Health, wellness, well-being, words which resonate with the most basic social questions of how we are toward one another. This year our answers have been drastically rearranged – we care for one another with distance, and forego almost all the habits of flourishing or eudaimonia. Not that it’s ever been simple: our essayists for Overland 239 approach these problems from a wide variety of intersecting experiences and disciplines. Vanamali Hermans writes against the institutionalisation of marginalised bodies in historically carceral healthcare systems. Alice Whitmore lyrically traverses the poetic and cultural history of melancholia. Psychiatrist and neuroscientist
Samuel Lieblich writes scathingly of the vacuous concepts and slipshod science informing prominent practices in psychological health, and underwriting its totemic importance. These essays traverse the fraught space between mind, body, and person, and the logics we use to contain them, while Chloe Adams’ account ‘The Appointed Season’ elegises the conflicts which arise from their failure to heal. Edith Lyre’s essay ‘President Oedipus’ meanwhile, parodies the contradictions of accelerationism with a medley of fragments and responses.
Our cover artist Seth Searle also stages a tableau of motifs contemplating relations of performativity and care, a scene of frozen hospitality in isolation. The essay, fiction and poetry of this edition do not offer utopias of wellness. It’s hard to imagine what that looks like now. Rather, the selection curated in this edition speak directly to the volatile so many of us have found ourselves in this year. It seems like this kind of thing is said a lot these days, but we hope these pieces illustrate the urgency of connection and care.
Solidarity, and stay safe.
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