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Fall 2005

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Transcend This
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 new.

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 political consciousness.

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.