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  • The Radical Yearning for Uncertainty

    The Radical Yearning for Uncertainty Perception is the tool in which we experience consciousness and how we perceive what we call “objective reality.” But like all tools and paraphernalia, perception itself has its limits, and even consciousness has boundaries that if we cross, madness will await us. The main limit of consciousness and perception that plagues all of humanity is uncertainty. Uncertainty can come in many different forms, from the lack of a fail-safe way to predict the future (which is what most people think of when they hear the word), to the uncertain nature of scientific theories and concepts (quantum mechanics being the prime example). The word itself holds a negative connotation from the viewpoint of society, and most people believe being uncertain of ideas is a flaw of the human condition. Uncertainty, though, is not a flaw to “fix” or a problem to “solve,” but a concept to embrace with the certainty of not knowing everything. Far from it, uncertainty itself is a core facet of nature itself. While the concept of uncertainty does not bring concrete answers to the nature of perception or consciousness itself, it does offer some much-needed perspective on how we pursue science, art, and philosophy. Besides that, coming to terms with uncertainty can positively affect how we, as human beings, view the world, and perhaps break the self-imposed boundaries on our psyche. In order to truly explore how uncertainty shapes consciousness and perception, we must first define what those two concepts are in the context of this argument and what the main problems of perception and consciousness are as well. Consciousness has no one definition, and there are many theories surrounding its nature and where it comes from. The main (and most agreed upon) definition of consciousness in science though, comes from the medical field. Consciousness is defined as “...either the state of wakefulness, awareness, or alertness in which most human beings function while not asleep or one of the recognized stages of normal sleep from which the person can be readily awakened.”1 According to this definition, the three main aspects of consciousness are self-awareness, perception of the environment, and an awareness of the environment beyond the conscious entity. This creates many questions about how these three features of the human brain interplay, but a recent study illustrates a possible scientific explanation for both concepts’ correlation and whether causation should be considered. In summary, a sample of epileptic patients were instructed to perform several cognitive tasks that required perception from the left and right hemispheres of the brain.2  The findings revealed that consciousness and perception do in fact interact; for example, when some of the patients in the study suffered from a stroke in the right hemisphere, they lost the ability to perceive or “pay attention” to what was occurring in the left. Strangely, the patients’ sensory perception was perfectly intact, but their consciousness perception was not. The study itself did not reveal much about the exact machinations of how these two parts of the human psyche interact, but it was a crucial step in the direction towards understanding how perception affects consciousness. The “question of consciousness” or “problem of consciousness” can be split into several “Questions” that tackle the most puzzling aspects of the phenomenon3: “The Descriptive Question: What is consciousness? What are its principal features? And by what means can they be best discovered, described and modeled?” “The Explanatory Question: How does consciousness of the relevant sort come to exist? Is it a primitive aspect of reality, and if not, how does (or could) consciousness in the relevant respect arise from or be caused by nonconscious entities or processes?” “The Functional Question: Why does consciousness of the relevant sort exist? Does it have a function, and if so what is it? Does it act causally and if so with what sorts of effects? Does it make a difference to the operation of systems in which it is present, and if so why and how?” While there are no scientific or concrete answers to these questions, the concept of uncertainty plays a significant role in the most critical of questions we ask ourselves about our consciousness: Why do we exist? Why do we have advanced self-awareness that goes beyond mere instinct? These questions form the central basis of all of philosophy, and are an extremely major theme explored in art of all mediums; even science has its uncertainties. But what even is uncertainty itself? For the context of this paper, uncertainty involves not just the prediction of incomplete or unknown knowledge, but also the state of being unsure. In other words, uncertainty creates the impossibility of knowing the outcome and consequences of a choice.4 Uncertainty is far from something to be ashamed about or to hide; being certain of your uncertainty is something of an admirable trait. Knowing that you lack the knowledge of a concept or idea and admitting it puts you and others in a vulnerable position; in other words, it gives others the opportunity to judge and reject you on the basis of that lack. Unfortunately, many people in society hold the misinformed notion that a lack of knowledge equates to a lack of intelligence. Knowledge and intelligence are related, but are two completely different concepts; one can compensate for the other since knowledge can be disguised as intelligence, and vice versa. Besides that, embracing uncertainty can free you from expectations, and can even allow for true creativity to blossom. Take quantum mechanics: according to physicist Nathan Harshman, uncertainty itself is the entire basis for that field of science.5  Throughout the history of science since time immemorial, ultimate certainty was (and still is) the goal. Acknowledging uncertainty involves accepting the fact that you cannot know everything and that there is a chance that some questions may never be answered. Crafting our own answers to uncertainty is the basis of all art and philosophy, and it is an essential aspect of what makes us human. Do not simply take uncertainty; love it, cherish it, and make it euphoric, for uncertainty is how we learn to understand that we cannot control everything and that the best we can do with it is to be certain of it. 1 Tindall SC. Level of Consciousness. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, editors. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. 3rd edition. Boston: Butterworths; 1990. Chapter 57. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK380/ 2 Liu, J., Bayle, D.J., Spagna, A. et al. Fronto-parietal networks shape human conscious report through attention gain and reorienting. Commun Biol 6, 730 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-05108-2 3 Van Gulick, Robert, "Consciousness", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2022 Edition), Edward N. Zalta & Uri Nodelman (eds.), URL: = . 4 Hubbard, D. W. (2014). How to measure anything: finding the value of "intangibles" in business. Wiley. 5 Sha, Richard C., and Nathan Harshman. “Uncertainty Isn’t a Human Flaw, It’s a Feature of the World.” Psyche, edited by Sam Haselby, Psyche, 18 Apr. 2023, psyche.co/ideas/uncertainty-isnt-a-human-flaw-its-a-feature-of-the-world. Accessed 11 Feb. 2024. written by Coemi Deremi

