As a writer I am committed to speaking from my own experience, which may seem to counsel silence. I have not been to Iraq, Afghanistan, or Guantanamo Bay. I am not a journalist or an authority on the history of torture. But the perimeters of experience do not end with what is immediate. In today’s world, almost everything connects with everything else. The coffee that fuels my editing was raised in Kenya, my shirt was made in China. Reports arrive daily from around the world. The problem is sorting the relevant from the irrelevant, the true from the false, and assigning each bit of information something like its proper weight. These things make learning gradual, writing slow, and these notes very late.

– George Gessert, “An Orgy of Power”


Chen is a twenty-year-old third year student at the University of Manitoba. She is majoring in English Literature (Honours), minoring in Film Studies, and just generally interested in the human rights issues and major conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries – although, being neither a history nor PoliSci major, her knowledge of “the real world” is woefully small, sketchy, and incomplete (something she is trying to amend as this is written).

Her chief interest (lurking in the realm of cultural studies) is in the representation of these issues in film and literature, whether they be popular war films, critical documentaries, fiction novels, soldier’s memoirs, science fiction and magical realism, scholarly papers in post-colonial theory, books of poetry, propaganda pieces, and so on.  She hopes that in the record of her (endless) struggle to reach some kind of insight about the state of the world, you, the reader, will find something – even if it is the thinnest shard of something, a sentence, a phrase, a knacky quote –  useful, relevant, or illuminating. She can only hope.


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