Authenticity: What do I look to?

When I first began to unpack this question, I thought: What the flaming heck. What do I look to for authenticity?? ??? ? ? ??? The question seemed to contradict itself because surely if you are authentic, you do not look to anything for that authenticity — it simply resides within you. The more I thought about it, the more nebulous the question seemed, and that tendril got wispier and wispier and I forgot about it altogether. Until I was sprung into action, driving home from yoga and the supermarket, having spent the remaining $7.99 in my bank account on organic tofu and coconut milk like the millennial I am. I suddenly had some thoughts following a cracker of a weekend, a conversation with a wise friend, and possibly the onslaught of terrible weather that has just begun in Dunedin and looks set to remain for the week. So, I would like to unpack this juxtaposition and use it to answer the question of what I look to for authenticity. Let’s shimmy.

It seems archetypal to define authenticity to begin this analysis. Because doesn’t every nerd love arguing the semantics of a word? But without further ado, I present to you the Google Dictionary definition of ‘authenticity’: “The quality of being authentic.” Wow, what a great definition! Not at all a tautology. (That was sarcasm.) Cue the definition of ‘authentic’: “Of undisputed origin, not a copy, genuine.” … Bravo Google. I would agree with this. (That was not sarcasm.) Authenticity is the quality of being genuine and not a copy. Like an authentic designer handbag conferatur a knock off you bought at the flea market. To apply this to a human being, authenticity is therefore the quality of being completely yourself. Staying true to who you are, which is the very essence and core of your being. And, as a necessary adjunct, having enough confidence and certainty in yourself that you feel comfortable in being authentic and owning who you are.

 

Authenticity & hate / change / acceptance

To be genuine and authentic, you have to fully accept yourself – the good, the bad, and the ugly. So often we look to change because we do not like ourselves. Change is not a bad thing. But it is important to make peace with all parts of yourself because they are who you are in this moment, and they are what you have to live with and accept. Therefore, if you wish to change, any change that does occur must come from a place of acceptance. Acceptance of the fact that you are in this place now, but you will not always be in this place. And acceptance of the fact that you are not making the change for anyone else but you, so your actions to drive the change must stem from you, for you. That is authenticity. And if you feel that you need to change, being genuine and honest with yourself to figure out what you need. Not living your own lie or anyone else’s lie. Not fulfilling someone’s expectations of you or society’s expectations of you, or your family’s expectations, or your religion’s, or whatever framework of life you have created for yourself that you feel trapped in but cannot seem to get out of.

Fully letting go.

When you have the introspection to look into yourself and realise what you truly need and what you truly want out of this life for yourself, you begin to look in the right places for your own authenticity. You begin to discover that everything you needed to be authentic was already there inside of you. This introspection cannot come from a place of hate. Hatred has no place in authenticity. Hate is so powerful an emotion that it disguises the other things below that are impacting our ability to live authentic lives. It muffles our true state of being and paints a negative valence over the crux of the issue. Moreover, hatred is an emotion that would not be nearly as self-directed as it is if we lived without worrying about others, their actions, their words, or judging ourselves by other people’s standards. So when seeking to be your authentic self, do not seek to change out of a place of hatred because you will never become authentic in that way. You will only construct another paper doll version of yourself — cut, stuck, glued together from pieces of what you believe others want, what others tell you will make you happy.

But tell me, if you papier machée together your identity out of scraps of truth which society and others tell you, are you becoming you? Will you not just paste another bit onto yourself the minute society tells you another thing you should be, or do? Are you not merely thickening the layers of paper and glue and getting further and further away from your core? You become a version of yourself that you think you should be, because you hated A, so ostensibly if you change from A to B, then all will be well. But B doesn’t address why you hated A in the first place. B is just another bit of paper that you have put over A and slathered with a bit of glue to hold it in place. B is a cover-up for something you never bothered to address. Thus B is not an authentic change at all. You never peeled back the layers of paper and glue to discover who you really are, and whether you really needed to change at all. Therefore, on this conception, what I must look to for authenticity is not in the world around me or anyone else, but within myself. What do I want or need to do to make to make myself happy and to live my own truth? How am I going to be honest with myself? Can I be honest with myself?

