"Isolation is the sum total of wretchedness to a man."
-- Thomas Carlyle
Winter is the season of isolation
-- of the hibernation of beasts, of our own personal retreats into
the recesses of our minds and hearts. Who hasn't favored a misanthropic
evening in the safe recesses of our hovels over the idea of trudging
out into public and withstanding another bout of post-holiday gloom?
Who wouldn't opt for the warm fires of solitude when we glimpse the
frost just outside our windows? (Whether this frost is of the bone-chilling,
minus-Celsius type, or that of the current social or cultural malaise,
is a matter of perspective.)
But as this is a winter/spring issue,
we wear a resolute face, remind ourselves that the fresh air
of a new season will soon be upon us and sound the clarion call: time
to say hello to the world in all its terrifying variety whether we
wish to engage it or not.
In that spirit, we present this issue
as one might present a hearty bowl of soup on a snowy night: as something
that might provide a little comfort, or perhaps even steel our courage
as we decide to saunter into the grim winds outside. After all, the
seasons wait for no one.
Sometimes the act of punching through
our solitudes is as perversely simple as punching someone in the mouth,
as Jim Hart aptly demonstrates in "Funny Face." Our quests for connection
may stretch over physical and emotional geographies, as they do in
R.T. Castleberry's and Doug Ramspeck's travel-poem cycles. Attempts
to embrace the landscapes outside our windows may turn us inside out,