The Italian communist philosopher Franco “Bifo” Berardi devoted his 2018 book Breathing to our “contemporary condition of breathlessness”—a condition which has only grown more acute in the years since its publication. Berardi frames the act of breathing as “a vibrational search to attune oneself to one’s environment.” Yet to do so in this era would be to attune oneself to chaos. It has become a tremendous challenge to catch our breath in this new rhythm of crisis, let alone clear out mental, social, and political spaces for healing and progress.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, the thousands of other Black deaths by chokehold and bullet in racist executions by the militarized police state. BLM protestors choked by tear gas, speech stifled by fascist repression. Hundreds of thousands dead and many more struggling to breathe as capital drives the country back to work in the face of a deadly virus. Millions choked by wildfire smoke and battered by hurricane winds as the threat of climate change mounts. A flood of misinformation and fascistic conspiracy that has drowned truths in a sea of false consciousness.
We turn our attention to how, in the face of all this, we may mourn our losses, build resilience, and breathe life into our communities and our movements. There isn’t a choice—the left must do so in order to face the difficulties that lie ahead.
Writes Berardi, “How do we deal with the suffocation that abstraction has produced in the history of humankind? Is there a way out from the corpse of financial capitalism?” He points toward the importance of poetry—its nonlinearity and capacity for meaning-making—in pushing back against capitalism’s vulgar, totalizing project. Where else can we see this kind of renewal of life and meaning, in art and in the world?
How can we find safe, clean air and make space for ourselves and our loved ones to breathe? How can mutual aid, communality, and actions of solidarity help relieve economic and social pressures imposed upon us? Though our breath may be ragged these days, we have not lost hope. There still is potential for us to find a little breathing room.
And so, for Protean Issue 3, we are calling for critical and lyrical essays, poetry, fiction, and art centered around the metaphor of breath to illuminate our modern condition of breathlessness and elucidate the ways in which we might carve out spaces of survival. We are especially interested in submissions from BIPOC writers and will give special consideration to those perspectives.
HOW TO SUBMIT
Please include “PRINT” in the subject line of your pitch email.
General submissions guidelines can be found here.
All accepted work will be paid.
ESSAYS & GENERAL INQUIRIES
submissions [at] proteanmag.com
fiction [at] proteanmag.com
poetry [at] proteanmag.com
illustration [at] proteanmag.com