C.S. Lewis puts it this way:
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, `Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker. If we give that wish its head, later on we shall wish to see grey as black, and then to see white itself as black. Finally, we shall insist on seeing everything – God and our friends and ourselves included – as bad, and not be able to stop doing it: we shall be fixed for ever in a universe of pure hatred.
Here and there, home and overseas, death and its sadness sits with us in our hands, in front of our couches, in our laps, atop our desks. The Curator is often middle-caught in these events, left to speak through those willing to write for us when they will. Our publication’s purpose is to talk about what is and what ought to be through these writers. But there’s a tension to that purpose: as a publication, our staff is typically silent, directing writers in the background. It’s the writers that speak. So not speaking timely, then, with our own voices can be a challenge.
I believe there’s a time to speak, and a time not to speak, as a publication. A staff member for The Curator, I’m writing about death and its sadness here because now is a time, I believe, to acknowledge these most recent deaths and sadnesses.
Whether most recently the Ferguson fray, or that ‘divine madness’ (as Russell Brand called it) of rugged-hearted Robin Williams passing from us—whether the soul-sink of Gaza and Israel’s vitriol, the beheadings of Christians in Iraq, the strife of occupation, the rockets across the strip popping at bodies and dirt and hospitals—we are reminded that making known that which aches us, even here at The Curator with this small post, helps. I really think it helps. It helps us not only think about what is and what ought to be, the topics siphoned through those two realities, but also helps redirect our manic, thickened spirits looking for peace during such events. Because our spirits are craving peace, let’s be honest. There’s so much talk about these events.
And there is peace, believe it or not. It is a peace that passes all understanding. It is available, now, and can be groaned for, prayed for, hoped for. This peace can be offered freely.
And it can seem to be taken away freely, too. Recently, it feels taken away.
There’s much to say on these events, their details and histories. These events are not equal, nor are they related. There are particulars to these events that need critical, loud voices speaking for or against them. But one thing we know we can say, as a staff, at The Curator is: we know these events ought not to be happening. That’s plain. It fits within the publication’s purposes, I think. And while we’re grateful to leave the coverage of these matters up to trusted news sources and timely publications, we want readers to know we will continue to frame all that ought not to be with the same care, the same emphasis and power, as we have throughout all disparage and beauty in this world: as an arts publication. We distinguish ourselves as an arts publication. And we’ll use the art that is born out of this time, and the art used to aid others’ understanding of it, to baptize our ache in an appropriate hope and mourning, the same.
I hope The Curator can be a space that continues to let writers offer, in their own words on living and dying that only they can write, a variety of views on these disheartening scenarios and scenarios like them. But I hope, also, The Curator can be a space that provides solace with its tried-and-true purposes. That’s what I’m really trying to say. We want to let you know that we are listening. We are aching like you are aching. We are in the death and sadness with you. And we will use the arts, like we always have here, to look for understanding amid the misery, the throb of want—and for the peace that passes all understanding to return to us all.