Special

ISSUE 16

 

- Shravan

Doomscrolling Through the Universe

In astronomy, there exists the concept of a solar wind - a collection of plasma that the Sun’s outermost layer of the Sun’s atmosphere emits. The solar wind shoots out towards the solar system and creates a dust-filled bubble called the heliosphere. 

 

There’s also a vast area of particles between different stars in our galaxy called the interstellar medium. To the solar wind, this interstellar medium is an obstruction that it needs to clear out to expand the heliosphere. To that end, these two entities are in an eternal fight for control of the solar system.

 

Keep in mind what I’ve told you in the previous two paragraphs - it’s important.

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So far, the 2020s has been a decade of many things - economic recession, political turmoil, climate change, and of course, the unstoppable, ravaging virus that continues to pose a threat to all of humanity: The Rock’s debut rap record. The Internet routinely shoves these things into our faces, and we play along. We read tweet after tweet and article after article about how everything sucks and it’s our fault.

 

In fact, the phenomenon of scrolling through negative news for too long got so popular that people gave it a name: “doomscrolling.” It traps us in a nihilistic echo chamber and drills into our heads the idea that humanity is, for lack of a better word, doomed. And maybe, in some masochistic way, we find it all kind of exciting.

 

I’m not kidding when I say that - psychological studies confirm that a lot of us have what’s called a negativity bias. We tend to seek out bad news, sometimes because we want information, sometimes because we want to feel something, but always at the cost of our mental health.

 

There are two sides of our brains. One of them wants to relax, browse the vexillology subreddit, and listen to the latest Coldplay album forever (okay, maybe this is just my brain). The other side wants to stock up on all the negative information it can about the world. Recently, my latter half’s been dominating (with no help from media sensationalism, might I add), and it’s bad.

 

The first side isn’t all that much better, though. We can’t just mute the voices of the oppressed while living in comfort. We can’t live as though bad things aren’t happening around us. It’s our moral obligation to realize that sometimes, the world truly is a dark place. It’s our moral obligation to pay attention and educate ourselves (and it would be beneficial if it was not about Tomdaya or the symbolism in the Bhutanese flag).

 

That means we’ve got a tough challenge to deal with. Do we keep absorbing information at the expense of our own sanity, or do we let loose and chill out at the expense of others? Which side of the brain do we pay attention to?

 

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Remember that space stuff I mentioned at the start of the article? Well, there’s one thing I forgot to mention there.

 

Closer to the Sun, the solar wind has enough pressure to fight back the weaker interstellar medium and enlarge the heliosphere. Farther away, the interstellar medium is stronger, meaning it’s able to hold its own and stop the circulation of lower-pressure solar wind near it. 

 

Somewhere in between, though, lies a place called the heliopause - an equilibrium region where the solar wind and interstellar system are equally strong. In the heliopause, neither entity can win, so they don’t really fight each other; they just exist in perfect harmony. 

 

Find the place of mind wherein the two sides of your brain exist in perfect harmony. 

 

Find your own heliopause.

 

the difference between i swear and i promise

By Brishti Chakraborty

Previously published in Volume II of the borderline

 

say your words loud and

sharp, stumbling over your

teeth. we spend our lives

pretending to have been born

small, born meek, born grateful.

we spend our lives pretending

that we want to inherit this earth.

my greatest crime is not that i

want. it is that i take. open your

eyes, take it all in. the birds have

been here forever. the sky has

been here forever. the ground has

been here forever. jump as high

as you can, and land harder. i will

not be here forever. when i leave,

i will stir up the dust.

Brishti Chakraborty (she/her), our poetry editor and curator of this column, is a disabled teenage lesbian whose work has been published in or is upcoming in Fahmidan Journal, FEED Lit Mag, Sledgehammer Lit, and more. Her favourite poets are Anne Carson, Ocean Vuong and Leela Raj-Sankar. She writes poetry because it leaves her no place to hide.

Poplar Street by Chen Chen

Dr. Chen Chen is a poet and essayist interested in Asian American histories and futures, family (bio & found), queer friendship, multilingualism, hybrid texts, humor, and pop culture. Chen Chen’s second poetry collection, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, is forthcoming from BOA Editions in 2022. His first book of essays, In Cahoots with the Rabbit God, is forthcoming from Noemi Press in 2023. He teaches at Brandeis University.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/58154/poplar-street

 

Is It A Burden by Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Lasky’s poems have appeared in a number of prominent publications, including the New Yorker, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review. Known for her colloquial, even slangy style and dramatic readings, Lasky acknowledges that “there is a kind of arrogance, a kind of supreme power, that when infused with a little real humility and expertise, makes a poem. Because the poem is always about the speaker.” (Poetry Foundation)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/156834/is-it-a-burden

 

In this short Life that only lasts an hour (1292) by Emily Dickinson

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was an American poet. Little-known during her life, she has since been regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends, and also explore aesthetics, society, nature and spirituality. (Wikipedia)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56456/in-this-short-life-that-only-lasts-an-hour-1292

 

We touch the world with our bare hands. 

 

I have long been interested in the concept of changing the world; not necessarily for the better. The way I see it, humans have one unique advantage over the sky and the ocean and the mountains: agency. We can decide to do things. 

 

We will never be perfect, and we will not even be here for long. Why spend your tiny amount of time alive trying to be perfect when you can change things and be loud and use the one thing you have that nature doesn’t? 