 

Authenticity & honesty

Being honest with ourselves is one of the hardest things to do. You have to really, really be prepared to find some ugly that you thought you had buried deep and forgotten about, or thought had miraculously combusted as you continued on with your life. However, what I look to for authenticity are those truths about myself. You cannot be authentic without acknowledging those truths, as difficult as they may be. Once you know your truths then you know who you are. And as above, if you need to change those truths you have to change them from a place of acceptance of those truths rather than hatred. Because once you accept and acknowledge, you can move on in a healthy way. But if you hate, you are always running (or always gluing, to keep with the metaphor above). Honesty is the act of being honest, and to be honest is to be sincere and truthful. And to be sincere is to be genuine. In other words, your truth is your authenticity. Too many people forget this by looking to outside sources to find their authenticity and their truths. They forget all along that they were born being who they are, and that their unique life experiences have enhanced this. That they don’t need to change or paste any layers on top of that, but merely live and accept it — and through living and accepting, cultivate it to make it even more.

 

Authenticity: What do I look to?

So I guess the answer to what I look to for authenticity is pretty egocentric. I look to myself. What values do I want to uphold in my life? What do I like or dislike? How do I want to express myself? The h8trs out there will be saying that I must base these choices a teensy bit on the outside world and be influenced by others. And I concede, I do to the former and I am to the latter. Of course, there are people who you will admire, and/or who you will think are cool. Can you learn from them? Yes. But should you be like them? No! In being my authentic self I don’t let others define me. I define me. I live by my own rules and values (within the confines of the New Zealand law!) And I believe that is authenticity. I do not look to anything for authenticity because I believe that my authenticity comes from within me, and correspondingly, each individual’s authenticity is a function of themselves.

About the author
Rachael Monkhouse is a law and psychology student at the University of Otago. In her spare time she enjoys writing for her blog, yoga, meditating and running. She is ¾ Chinese and attributes much of her hyper awareness of the society around her to this. It is hard to accept things as they are if you yourself are always different and feel out of place. She hopes that one day the world will change so people live with less expectation and judgement, and with more acceptance and compassion.
Slow Glow

the answer made no sense but the question wasn’t giving
the mortals sought the dead while the dead were for the living
I had a want last night for embroidery and weaving
a cotton posy for the living woven

the figs are ripe to ebony they’re splitting on the tree
they taste as sweet as nectar; not how maidens taste to me
to me our taste is sawdust salty warm and half past three
we’re best (not tasted) hugged and heard and seen

I drink tea for this pregnancy I’ve lost my taste for power
for coffee and adrenaline I find it dark and sour
I miss it though euphoria and the consequential hour
the biro swift till concepts are devoured

raindrops on the roses’ stems leaves perforated bitten
a rolling sky behind them folded mountains not so distant
a saturday in autumn where the days pass by unwritten
death or liberty – smite or have me smitten

the rose leaves and the figs and the little fish inside me
are not burning for employment therefore them I’ll take to guide me
and while I move adagio the slower things can eye me
not for visions of entirety but eternity
time is soft

About the author
Angela has a passion for fixing daily experiences in passe' formal verse gem settings. She picks apples for a living. While Aotearoa is home, she is currently living in the north of Italy and looks forward to translating Italian creative writers. Further writing can be found at angelatrolove.com and annytrolove.tumblr.com.
Generic qualities of a wonderful place

Celebration rubs up against mundanity
A magician dressed as a security guard

Escape the weather
Talk about the weather or your dreams

A little daughter with a big following
(the shadow is bigger than the work)

Romanticising people:
The white Child is the obsession of the nativity and _______

dying race = colonial view
The pigment faded leaving an unnatural pallor

A ramshackle building,
so purple you almost can’t see it

The relationship between art and poverty
Do you believe that paintings can move?

Brands make us anxious
Liking things without being able to explain why you like them

A palpable sense of decline and decay
To do your Country proud you need to leave

 

from text, images and inspired ideas around the public art gallery

About the author
Kyra writes long political analysis/rants and shorter softer, feeling and sketch-based pieces. Kyra was born in Perth, grew up in Wānaka and Oamaru and is now living in Dunedin on the lands of Kai Tahu. They are prone to self-doubt like most artists, but when a glimpse of courage comes through Kyra performs poetry around the place. 
I, The History of the World

We think we know it all
until we find we don’t know
anything at all. Not enough
not yet / If I die today
I was never born.

