Any great work of art, be it literary or otherwise, is made of intricate enigmas that admit infinite solutions, indifferent to their content, true or false, since no one holds the key (or Occam style razor) to judge, not even its author. In the best of cases, indeed, the author has produced his œuvre precisely to confront the unknown and face the deadly monsters that make the labyrinths worth exploring in the first place. The reader of the work, or watcher of the painting or film, cannot escape the perilous attraction of the cognitive maelstrom he, hesitantly or trustfully, enters at his own risk. Every word or stroke on canvas or chord or instant shutter of the camera or unending gros plan may hide unexpected doors to impossible worlds, each of them possible nonetheless. Love, hate, crime, lust, power, etc.: every facet of human experience can become scary or exciting forces to be faced, for just an instant or for an inconclusive lifelong struggle. Time is possibly the most intractable of those forces as only unconceivable gods can make of it their plaything. Similar to the desert planet of Frank Herbert’s Dune, it harbors unpredictable monsters that destroy anything that moves—unless one learns to dance in an equally unpredictable fashion, winning a reprieve only to end up inescapably a fatality, having met the unavoidable fatum.
SubStance has been travelling a much populated and cacophonic desert for fifty years, maintaining, despite the times’ ubuesque twists and turns, its acrobatic démarche and tracing its empirical path through the intellectual dunes of two or three generations, collecting as it went many stimulating spices that it shared, avoiding its sale to the highest academic bidder. Editing a journal cannot be compared to the creation of a work of art, but it partakes in its aspiration to question the Known and face the Unknown, with the support of an army of minds devoted to the intriguing study of any cognitive coup de dés.