landing on Lord Howe Island, he rebuilt it with the help of the islanders.
So here we are, with our rickety machine. We’ve got good weather, and at least some idea where we’re going. The sun is up, and the breeze is fair. It’s time to launch.
August 15, 2016