  • Editor’s note (issue 08).

    Dear issue 08 readers, I have to confess, I can't imagine the person who I currently am, let alone define who I am. But I'm sure you too are in the middle of the journey, the road to find the meaning of who you are. Are you currently running on the path? Carelessly strolling? Skipping? Dragging your feet? Walking? Or have your footsteps stopped and collapsed in the middle of the road? In this issue, we cover the beauty and pain that comes from this journey of identity. If your knees are on the ground of the road like I am, I would like to tell you that it's okay to fall down. But perhaps now is the time to wipe the dirt off our knees and get back up to take baby steps towards the endless, yet shining road. Please enjoy issue 08, perhaps now. Sincerely, Seohyun Ryu Founder and Editor-in-Chief The Malu Zine

  • The Anger / The Horse / The Fox / The Root / The Dark

    by Landon Habibi I am slow Like thunder. Hot with air, I hit the head. Or what about the heart? I go down, Down, Down, To strike Nothing. // The horse shook Like an old Tin can. He feels nothing, He is nothing, But he can. He still can. // A fox is a fox In a fox. That Is a fox. // This is a root. A root digs And vibrates The soil To a flatter space. // I love the dark So much more Than the stars Because he is friendly. Landon Habibi is a Kindergarten poet residing in Los Angeles, California. Landon put his thoughts to paper at four years old while attending Cassidy Preschool. He currently lives with his mother, father, little sister, Arabella LeMont, and whippet dog, Hemingway. Landon continues to write and explore his ever-expanding perspectives through poetry, prose, and art, and has completed an anthology of 18 poems titled Shadows Are Made Of Light. In addition to poetry, he likes building inventions with cardboard, glue, string and playdoh. He also likes learning about bugs, history, and deep-sea creatures.

  • unfolding gently into a massive water bottle

    by Aysu Naz Atalay Lately, I find myself absorbed in days I didn't want to write about (maybe some experiences are meant to be lived and not documented). Here I am — yearning for a space to rage. Yes, I definitely need a space to rage. These are times when the inner critic refuses to shut up. I bought myself a massive water bottle so I could remember to unfold myself into it until I felt liquid. Why do I like carrying things so much? I need to sleep, and I need to hear my loved ones laughing. For the silliest shit. And I’m becoming. Becoming more and more. Until there is no more. Tomorrow. And I’m observing. Observing the spirit of an old body. And I’m asking her: How are you feeling? As if I’m a youth, she says. Then she adds, my child, a happy spirit never gets old. And I don’t understand. Everything is daunting. I’m a child. I need to sleep, and I need to eat. Observing an elderly body. Tired, irritated, and, most of the time, afraid. Timeless and loving woman. Her exceptional love for self expanded more and more. She became more and more. We became more and more. Today, you told me what hunger feels like in your body. You seemed irritated and angry. You said it appears in waves, and it doesn’t go away. You couldn’t sleep when I wasn’t in the bed. You are scared; I am also. Part of you is part of me. Someone asked me what you mean to me. I said, “she is the only person I successfully loved – so far.” And that was not a lie. Only if I could, I would be born again and love you more. Love your old body. Love your wrinkled hands. Love your voice and love your silk hair. And you might die soon. And I might not be there. But today, I am able to see your body. You look exhausted. You think too much these days. Do you ever daydream? You always love telling me about the past. I love listening again and again. You are just so beautiful. It’s hard to believe. I’m holding so much; it’s hard for me to feel. Aysu (she/her) is a writer interested in poetic and erotic forms of expression. She explores childhood traumas, transitions, sexuality, and self through writing. Aysu uses embodiment of witchcraft and rituals as an immersive way of expressing identity. Currently, she is working on her book that brings together embodiment, psychedelics, body, rituals and poetry. You can find her on instagram @aysunazatalay

