Review: Sein und Werden
Existentialism + Surrealism = Werdenism
Its name is German (translation: being and becoming), the cover a brick wall (recalling those wonderful gritty New Wave band photos) and very early on it boasts these lines by Daniel Y Harris -- "carved like a pas de deux on a patch / of rib-work without nerves" -- which nails what Sein und Werden are about: raw, eclectic, experimental writing with a dash of art thrown into the mix. This is issue 2, and, like the previous issue (and the current issue, Collaboration), is arranged around a theme: this one, the Doppelganger.
The fourteen writers run riot with the brief and the results, ranging from D Harlan Wilson's horrific 'Praying for the Dead', Marc Lowe's intricate, numerically mapped story 'The Third Person', Mark Howard Jones' grisly break-up 'Pig on the Beach' and Fabian Delecto's future noir 'RE:', all interesting in themselves, but the artworks add a further, edgier dimension.
Ian Shoebrdige's short story 'The Anti-Self', brings to mind Jose Saramago's The Double, and starts with the protagonist peeping through his window attempting to spy on himself; the back-story a discourse on identity as he tries to reconcile his other self, an idea, his friend tries to tell him, that is best left alone:
"But isn't this just the basic human instinct for death? We rush along life trying to reach our destination as quickly as possible -- but the only destination we're racing towards is our obliteration. All meaningful experiences come from testing the limits of our existence. We all long to fill that missing feeling, that incompleteness--but incompleteness is a symptom of life, and this can only be filled by oblivion. Don't meet up with yourself, Ricardo. It can't be for the best."
The editors themselves turn in two fine pieces of writing -- 'Left/ Right' and 'Off Centre' -- and there is some very good poetry (Juliet Cook, for example) but the stand-out piece has to be Ralph Robert Moore's 'The Rape'. Imagine David Lynch scripted by Chuck Palahniuk and you're almost there.
The appeal of Sein und Werden is its endearing punk d.i.y. photocopied quality, a perfect anecdote to the current glut of pretty but mind-numbingly inane celebrity author obsessed journals (you know who), and better yet, a nice compliment to their own website, which runs a whole other batch of similarly-themed writing.
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Sein und Werden ed. Rachel Kendall & Spyros Heniadis
[£3/ $6.50 US]