Take a piece of paper and a pencil, and try to visualize the relation of yourself to the world. You might use circles — a big one for the world and a tiny one for yourself maybe — that may or may not overlap, maybe a border, a division of territory, the occasional squiggly line or hatching. Or maybe you’ll leave the paper empty. Very clever. The creative, vagabond types might take their scissors and puncture their absence, or fold the universe into a paper plane flying through the chasms of time. Try to position yourself in this potentially borderless whiteness. It’s fun.
Such visualization, as a means of fixation, will be productive only in a limited sense. It might say more about yourself than anything else, if the little dot you draw as yourself gets crushed by the suddenly massive paper, or if everything gets portioned out into neat little areas that have nothing to do with each other. It will prove too rigid to amount to experiences of awe and boredom, of feeling glued to your bed in the morning and of moving with the flow of things. It’s just a piece of paper after all.
Our contributors this issue don’t invite you to visualize this relation of yourself to the world, they invite you to think about it. This means loosening up the fixations that we draw by ourselves, in the circles, lines and squiggles that we carry with us in the back of our minds. Our confident partitions and stratification. What does it mean to be overwhelmed by the world? How is one grateful towards it? Does our thinking about where we sit vis-a-vis the world change where we sit? Is there even a meaningful distinction, between self and world, between the eternal and the limited, to make here? If our most common sense intuition is that we are some sort of window opening up onto the world, this month’s issue invites you to jump out of it. After all, if the window frame is a mere product of our hunches, of our lack of imagination, it might not be all that bad.