archive - issue 15

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  • /

    By Ruth Barker
    On the QWERTY layout of my computer keyboard, the symbol / appears beside the questioning symbol ?. They are represented together on the same key, and
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  • Apartment / Containers

    By Vincent Bezuidenhout
    These diptychs are the start of a series of images I have been working on regarding the visual landscape we choose to surround ourselves
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  • I returned home after my first year in college to discover my younger sister had turned gorgeous. This was a disappointment, but not an
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  • Butterfly

    By Adriana de Barros
    The pupa, a silk wrap of emotionsIsolated, within breathing, wanting to bethe intense pronoun of selfIt is silly to be one's own pronounShe giggles
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  • Collage

    By Claudio Parentela
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  • Drag and Snap

    By Leigh-Anne Niehaus
    This series is inspired by the childhood game of "snapdragon", which allows for simplistic and delightful decision-making through random selections of colour and number.
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  • Evidence of Life

    By Tamlyn Martin
    Below is an extract from a series of 11 poems created in parallel with visual artworks. 5. Memories laced with visceral realityFlooding herThe gentle
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  • Forward! Slash!

    By Travis Lyle
    You think you're a forward-thinking kinda person, do you? Lemme be the one to break it to you, sunshine – you're as lame as the
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  • Human/Nature

    By Lydia Anne McCarthy
    This series explores moments between nature and human beings that are at once idealistic and unsettling. Each picture is an independent narrative, but placed
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  • Immigrants

    By Stanley Onjezani Kenani
    you want to livenothing leaveto liveyou swimor like fresh sardinesyou are packedin boatsyou leaveto live.  you leavegold in the belly of Africaoil in
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  • In Between

    By Tania van Schalkwyk
    Raised in an Arabian land of heat, fire and temper,sometimes the calm of England clamps downlike damp in a bathroom with no windowand a
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  • Letter to the Editor

    By Elan Gamaker
    Dear Sir/Madam I should like strenuously to object to the subject matter ("/") of your current issue. It must first be mentioned, however, that it
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  • Or: a line drawing

    By Gabeba Baderoon
    Pencil and nothing. Her face turned almost entirely away. Forehead, cheekbone,jaw,the bun low in her neck,shoulderand down,the long linejust enoughthen left alone.
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  • p u n c t u a t i o n

    By Ula Einstein
    Einstein works with a diverse range of media, including drawings and installation with fire, thread, and blades. The series of drawings and installations with
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    By Sean Hampton-Cole
    Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?Bob in Bonds?I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...You want extension 125. This
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  • Pretty Babies

    By Peregrine Honig
    With the premise that "/ " presents what is IN and what is OUT, the "Pretty Babies" series explores the fashion industry's well-published and syndicated DOs
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  • River Bank

    By Mario Sughi
    The symbol / is intended initially as a symbol of division. A real or unreal line divides the girl from the water, the girl from
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  • Scissor

    By Charlotte Gait
    There was a time when you and I were connected by iron, acid, vitamin and blood. Where every mouthful I took was with the
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  • Seasaw

    By Sol Kjøk
    Here, the motif is conceived of as a seesaw (the typo in the title is intended, as this drawing is part of a series
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  • Series Seven Up

    By Noel Fignier
    Text by João Branco Kyron, HipnóticaThe collision is imminent and in the fraction of time left, the eyes shut and the vision is superbly
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  • A battle over samoosas between the snobbish Cinderella and a homeless electrician is mediated by Cinderella's boyfriend JJ. The samoosa battle is conflated with
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  • Wayne Porter, freelance journalist, donned his anthropologist's birthday suit and hit the bowling alley. Bar the bowlers hat tipped gently off centre, the man
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  • The Incised Wound

    By Joanne Hichens
    "Please, for me, Dave," I placed my hand on his, and really, no begging, just asked him nicely, "Lay off the booze tonight." Whether
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  • He had been driving for hours through that unstable, somnambulist night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke with a start and
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  • The space between.

