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Introduction: Hope Floats on a Paper Boat

Welcome to Bad Subjects #78, an issue devoted to Hope.

Zack Furness

Hey folks. Welcome to Bad Subjects #78 , an issue devoted to Hope. This issue was a long-time in the making and it arrives at a moment when we could all stand to benefit from a little hope and inspiration. Putting the final touches on this issue was rather difficult because I initially wanted to write an epic introduction that would do justice to this issue and the idea of hope itself. With that being said, it’s incredibly embarrassing to stare at a blank document entitled HOPE without being able to get a word on the page. If I were like most of my peers, I’d make some clever, post-ironic comment about this scenario that no doubt uses a 1980s movie reference to illustrate my apathy and the sorry state of the world. But I won’t, because nothing could be further from the truth. And besides, cynicism is fucking boring. You can save it for your hipster message boards. The reason it’s difficult to write about hope is because I am totally and completely awed by it. Hope is an overwhelming concept because it simultaneously combines the most beautiful and desperate of all human emotions--it can manifest as both a tremendous vision of what’s possible in this world as well as a last ditch sensibility that keeps one from literally resigning oneself to death.

Now I can’t pretend to understand what keeps hope alive for a man who has awoken from a bombshell blast to find his home and children torn to pieces, nor can I possibly imagine the inspiration and strength required for an indigenous woman to lead a grassroots fight against an impossible corporation or a calloused, violent regime. But what I can speak to is the need for us to collectively put things into perspective, to recognize that hope is both a necessity as well as a responsibility. Hope is a necessity for anyone whose 'normal' life is a constant struggle for resources, health, one’s community, one’s freedom or one’s sanity. But it is also a necessity for anyone who has felt the ground shake from the collective weight of protesters marching, singing, dancing and embracing in the streets for even one solitary moment. Hope is also a responsibility. It is our collective responsibility to use whatever privilege we have to maintain positivity and inspiration in the face of overwhelming odds and to call people out when they resign themselves to hopelessness with full stomachs, educated minds, warm houses and sparkly electronic toys. It is our responsibility to fight for people who cannot, just as it is our responsibility to remind each other of what we can achieve and what we can become.

This issue features a number of talented contributors who speak to the prospects of hope and the possibilities for solidarity, empathy representation (in all its forms) and struggle. Gary McCarron, a first-time Bad contributor, kicks off this issue and sets the stage with a diatribe against nihilism and a thoughtful reflection of the moral politics of hope. David Pinder expands on a number of these themes in an interview devoted to connections between utopianism, geography and cities. Following Pinder’s interview, Helen Hinjens offers critical insight on the globalized struggle over immigrant rights and the battles waged for ‘illegals’ in the Netherlands, and Bad Subjects editor Tamara Watkins briefly dissects the hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement in an era when women's bodies continue to serve as ideological battlefields.

Artistic expression is one of the many processes that binds the personal, the political and the hopeful. Several of the contributors reflect on different aspects of this complex relationship including our own Charlie Bertsch, who wrestles over the meaning of art and the representation of experience through the context of parenting. Mike Mosher, another long-time Bad Subjects editor, focuses on the prospects of collaborative art, cyberspace and mural making in the digital age, and Maxwell Schnurer explores the utopian/dystopian possibilities of the graphic novel series, The Invisibles. An anonymous contributor also speaks to the personal nature of politics as she articulates her experience as both an aspiring 1960s dissident and woman looking back.

This issue closes with a brief statement from Rosalie Riegle, a grandmother and retired professor who recalls the anti-war protest that got her arrested in Chicago, a satirical comic from Myrrh, and four short pieces that can be read as ‘Snapshots of Hope': Chelsea Robinson describes an everyday epiphany of human connection, Brandy Betz explores hope inside Pandora’s Box, Bianca Wylie makes a plea for democracy and Braxton Marnus finds cynical hope in the downfall of our ‘shabby’ empire.

I would like to thank Tamara and Mike for the help they offered with this issue and also Charlie, who helped with last-minute editing. On behalf of the Bad Subjects Collective, I would like to extend a regretful farewell to Punk Planet magazine, an amazing publication that will be closing down shop following a prolonged struggle with the same financial and institutional problems that have forced several independent publications to fold in recent years. A number of current and former Bad editors have contributed to, and in some cases shaped, Punk Planet over the years and we are sorry to see them go. We wish Dan Sinker and crew the best of luck with their future endeavors and we encourage everyone to continue supporting (and making) independent media. You need to buy magazines folks, or else print ain’t gonna make it. Finally, I would like to dedicate this issue to K, a dear friend who reminds me that people can overcome lifetimes of tragedy and chaos to find hope in the struggle and the laughter of bad jokes. I will miss you when I leave Seattle.

On a final note, we have long been reminded that we have world to win and nothing to lose but our chains. If you disagree, or think this is simply an outdated rallying cry, then I genuinely feel sorry for you. Not because you are ignorant or naïve, but simply because you’re wrong.

Zack Furness is a member of the Bad Subjects collective and an aspiring Chicagoan.