Volume 13: Age of Uncertainty (Fall 2017)

Fall 2017 THEME: Age of Uncertainty

The age of uncertainty exists as the product of curiosity, of progress, of advancement. We live with uncertainty not via doubt but rather out of a passion for the unknown and the wild. Uncertainty defines itself to us as a motion propelling itself forwards and backwards at the same time, unearthing groundbreaking discoveries that simultaneously arouse even more pressing concerns. The modern age cultivates a specific brand of uncertainty that forces us to reexamine how we approach and identify our places within today’s society. Each step we take is laced with the thousands of strides we have yet to conquer, and it is with this uncertainty that we enter ourselves into a world that races towards affirmation. The age of uncertainty is a battle within us — one that envelops us — into furthering ourselves as a society and as a race.

The following prompts serve as platforms from which to engage with the theme of “Age of Uncertainty”. We invite you to consider the various facets of your chosen subcategory, but to find expression in the way (and medium) that is most authentic to your vision.

 

Mind

Between housing mundane thoughts of what to have for lunch or the bigger worries of war and problems too large for any one person to solve, the mind makes a strong case as one of the primary enablers of uncertainty. The uncertainty of thoughts can affect the need to discover or create, and in some cases, mask hidden potential and hinder personal progress. How does uncertainty affect mental processes? How can the unconscious mind reveal our uncertainties and how can that affect reality? How do mental illnesses and degenerative diseases affect the ability to be certain and how does uncertainty correspond to such conditions as paranoia? Is the mind and the unconscious itself the biggest uncertainty of all, and if possible, how can it be explored?

Body

You are inextricably tied to your body from birth until death, but your relationship with your body is never quite that simple. In an age of uncertainty, social and political climates can challenge what it means to own a body. What makes you the owner of your body? What outside influences threaten your bodily safety or autonomy, and how do factors such as race, gender, and sexuality contribute? Consider recent social movements designed to take back control over one’s own body. Are they necessary? Have they been successful? Since the civil rights movement, how have we advanced and perhaps faltered in our perception of the body? Most importantly, when do we consider bodily autonomy a privilege, and when do we consider it a right?

Death

Within the bounds of the scientific field, death has a very clinical definition: a state in which all circulatory, pulmonary, and respiratory functions have ceased. However, the concept of death is perceived with much more diversity across different cultures, religions, and even generations. How do our different perceptions of death affect how we process the loss of life? Does death, as the medical definition states, only occur after our bodies have ceased to function, or is it a concept that reaches beyond the boundaries of physical limitation? The act of dying is also one that we can only permanently experience once, as well as one that leaves us without the opportunity to recount our experience. How do we reconcile the end of our own life when we understand so little about the events that follow? Is it essential for us to reconcile this conflict in order to find peace before or after death?

Time

From the steampunk time machines of early science-fiction to the non-linear narratives of post-modernism, the concept of what time is and how it can be manipulated has captivated artists and thinkers for hundreds of years, due to our inability to see time as anything other than linear. How can our view of time shape our actions and work? How can its complex nature captivate both our artistic and technological innovations? But beyond the sci-fi, the uncertainty in time can also be looked at from a historical perspective. There has always been uncertainty throughout the ages, but as time has passed, uncertainty seems to have grown stronger, placing a seed of doubt in everything we consume: products, information, and perceptions of others. What is unique about uncertainty in this day and age and how does it compare to the uncertainty of the past? Has uncertainty taken on a new meaning as the years go on?

Space

Doubt, fear, and uncertainty are themes frequently associated with social interactions and behavior, as individuals struggle to perceive societal boundaries and cross into and out of new social spaces throughout their lives. Whether it’s inserting oneself into a new friend group, social class, or physical location, uncertainty in the face of unknown outcomes can be daunting. Why do we feel the need to create societal boundaries? Are they necessary to maintain a functioning community? Regarding the modern context of extreme polarization within social and political groups, do the spaces we once fit into still exist, or have they had to be reevaluated and redefined?

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* denotes Sapere Aude Editor Submission

**denotes Chapman Alumni Submission

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