Issue 6 - The Future
I consider the fall to be more of a personal New Year than the turnover that occurs on the first of January. When the last number of the year flaps over, as impersonal as the numbers on those old-fashioned alarm clocks, slapping the one preceding it, nothing changes except for that number. The fall has a physical correlation with change with its crispness, its precision: in September, something is different and you can feel it. The summer’s harvest has been gathered and the new season is setting in, and while most people aren’t directly connected to this rhythm anymore, the feeling of a new start lingers. Part of this feeling of freshness comes from the new agenda books – blank canvases full of potential—which students are given every year. (though this is the !rst year that I have not been part of the momentum of the back-to-school migration, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy new notebooks and HB pencils). In January, the New Year is more like a hope for change, or a promise of it: it is not conditional, but it is subjunctive.
The subjunctive mood is used to express suggestions, wishes, hypotheses, and doubts. It describes a future that may not happen, that does not travel the rut of inevitability. To talk about the future is to consider the past and our relation to it; the past both feeds and devours the present and future. This issue of Her Royal Majesty focuses on this interrelationship.
Many people use genealogy to comprehend the way that their history affects their present life. Family trees illustrate entire root systems and show the ways in which people grow into and around one another, branching out independently, yet supported by the trunk of the past. The fascination, often obsessive, with family history is explored in Heirs of the Living Body, a chapter in Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women. In this chapter, Del Jordan’s uncle has died, leaving the typewritten history
and detailed family tree that he was working on (both of which focus on what the men in the family have done) as evidence of “a solid, intricate structures of lives supporting us from the past” (52). Del challenges his patriarchal representation by drawing attention to the lacunae within the documents: approaching history from a different angle, Del is able to tell the stories of the lives of girls and women in her family. As Coral Ann Howells writes in her book Alice Munro, “Every one of these women’s lives is di$erent from the others, so that the living body of family history begins to look less like a solid structure and more like a mosaic of secret worlds coexisting under the surface of ordinariness” (39).
Much of the work in this issue deals with the “living body” and “mosaic” of the past, and the way that it exists in both the present and the future. Even the recipe was developed with a consideration of how to bring the past into the present, of how one’s relationship to the past and family history can evolve.
It would be nice if, rather than relying on the family tree that focuses solely on the past as concrete and unchanging, we each had our own personal tree—an intricate diagram illustrating how each life is a culmination of its events as well as a spontaneous and unpredictable growth. The seeds we plant ourselves grow and blossom according to the ways in which we tend to them, as well as being affected by their circumstances. The plants that grow are at once structured and impressionable; they are, at every moment, full of everything we were and are and hope to be.
Harriet Alida Lye, Editor in Chief