Left before we could meet
A brother, a son      my cousin –
Three halves of your lives later I
touch the lump behind my neck
think of yours in your brain.

These embers, too, will give. What
is care / when hurting is blind?

        The man who called me ‘doctor
        remarked he was in this very room
        last time, loved the new short stay
        unit downstairs. The man who had
        cerebral palsy but smiled wider
        than I ever had.

        The boy just older than you were
                asked if I watched the rugby
                told mum to bring his Switch
        before being wheeled into theatre
        for his third open heart surgery
        in two years.

        The lady with maroon manicures
        and the sweet tooth. ‘Thank you
        darling’ when I put her socks on.
        ‘Sorry dear’ as she wept. Her love
        of sixty years needed her. Her many
        metastases did not.

If there is anybody I should pity
it is myself. Questions answer
if you cry loud enough.

As the bells of history chime
your hands behind mine and
your many faces in my mind
I go forth   towards my time.

About the author
Jim Wang is currently training for his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at The University of Auckland. His literary favourites include Seamus Heaney, W. S. Merwin and Mary Ruefle. He thanks his high school English teacher for imparting to him the gravity of words. Find him on Twitter.
Dear Sylvia

If you hadn’t died so, would we have
given you this much screen-time?
Were you really any good?
A beacon for the tortured artist
everywhere — beware, beware —
Lady hair, burning red in the oven.
You were a bit of a babe.
A many-faced goddess in a
bikini or a bell dress or a graduation cap.
Your voice on Youtube clips
Interviews, readings, constant
bleedings, for a greedy listener.
We scrap you in class, give you
less attention simply because
you’ve gotten so much already.
When I was fourteen I read
your only novel and I ran
through the house to my
mother crying about how I
could never write something like
it.
You’ve indulged me in my
‘unhealthy’ feelings, my morbid
urges, you give me unusual
hope, that which sets me
out and about to taste the salts
and peppers of a city or a
river like nothing before.
You write how many think,
each word heavy as a crystal
ball, drawl it out in that fine rich
voice of yours.
The images you fry taste
vital on the tongue.
So. Were you really any good?
Immortal, as a result of your
extreme mortality, I could
make a shrine for you
in the hole above my bed.
Despite me, to spite me,
it doesn’t matter what I think,
you were, you are,
you did, you never will,
Read Me.

About the author
Jessica Thompson is a 22-year-old Māori woman from Dunedin. She has a degree in English and Art History and is currently working on her Course work Masters at Otago University. Her style is personal and she likes to explore her identity and emotions through strong imagery and unusual language. Jessica works as the culture editor of Critic Magazine. You can find her poetry, as well as her art and photography, on her instagram: @maori_mermaid where she is selling prints as well as her first every chapbook! 
Dear Diary

November 3rd 2011
Dear Diary.

I’ve always wished to be lighter, prettier and skinnier. I don’t see anyone that looks like me in the media. I use skin lightening creams, I stay out of the sun and I starve myself to achieve what I perceive to be beautiful. I feel elated when people tell me I’ve lost weight: I know I must be doing something right. I try my best at school yet still feel I am a failure. I am not good enough. I turn to self harm to punish myself and I cry a lot. I am in a vicious cycle and I can’t escape my emotions. I don’t know how to handle how I feel. I think of ending it all.

 

May 12th 2012

Things are more or less the same except now I’m three months clean. My friends helped me get to where I am now. I might have been six feet underground if not for you. I feel like maybe I’m not so alone and I can face my fears with you. One day I’ll feel on top of the world but the next day I can barely breathe. Is this what living is supposed to be?

 

February 15th 2013

I’ve slipped up more times than I can count. I keep falling off the wagon, getting back into dirty habits. The scars never run deep. I don’t feel like I deserve empathy. I feel guilt for letting you down so I must hurt myself. When I hurt myself I hurt you and I feel that guilt again; it eats away at me until I feel like I will explode. Life feels like it’s falling apart and I don’t know what to do. I can’t see the future because I know I won’t make it.

