proof of PWR’s reach beyond the classroom, a Stanford sophomore
named Jessica Cornwell has--with another student and a staff of
writers--put together a book of essays entitled, Hello World,
which was published near the end of spring quarter 2007. The book
is a vehicle for alternative viewpoints, and is intended to provide
an outlet for politically alive, alert Stanford students who are
writing from progressive perspectives. And although this first
edition is impressive on its own, the student editors hope to
continue the publication in journal form, soliciting and publishing
work from future PWR students. Here, below, is the introduction
to the first edition, written by Jessica Cornwell.
H E L L O, W O R L D
For a New Generation
you begin to put words on a page to capture the cacophony we produce
everyday–– the shouts, the laughter, the conversations,
the bullets and explosions, the symphonies of typing keyboards,
the symposium of sounds that build our waking life and run wild
in our imaginations? Holdouts of the Cold War, we were born of
silent fears, wrapped in a world of red scares and ill-defined
menace. Conceived in the darkness of mutually assured destruction,
we are a generation driven and derided by madness, riding a cresting
wave of built-up, pent-up explosions of intricate political, social
and historic battles. We may seem silent, plugged in, tuned out,
but underneath the surface, we’re all singing quiet songs
of revolution. Now it’s time to dance the song in the streets,
to celebrate who we are, to recast the Star-Spangled Banner in
our own shapes and sizes, to harmonize from sea to shining sea.
We’ve got a song to sing, and the notes are high and throbbing.
We’ve found a sparrow song of freedom, a haunting cry, a
hungry voice from the dark.
So sing out my America, sing out! Sing to me!
For the lullaby I heard in the womb
has been choked by shrapnel and
there is darkness invading my ivory tower.
I scribble wildly in my diary. Pushing pen to
page, I find myself fighting to be writing, while fighting my
writing. The very act of creation is war, I think, as politics
seep into my nighttime fever frenzy of self-aggrandizing inspiration.
Literature is a battleground, a place where ideas meet and transfuse
or clash angrily against each other, alliterative alephs, crabby
consonants, hard-hitting t-sounds and cracking k-k-k-k. I like
the impact of words, the swimming undulations of sound formed
on the page, the way a keyboard sings as you click down. I don’t
think writing has ever been as tactile, as gently musical, as
it has been in the 21st century or as profoundly reflective of
the violence that defines our times.
This summer in London, an ex-guerilla and old Thai Communist turned
to me and asked candidly about the American University scene in
the context of our ‘ever-worsening’ foreign policy.
His eyes gleamed at the sight of my youth, what he called my energetic
potential. I disappointed him when I answered that there
was no student movement on my campus. But Guantanamo! Iraq!
Abu Ghraib! The Patriot Act! He cried, appalled, Where
is your collective idealism? I, the American ‘Revolutionary,’
had no response. Here was a man who had so profoundly believed
in his political ideals that he had taken up weapons to fight
in the jungles of Cambodia. As a young intellectual he had chosen
to protect the identity of others with his own life. How could
I ever compare to that? He could not understand how we had no
anti-war activism, no loud complaints about institutionalized
racism, or the biases of our politics. The communist shook his
head sadly, demanding to know if we were all as speechless as
our president. An American friend of mine snapped at this, exclaiming
at the table—It is possible to be articulate and American.
Our communist apologized then for his frustration, but nobody
believed in our ability to speak.
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