foreword) ne winter evening many years ago, some friends and I were entertaining ourselves with a game of free association. Weweretorespondwithouthesitationtowhateverwordorphrasethequestionerputtous.Insteadofaskingabouttheobviousthings--favoritehobbies,bestmovies,happiestmoments,etc.--myfriendwasbeingphilosophical.Tomehesaid,"Literature,"andmyunthinkingresponsewas,"Black andwhite." Thesearethebasicshadesnotjustofthisissuebutalsoofmuchofthebest literature,beginningwiththesimplefactthatwritingistypicallyembodied bymereinkonpaper.Inappearanceitissimple.Eventhemostpowerful writingappearsinamediumthatissilent,unmovingandtwo-dimensional. Yetthisseeminglypassive,staticformcreatesworldsthatcanbeexperienced byourdeepestselves,emotionallyandintellectually.Theevocativepotency of literature lies partly in the material simplicity of how we encounter it. Therearenostages,nomachines,noelectricalboxes,nospeakersorscreens, onlythewords,readinquietness. Language is a process deeply native to the human mind. We are the speakinganimal,andinwritingweareabletospeakthebest.Theparadoxicalauthorityofthestraightforwardmediumofwrittenlanguageisthatit can move as fast as our minds can move, without baggage or gimmickry. WINTER 2006 / ThE MIssouRI REvIEW Literatureshiftsreadilybetweenimage,scene,narrativeandcontemplation throughtheelegantlysimpleinstrumentofwordsonthesimplewhitepage. Reading this issue of TMR reminds me of that notion because of the blendofstarkness,mysteryandprofounddramaofthecontents.Severalof theselections,includingJesalKanani'sstory"SummersinAgaas"andRana Dasgupta'sbeguilingessay"ThePianoTeacher,"arerememberedthrougha veiloftimebutwiththeunadornedclarityofblackandwhite.Theenigmas oflifeanddeatharereflecteduponinSilasDentZobal'sfascinating"The Archimedes Palimpsest" and Courtney Brkic's "Gathering Up the Little Gods."SethFried's"TheSiege"isasurprisingandoriginaltaleofwarfare setinmythictwilight.PatriciaFoster'sessay"TheDeserter"dealswitha personal form of twilight: chronic fatigue syndrome. Kristine Somerville addstoherseriesonneglectedartistswithabrieflookatRomaineBrooks, whoavoidedthecolor-mad'ismsofherday,producingturn-of-the-century portraits and single-line drawings with the unadorned simplicity of black andwhite. SpeerMorgan ThE MIssouRI REvIEW / WINTER 2006
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Mar 6, 2006
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