Talking Shop: “Global” Explained.
We have been hard at work putting together our zero issue (which you will be able to flip through in our nifty PageFlip on our “magazine” section) several issues have come up surrounding the idea of spaces. Spaces as in “we’re running out of space” due to our growing collection of tchatchkes. Or spaces as in the fascinating world of digital real-estate. Or time-spaces, since the editors of this fine magazine are in different time zones – making phone calls is fabulously chaotic. However this theme has been especially interesting when attempting to tie down how casting a global net for ideas should be achieved. This is what happens: we’ve conceived of the page distribution of the physical magazine so that a portion of pages is dedicated to “global topics”.
But saying “global topics” connotes a few different things: topics that are globally relevant is the most literal interpretation. Another common misunderstanding has been construing this section as reserved for current events on a global scale, especially politics. While we have no problem with covering political ideas on a grand scale, we at the Gopher decided early on not to cover current events. The speed necessary to do so – not to mention the budget – is out of our reach, and ultimately beyond what we are interested in doing.
What we do mean to catalogue under “global topics”: articles on regional issues, topics, developments or minutiae that are “global” due to being in a part of the globe. Simple enough, right? We’ve come to realize that the challenge to calling anything “global” is that the idea at the beginning of this paragraph comes through clearly, but inevitably carries a tiny glitch. Which brings me to the phenomenon of spaces: virtually every time this idea has been discussed with friends, collaborators and at times even just among us gophers, global means “articles on regional issues, topics, developments or minutiae that are “global” due to being in a part of the globe… that is not the part of the globe I belong to”
This, I’ve found incredible. “Here” cannot be “global” – they are ideas that are opposed. What is funny, though, is that we are an English-language (soon-to-be) publication targeted at the U.S. and the U.K. (those “non-global” hubs) but two-thirds of this operation are in Caracas, Venezuela. (This brings out a whole different debate on spaces… oy). I would venture to assume that Caracas is certainly “global” in that scheme. The dichotomy between “global” and “local” is a tough one to break. I guess our current editorial situation allows us to see everything as foreign with ease, since language and the direction of the magazine place us a few symbollic steps away from Venezuela. What does this mean for the magazine, then? We mean for the ENTIRE magazine to cover topics that are – in a sense – global; they take place somewhere.
This conclusion has brought us a second question, an astute observation by my fourteen-year-old sister: if the entire magazine is “global” then what is the point of having a global topics section? This is where the true nature of that section was revealed, even to us. The point of having a global section is balance. The magazine should address every contintent at least once, so the global topics serve as wild-card pages to make that happen. Say a certain issue contains cultural criticism from Russia and a short story from Nigeria and two opinion pieces from North America, and say… a portfolio from Argentina and another from France. Global topics are not thematically bound, so one may publish a piece on the trajectory of the bicycle trade in China, or around cigarrette lobbying in Kazakhstan or luxury book editions in Malaysia. The freedom of topics is not merely filler, but encourages different modes of discourse – from literary criticism to politics.