Room never knows where the next submission will come from. With every essay, poem, photograph, image of art, piece of music, or description of activism that rolls in, we slowly get a sense of the shape of the next issue. The process of creating Room really does parallel the analytic process in this way. As editors, we pay close attention and think about how each new piece fits with what has come before. Threads appear, and the weave between submissions tightens. Room emerges, a thematic and graphic sum of its parts.
That’s not what happened this time.
This time, the contributors to Room 6.18 described, drew, sculpted, composed, and photographed particular states of mind in the context of unique conditions. If there are common threads, they are blanketed beneath anguish, confusion, terror, and hope. As in Homer’s roll call of ships at the beginning of the Iliad, where each ship bears the imprint of its place of origin, Room 6.18 is the marking of individual experience. It was only through the aggregation of individual ships that Homer could begin to approximate the vastness of the Hellenic world, which was so varied and so much larger than any one place. The whole of Room 6.18 also defies coherent description. Perhaps the whole world does. Something new seems to be happening, and it’s hard to comprehend. Right now, Room exists as a port of call. —
by Phyllis Beren and Sheldon Bach
In their ground-breaking essay “Psychic Space,” Phyllis Beren and Sheldon Bach describe the forces that can squeeze or explode our internal psychic universe in no less catastrophic terms than Hawking described the explosion or implosion at the end or the beginning of our physical universe. In retrospect, the content of this essay prepares us for the tumble of submissions that followed.
by Dorothea Crites
Crites, a pastoral psychotherapist, describes a set of misunderstandings that violently destabilize the inner experience she carries of herself. In “A Therapist Looks at a Divided Country,” Crites shares how these personal traumatic moments led her to a new way to think about bridging cultural chasms.
by Roberto Echeto
Echeto, a dissident and one of Venezuela’s leading intellectuals, wrote an essay that, even in translation, cuts through the reader like a knife. In “Country Ex-anima: Venezuela,” Echeto forces us to recognize that, in the course of one generation, an entire nation can fall into an abject state that is beyond comprehension. Echeto is using Room — really he is grabbing Room with both hands — to beg us to see that, in Venezuela, there are human lives hanging on the edge of an abyss.
by Gabriel Heller
Gabriel Heller is a creative writer who expresses the ineffable experience of being between things. In “G Train,” Heller rides a reverie: meandering in and out of time, hopscotching from one thought to the next, losing direction only to regain his footing. Heller’s journey is a homecoming story.
by Lorenzo Figallo Calzadilla
Lorenzo Figallo Calzadilla is a writer and a sculptor. In “Migrant,” Cazadilla describes the heartbreak and trepidation of being between a home that no longer exists and a home that doesn’t exist yet. The images of his sculptures show the relationships he has captured in clay.
by William W. Harris
William W. Harris, who has worked with policy makers in Washington for close to forty years advocating on behalf of low income children and families, invites us to observe the dizzying collapsing of the space/time continuum as we know it through his literary illustration “Twitterdee Twitterdum.” But not for nothing: he is now advocating as strongly as he can that we do the only thing left for us to do — vote.
by Phyllis Beren
As a young child, Phyllis Beren lived with her parents in two different DP camps in the American Zone of Occupation in Allied Occupied Germany. In “Children on the Border,” Beren movingly describes what history can teach us: that there are life-threatening implications for children who are separated from their parents during wartime.
by Ittai Shapira and Laureen Parks
In “Chunhyang: #Metoo in the Pentatonic Scale,” composer and violinist Ittai Shapira collaborates with philosopher Laureen Parks to illustrate how in one of the most famous Korean works of pansori, a motif of self-respect can become a political and healing response to the psychological impact of trauma.
by Sylvia Flescher
It was in Stanislavov, a small town in Galicia, where Sylvia Flescher’s father first read Freud and decided to become a psychoanalyst. Polish universities were closed to Jews, so he chose to study medicine in Vienna. He practiced psychoanalysis in Rome and later was powerless to save any of his family, who were killed in 1942. Like her father, Sylvia Flescher became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. In Treblinka, she returns for the first time to her father’s homeland and finds in this incomprehensible earth a sacred space.