Quarterly Journal, no. 25: Catharsis Issue
January 2020144 pages
ESSAYS: Andrei Codrescu, Deborah Taffa, Fiona Landers, Ashon Crawley, Sasha Graybosch, Golan Haji, Sophia Shalmiyev, Hannah Amaris Roh
FICTION: Claude McKay, Mary South, Wes Holtermann, Tom Comitta, Dagoberto Gilb
POETRY: Shuzo Takiguchi (Translated by Mary Jo Bang & Yuki Tanaka), Don Mee Choi, Kimiko Hahn, Tess Taylor, Kiki Petrosino, Ishion Hutchinson
ART: Bruce Davidson, Hadi Fallahpisheh, Asako Narahashi, Vincent Ramos, Carissa Rodriguez, Tom Rubnitz, Heji Shin, Estelle Srivijittakar
Catharsis is traditionally understood as a kind of release. Tension builds, and through a cathartic experience, is purged from the body. Think of the last time you’ve experienced this feeling. Was it recently? To me, it seems like our world is increasingly resistant to these forms of relief. Catharsis is consistently frustrated in the news, in politics, online, in art. Movies, trapped into constant sequels, all but ensure that the story is never over. Superheroes keep the world safe only until the following summer. Social media is at a perpetual boil. The political sphere is full of trials, depositions, hearings — all without any seeming conclusion. The climate is on the brink of total collapse, but that collapse is slow.
This issue of the LARB Quarterly Journal is dedicated to Catharsis and the many different ways in which we encounter it or fail to encounter it in our lives. Ashon Crawley writes about the process of “forgiveness, in black”: “What if we considered forgiveness to be a reckoning and confrontation with what happened, is happening, will happen?” In “Stuff, the Essay,” Sasha Graybosch considers our relationship to things, how we assign meaning to objects, and how we both crave and detest them. Deborah Taffa remembers herself as a young girl in the 1970s, coming to terms with her Native American identity during the U.S. Bicentennial. Wes Holtermann’s short story, “Walking into the Holy Land,” follows a young man whose catharsis, and perhaps his saving grace, comes from a sexual encounter with an angel in an airplane bathroom.
We’ve also included three “Prayers” in this issue. I’ll offer one of my own: Let the next year see an end to the tragedy. Let’s move on to the release.
Editor, Quarterly Journal