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Debris Magazine 03: The Urge to Know

Debris Magazine 03: The Urge to Know

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Publisher: Debris, ISBN: 2653-0015, Edited by: Cher Tan and Jon Tjhia, Format: Paperback, 230 x 150 mm, 110pp

Debris is a story-driven literary magazine based across Narrm/Melbourne and Paris. Guest editors Cher Tan and Jon Tjhia bring together seventeen authors to dissect desire(s) for knowledge. They preface this edition with the following:

"As a child encounters their own sentience, a fountain erupts.

We begin to find ourselves with an appetite for knowledge, which propels us into the world and whatever sense is to be made of it. As this grows with and through the body-a way to touch, grasp, beyond the range of our own senses-this proclivity gradually gains a (more) conscious quality. Later still, and inevitably, a barrier emerges, and we become self-regulating, tempering the urge in order to prioritise other needs and yearnings. The compulsion towards knowledge, then, manifests and recedes over time, in public and in private, assuming the form of invitation, attachment, affliction.

This propensity is also infectious: our friendship began with the urge to know. The edifying yet accursed urge to know about others, about ourselves, about the world around us. As one of us declared, "the urge to know is adjacent to the urge to witness!"Just a couple of know-nothing wanna-know-it-all wannabes;' the other agreed. It materialised into an inside joke. As Etel Adnan once wrote, "... knowing is an extraordinarily strong bond. It establishes a kind of magnetic field between beings or even things, and intensifies and illuminates everything."

Yet, jokes aside, knowledge is social in more than one sense. As new forms of organising and sharing information emerge, our relationship with knowing has undergone astonishingly quick change. Today, entangled with search engines and social media, our ability to reveal and perceive information with varying degrees of directness intersects with a certain ease. We can present, consume and re-present what we come to know-subjectivity and self-delusion notwithstanding. When we come to know more and more and more, how does the urge to know bind us to the world? How is the flavour of that knowledge dictated by the third parties that act as its mediators?

This impulse towards knowledge bleeds across lines of consent and legality to encompass misinformation and conspiracy theories, data breaches, bureaucratic obfuscations, the privatisation of knowledge work, and the many kinds of surveillance that people are subject to-be it from employers, peers, landlords, corporations and/or governments. It waters the will to power. But it's also deeply enmeshed with scripturience and the drive towards art-making; not only to know but to process and unpack, to know that we don't know, to know others through the limits of self-knowledge. There will always be aspects of existence that are unknown and unknowable, that cannot be adequately expressed or inscribed, or which do not make sense at all. Even if information continues to be laundered freely through open-source encyclopaedias, comment sections and whistle-blowers alike, we will never see the "full picture"-simply because there is none. You cannot arrest knowledge. Perhaps this is what draws us to the urge. We cannot know, and yet we must."