 

Today’s article has a poem I wrote about this, and some gorgeous recommendations that remind me that we are all human, and that there’s nothing I’d rather be.

Changing the World

- Brishti

- Chaand and Aashaya

Moonflower

Previously published in Issue 1 of Filter Coffee Zine

Flowers in hand, pink, your smile is warm.

A lack of words, sentences I cannot form;

Move the hair out of your eyes;

After the rain, rainbows cover my skies.

 

Reach in, breathe in, hug, feeling wanted and loved;

Not a stress in the world, falling flowers from above.

You look like a daydream and sound like a song,

Time moves fast but these seconds are prolonged.

 

Breathe out, the moment is absolute

As if this is all that I’ve had to look forward to,
As if this is all I’ll have to look back at;

Your smile. I’ll always hold on to that.

 

Overwhelming emotions with no restraints,

This feeling has made people want to sing and write and paint.

Cats purr, the rain bows, the birds sing,

Did I mention you’re captivating and entrancing?

 

Light me up, put me in your sight,

Alive like a moonflower in the dead of my night;

Grow your vine, twist and wind, colour me

Bright in the dark, wild and free……

 
 

IF YOU LOVE ME, LET ME GO

- SANJANA

you woke up to the sound 

 

of footsteps on the hardwood floor 

 

green eyes and an unwavering stare 

 

that you never could keep

 

and then there was her

 

from before, soft hands and 

 

a wide smile. there’s thousands 

 

of miles between you now, and 

 

you haven’t spoken for a while. 

 

if you learn how to love, 

 

you must learn how to lose. 

 

warmth will turn to cold one day, but 

 

they will not always turn to you. 

 

everything is transitory, even 

 

the ones you’re thinking of now 

 

and it hurts, that one day all your affection

 

will have no place to go but out 

 

but is it worth never taking the leap? 

 

never breaking your bones 

 

because you fell too deep?

 

never holding a heart

 

 that wasn’t yours to keep ? 

 

if everything changes, you will too

 

you’ll grow older and maybe wiser

 

you’ll change the photos in your room.

 

someday you will no longer long for a love like 

 

the stories in the comment section of 

 

‘the notebook’ on youtube. 

 

if you love something, you must let it go 

 

because love is not a collar

 

that you can force 

 

it is an outstretched hand;

 

 to love is to grow.

 
 

JUST ANOTHER OTAKU

- MAITHREYI

One of my absolute favourite things to do when I’m bored (or not) is just binge watch anime. Yes, a girl who’s obsessed with anime. Throughout my life I’ve been called many things and the ‘cool girl who watches anime’ is probably my favourite. Being my conceited self, I do sometimes love the attention, but I also think it’s very stupid.  

 

P.S. Before I continue this article, as the otaku I am, (yes, a girl can be an Otaku - it’s a gender neutral word, Google it). TO THE PERSON READING THIS: GO WATCH NARUTO RIGHT NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T. That anime is beautiful and changed my life and will forever be my favourite thing to watch.

 

Getting back to the article, I will never forget guys’ faces when I tell them I watch anime, or no wait, Naruto and Demon Slayer, because aren’t those animes too gory for girls? Honestly, they really aren’t - coming from someone who does not like gory stuff, it was totally fine. 

 

Why do people see anime as something only guys like watching? Many girls have an aversion to it just based on the fact that they hear and believe that ‘Anime is only for guys’. Whenever the girls I talk to hear the word ‘anime’ they would say “Oh no, I don’t watch anime, I don’t really like it. Doesn’t it have a lot of killing?”. Let me clarify. Anime is a style of Japanese art in literally every genre to ever exist. Just because the most popular ones are supposed to be ‘vehemently violent’ and ‘solely watched by guys’, it does not mean no other anime exists. 

 

Straying away from the topic of anime for a while, this is also experienced by girls who game, and guys who like romance, fashion, or makeup. It’s something that is completely ordinary for them to take a shine to, yet people exclaim in surprise on hearing them say they do so. This seems harmless, but could make(and has made) people extremely insecure. 

 

The root of this problem is, of course, gender stereotypes. Our society, the way we behave, what we do and watch, are all teeming with gender stereotypes; the worst part is that sometimes we don’t even realise it. The marketing of anime and gaming includes ads showing only boys enjoying those, while Barbies and makeup are portrayed as something only girls like. Even these minute details greatly influence us and our mindset. Brands don’t expect girls to watch anime to the point where all my anime merchandise is from the guys’ section of clothing. 

 

Our generation claims to be cognizant or ‘woke’, the ones breaking all possible gender stereotypes, accepting of everything someone does despite their gender, etc. But honestly, the astonished faces of people with them subsequently saying, “I never knew guys/girls do that too”, speak for themselves. Society has embedded it into our brains that guys like certain things which girls don’t and vice versa. Does that mean we have to go around flipping every stereotype until we’ve successfully created new stereotypes? Well, definitely not.

 

Neither everyone breaking stereotypes nor everyone abiding by them is a solution to this problem. We all should have the right to do the things we like. If you aren’t clichéd you would  know that all it takes is ridding one’s mind of the thought that somethings aren’t meant to be done by particular genders.

 

So, the next time you hear a girl saying she watches anime, hit her with a “That’s really cool”, and move on.