Two-month Theme: Perennial

And just as summer comes, it must also go. Or at least, our freedom to enjoy it with no thought of homework or deadlines. Whilst the official end of summer is not till the 23rd of September, the official start of the new academic year is just around the corner. We’ve had the theme of potluck take us through the holiday months, and now we will continue with the new theme of perennial for September and October.

Depending on the context, perennial connotes a period, object, plant, substance that lasts through a succession of years, or through a long, indefinite, or infinite time. It is something that is continual, perpetual, enduring, everlasting. With reference to flora it might mean a plant that is evergreen or a stalk that dies off above ground come winter, but grows anew each spring. For those of you suffering from allergies, perennial also designate an allergic condition that is present in all seasons. It might, however, also refer to the pollen allergy that returns each summer as perennial can also mean something that occurs year after year. In that regard, the academic year is also perennial, as it is an annual occurrence (and is sometimes just as irritating as an allergic reaction). But, then again, so are the holidays that come with the studying.

As you can see, perennial means a lot of specific things but all of those have a clear temporal aspect. The theme perennial mainly occurred to us as we were thinking about the fires now raging in the Amazon rainforest and the global impact of climate change. This is a process that has been a long time in the making, though it is only now that we are truly starting to see the effects of it. The process itself spans a period that is almost impossible to grasp for an individual human. The transition of foraging to agriculture 3000 years ago especially had a large environmental impact, with some scientists claiming we’ve been contributing for as long as 10000 years to the transformation of the earth. The human, with an average lifespan of 81,9 years in the Netherlands, can only try to understand such time periods. We hope the theme perennial gives you something to think about and reflect upon. It is a difficult and alienating time, but perhaps we can find some hope and solace in the stories and poems we share here on Paratext.

In case you are in need of some of those stories right now, let me remind you of some of the beautiful things we´ve published on the website this past summer. Photographer Moritz Maximilian Müller opened up his archive for Lola van Scharrenburg which resulted in a intimate view of street life. Marthe van Bronkhorst was kind enough to share a piece of writing with us, which she wrote for the 2018 Das Mag summer camp. The published poet Mia You gracefully allowed us to publish a new poem of hers, “The Sequined Principle”,  a multicultural look at ‘inburgering’ in Holland.

And last, but certainly not least, we saw the start of the first Paratext Podcast. A collaboration between four Humanities students: Timo, Koen, Marin and Kees.  In three episodes, they take a critical look at the place of the Humanities within the system of Utrecht University. Parts 1 – Get Future Proof – and 2 – Future CEO’s – are up now, with the third coming next Wednesday. Have a listen and let us know what you think!

As always, if you want to contribute in any way, shape or form, please send us an email at paratextmag@gmail.com.

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