Granta 140: The Mind
The title and focus of issue 140 of Granta, “State of Mind,” doesn’t reveal much. We use the phrase in everyday speech to mean everything from our feelings to what we think about something, but the definition of “state of mind” is never static. It evolves in our usage of it, and somehow Granta has managed to capture that evolution with the selected prose, poetry, and artwork chosen for this issue.
The most gripping selection, Rana Dasgupta’s long essay, “Notes on a Suicide,” moves through the first social media suicide, the tragic death of a young French girl named Oceane. It is brutal, this rumination on the event, but it is important, too. As we read Dasgupta’s words, we are transported into her state of mind while also, through her, glimpsing the world of Oceane and the contemporary, technology-driven culture that teens live in today. We’re asked to evaluate, not judge, the choices in this riveting piece.
A stark contrast to Dasgupta comes in the photographic essay “Salvage,” which features photos by Reynaldo Rivera and an introduction by Chris Kraus. Where Dasgupta’s piece is a meditation on the end of a life, “Salvage” seems to be a celebration of life, specifically the world of “LA’s Latino subculture…gay male and transvestite bars” in the 1980s and 1990s. In looking at Rivera’s photos, one can’t help but consider the state of mind of the subjects. The black and white photos, all taken backstage at performing venues, show joy and concentration, contemplation and repose. They remind us of ourselves, showing a state of mind can be shared between people with disparate experiences.
Granta never fails to inspire thought and emotion, and this issue is no exception.
Sigrid Rausing, Editor