  • Speculative Lotus

    by Lucas Lui You should have seen me When I was on my bed of navy-blue star flowers Lying. I was picking petals of you – tossing them like the Conflictions I had from the he loves me; he loves me not. Forget-me-nots fill my desperate cup. Maybe if you had spoken the Truth, even if the vase shook, we would still be intact without artificiality. Maybe if the wind had told me To let you go by the first gale, I wouldn’t have started this Fox Hunt – I’m getting tired. Your comfortability means touch-starved From the sun, to be lost in closed roots. The weather brought me up wrong, I shouldn’t have Nurtured diamonds. Yet in the mud, the nature’s clear – we were nipped in the bud long before. Lucas Lui is a junior attending Monsignor Farrell, developing his poetry in his high school’s Writing Studio. Lucas has been awarded the Scholastic Art and Writing Silver Key in Poetry and has been featured on Brooklyn Poets’ Poem of the Day. In addition, Lucas has gained “Poet Laureate status” at his high school, writing a tribute poem each year that introduces the pages of the senior class’s annually published Memory Book. In his free time, Lucas enjoys dabbling in the fiber arts, spending time at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and interacting with animals.

  • Windows from Perspectives

    by Val Maerz Val is a multimedia artist, curator, and educator. They graduated with a Masters of Arts in Teaching for Childhood Education and is currently experiencing a career change from the U.S. Primary Education school system to becoming a full-time artist and aspiring veterinarian.

  • No Rain/Warmth

    by Maria Pianelli Blair Maria Pianelli Blair is a multidisciplinary artist based in Eatontown, New Jersey. A public relations director by day, Maria spends her nights dabbling in ceramics, printmaking, embroidery, and analog collage. Her collages, fashioned on everything from cardboard to playing cards, marry contemporary imagery, found vintage materials, and magical realism. Maria's work can be found on Instagram (@sunset_sews) and Etsy. She has been published in several art magazines, and featured both galleries and virtual exhibitions.

  • Lineage

    Connected to a familial empire, Prince is the heart of my soul, &  ruler of my life The last name echoed by the passer-byes. Respected by the prestigious makes us  easy to recognize Our round face fills the room, Intellectual rants keep us afloat, & the uncontrollable help to others increases our favor. The cracks shown through them are missing. It is shielded by nature. But My cracks are salvageable. We hold ourselves afloat by fighting Goliaths to attain our undefeatable streak of faith, grace, and strength. They are not a perfect empire but The love and acceptance make me want to stay longer Am I like them? Francois illuminates the streets of Antigua. The big brown eyes looking at the new world order, accepting the hurts of others but always forgiving. Our strong resilience increases favor within. The helpful pockets of roses lower us to bee stings but our hearts fill with ever-glowing mission of hope From birth, my lineage was not perfect The struggle to connect overshadowed our true potential and the unfortunate abandonment of their beloved left them astray. But their good faith through rejection, hurt, and struggle Helps to shine in any challenge put in front of us Seen as fortunate by the townsmen Seen as strong by relatives but The cracks of mine and theirs are not hidden. Solved through familial reunion and laughter in the moonlight Their love and acceptance make me want to stay longer. The unity of Prince and Francois reminds me of love. Tivonna, the one of one child to both families created. The division of the two hierarchies causes an unseeable crack to their child wondering who to represent. The large empire strengthened by their favor or the lineage traced by their selflessness. Both gave their child the choice to choose which to embrace until death. I am a Prince, I am a  Francois, As a reminder that my lineage and self is traced to their love. Tivonna Prince is a twenty-one year old Neuroscience student attending Florida Atlantic University. A creative writing course in her senior year fostered her inspiration and creativity to write poetry. Tivonna hopes her poems can provide solace and comfort to readers. In her free time, you can find her watching K-dramas, crocheting, or at your nearest movie theater.

