Solastalgia is a very good word, made by combining the Latin solacium (comfort) and the Greek root -algia (pain). Philosopher Glenn Albrecht created it to define “the pain experienced when the place one lives and where one resides is under assault.”~~ Lisa Purpura, “Scream (or Never Minding)”
It’s a question I seem to hear amongst the smartest, most creative, most engaged people I know: Does writing matter, now, in this time? So many of us feel our space is under assault on multiple fronts. I can only write so many letters, donate so much money, to do what I can to keep light in the world. The psychic, spiritual, and emotional nourishment from reading, thinking about what I’ve read, and forming tiny essays in response, seems far better than curling up in bed and pulling the covers over my head.
These characters, poems, these stories fictional and real – a rejected teenager trying to find her art, a charmingly goofy children’s author from the Faroe Islands, a New Orleans rapper, a Russian mobster, a fungus-lady, a burrito maker, a Brazilian telegraph operator, a disabled vet and the animal shelter worker who accidentally euthanized his dog, a woman on a strange trip through Vienna, an anorexic college student, a farmer recovering from great loss, a Jewish family over decades of change, an unwilling drug cartel participant – are a precious resource and we would be poorer without them. I’m grateful to the writers who put these words on paper, and I hope they know they serve a vital purpose, “holding open a space that is always under threat of being shut down” as artist Jenny Odell put it.
As I progressed through the volume, I tried to keep an eye on connected themes. It seemed we started with explorations of art in its many forms: its purpose, effects, practitioners. The body came into focus, shifting to embodiment and the joining of the body with the natural world, turning to psychic connections with each other and with something outside ourselves. Then disconnectivities, whether through chance or choice, emerged, just in time for the reader to disconnect from the book and move on. Of course, I could be imposing my own moods on defenseless entries, seeing Orion in unrelated stars or a face on the surface of Mars. That’s always the thing about art: it’s a collaboration between artist, medium, and beholder, and all have their say.
I confess to feeling a bit guilty that I may not have given all these pieces the attention and thought they deserved. Time was not so much the issue as my mood, affected by matters public and private. Not all of those moods were negative, by the way; I’ve discovered it’s just as hard to focus under the influence of joy and enthusiasm as when overcome with anxiety, anger, sorrow, or hopelessness. But I did not give up.
And so, one day at a time, we read, and write.
If you didn’t give everything the attention it deserved, I fared far worse. I didn’t even get through all the stories. Again, a mix of good and bad reasons. I’m all set with my BASS, and I hope to stay on track with you through those.
At this point, just getting out of bed is a victory. I have hopes for about 2 BASS stories a week, but who knows. It’d help if I actually sat down and read the first couple of stories, eh.
I just got mine today, so you’re not behind me.
It’s funny, I’ve had “first week in October” in my head for months as the BASS release date, was deliberately slowing my pace on Pushcart to match that – yet I was totally surprised when I saw Heidi tweet about release day on Tues.
(btw, I put a link & quote from your WIBR review out to Twitter, which won’t do you much good since no one pays attention to me there either. But I really liked the direction they went so I wanted to put it out there)