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While plagues have historically fostered every kind of loss—of freedom, of livelihood, of hope, of life itself—the isolation of grim eras such as the one we are now experiencing can also provoke introspection, fresh curiosity, and, with luck and mettle, singular creativity. If necessity is the mother of invention, so can deprivation generate art that might not otherwise have come into being, the constraints of sequestration thus giving rise to many voices and visions.
Blaise Pascal famously wrote, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” While the writings in Conjunctions:75, Dispatches from Solitude, cannot resolve all of humanity’s problems, they tend toward celebrating, even in ways that aren’t all bliss and rainbows, the myriad meanings of what it is to be alive at a time of full-on global affliction. The very act of writing, no matter how sociable and gregarious a writer may be when stepping away from the worktable, is customarily one of solitude. The writer is often alone, often mute, detached from the world outside the window, scarcely moving for hours on end as whole prodigious universes emerge in graphite word trails on paper or pixelated sentences on laptop screens. It’s from this solitude that the literary dispatches here all derive, carrying the reader off into worlds far beyond any hermitage.
For our seventy-fifth issue, we have gathered fiction, poetry, essays, and genre-bending work from writers far and wide who—despite the deficits of quarantine, self-isolation, and distancing—are closely bonded by a shared embrace of the written word and its ineffable powers of expression.
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Portrait of Two Young Ladies in White and Green Robes (Unidentified Artist, circa Sixteenth Century)
The Dust of Pious Feet
Minds of Winter
Pages from The Plotinus
A/part: Notes on Solitude
Eel in the Tree
No Good Word
Night Is the Best Counsel
I Wanted to Tell You about My Meditations on Jupiter (Not All Celestial Bodies Revolve Around the Earth)
Ararat Tiny Houseboats
Yonder Shines the Big Red Moon Over the Devil’s Lost Playground
Time After Time
Even the Sky and Clouds Were Walls
Eye of the Bhajan Continuing
Three Descriptions of Flag Burning