 

July 19th 2014

My first year at uni surpassed my expectations beyond belief. Sure, there were tears and stress and friendship dramas, but there were also genuine laughs, growth and happiness. I was facing obstacles without falling into old habits. I was clean, I was trying to be healthy in a safe way and I was able to enjoy food once again. Things weren’t perfect and they never would be but I learned that that’s okay. I was coping and that’s all I could do at that stage.

 

January 4th 2015

It seems when you overcome old problems, new ones are bound to appear. I struggled with truths about myself that I did not want to face. I was scared of people’s reactions and worried what would change. I didn’t want to admit what I already knew deep down. The thought alone made my throat close: I couldn’t face it. Why is it so hard? I didn’t know this would become my biggest struggle yet.

 

August 18th 2018

I am glad to be alive. Everything leading up to this moment has shaped who I am today, and I would not change anything because it has all taught me so much. I believe we are constantly shifting as humans; that change is inevitable. I have learned to embrace change, to accept it and to live fully through it. Everything I went through made me stronger and I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty in pain. The thought of feeling pain used to drive me into hiding but now it means something different to me. It means I cared enough or loved something so much that when it went wrong, it hurt me. I have learned to love and take care of myself and truly appreciate those nearest and dearest to me. I am continuously growing in this world and I hope I never stop. I am where I need to be because of everything I’ve experienced — all of it has brought me here and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Where am I now in the grand scheme of life?

I am content. I am happy. I am growing. I am healthy. I am trying. I am learning. I am me.

About the author
Bianca D'Souza
Where Am I Right Now?

 

I live on a planet huffing and puffing its last breath;
It cries every day, wailing and begging for help and love in loud and obvious ways;
Its cries are heard by all.
Some scream to save it, crying alongside a force more powerful than all mankind;
Some do nothing at all and watch it burn around them as they look with pity;
Some claim the planet isn’t crying in pain but that it’s always been this way.
***It’s important to note that whether it is to console themselves or to live in denial, those mentioned second are far more dangerous to this planet than the others
— They see but lack empathy.

I live as part of a civilisation, a being that fights within its people based on the colour of their skin and who they choose to love — to name a few;
This society celebrates the good, the bad and the ugly in some and believes itself to thrive off the conformity in any that are seemingly feminine in nature.
Some love and fight alongside the weakest of us;
Some turn a blind eye and allow for these injustices to take place;
Some fight for their hatred, the kindest of these for their misunderstanding.
***It’s important to note that here it is harder to distinguish which of the latter two causes more pain and suffering to its own
— One slaps the face and the other lets it happen.

I live as part of a community that provides for their kids in the way they know best, in a country very different to their own;
They bring with them a need for a better future, values of diligence and a culture close to their heart.
Some use this culture in combination with the one they live in, giving their children a chance at freedom, identity and self-acceptance;
Some wade cautiously in this mix of cultures, never allowing the two to combine;
Some create a wall — they separate either themselves from culture, or culture from their understanding.
***It’s important to note here the last of all, at best, manages to preserve their own idea of their culture — never fully acknowledging the cost at which this comes for future generations.

I now break off to talk about me as an individual.

I am finally still.

I live in a physical being that in all her beauty never loved herself;
one inch taller, a cup size bigger, or a couple less.
So close yet so far every time — nothing was ever good enough.

I live in a mental space that has been turbulent for so many years;
anxious, lonely and confused.
Should I get help? Should I run away? Or should I make this end once and for all?

I live in a social sphere surrounded by those who came temporarily;
they walked all over the doormat I allowed myself to be and then left abruptly.
They helped shape part of who I am today.

I was left asking myself: Who do I want to be and where am I going?

They say that the day your life changes, it will be like a switch has turned on, and everything the light touches will be clearer.
I guarantee you, life is no epiphany.
I cannot tell you when things changed or what I did to get here, but I can confirm that things are a little different every day and you never realise until you look back.

I am finally still.

I have allowed myself to simply exist and nothing more. It’s not a life-hack. I am just floating around my life, and letting myself be;
no more worrying or working towards a future — whether it’s with someone or for my career.
I’ve allowed myself to be.

And so now…

I live in a physical being that looks in the mirror and does not hate what she sees;
I do not love her, but I respect her.
I am slowly seeing myself for who I am.

I live in a mental space that is not devoid of the negative;
But I do not let my mind hate myself for it.
No more running away from reality.

