About three months ago, I wrote emails to six of my dearest friends and comrades. The letter was an invitation, a vision, and a glimpse of the nostalgia I felt every time I thought of each of them. These people are minds I have either worked with, studied alongside, and got copious amounts of coffee (and other beverages) over the years. The past year, connected by the global pandemic and the internet, I have had conversations with each of them that have traversed the trivial to the critical—memes, pictures of food, holiday plans, books, articles, gossip, film and show reviews, outrage, politics, advice—while checking on each others’ well being. These exceptional minds are spread across the world (and other boundaries of race, gender, sexuality etc.); speak different languages, do fantastic things in their fields, and most importantly share a common hope for humanity, and a thirst for change. They challenge oppressive forces in their own microcosms—question the self, listen to and uplift voices in the margins, educate, agitate, organise (thank you Dr. Ambedkar)—they relentlessly work to topple this universal system of imperialist capitalist ableist white supremacist/brahmanical hetero-patriarchy (thank you bell hooks). These six minds are now the Editorial Board of Proseterity, a publication that brings these voices, actions and thoughts on your devices, for you to consume, share and inhabit.
As India, my homeland, gasps for air, fatal fractures in our systems laid bare, the putridity of greed and hegemony chokes even those of us in the comfort of our homes. I have lost loved ones, at this stage every Indian has. I have lost people I knew for mere hours, in my efforts of doing remote relief work and connecting patients’ families to medical resources, only to later be asked if I could connect them to crematoriums that had some room. At this stage, the entire country is an open air crematorium (thank you Rana Ayyub). The grief has set deep in my bones, casting a thick pallor of hopelessness on everything I attempt or feel, including the will to get out of bed. Proseterity is my balm, and my alleviation, and I hope it will be yours too.
Issue Zero of Proseterity is a collective effort of the core team and the Editorial Board, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed pouring our hearts and minds into it. We urge you to read our Manifesto (there has been much debate around calling it that), and get a sneak peek into the discourse around it through this interactive document. You can hover over the highlighted words and our conversation chains will pop out! This is our way of demonstrating that Proseterity strives to be transparent and democratic, even in its brainstorming.
In this introductory issue, Sunaina unpacks the histories of famous manifestos and what the potency of text as a medium means to her, while Joseph (accompanied by a beautiful paper collage he constructed), delves into the portmanteau that is Proseterity, in ways that will walk you through etymologies, neologisms and a commentary on contemporary culture around information, facts and bias. Maria dismantles the seemingly dichotomous idea of ‘radical empathy’ through the self and its extension in her lucid prose, that is as enrapturing as it is clear. Abu’s painfully objective piece sheds light on ideas of identity (nation, self and otherwise) as he traverses the legal systems in the United States that are committed to thwart any flourishing of who they call ‘aliens’. Sohnee’s matrix of images and texts are an insightful examination of digital archives, specifically the saved items on our Instagram profiles that strangely challenge the attention economy, and put a pause on the scrolling, to excavate treasures collected over time as a result of this very act of tapping, swiping and sliding. To conclude the issue, Marty’s poignant piece on breathing is eerily timely, and relevant, as we live engulfed in fear and bereavement that is this pandemic. Also are featured artworks by some very talented artists: Amey Mhatre, Juhi, Jhanvi and Joe.
Proseterity is a small team; the brilliant Jery John, our Art Director, whose beautiful visions we endeavour to implement and the fruits of which you see on our website; Rachel and Jhanvi, the fantastic creative interns who research, implement and find resourceful methods to keep this project going; and yours truly. We do not plan to put any content behind a paywall and rely on the patronage of our readers. If Proseterity brings any value to your life, do consider supporting us with a donation. Your contribution makes all the difference.
Retz, T. (2018). Conclusion. In Empathy and History: Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education (pp. 213-218). NEW YORK, OXFORD: Berghahn Books. doi:10.2307/j.ctvw0490w.16
Retz, T. (2018). A Conceptual Portmanteau. In Empathy and History: Historical Understanding in Re-enactment, Hermeneutics and Education (pp. 57-70). NEW YORK, OXFORD: Berghahn Books. doi:10.2307/j.ctvw0490w.8
Love, Light, Speculation
Cover Design by Jery John