Our Spring 2024 Issue Is Here

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Way back in the 1970s, I remember a solar eclipse in the middle of the school day. The exact details of date and time are hazy, but I know the weather was good, so perhaps spring or the edge of summer. I know which school I was at, so I would have been eight or nine or maybe 10. I was in the U.K. I don’t recall if it was a total eclipse, but it must have been a big deal because we were all lined up and given squares of coloured gel and strict instructions to only look up through it. I was excited, but perhaps less so than a few years later when, on holiday in Cornwall, I looked up at the sky for a week waiting for Skylab to crash down on my head. It didn’t. On July 11, 1979, it was Western Australia and the Indian Ocean that were peppered with debris of the first-ever U.S. space station.

In April this year, there will be a total eclipse of the sun. An event that takes place relatively often—every 18 months—remains remarkably compelling. Of course, whether you experience it first-hand depends on where in the world you are at the time. This eclipse is expected to be visible from North America, and there are folks so excited for it they are making plans to travel to the points predicted to offer a good viewing. In the couple of days before writing this letter, I spoke to two unrelated young men who told me of their intentions to fly off from Vancouver—one east, one south—in pursuit.

Memories resurface in fragments filtered through time and space and our own—often evolving—perspective, and perhaps that desire to share in a moment of history is a desire to be part of a collective consciousness that can’t be refuted. It is powerful to say “I was there” or “I remember what I was doing when that happened.” It grounds us as much as it dates us: I know where I was the day Elvis died, the day John Lennon was shot, when the Berlin Wall came down, when the first tower fell on 9/11.

In his Historical Records art project, Dani Gal explores these themes—what is history and how does our collective memory preserve it? We talked to the artist in advance of his exhibition at the Polygon Gallery, where hundreds of LPs featuring political speeches and recordings of major events are on display. In his extended essay for us, Governor General’s Award-winning author Michael Harris explores the never-ending, oversaturated, modern torrent of information in which we are drowned daily. What, he asks, might happen to our individual and creative consciousness if we simply turn off the noise?

The memories held in our land are vital, as are the stories about it that we tell. In this issue we look at how the history of Jasper National Park is that of Canada in microcosm, the Indigenous peoples forced from their homes and traditional lands, and the work being done right now toward reparation and reconciliation. Closer to home, the culling of hundreds of thousands of hemlock trees in Stanley Park raises questions around the taming of this naturally wild forest.

According to anthropologist Wade Davis, history—and who tells it—is just one of myriad data points that all interweave. Land, culture, technology, climate—everything interplays, sometimes chaotically, other times in harmony, rarely making complete sense.

And still, for a few minutes in April, for those lucky enough to be standing in the right spot, all of  life will come into focus through a piece of coloured gel.

Read more from our Spring 2024 issue.

Post Date:

March 13, 2024