If there is one thing that characterizes the twenty-first century it is, I believe, a heightening of the eros/thanatos dynamic. Many writers have written, in different forms, of the fundamental human pull between the two (Freud, Simone De Beauvoir, Kazantzakis, amongst others).
If we take eros to mean not just sexual desire but also the energy/situations/dynamics that create, connect, affirm; and thanatos to mean not just death but also energy/situations/dynamics that disconnect, disrupt, destroy, then it is clear to me that the dance between the two is a dangerous but often necessary creative conflict. I have certainly felt this to be defining of both my writing and my life. The problems arise when the dance is no longer a dance but a battle. And while battles too can sometimes be productive – conflict is inevitable but so is its resolution or transmutation - they cease to be so when they dominate. When eros disappears – desolation, alienation and annihilation follow.
I feel this is what is happening right now, all around us. War zones erupting on all levels: within the self, between lovers, brothers and sisters; between social/cultural/economic groups, within and between states. And while real social and political reasons cannot be ignored, the common denominator of all wars is, I believe, an inability to accept that Self and Other are ultimately not that different – certainly not in our basic humanity.
When we negate our own Shadow, we inevitably project it on to Other/s, creating simplistic dichotomies of ‘good’ and ‘evil’, of Us and Them - whereby Them are demonized and dehumanized, while Us are deified, scrubbed clean of all sins. That is why, here in BRAND, we go for writing (and art) that embraces the dark side, while not negating the power of eros. This issue, especially, reflects this. It is our small contribution to emerging movements, resisting and creating in dialectic opposition to the warring worlds; movements where the self is not scared to look at its own complexity; where the dance between eros and thanatos is indeed a dance and not a battle; where Self knows s/he can easily become the Other. That and the ‘Obama Moment’ (on a symbolic level at least) give us hope when ‘hope’ is a dirty word and we keep on writing and publishing.