If asked for words to describe the current year, which is only halfway over, respondents might use words like chaotic, deteriorating, out of control or meltdown. In short: entropy, which may be defined as state of disorder and unpredictability. Of course, at no point have we been entirely removed from this condition, as human history amounts to a mosaic of war, disaster, famine, financial losses, disease, and other spectres of upheaval, both collective and individual.
That said, back on 1st January, which may seem like a lifetime ago, few of us could have predicted where our planet or its inhabitants would be right now. In addition to the “usual” stressful vagaries of life, we have dealt with raging bushfires, high-profile killings, civil unrest fuelled by explosive outrage at longstanding oppression and injustice faced by marginalized and vulnerable populations, bitter political clashes and the worst pandemic in decades that has, in addition to its immediate threats of serious illness and death, led to a confusing and unsettling period of border lockdowns, mandatory quarantines, physical distancing, and business and school closures. Such efforts to “flatten the curve” of the spread of the contagion have, in turn, generated severe economic and employment-related distress, isolation, mental health issues, the suspension or drastic reimagining of key life events such as funerals, weddings and graduations, and an eerie quiet in normally bustling hubs of activity. Complex and varied facial expressions, once readily visible, are now concealed by masks that hide everything but our eyes. Close physical connections have largely been rendered virtual, postponed or ruptured entirely after being tainted by fear, stigma and distrust. Few spheres of daily life have been unaffected by COVID-19, and the adjective “unprecedented” has perhaps been used more in the past four months than at any time in recent or not-so-recent memory.
While we are resilient, we are not immune to tension and pressure. Many of us have been overwhelmed by increased irritability and frustration as we have had to relearn how we work, study, clean and sanitize ourselves and our surroundings, exercise, seek medical care, travel (or not travel), educate children and even order coffee or visit the supermarket. Sleep has hardly been a foolproof respite, as individuals around the world have reported strange and vivid dreams triggered by COVID-19 and our responses to it.
As has been the case during past challenges, we often voice our concerns, fears, anger, grief and uncertainties through artistic expression. This includes creative writing. Within this context, we at U-Rights Magazine have chosen entropy as the focus of our first themed issue, and we have encouraged writers to explore this topic however they wish, composing poetry and prose about disorder and unpredictability on not only a global, but also a personal level, both related and unrelated to the pandemic. The result is a diverse, international collection of dynamic pieces. We welcome you to sit back and embrace their images and their power as we implore you to stay safe and look after yourselves and each other, both physically and mentally, with care and compassion.
for the editorial team.