Every Issue Is a Themed Issue

As an editor of a literary journal, you can't go much lower than a themed issue. It's the absolute zero of the creative writing world. An editor's sad nadir. A literary journal's last death cough from a consciousness that's blinking out. The other day, an email arrived in my inbox from some literary journal straddling uneasily the periphery of relevance. They were advertising a new call of submissions for a scab themed issue. The advertisement read:

Not quite broken, not quite mended. A reminder of what was, and what will be. Scabs protect our wounds, and yet the temptation to pick at them and peel them off is always there. They call attention to what is already disappearing, and we don’t yet know if they will leave a scar. Scabs are a reminder that healing can be a long, ugly process.

It's the kind of thing that should make any creative with dignity left blush. Yet, it's also kind of instructive, right? It announces what we already know: a lot of people are in pain right now, so a lot of people are writing about pain. Scabs are wounds. Scabs are painful. Scabs are a kind of healing. Scabs are ugly. Pain-->scabs-->wounds-->healing-->ugly.

What I’m trying to say is that Gephi allows us to access these kinds of associative networks that we are always consuming as we read. And we know exactly what we are consuming, but we don’t talk about it, because it’s obvious and kind of embarrassing to talk about. Ugly correlates with scab, because scabs are ugly.

The fact I spent my time trying to operate Gephi with all of the subtlety of a baby trying to fit the triangle shape into the square hall isn’t the point. The point is clear. Identifying associative networks is requisite element of performing close reading is. Gephi just allows us to access what we already know but can’t express yet. Turns out: every issue is a themed issue.