Out of Print

Where Do We Go From Here?

by Sai Versailles

This issue’s guest editor opens Out of Print’s second volume.

O n March 31, 2020, sixteen days after the first series of lockdown measures in Metro Manila, I put out a tweet asking journalists and editors how they were writing in this brave new world.

“I’m not just referring to #COVID19-related reporting, I’m talking about everything else,” I wrote. What will happen, I wondered, to the long-form essays on dolphins, true-crime, and tikka masala?

“Must I end every headline now with ‘in the age of corona?’”

Many doubled down on their raison d’etre. Others didn’t write at all. But in retrospect, my question was premature. More than a year later, we’re only just realizing the subtle ways this collective disruption has changed us and the writing is fermenting to bring out that nuance.

When I was invited to guest edit this issue of Out of Print, we didn’t set out on a theme, much like the previous ones. Yet, what came out of it is very telling of our zeitgeist today; that our lives are punctured by a non-linearity, pulling us apart in a myriad of directions. Our interview with Jenny Odell about her new book explores the purpose of time in an age when so many of us are refusing it. In doing so, she conveys what Frederic Jameson meant when he urged us to “Always historicize!” — that how we got here is as much about what we didn’t see on the way as it is about what we did.

Portraits by Sai Versailles

This is why if you ask anyone about “where we are now,” answers will vary. Is the light at the end of the tunnel the sun or a speeding car? To artist James Clar, whose work illuminates this site’s pages, the light just is — an “inevitable.” The world will change with or without us and it’s our imperative to pick up whatever we can of it. Pulling ourselves apart reveals a core humanity that appears in the subtle way we twiddle our thumbs, or turn our head to one side and sigh.

This deconstruction is our reckoning. Filmmaker and drag artist Celeste Lapida attests to this as the lines between her true self and her carefully crafted persona blur with each day of actualization, of seeing the sun set. In this lifetime where we only have a handful of summers, it’s easy to doubt what we are doing. I’m sure you readers are familiar with the crippling fear of wondering whether we have the right to tell the stories we do — as it did for photographer JL Javier — despite feeling it is the right thing to do.

But nothing captures today’s zeitgeist more than the desire to reinvent. It doesn’t mean we come out of this stronger, richer, smarter, or more beautiful; the days ahead just have a newness that is very much up for the taking. Artist Bree Jonson felt this desire even before her untimely passing last September, and it lives on in the memories of people who remember her here. I see this desire in myself as I edit this issue under a pseudonym — my real name carrying a burden that no longer reflects what I aspire to be.

Deconstruction, reckoning, reinvention, the non-linear passage of time: All these capture the spirit of our age, but it also looks a lot like creativity — the messy and cathartic means by which we persevere and defy all odds.

As Out of Print celebrates its first year with this new volume, we hope you find between these stories a little bit of who you were, what you are, and where you will be. ︎

Sai Versailles  is a multimedia journalist currently based in Manila.