    By Mehita Iqani
    It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known. Either/Or. Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd,
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  • Un Hombre Fuerte

    By Tamo Vonarim Written these words are, at times of a subconscious flow – whether they are mine, I don't know. All I know is that I
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  • Unbroken Awareness

    My life is now a floating shellI am a vessel on that river.The storm, the ship, the sea,Whose shores we lost in crossing.  I
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  • Untitled

    By Wilhelm Saayman
    This series of images, made using pen and ink, photographs and Photoshop, explore alternate/dream realities.
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  • Untitled

    By Aryan Kaganof
    /At R550 rand I thought I'd rather die/ My mother: can I trust this woman?/ I thought the Romans were coming, dinkum/ …and always
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Monday, 08 November 2010 02:00

Feeling Good: On Pessimism and Happy People

By  Mehita Iqani
I am not naturally the most cheerful person. My parents tell me that my first word was 'No' and, although I don't remember the moment, I imagine it to be more of a first statement: 'No!' Nevertheless, I do make an effort to think positively. Often, this means minimizing expectations and managing disappointments. Trying requires good faith, and resilience when things don't work out. Those are optimistic qualities. But I get that describing them this way comes across a tinge pessimistic.

Some people literally overflow with enthusiasm for life. I love people like that, precisely because I am not blessed with this capacity for endless optimism. It makes me feel very good to be around those that are. They radiate; I warm my chilly hands at the roaring fire of their joie de vivre. I know no one is happy all of the time, but some people seem continuously contented. They have the talent of only giving goodness to those around them, with complete sincerity, even if all is not perfect in their worlds.

Sometimes, though, happy people can irritate the bejesus out of me. Maybe it's about proximity and familiarity. I love happy people that I know. Unnecessarily happy people that I do not know, however, can be a little taxing.

While I was writing this, I had the TV switched on, using it, as I sometimes do, as visual and aural wallpaper so that I don't feel too isolated and self-pitying about working on an editorial on a Saturday evening. A programme was on about 'normal' people who have to throw dinner parties for strangers. I tolerate it (OK, I rather like it) because it is intriguing to see other people's kitchens and how they try to imitate celebrity chefs while they're explaining what it is they're cooking ('I'm going to make my choux pastry in the shape of a swan...'). One of the amateur chefs on this particular show is terribly, awfully, most annoyingly cheerful. She sings (badly) all the time: while she cooks, shops, cleans up. She did a rendition of singing in the rain at her local grocer. She says 'Hallelujah' and means it. She smiles all the time and she has too-wide, too-frikkin-happy, bright-blue eyes. It's really rather unbearable. I can't work out why I'm so annoyed by her good humour. Maybe its because I don't know her and also don't really believe it. She's hamming it up for the cameras. She's putting on a show, clowning around, performing her idea of the person that everyone loves to love. I, for one, don't buy it for a second - she's bloody miserable. Coming to this conclusion makes me feel pleased, in a perverse way.

What makes me happy, besides that kind of perversion and, of course, getting my way? (This would be an ideal moment to insert a smiley emoticon). I like it when I get what I want. Don't you? I invest a lot of energy in hoping for things. But: I don't just hope I also work. I do my best, or as close to my best as I can muster, situation depending. I realize that I don't control everything that happens in my life. Other people - friends, lovers, and selection committees - make decisions that affect me. So there is no point getting worked up if I can't have my way all the time. I think that realizing this has made me a more relaxed person all around. Although I recognize that I might need to leave it to the people in my life to judge whether I am being completely honest on this point.

What makes me smile is feeling good. I feel good when I get the chance to take a bite out of that apple called pleasure. I mean real life, embodied, phenomenological experience. Like tasting a macadamia nut-caramel cheesecake that I baked, and which came out right after diligently following a recipe. Laughing hard and long at a very stupid, brilliant YouTube video about two puppets that have no idea what they are or why they are conscious of being 'alive'. Kissing. Enough said. Dancing badly to bad music around friends also dancing badly; all of us with abandonment. Sun or a breeze on my skin. Running - that nice I'm-in-my-stride feeling and also, even more so, that tingly post-run, in-the-shower meltdown feeling. All of these things are goodness incarnate. Living-in-the-moment makes optimism easy.

Life: yummy. ;)

——— mehita

PS: For this issue of ITCH, I thought I'd do something that I haven't done before: create a personal interpretation of :) by doing short interviews with some of my friends. These people, whom I know and like a lot, represent a lot of things in the world that I appreciate and smile about. I hope you enjoy meeting them too.
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