I can’t stop thinking about Paul Schrader’s film, First Reformed. It is a triumph and possesses a desperation commensurate with the provocations of our age. The film, in part, explores the capacity of solitude to both corrupt and enlighten—and how often the line between the two can blur. It got me thinking about how the contemplative mind is often the one most touched by the witness of injustice; and how thoughtfulness becomes an increased liability to mental health in times as ethically anesthetized as these. Losing Anthony Bourdain is painful. At the very least, his existential outlook could not have been brightened by constant news of environmental degradation, jingoistic fuckery, and ever-mounting violations of human dignity. We can not question his courage, he had that in spades. Yet courage will be what it takes to keep thinking now; to not only take the television’s blows but also consider them as they come. (If only more would.) We can only hope such consideration spills into action, and art is nothing if not action, even if its lone impulse is lament.
I believe the work in this issue prompts reflection, through its exploration of concerns both public and private. The concerns of these lines in Robert Wrigley’s “In a Waiting Room” could hardly be more public: For men and women of our era, young or/ old, in our era it is likely just time/ until some disaffected gander bursts/ through a waiting room door, rifle on rapid fire./ You know its true.; while Chard deNiord’s interview with James Wright’s widow (Annie) offers new insight into the private anguish of the poet. In another discussion, poet Michael McGriff talks about the mystique of the late, great Denis Johnson and the obsessions that haunt his own writing. Also featured in our summer edition is the debut of Detroit bassist Betsy Soukup’s song “This Disquiet”, new poetry by Jessica Cuello, Michael Tyrell and Benjamin Paloff, galleries of visual art from a trio of gifted international artists, new fiction by Christopher Cervelloni and much more. May it be enough to, at least temporarily, ferry you off from what Wallace Stevens called the “pressures of reality”.
Editor, Fogged Clarity