  • the lost cause

    by Sashi Tandon tried antidepressants. his ex-father-in-law said “you gotta get on with life, mate”. the lost cause is a liar and a bastard and a cheater. he’s probably better off by himself.  he lost cause isn’t a naturally happy person – he’s a barrage of ails and laments. to be honest, he’s not a very nice man to be around. that’s just the way he is. Sashi Tandon is a young creative from Perth, Western Australia. Working across the mediums of poetry, film and photography, she aspires to provide a refreshing and humorous view of ordinary life. She aims to make poetry accessible, absurd and entertaining, revealing the beauty and horror in the everyday. She has also written multiple finalist and award-winning films.

  • It’s the Worst in the Summer

    by Destiny Herbert There is a dog. She is lying down, lethargic, being fried by the summer sun and pavement like a lump of meat in a pan that is most definitely not non-stick. She is too starved and thirsted to even pant against the heat. You see her, the poor, stupid thing, and approach her. She looks to you pleadingly, thumping his tail at the thought of having finally obtained empathy; it probably would have satiated her just as much as a generous bowl of kibble, if not more. But you do not have either and do not offer either. You have a much better idea. This will help her, you think. You get a kick in your step and begin jogging toward him. The drum of his tail quickens, matching the pace of your strides. She almost thinks she has enough energy to rise and address you properly, but can only manage to tilt up her head. You meet her halfway, stooping—how kind of you! She greedily accepts your pats and scritches. This is almost enough, almost, she thinks with his little doggie brain. That little doggie brain needs some enlightenment, you then think, and you take her fat, wrinkled cheeks in your palms and stifle a laugh because he is just so silly and so funny looking with his cheeks squished together like that. Does she know how silly she looks? Finally, she finds the strength to peel open his mouth and breathe. You stink of onions and beef. You’re just straight-up pungent. Your stench is ten times more offensive on her tongue than in her nose, but her face is still turned up in that oblivious, permanent smile that doggie muzzles make. You can’t help but give her a little smooch before gifting him your cruel, apathetic wisdom. “Silly baby. Don’t you know? Food will find you if you stop wanting it, if you stop looking for it,” you say, and her doggie smile falls, no longer so permanent, and by the grace of God she gets the gumption to make a meal out of your cheeks and nose and a little bit of your lower lip, too, and she is filled doubly by your flesh, marinated in decades of obliviousness and garnished with hot air, and the sweet satisfaction that comes with shutting you up. I have never understood those who claim that my simple desire to be loved is precisely what makes me undeserving of it, that desire is the root of all suffering. Really? All of it? Has anyone ever achieved success by not wanting it? “In time, it will come. You are young.” “In time, if it is meant for you, it will come.” And I lie in bed, suffocated by my own body heat, wondering if I am meant for it. But you insist that a brief conversation with a cashier and my dog—my fucking dog—should be enough for me. Does that same logic apply to her? Could she have remained in her frying pan, a fire lit under her and above her and inside of her, sustained by daydreams of companionship that she has never known tacked onto passerby? Passerby like you? My favorite food cannot marry me. A new pair of shoes bought on credit at 2 a.m. cannot be my maid of honor. My appreciation for the little things cannot attend my funeral. The nature walks and crafting and journaling and scented candles and bubble baths and naps and retail therapy and animals and positive affirmations and keeping busy can only do so much for me before my stomach collapses in on itself and my bones grow brittle. So, please, if you see me on the sidewalk with glazed-over eyes and me and my cardboard box cold and dampened by the rain, unless you are going to pick me up and take me home, please just keep walking. Destiny Herbert is a writer of short fiction and poetry; her work exists within the sphere of the nostalgic and the macabre and the intersection of queerness and black womanhood. She is pursuing her Master of Arts in creative writing at the University of West Florida and hopes to either gain footing in the publishing industry or establish a solid reputation as a professional editor upon graduation. She appreciates a good horror novel, JRPGs, and nature walks with her puppy, Nova.

