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Sunday, 25 May 2008 02:00

The space between.

By  Mehita Iqani
It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known.


Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd, I know, to regress into a nostalgic rhetoric as I write my first editorial for ITCH Online, but I can't help thinking back to the five print magazines that we made, and comparing them to the promises and perils of this new experiment. Will ITCH online be Better/Worse? Is this the End/Beginning? Of course, one of the benefits of the glorious internet is its interactive potential – so I can abdicate editorial responsibility to the new media wave. So, post your comments, share your views, submit your work (of course) – teach me what the internet can do... I'm ready, we're waiting...


I've left home, I confess, the beauteous bubble of eKapa, the raucous gritty energy of Jozi, and I'm in London now, contemplating the relationship between here and there, home and away, why I left, and how I feel about it all. How can I grow, what can I learn, when will I bring it all back, will I be wanted when I return? The jet stream of that flight home, connecting LHR and CPT, seems to me a gargantuan inter-continental forwardslash linking former metropole and colony, highlighting my sense of be/longing, my experience of dis/placement.


As I write this, Mzansi's xenophobic flames seem to be cooling – or are they? – and my heart is breaking for the land, once again blood-soaked, that I've temporarily left behind. The slash is a violent little piece of punctuation. It is remorseless and hard. Like a knife, it has no shame; it cuts things apart (and by doing so highlights the connections between them, the relationship that is no more, but also no less). This sense of violence is explored in some of the writings in this issue, where the simple forward-slash morphs into a weapon of destruction. The piercing pain of knifed flesh, the burning intimidation of language, pronunciation, representation.


This collection of ITCH includes rich experimental writing, finely wrought poetry, eyebrow-raising satire, aching musings – all of which walk a tightrope between phenomenology and irony. You'll notice that we've overinterpreted every possible prefix for the word "text", mainly to avoid reductive categorisation, also to add a sense of the subliminal to everything. Instead of trying to herd the rich variety of submissions into neat little well-defined cages, our categories are intended to highlight the fluidity, the boundary breaking newness, of the kind of writing that comes to ITCH. A space between being and knowing, labelling and making connections, arbitrary perhaps, but unavoidable, and only, at the end of the day, an experiment.


And the most fundamental binary of all: it has been explored, confused and created in ITCH since we started this whole trip: the tension and relationship between visual and verbal communication. Our focus is text, to be sure – but images are non/texts too. Its hard to cut them out completely, so even though our new editorial mandate is to focus on literary and verbal expressions, other forms of narrative keep creeping in. A lesson in the impossibility of pure boundaries – beautifully so.

So, this is what I have to say, my fragmented, clichéd editorial. I love ITCH, naive though I may still be, and what it represents: effort, experimentation, ideas, evolution, an alternative to the mainstream. I'm pleased that it is back in a real world space. I hope that it will prove to be meaningful to those whose work we've published and all who read here.

———— mehita
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