Issue Four - Guest Editor Rich Murphy


Editor's Note


It is easy as a Westerner to view the rest of the world with indignant impatience when considering the rights of women. But the Westerner’s eyes are still adjusting to the light: still smarting from the glare and then to a lack of focus as she or he emerges from the tomb or cave or womb. In America, where an impatient President recently tried to bring democracy to the Middle East, the history of democracy is short: forty-three years. In 1965 the Voting Rights Act was signed into law, and the same country never ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. Democracy is a new idea in the United States. A candidate of color and a woman are Presidential candidates who, for the first time, have an opportunity to win. Male narcissism with all its brute selfishness remains the dominant parenting ideal for a majority of Americans. Traditional frames of mind die hard in the West, and yet governments hide imperial intensions behind indignant impatience when considering the rest of the world. The physical and psychological brutality of women by men needs to remain foremost in mind, not to assign guilt but to continue the labor of birthing an adult world. Thus my contribution as guest editor to Inertia Magazine is one where I hoped to use inertia as a theme for what I consider the most important cultural work of my time: supporting people in understanding that the enemy is not outside the self, the struggle not somewhere else but rather it is a struggle to self-interrogate in order to expand what Mary Daly and Adrienne Rich call ‘“new space’ on the boundaries of patriarchy.” Perhaps I too am impatient.

The history of “When We Dead Awaken” goes back to Ibsen and variations on the theme weave like a thread through Kate Chopin, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and W. C. Williams (on Emily Dickinson) and other writers up to Rich 37 years ago now. I have tried to bring Inertia content to bear on what I understand of “when we dead awaken.” Because I see gender as a global project of the postmodern / post-avant, I wanted to include work that was gender oriented or that had a woman’s perspective and/or that was indeed postmodern / post-avant. If in late capitalism culture is an extension of the economy, and all human resources will be brought to bear on the global economy, women have an opportunity to know themselves and “see and name – and therefore live – afresh,” as Rich states. Capitalism’s imperial sweep may bring with it English as the dominant language in the world, but in doing so, it will have to give up its elite cultural symbols and begin again with metaphor.

I also wanted to represent work being done from around the world or at least in Anglophone or Anglophile countries. The limitation of time made the gathering very selective. However, I believe that the issue has a strong representation of creative work by women and men making art in a postmodern world. For this I am thankful to have had the help of two contributing editors: Jesse Glass and Elizabeth Murphy. Because Inertia is a solicitations only magazine, I would not have the Pacific Rim represented as well as it is, nor would the editorial work have been as enjoyable as it was without the generous help of Jesse Glass’ expertise and good humor. Elizabeth Murphy was instrumental in acquiring from the Atlantic Rim and in reviewing work for gender thematic concerns.