Earlier this year, two SLC students started a new campus publication called Fictional Anatomy. The zine, according to its mission statement, is dedicated to the "search for significance in contemporary life." The co-founders of the publication are sophomores Sofia Seidel and Noushin Ahdoot, who say that the idea for the zine came out of feeling a certain lack of respect for aspects of the modern world that they felt were natural to include in their work. According to them, the publication, "stands against the erasure of technological and internet realities from today's literary and visual art forms," and is, "committed to exploring how modern modes of interaction are shaping what it means to be human."
Ahdoot explained the origins of the idea, saying, "I've noticed that there's this pressure to erase things of 'this time' from writing, assuming that would render it cheap or superficial. I've felt that pressure in deciding what to write about, and in deciding what details to leave out from my writing. There's this great piece by Laura Miller of the Guardian called 'How Novels Came to Terms with the Internet' that I read a while ago. That article really set the mental ball rolling."
Seidel added, "There seems to be a general disrespect for the internet and other modern technology, in that certain experiences are seen as less meaningful, but they don't play any less of a role in my life." She expanded on this idea, saying, "I went on Omegle one night last year; my plans with friends had fallen through but I still wanted to have a conversation with somebody. I got lucky and didn't match with a pervert and this person opened the conversation with a list of elements and then percentages, and then I said, 'I don't know what this means', and then the stranger said, 'It is the composition of the body--all the elements--that is you--sitting all together'. And we had a really interesting conversation after that. And I'm not saying that everyone who goes on Omegle is going to not be shown a photo of a penis, but what I am saying is that that experience is not any less profound than meeting a stranger face to face."
Seidel and Ahdoot hope that the zine that can create a forum on campus for discussing how technology changes the search for meaning in the world today. Ahdoot explained that it is often difficult to deal with the present in various art forms, but added, "I think that there needs to be a space for dealing with it. I've had many, many conversations with people who work in an endless nostalgia, and while I understand and see where they're coming from, I don't think this should be an excuse." Seidel continued, "I think the internet is a perfect reflection of our society. It's not more degenerate, it's not less moral, it's just public. People think that the trash on the internet is creepy, but people do creepy things 'irl' that you don't even hear about."
The zine accepts both writing and visual art, and publishes twice a year. The deadline for the first issue will be the last week of this semester, and the issue is set to be released at the beginning of next semester. Seidel and Ahdoot agreed, "the more form bending, the better. We take poetry, fiction, interviews, transcribed performance pieces, short and long form pieces, nonfiction, essays, novel excerpts, screen-shots, paintings, photographs, prints, mixed-media experiments, and everything in between!"
While the focus of the zine is technology, Seidel clarified that they would like to include any work exploring communication and connection. She said, "We don't only want pieces related to the internet. It's just one facet of our reality and one tool for meaning-making, and we just want to acknowledge the fact that the search for meaning has now been expanded to include that along with the types of encounters that human beings have been participating in for centuries." Ahdoot added, "I can't claim that this publication will be the vehicle to deal with these issues properly or to flesh them out in the highest quality, but I still think it's worth a try."
by Janaki Chadha '17