Lise Weil is a writer, scholar and activist who teaches in the Goddard Graduate Institute.
On November 4 of this year, I launched an online journal, Dark Matter: Women Witnessing, in response to the unprecedented changes humans are facing in an age of massive species loss and ecological disaster. As most of the world goes on with business as usual, others are asking: “How do we live in these times?” Dark Matter is a home for the voices of these others; we welcome writing in all forms and genres, and artwork in all mediums, as well as dreams and visions responding to the urgencies of this time. The first issue included one article by a current Graduate Institute student, two by alums, and poetry by a MFA-W faculty.
Dark Matter arose organically out of my involvement in Embodiment Studies, a focus area in the GGI from which lots of compelling, groundbreaking student work is emerging. In Embodiment Studies, we attend to our lives as bodies in a physical universe, and I believe it’s exactly this awareness of the larger corporeal world in which our lives are embedded, and on which they depend, that’s going to have to grow if we’re to have a liveable future. This means, among other things, learning to listen to the voices of animals, plants, and the earth herself.
It’s been exhilarating lately to hear and see so much silence being broken about human crimes against other human beings. Recently, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the murder of 14 women engineering students in Montreal, where I live, dozens of voices spoke out clearly and strongly in the media against misogyny in all the varied shapes it takes around the world. And, since the recent jury decisions in the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown by white police officers, millions have been out in the streets in the U.S. demonstrating about racism and police brutality. I dream of the day when we can mobilize the same kind of outrage on behalf of the earth that we are altering so radically and the species we share this planet with who are dying out as a result of human mindlessness and greed.
I was surprised by the volume and quality of the material I received for the first issue – with very little in the way of advertising. It became clear right away that Dark Matter was filling an important need. Responses since the issue went live have confirmed this. My favorite was from a reader who wrote “Be prepared to be exalted and heart-broken, as well as inspired!” Another wrote: “To me these writings are about finding sanity in an insane world.”
I want Dark Matter to continue to be a vehicle for growing our connectedness to the more-than-human world, and ultimately for healing our broken relationship to the earth. AND I want to continue to publish work by students and alumna of the Graduate Institute and other Goddard programs. I see a natural fit between Dark Matter and what’s at the core of a Goddard education: deep questioning, facing hard issues, going to the root of problems and looking for the right medicine.