I recently ordered HRDCVR, a hard bound magazine created by journalists Danyel Smith and her husband and partner Elliott Wilson. I have yet to make my way through the entire magazine, but it is one-of-a-kind, indeed. HRDCVR reminds me of what journalism can and ought to be. All of the edges, contours, and weight of human experience cannot be encapsulated in an object, publication, or thing. Yet it is possible to create something that touches upon seemingly disparate interactions and observations and ties them together to show how similar and different we are to one another. Not a simple task, but HRDCVR certainly rises to the occasion. This publication forced me to think about my writing and creative practices. Last year was great, despite the circuitous and unnerving path of emotions and feelings around my professional, academic, and personal work. So, receiving HRDCVR was refreshing and motivating.
My only criticism is that it is only published once (limited edition). But this is also a larger critique and systemic issue within the ecosystem(s) of mainstream versus alternative, niche media. I love print, but it is SO DAMN difficult to pull something off like this. Having worked on print publications (from academic to general interest), it is not easy. You put your heart, soul, and many sleepless nights just to get things right and you never know how it’s going to reach people or if people will even care. But I’m ecstatic that Smith and Wilson created this gift for everyone (really, everyone / #newevery1) and put a wonderful and talented team of people to create this publication. It inspires me to act and continue doing what I do.
What follows are a few shots of Issue No. 1089 of 2000, which I will certainly value for years (and not sell on eBay) and my answers to their #passionatlas prompts. Enjoy!
My answers to the HRDCVR #passionatlas prompts:
I don’t regret: being with any of my exes and lovers. Intimacy takes practice. It doesn’t come easily to anyone and we aren’t born knowing what intimacy is or can be. It is an abstract idea. The dictionary definition of intimacy is, “a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group.” But this is something we learn to do over time by being vulnerable, making mistakes, being hurt, and hurting another. Intimacy isn’t just about sex. It’s about a closeness with another human being. Despite the slow demise or sudden break of intimacy, I (still) don’t regret being with my exes and lovers. Even if I don’t have the fondest memories of (some of the) people I’ve been with, those individuals have brought experience, knowledge, and light to steer me in the right direction.
Now, I want: to be better at shushing the harsh and, sometimes, abusive, inner critic. I am ready to be the person I’m meant to be. I’ve had a few decades to practice and timing is different for everyone. It’s hard to flip losses and failure into something positive, but I’ve learned over the years that “failure is feedback.” Even the most seemingly confident person has a hard time loving themselves from time to time.
I will die for: my mother and if I had a child or children…I would die for them too. I’m certain.
If I weren’t doing [this job/thing/gig/life choice], I would be: If I weren’t doing clinical research; I would be writing, editing, teaching, and curating (full time).
Why are you still alive? Through a figurative lens, my parents are the reason why I’m still alive. Everything I learned from them were modes of survival throughout the different stages and aspects of my life. In a literal reading of the question, I am still alive because of the fast thinking doctor and staff (in 2010) that hooked me up to a ventilator and kept me alive when my respiratory system shut down during surgery. I woke up on the ventilator (not a good thing) and human touch stabilized my already fragile heart from going into complete shock and possible failure (again). I will never forget that nurse.
When my attitude is “kiss my ass,” it’s because: I see through someone’s bullshit. I can see it in someone’s face, the way they smile, tell a story, or rush through listening to me or another person. It’s all in the little gestures and the attention someone gives me or another person. I can feel when a person doesn’t give a shit or possesses very little to no compassion. When a person is not present, but expects me to be present for them and there is no reciprocity. Plain and simple.
Best text I ever received: Even though I’m not religious, I received this quote from a person I deeply admire. “It’s not the strongest or the swiftest that win the race, it’s the one that endures.” I received the text when I needed some encouragement and it was much needed at the time that she sent it.
Very specifically, the most beautiful place I’ve ever stood is: In the US, the time I stood over the Grand Canyon. Abroad, it was the second time I was in the Philippines. I stood on the land where my Mom grew up – a province in the Philippines about 6 hours east of the city of Manila. My Mom’s hometown is called Infanta.
The thing that will save me is: love, compassion, and liberation (specifically, intellectual, emotional, and physical liberation).
What precisely does “forgiveness” involve for you? Letting go of the ego. It’s tough. There are people I haven’t forgiven in my life. I thought that I did. But when I think of them, I still feel disdain for their actions. I have forgiven others and I think it’s in large part due to the fact that they have apologized or decided to communicate with me directly. They wanted to grow alongside me and for that, I can’t help but be forgiving.
What proves love? Or, What does love prove? Love is proven through patience and compassion. I guess in the most recent iteration of a romantic-type of relationship I had, I know (now) what I had with this person wasn’t love. I believe I ‘proved’ to a certain degree that I loved this person and I think it was due to my desire to try and I did this by listening as carefully as possible to this person’s needs. I didn’t listen to my own needs however, which was my fault and I take the onus for that one. I had to love myself enough to know what I could and could not give and receive. Yet it took time to realize that. Reciprocity proves love. Love proves that connection and deep intimacy can exist. But it is imperative that the other person has the capacity to both give and receive.
Being [insert ethnicity/spirituality/ gender ID/nationality/personality type] in [insert place of residence, or state of being] is: Being a queer Pinay in a conservative family is not easy.
Last song to which you dance wildly, all the way through: Salt and Pepa’s Push It at my dear friends’ wedding reception!
I have hope now because: I see optimism and support from my mother, friends, collaborators, students, peers, nieces and nephews, activists, inspired and motivated artists, cultural producers, writers, theorists, scholars…anyone that believes in change and progress for humanity.
What one thing should we have asked, that we haven’t? What was one of the most difficult things you had to give up to be where you are now?
And can you answer? Yes. I gave up the “American dream” with one of the loves of my life because, in the end, they weren’t the person I was meant to be with and even though it was painful and a long process to let go, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m proud of where I am and how far I’ve come since then.
Dorothy R. Santos (b. 1978) is a Filipina-American writer, editor, curator, and educator whose research interests include new media and digital art, activism, artificial intelligence, and biotechnology. Born and raised in San Francisco, California, she holds Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of San Francisco, and received her Master’s degree in Visual and Critical Studies at the California College of the Arts. In the fall of 2017, she will be a doctoral candidate in Film and Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz as a Eugene V. Cota-Robles fellow.
Her work appears in art21, Art Practical, Daily Serving, Rhizome, Hyperallergic, Real Life Magazine, Vice Motherboard, and SF MOMA's Open Space. She has lectured at the De Young museum, Stanford University, School of Visual Arts, and more. Her essay “Materiality to Machines: Manufacturing the Organic and Hypotheses for Future Imaginings,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Biology in Art and Architecture. She is currently a Yerba Buena Center for the Arts fellow researching the concept of citizenship.