The Records We Keep Issue Notes

Lists, notes, journals, blogs. Instax prints, photographs, mixtapes, visual diaries.

In our Call for Contributions we posed the question: What is it that compelled the earliest of our race to carve their mark in stone? What gratification do we find in laying down extensions of ourselves, in ink or digital print? Why the need to remember with records, when our own memory-keeping faculties serve a similar purpose?

That there isn’t a singular, all-encompassing answer to these questions made the process of putting together this issue more exciting.

This September, in paying tribute to the records we keep, we not only explore the vessels with which we hold memories, and not only the content preserved within them. We also look at the why’s and the how’s behind every record-keeping endeavor.

In one story, a graduate student in Creative Non-Fiction reflects on the versions of truth that we give ourselves. What does it mean to have facts happen to us, then walk away with a decidedly different interpretation?

In another, a journalist – for whom facts are facts – uncovers traces of his own personal narrative in the body of work he has built. (That’s right – this September, we also welcome a male contributor.)

We then consider the notebook, symbolic of the physical, tactile act of remembering. Although relatively more costly in effort, is it not also more rewarding than keying in characters on a screen?

Or does technology offer an alternative to remembering, that is worth our careful acknowledgement and appreciation?

This issue, we consider both ideas.

And because the written word isn’t the only record-keeping medium there is, we look at an equal bearer of witness – the original one even, it could be argued, for a generation born on photo albums, a generation whose coming of age is archived on Instagram: photographs.

What is the value of a photograph in an age of perennial and easily-produced pictures? The question is addressed by a talented, experienced photographer in the form she knows best.

Further, two other facets came to light in exploring the theme of this issue: Are words and images the only vessels with which we mark the things we want to preserve? And what do we do about the things we want to forget?

The answers came in separate pieces: One on the unfailing hold of music and mix tapes in the act of recollection, and another on the documentation of loss, maybe long after the fact.

These are but a glance of the wonderful stories shared by this month’s contributors, stories that are revealing not only of their ideas and insights, but also of the lives they share. We hope you enjoy The Records We Keep, and find solace and meaning in your own records – the stuff of everyday miracles.

With love,

Bea, Isa, Johna

Image Attribution: “September Desktop Calendar” by Christiane Engel is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)