2012 – Michael J. Brien – Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

I don’t recall who it was on our editorial board who suggested this theme during discussions on whether we should or should not even have a theme for our 2012 edition. I do know that soon afterwards, I sat in a local coffee shop overhearing bits of conversation between two teen women that solidified our choice of Identity as this year’s theme. There was talk of acne, a blemish or two, and then the exclamation—“Thank God for make up!”

That’s it—make-up hides self and aids in the myriad pretenses of self. Perhaps all of our high-stakes political drama, teetering bankruptcies, bankrupt dictatorships, concrete walls and cultural barriers raised are merely ways for us to identify and deal with self and other, with enemy—to dress-up self in the best light possible, and keep in the shadows any potential of another. Is identity merely the make-up used to cover our blemishes?

I have worked with the homeless, persons who sleep roughly, as one shelter director recently advised me. They have come into my office with bravado, disheveled, well-dressed, lost or in the final throes of loss. Who are they really? What was life like before a foreclosure, a debilitating mental illness? How far removed are they from self as chronic homelessness begins to steal identity from them?

Where does our true self lie?

Try this: “Identity emerges as a kind of unsettled space, or an unresolved question in that space between a number of intersecting discourses. . . . [Until recently, we have incorrectly thought that identity is] a kind of _xed point of thought and being, a ground of action . . . the logic of something like a `true self.’ . . . [But] Identity is a process, identity is split. Identity is not a _xed point but an ambivalent point. Identity is also the relationship of the Other to oneself ” (Hall, Stuart. 1989. “Ethnicity: Identity and Difference.” Radical America 23:9{20.).

In that unsettled space, we were inundated with suggestions, poetics, fictions and philosophies from writers and poets throughout the world. What our readers and I found in most of the works submitted is that without the certainty of destination, considered works seemed remote. Identity remained elusive, simply never held onto. Identity it seems is tough to peg. Yet, you will find in this issue of Amoskeag that, in the end, Identity is pegged, sharply and precisely by authors willing to risk and name their other stories.

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