THE FORGETORY: ISSUE 3: ANXIETY | READING & PERFORMANCE | AUGUST 26, 2016, 6:30 PM
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Who among us cannot relate to the feeling of anxiety, that omnipresent fear of failure and rejection that accompanies almost every social action to some greater or lesser degree? As the digital performance of self becomes ever more fluid and manipulable, our real world interactions become proportionally fraught with anxiety. This dynamic is epitomized by theotaku, the obsessive who rarely leaves his or her room, fleeing the awkwardness of reality by taking refuge in fantasy.
Perhaps we are all becoming a little bit like the otaku, as we increasingly eschew interpersonal interactions for more digital alternatives, such as texting friends instead of calling, ordering food and goods online, or opting for internet dating and clicktivism devoid of the unpredictability of in-person action. It would appear that anxiety is especially connected to the realm of the real, the body, and public activity, since we can never fully customize our IRL image the way we can online, and anyone or anything can impinge on our experience bubble when we are out in public. And so, when sitting in a bar waiting for a friend, one might cocoon oneself in the comforting glow of a smart phone. Or, picture the flash of fear and confusion on a busy stranger’s face when you stop them on the street to ask them a question. Anxiety today is a symptom of the unruliness of reality, which continually threatens to disrupt our carefully constructed façade of self-representation and our imagined narrative of lived experience.
While it can be suffocating for some, anxiety can also serve as a catalyst for greatness, as we impatiently strive for whatever concept of perfection we hold dear. Like a tormenting muse, she whips us onward, daring us to be worthy of our own ideals and to transform our fantasies into reality. Therefore, we propose an alchemical exploration of anxiety: in what ways can it be transmuted or channeled in the name of art? What are the various manifestations of this societal malaise and how can they be subverted or resisted? And simply, what does it mean to be anxious in this day and age?
The Forgetory is an annual publication of creative, audacious criticism devoted to these questions: Where do the fugitive correspondences in visual culture lie, and what can they illuminate? Which elements of our histories must we unearth in order to ground the present? Which written boundaries can and must be traversed when addressing a work of art?