Embarrassing as it is to admit that I have tried to read Ulysses (yes, the one by J-j-j-j-j-james J-j-j-j-j-joyce), there was at least one sublime line that stuck in my head (the rest seemed to decompose into a morass of punctuation-less textual confusion. What, I, a simple reader, asked, did J-j-j-j-j-joyce have against the humble comma?):
"Hold to the here, the now, through which all future plunges to the past."
At the risk of sounding cheesy (but for what else are the hallowed reflexive columns of an "editorial" intended?) and clichéd (ah, but I love clichés), I think that this issue of ITCH is one of these types of portals, through which potential energy becomes incarnate, then passes on to the hallways of the done. ITCH was always intended as a platform for work that was unlikely to be supported by mainstream media, and in this mandate I think we have succeeded. You will notice, if you are familiar with earlier issues of ITCH, that we have reshuffled things in order to make more space for more writing. (If you're not familiar with earlier issues of ITCH, don't worry about it, but feel free to buy them). Since we launched in our very enthusiastic fashion, we've learnt a couple of things and our mandate has crystallised: ITCH is as a quality print space that supports and prioritises literature in South Africa, with a secondary, but no less committed, focus on supporting new creative visual work. Fine. Back to the cheap philosophising.
The sense of the now being a tangible space that touches on both the future and the past is powerful. There is something about committing ideas to ink and paper that solidifies it and offers potency, which is why I have always been adamant that contemporary South Africa, ("now" South Africa) needs another three dimensional, hold-it-in-your-hands literary publication. ITCH has done its best to offer this service to the creative community, but it has not been easy. Our future, like any future, is uncertain, so I will not make promises about when our next issue will be due. Suffice it to say that it will be as soon as is viable.
In the meantime, there is something celebratory about the notion of now, a kind of "live for the moment" energy that enlivens us. I'm thrilled (and I use this word with impudence) that this issue exists, that you can hold it in your hands, that you can hold to the now, and that the work of almost 30 creative activists has been brought to your attention. Each piece stands alone. Although thematic and inter-textual links are inevitable (such as the recurrence of the word "fuck" – it has been mainstreamed, it is no longer a curse tucked under the consciousness; the contemporary obsession with digital media; ideas of self; the generous use of… ellipsis dots… they are they new —) I'm not going to bore you by trying to convince you that there is a theme connecting all these pieces. The theme is dead; you don't need one. The thread connecting the works on show here is the fact that they are innovative, interesting and captivating and that they nuzzle one another between the covers of ITCH.
What connects all the works in this issue is that they are pieces of the creative future. This is particularly the case for the words: I have no doubt that there are some writers within these covers, published for the first time perhaps, who will go on to make a significant impact on the literary, philosophical and journalistic landscapes of our times. The literary future, with them, is plunging on to the past through the pages of ITCH. Perhaps they will remember the humble, struggling, perpetually broke, trying-to-make-an-impact, hoping-for-survival, "creative submissions" magazine that first published them, one day. I for one am struck by the distinctiveness of some of the new voices on these pages; my faith in "the future of writing" renewed (not that I ever lost it).
Sometimes, I cannot work out what can be said and what can't. What is the point at which one must withhold information? Is forthrightness a virtue or a complication? I'm starting to learn (perhaps I'm finally growing up) that self-censorship is a tool of power. What people don't know, they want to know, and if you know it and they don't, you might be able to hold them in the palm of your hand for a while. For me, this is theory, not yet practice. I don't buy it. Maybe no one really cares about how honest I am, how loose my fingers on the keyboard. I've allowed this "editorial" to be "personal", because I think that it might be my last. And I want to say some things to anyone who might care to listen: I've worked for years at taking ITCH down the potholed road from concept to reality, purely because I believed (and believe) that it was important and because I wanted to be part of something important. I've been a volunteer worker for creative expression since ITCH was conceived and born, and I plan to always be able to section aside enough time in my career to continue to do this kind of work. It's been an honour to be able to create a (albeit flawed, albeit temporary) channel for the future and I will always be grateful to the contributors who (mostly) trusted me with their work and (usually) appreciated gaining mindshare in a radical media experiment.
While ITCH offers now a tangible window into the future with its presence, its future presence is not assured. But the presence of five magazines in the past makes our future deliciously open and my personal commitment to keep thinking about new ways to channel the creative future adds a little cinnamon to the pancake of time.
All this talk of past, present and future is making me a lot less tense.
So, until whenever.
archive - issue 15