In early March, a tweet did the rounds: “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.” As most posts getting the viral treatment do, people responded with a mix of humor and criticism, highlighting the absurdity of the suggestion that a global pandemic would catalyze their own version of producing a seminal text.
And as with the ‘memeification’ of every idea, debates over productivity have since skyrocketed. Whether straightforward or tongue-in-cheek, the question of what we’re supposed to be doing when the world as we know it drastically changes has remained central to the COVID-19 discourse. Industry and government suggest that we do what we’ve always done, albeit on a smaller, safer scale (that is, if you’re privileged enough to benefit off the labour of those without the opportunity to stay home, or have housing to begin with). Do your job, create, pivot – how inspiring!
This suggestion hasn’t sat right with many – this group tends to appeal to the concept of wellness, individual or collective. The concept of self-care is not novel but has definitely experienced a renaissance among friends, internet acquaintances, and brands alike. Others argue for the imperative of community care, pointing to our failures to prevent – and our roles in exacerbating – disparities across race, class, and gender. These responses centre on economies of affect rather than economies of output, and ask us to take a look inward at our shared experience as humans.
Except it is not always so clear-cut. Wellness is not only a concept or lifestyle but an industry that can capitalize on personal vulnerabilities and traditional, cultural healing practices. Further, it’s not often clear what wellness actually entails for you. Catch-all remedies, suggestions and products are not always sensitive to the personal aspects of hurt and healing, and often minimize the importance of community care.
New Feeling’s third issue, Wellness, reflects this multi-dimensionality. Leslie Ken Chu’s discussion with Moshe Fisher-Rozenberg of Absolutely Free and Memory Pearl examines the artist’s study of music therapy and its application to both clinical practice and everyday life. Lenore Maier’s Saskatoon Scene Report highlights the city’s recent rise in solo projects, reporting on a range of local musicians that have fostered creativity by turning inward. Conversely, Tom Beedham’s ‘Why I’m Not Writing About DIY Anymore’ digs into the insularity of the do-it-yourself ethos, arguing instead for ‘inter-dependent music’ scenes.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Yves Jarvis about his experience living in Gravenhurst’s Tree Museum, placing wellness within the context of nature and setting. Jesse Locke’s Deep Dig into Pascal Languirand’s Gregorian chants and “earthly forms of reverence” on De Harmonia Universalia brings the relationship between wellness and the sublime into focus. Dan G. Wilson’s rumination on the gentrification of weed culture showcases the harms of turning wellness into a trend and the often-pernicious effect this process has had on Black populations.
As always, we’ve got a care package of reviews for you to open up – with an extra roundup of our favourite Canadian songs from 2020.
With the end of 2020 in sight, we’d like to thank everyone for their continued support since our launch in September. This will be our last issue for the next little while – we’ll be taking a step back to build out our practices as a cooperative organization and contemplate how to best achieve our goal of supporting Canadian music communities. You can read more about this decision and our reasoning here.
Katerina Stamadianos, co-founder, NEW FEELING