  • Insect Incarnation

    by Arianna Kanji The first time it happened, they ripped out my spine. Or perhaps ripped isn’t the best word choice in this scenario. Gently slipped their fingers through the meat of my back and tugged it out like a loose thread would be a more accurate description. There’s not really any way to explain the feeling, except maybe the chills that you get when sandpaper runs against a chalkboard as your mouth is being smashed into gravel. But I haven’t experienced that, so I wouldn’t know. I know it was my spine because I saw it. The smooth curve of the bone, slick with blood and flakes of skin. It was clutched between their forefinger and index, balanced precariously like a pencil of sorts. As they set it down, it gleamed in the light, every arch and dig accentuated by the glow. I have to admit, I didn’t really panic. And maybe that’s a character flaw of sorts. But then again, isn’t everything just another imperfection carved onto our priceless statues, slowly picking away at their worth, like chips on smooth marble or rust on curved hips? Maybe because, in moments like these, panic is as unneeded as pain. Neither would solve anything, in the end. Then they poisoned me. Some might say drugged, but I don’t think this was it. My consciousness never slipped away, only my gaze blurring in and of focus with every unceremonious twist of my neck. At some point, I could almost make out the elusive figures whose spindle-topped fingers were fiddling with the skin around my wrist like it was a flimsy friendship bracelet, but then it vanished. Julian used to tell me I was better off wearing one so people knew I was loved even in my last dying moments, but he was definitely drugged while saying so. There’s no point in trusting those who cannot even understand the words they say. The poison was sweet, but bitter, stinging the insides of my mouth. Something moved. Me? No, not me. No, wait, yes. My head slumped against my shoulder, but still nothing occurred. Nothing except the slow sensation of numbness stretching along my body like the cocoon of a butterfly or the glass around the model ships my grandfather used to make. It tasted vaguely like blood, but in the way cracks in the sidewalk vaguely resemble remnants of a mark left long ago. I like bugs. This was why the cool sensation of thousands of wings against my skin didn’t spike panic in my heart. I assume some drew blood, or else the crimson color leaking into my palms existed for an entirely different reason. When I was younger, when my fingers were less brittle and I hadn’t yet tasted pools of vinegar, I would sketch hollow skulls with sunken eyes into the edges of notebook paper. Characters with peeling skin and teeth rotting away to orange near the tips and black mold peppering their smashed noses. More body parts than necessary - three heads joined together in a twisting pattern, a girl with seven arms and a coal black gaze, creatures with three wings and hands curved backwards and bodies contorted until basically indescribable. The idea comforted me, in some strange way. Like being mangled and distorted was better than being nothing at all. Maybe this is why the maggots didn’t scare me. Even as they festered near my forearm, slowly eating away at the surface of the flesh. Or at least they felt like maggots. They could have been thousands of phantom hands for all I know. Little shovels digging away at a soft graveyard, one that beat in time with the rise and fall of a distant heartbeat. Distant being literal. It was collecting dust and grime a few centimeters away from the spine. I believe they brought out the needle next. It was long, and thin, and resembled a pinched up version of the bones they’d extracted not a few minutes earlier. The maggots were being peeled off, hung on the walls with bits of my skin still caught in their mouths. Something strong and firm shivered against me like a moth shifting towards an open flame. Or perhaps it was another insect, maybe one with thousands of miniscule eyes. The string tugged once, twice, three times. Then they twisted parts of my face inside out and dug the needle into my cheeks. Once, twice, three times. Until there was nothing left but my own shallow breath against shadowy skin. Smooth scales grew along my features. A few extra eyes embedded themselves into my forehead. Once the sewing was complete, they left me, skin sagging and peeling away in parts, bones exposed and body inside-out. It didn’t feel half bad, actually. The light breeze shifting through my torn muscles felt almost exhilarating. The first time it happened, I didn’t scream. Julian had told me once that fear was the only barrier between living and existing. But he’d read that off of a motivational poster stuck onto the door of the place we never visit anymore, so there’s no use trusting the words of something with only two eyes and no scales. Congratulations, child, they said eventually, long after the rest of my features had crumbled away. You are ready to be born anew. Maybe I’ll come back as a worm next time. That would be nice. Arianna Kanji (they/them) is a young writer from Toronto, Canada. You can find them on Instagram at @ari.kanji

  • These Days

    by Joy Myers Spring is here and I am dizzy with April’s loneliness. These days I live outside of love, sneaking peaks at its softness from behind corners. I write each night in bed: barbed lines about boys who left me for the ocean and girls who don’t remember my name when I call. I wonder if they bend with the weight of Spring, too, or if they’ve learned to carry it better than I do. Joy Myers is an editor and social media writer employed in Springfield, MO. She graduated college in December 2023 with a BA in English. Joy spends most of her free time playing piano, writing, and decorating her new apartment.

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