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Editorial: 17/3/22

We live in testing times. I have no wish to pontificate about Ukraine or the threat of nuclear war or even about Boris sodding Johnson, but I do think that it's worth noting the feeling – possibly a universal one – that thinking about the arts right now is possibly a little... I don't know. Not presumptuous, exactly. Beside the point?

When Susan Sontag took a production of Waiting For Godot to Sarajevo, I remember thinking: "There? Now?" But, in the end, I changed my mind. Part of the way that you can assess a society's health, I think, is by assessing its attitude to culture. Why does art matter? Because, for one thing, it addresses and makes concrete all of the intangibles that are among the first things to be swept away when a society finds itself under threat. It reifies the importance of those tiny moments that, without it, would just float away. It's about paradox; about stray impulses and, in the words of Frank Turner, "furtive little feelings". None of these things are deemed to be helpful in time of war, but they all remind us of our humanity, and there is no time when it is more important to be reminded of humanity – of what it means, I mean, to be fully human – than when that's under threat. This quarter we are lucky enough to have contributions from Yuval Noah Harari, Fran Lock, Richard Skinner, Jamie O'Halloran, Anna Saunders, Tim Relf, Uma-Thandeka Muhwati, Elaine Axten, Nick Hynan, Rebecca Johnson-Bista, Phil Miller, Sam Henley Smith, Tom Phillips, Steve Shepherd, Elaine Beckett, Julie-ann Rowell, Michael Ray, Wet Leg, Sheila Jacob, Charlie Bayliss, Veronica Aaronson and Noah Rasheta. I'm sure that I speak for all of them when I say that our heart goes out to the Ukranian people, and that we wish them all, as soon as is humanly possible, a time of peace.


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