This issue of quarterlife marks our first visual theme--Untitled from Pamela Bannos' The Light series.

When I look at Bannos' photograph, as is the case with many, my eye jumps first to the light. Bannos uses distortions of light that create an unspoken dialogue with the people they are confronting. For me, this confrontation draws attention to the constant, though often unnoticed, presence of light in everything we do.

I once read a short story by C.S. Lewis called "The Man Born Blind." The story is about a man, Robin, who is born blind and receives in his adulthood an operation that gives him sight. His life changes--as one might expect--and those changes send him immediately into an irresolvable loneliness. Robin has never understood the world as those around him do, but never before was there any expectation that he would. Now that he can see, he is given new access to the visual world. The more he sees, though, the more hollow it all appears to be. In the story, this is shown most clearly in his ongoing search for light.

Robin was told that once his eyes were fixed, he would be able to see light. When the bandages are removed, he looks about and sees nothing but objects. Anxious, he asks his sister to show him light and she responds by saying that light is everywhere, on everything. He does not believe her and sets out one day in search of light. He walks about and finds himself on a cliff's edge with another man, a painter. "'I'm trying to catch the light,'" the painter tells Robin and points at the thick fog covering the valley below and the thick rays of sun shining straight through it. There is light. The painter pauses for a moment and before he realizes what has happened, Robin jumps off the edge of the cliff into the abyss.

Light is, in many ways, an abstract concept, yet we see it every day of our lives. As with Robin, it mediates between our tangible world and something beyond, something cosmic and ripe with metaphor. As you read this issue of quarterlife, think about light; think about the lamp on your bedside table and the sunset. Think about the fluorescent lighting in your classrooms. Think about a campfire. Are all of those really light? Or is Robin right, and we are all wrong, all imprecise in our language and our thinking, and light is something else more particular, and we have simply forgotten what that something particular is.

 

View this issue HERE.

 

Masthead
editor: Naomi Gibbs
layout editors: Molly Esteve, Deirdre Gorman
copy editors: Hanne Jensen, Brett Weiss
selection staff: Michael Bell, Ari Frink, Philip Hofius, Sean McNulty, Nick Michal
staff artists: Isabel Blue, Lara Mehling, Markel Uriu