When I think of Other, I think of holding the exact same stone in the palm of each hand, trying to measure a difference in weight. I think of standing at the foot of a long hallway of closed doors, I think of masses of lit candles in a closed room. The other side of the fence. The space behind the crack on a shiny surface. Unopened boxes. Dreaming of your twin that never existed. Receiving a letter in the mail in a different language.
It’s a lot of unexplainable, ineffable, ephemeral things, Other — describing it is like pinning down air. And yet we decided to dedicate an entire ISSUE to it, to compile a list of words that act like pegs, words that taste funny in a mouth used mainly to English words, words with unwieldy consonants and syllables, ink stains we are not used to speaking aloud.
Last year, one of our contributors Haziq suggested a new theme for the year 2013. He sent us saudade, a lovely package of melancholia from the Portuguese language that carried this meaning:
The feeling one gets when realizing something one once had is lost and can never be had again, or longing for something that might never return.
How would one write that? Draw that? Photograph it? Sing it? We’re sure many, many, many people have tried, and tried successfully. But saudade opened the door to other such packages, other words from other languages, all a new window into something else. And we thought, you can’t have Other when you don’t have two stones, when you don’t have something to choose.
So we made a list from which our contributors could choose, could weigh each word in their hands and see what new sounds they could make, what old stories they could dig out, see if they could pin down air. We think they’ve all done a pretty magical job. What better way to finish off a year?
IN THIS ISSUE
We have fiction, poetry, prose poetry, and creative non-fiction exploring the extent of language, even one not your own, to voice memories, thoughts, feelings, emotions, all the myriad interpretations single words can inspire.
- Mati by Afiq Rahmat
- Dépaysement by Betty Doyle
- ‘buried’ in three words by Dhiyanah Hassan
- 9/14 by Haziq Hamid
- Mis-Understandings by Raina Ng
Some spoke in song, in rhymes and rhythm; OTHER sees poet and songwriter Ksatriya dicuss “otherness” through his track Bogeyman, and the band Masha’s Berg look at the connection their track Happy Song and images of an open mic connect to two “Other” words.
- Bogeyman by Ksatriya
- “You never know when you’ll find the end”: Music and Images by Masha’s Berg
The images adorning ISSUE: OTHER are drawings and illustrations by the talented Kim Khaira, who was kind enough to answer a few of our questions to go along with her generous body of work specially made for OTHER. We’ve also got a bit of a Christmas present for our readers in the form of poetic desktop wallpapers, beautifully designed by Ashvina Naidu, featuring poems by five contributors.
- “Destroying one’s painting can only lead to beauty”: Interview with Kim Khaira, Featured Artist for ISSUE #16: OTHER
by Syar S. Alia
- Bite-Sized Poems: Desktop Wallpapers for ISSUE#16 OTHER
featuring Ashvina Naidu, Jee Wen Mok, Joshua WK Chong, Leana Fatimah Makhdzir, and Sharanya Manivannan
We speak to Derek Tan and Ho Jia Jian, cofounders of Southeast Asian video-sharing site, Viddsee, to find out about the production and distribution of local content in the context of the prevailing global and digital backdrop of the Internet and new technological offerings for sharing films and other cultural items.
- Getting the light right for Asian filmmakers: An Interview with Viddsee founders Derek Tan and Ho Jia Jian by Lutfi Hakim
We hope you enjoy our offerings for the month of December, for the last ISSUE of 2013. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, happy new year, and happy reading!
Featured art by Kim Khaira for ISSUE #16 OTHER. Poster design by Syar S. Alia.