Here is something I should admit: I resist the (at times, enormously beneficial) practice of isolating a reading of a literary work to an appreciation of any individual craft element. So editing this issue of Mason’s Road with a particular focus on arc has been a challenge — and like the best challenges, it’s been a rewarding one, replete with surprise and delight, perspective and insight. Our editorial team has had to ask ourselves continuously, what exactly do we mean when we talk about arc? What are we looking for the arc of a story, essay, poem, or image to do?
This is where I cue Ravi Shankar, founding editor of Drunken Boat literary journal and advisor to Mason’s Road, who speaks so eloquently here of the dynamics and opportunities related to this element.
For my part, I like to think of two opposite ends of a different sort of spectrum. At one end, a recent experience with my mom and sister, who overheard me on my cellphone rattling on about “arc” and could not figure out why I was so fixated on this “ark.” At the other end, those of us who are steeped in literary theory, criticism, and/or craft, who find ourselves analyzing and discussing such terms to the point where we don’t even know what we’re looking for anymore.
I’d like to linger somewhere closer to the center, though; I like to think, for instance, of experiencing the emotional arc at an Italian opera. Even if you don’t know the language, you feel moved by something you don’t quite understand — and you can speculate as to why without depleting the mystery of it.
The arcs within these pages may not be as dramatic as an opera’s, but they all share that sense of movement — they take us from one place to another, and even if the distance is slight, it’s significant because something beyond ourselves has moved us. And maybe, if you’ll indulge my risk at hyperbole, maybe in moving us, they have that power to carry us to somewhere better…like that other ark did for those animals.
So thank you for visiting us here at Mason’s Road, where, we hope, you can always feel on the way to somewhere significant; where you stand a good chance at being moved.
I know, in discovering these works, that we were.
Enjoy your time here, and please visit us again!
Editor in Chief, Issue #3