One of life’s most asked—and rarely answered—questions challenges, “Who are we?”. This question can be as hard as ever to answer in the modern climate. Digital cultures pose this question to us but ultimately leave us with a box of pre-selected options from which to choose. Not only is this digital personality then taken as “who we are”, but the pre-selected options neglect the vast diversity that makes the question so essential and so difficult. The heightened and bifurcated political climate further attempts to pre-select our answer for us to create a sole defining feature of ourselves with which we are told that we should accept as the essence of ourselves.
However, this volume of Forbes & Fifth interacts with this question in a unique and more enlightening way: exploring without trying to find an answer. Some pieces interact with the aforementioned political ascription of people into categories based on language, nationality, gender, etc. John Starr asks in “Like a Lion” if language is what defines us; as the amazing concluding page of his piece suggests, language is beautiful but also wonderfully complex in terms of identity. Sarah Fling explores the paradoxical obsession of the United States with Queen Victoria and examines whether or not the countries’ troubled past constitutes who those two countries and their citizens are for the rest of their existence. Mei (Seung Wong) Baek also looks back to the past to explore this question and finds a hauntingly beautiful paradigm of the simultaneous static and transforming characteristics of what you thought the answer to the question of who you are was. Meera Patel courageously confronts the battling worlds of your inside and outside selves in one of the most powerful pieces I have read as a member of this journal. Even Tanner Smida jovially reveals the care, dedication, and artistry of (housing) an insect whose answer to the question has long been negative. This was among my favorite personal growths from the volume as a self-diagnosed melissophobic.
While there is certainly more writing and art to explore in this volume then what I have annotated here, each piece takes on the daunting task of the question of “who we are”. The reason that their work is so successful in this is undeniably due to their unparalleled talent as writers and artists, but it is also because they all display the complexity of the question when the common path is to simplify it. This is the ultimate goal of Forbes & Fifth: to bring together work from all disciplines to establish a diverse array of ideas that aim to examine the beautiful complexity of ourselves.
For the last time as Editor-in-Chief of Forbes & Fifth, I thank you for joining me on this journey, and please enjoy the selection of pieces ahead that just left me amazed and delightfully speechless at every turn.
With my gratitude and best wishes,
P.S. Thank you to all of the editors, designers, and contributors that I have worked with as a member of Forbes & Fifth. You are what made this one of the most fulfilling and amazing experiences of my life, and you are what make this journal what it is.