Letter from the Editor: Perception & Blindness

Letter from the Editor: Perception & Blindness

Autumn Jefferson
Media Staff

Dear beloved reader,

                                                             Close your eyes.



How do you imagine blindness? 

I imagine I’m six again and deeply afraid of the dark. I imagine I’m being sandwiched—smothered—between my parents, sinking into their king-sized bed. But that’s how I liked it, borderline suffocation in those safe shields of duvet that held me close until a promised dawn.

I imagine blindness to be like these nightmares I had as a kid. They came unannounced and unwelcomed, like your least favorite family member who has flown across the globe just to see you, and who has just knocked on your door at such a late and unseemly hour that you can do nothing else but politely let them in. In those nightmares, the looming walls of my brain threateningly encroached upon me, as the familiar walls of my parents’ room glided away. Suddenly, I was made to be a stranger in my own brain. Alone in the unfamiliar, there was nothing I could recognize. Even in my sight, I was blind. 

Those nightmares reverberated like a silent hurricane, burying me deep under tons of sand, suspending me in a black vacuum like the night sky. My body was flooded with quiet but resonant darkness. I was Alice in Wonderland, small and afraid in this unknown world. Only with no White Rabbit or magical Mad Hatter to guide me back to the known. 

I would wake up panting, sweating, screaming, wailing, crying for my parents to save me from i-don’t-even-know-what. And as I grew older, I would try to pinch myself awake, blinking forcefully, convincing myself that it was all just a trick of the light. Dreams can’t infiltrate an objective reality. It must be all in my head. 

But is reality truly objective, or is it all in our perception? If we operate from blindness, how do we envision new realities? What emerges from the place of the unseen? Perhaps, blindness is the greatest source of (re)imagination.

                                                             Now open your eyes.

How do you imagine blindness? Do you too imagine lonely darkness? Or do you imagine pure, overwhelming light? Or perhaps do you imagine varying shades of complexity? 

In our last issue, we asked our readers to open their ears and listen to the loud whispers and quiet shouts. In this issue: Perception and Blindness, we asked our writers to close their eyes and navigate the darkness (or light) of their pasts, presents, and futures. 

Eryn Rhodes opens our issue by reconstructing our perception of Hollywood stars and celebrities in her piece “‘From Scratch’: (Re)Building John Mulaney.” Bailey Middleton also challenges prevailing perceptions of girlhood and womanhood in her piece, “My Favorite Color is Pink…Is That Ok?,” visualizing a fuller and more complex way of being. 

Lindsey Smith further questions feminine presentation in her piece “The Cost of Being a Woman,” where she totals the invisible purchases required to be ‘woman enough.’ Cassie Dallas also explores the tension between the active ‘doing’ and frozen presentation of womanhood in her short collection of poems “pinned moth/freed moth.”

Cheyenne Butler also explores the idea of the proper way to exist, in her remarkable short story “Born in Sin” about a protagonist who uncovers a family secret following a funeral, now seeing her family through new eyes. Along with Butler’s protagonist, some of our other writers looked to their histories to expose new meaning. 

In her piece “On Year-Old Journal Entries,” Susannah Baker revists past journal entries, grounding herself as she is about to celebrate another year of life—how she has grown, how she has stayed the same. Ella Powell also takes a trip down memory lane in “Weaving the Ever- Expanding Web of My Life through Photos,” exhibiting how her digital gallery of memories keeps her tied to her friends and family despite physical distance.

Caroline Silvera proudly returns to her past in “Poem to a Blocked Contact,”  reclaiming her youth from a blocked contact—and showing how self-assured and badass she is now, in the present. Our issue flutters to a close with Jordan Coleman’s “Momma’s Lullaby,” a piece (dedicated to her mother) that lulls us to sleep with yearning for a simpler, softer childhood. 

As always, all my gratitude goes to our lovely Iris team. To my writers, my artists, and my fellow editorial members, you all are each speckles of starlight like sugar spilled across black marble, whose creative brilliance I am so lucky to luxuriate in. And to you, our beloved readers, I hope this issue helps you find clarity within the blurred, a beacon of hope as our stardust atoms all tumble across vast galaxies. 

With all my love,