| Victor D. Infante
Photo by S.A. Griffin
The temptation to make this
first letter from the editor breezy and whimsical is almost overwhelming.
No one wants to be thought of as overwhelmingly serious, after all.
Angst is so 20th Century. But as I type, it's one of those alarming
news days, with water hammering down on Southern cities, the streets
of places like New Orleans and Biloxi wearing under unprecedented
torrent. Thousands displaced, hundreds dead—the sort of human
tragedy that boils under your skin a bit, our sheer powerlessness
in the face of nature catching in your throat.
It's the sort of catastrophe
that "transcends politics," or so we're told. It's a phrase
we hear a lot passing the lips of the best and the most naïve
and the most world-weary, each for their own reasons, I'm sure,
but even (especially) in the face of disaster, politics rears its
ugly head. Accusatory voices rise to chastise the president for
waiting to cut short his vacation to deal directly with the situation.
Others point toward recent problems with FEMA, requesting money
back from people it assisted in the disaster, although the assistance
was rarely enough to cover the cost of rebuilding. Still others
look to environmental damage and dire warnings left unheeded.
And still the masses huddle
cold and anxious in the Superdome, their well-being dependant on
a society navigating a course through ideology and culture, right
and wrong, love and fear and a million upon million different interests
to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that we're stuck with each
other, and that we need to lend each other a hand when we're in
need, even if we're never sure how best to extend it.
Sounds like politics to me.
Welcome, then, to the inaugural
issue of the "November 3rd Club," an online literary journal
of political writing-mostly leftist, certainly, but we find the
world's usually more complicated than that. Literature, in general,
is one of those things that the best and most naïve and most
world-weary of us, each for their own reasons, tell us "transcends
politics," no matter how much evidence from literary tradition
flies in the face of that argument. Literature, at its best, captures
the full range of human existence-how we love and fight and ache.
To deny politics its place in literature is to pretend a piece of
our daily lives doesn't exist. Which strikes me, if nothing else,
as bad art.
No, literature-like war, religion
and, indeed, the weather-has a political face. The challenge, then,
is to not fight that reality, but rather, to come to terms with
it, and to find new and interesting ways to express politics in
a literary manner. Because literature, like politics, thrives on
innovation: When the old ideas have been repeated over and over
again to the point where they're simply a meaningless drone in the
background, it's time to throw them away. To seek out something
I'm not claiming that this
journal is something new in and of itself, but it's our sincere
hope that it becomes a showcase for writing that does break new
ground in political literature, that this site and its contents
becomes a breeding ground for new ideas to be inserted into the
In these pages, you'll find
a wide variety of takes on political writing, from a look at the
outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame to a reflection on the death of
Emmett Till, to how the War in Iraq seeps into our homes at night.
Moreover, you'll find writing that keeps one eye squarely on those
desperate, huddled masses, be they in Louisiana or Baghdad, Dublin
or Ohio. The ones most effected by our political maneuverings and
cultural convulsions. The ones we're indelibly tied to, all of us
clinging together as we ride out the buffeting storm.