I live in a social sphere where I fill my heart with love for those who surround me, and in turn they fill mine with pride due to the people they are or have become.
The doormat now has spikes making people hesitant to come in.
That too is fine.

Some will understand my still form;
Some will pity it, as in their eyes it lacks movement and growth.
Some will say I am wasting my life.
***It is important to note here that I could not care less;
I am existing;
I am doing me;

I am still.

About the author
Rushika Bhatnagar
Bedroom Artists

creating spaces
through
drive and passion

ever changing faces
establishing new places

aural / disposition
ocular / composition

paving an imminent isle of conception

bedroom artists.

To me, the term “bedroom artists” means creatively expressing what is important to you in your own space. This video explores five Auckland creatives doing cool stuff in their rooms and delves into their processes and experiences. It highlights the value in collaboration, as well as celebrates and showcases their work as it was at that time; a time capsule. Ranging from high quality music production to spoken word as a form of addressing social issues, bedroom artists use different mediums and styles to portray their ideas. The term ‘bedroom artist’, stemming from one of my own zines, is a celebration of people who are doing it for themselves.

About the author
Casey is interested in utilising multimedia techniques. She is less interested in producing what is known as ‘good’ design and more focussed on creating individually stylistic, bold and unique works that seize one’s attention - whatever form that may be. Casey thrives on collaboration and has recently gained an interest in amalgamating visual and audio to create an overall eccentric and individualistic experience. In her spare time, Casey loves a good boogie on the dance floor and eating copious amounts of chocolate things (where her real talents lie).
You Cannot Wear My Skin

I try very hard to be a tactful person. I pull reassurances out of my ass and put on my least aggressive face. I try to soften all of the edges when I make a point, so that my words don’t prick you on the outside, even when they cut me up on the inside. I hold myself back. Like a werewolf in a teenage drama, like the goddess Kali breathing fire, like a gun triggering the safety lock. I hold myself back, so that I don’t shatter the comfortable atmosphere. I tiptoe around the aggressor as though walking on eggshells. I say men but “not all men”; white people but “not all white people”; “you’re part of the problem, but here’s a chance to excuse yourself from all the acknowledgement and critique.”

I hold myself back. But God, I wish I didn’t have to.

Sometimes I imagine myself, claws sharp, teeth bared. I imagine myself standing in front of the girls who appropriate my culture, telling me how embarrassing it is to see an aunty wearing a sari while shopping at Countdown, while they wear bindis to Coachella and mehndi at sleepovers. I imagine myself, face hot, eyes seeing red, blood boiling loud enough under my skin for them to hear. This time, I don’t soften my edges. This time I don’t hold myself back.

What infuriates me the most about white girls wearing henna and accessorising with bindis and getting Om tattoos is that they don’t have any respect for the cultures they are taking from. They don’t understand that these aren’t just pretty things to enhance your beauty or show off your status as a spiritually connected individual. They don’t understand what these things mean to us.

These items are a marker of our culture. They’re flashing red signs on our foreheads that don’t come off at the end of the day. They are symbols that have been pressed into our bodies before we could even walk or talk. They are reminders that we come from somewhere else, signifiers of the fact that we are foreign here. They are traces of an identity we have to fight to keep with us.

These items are all we have left of the identities that were taken from us. Ripped away by the people who made us feel like it was stupid and embarrassing to have mehndi on your hands after your cousin’s wedding. The people who joked about drawing red dots on your forehead at school. The people who pointed lasers at their friends’ foreheads saying “HEY I HAVE A RED DOT HEY I HAVE A RED DOT.” The people who pointed their fingers at our religion, who compared our gods and goddesses to the movie Avatar because our deities seemed alien to them. The people who pulled at our necklaces made of black thread and protective sigils and snidely asked why we wore ‘the number 30’ around our necks. The people who laughed at the girls who wore thick braids to school and had coconut oil on their skin. The people who called us curry munchers, who asked if that Punjabi boy’s turban was dirty, who told us in so many words and actions that being Indian was shameful. That being Indian was a joke to them. That being Indian was humiliating. This time I don’t hold back. I look them right in the eyes. I tell them. Product of the great multicultural New Zealand, I tell them.

What angers me is that I believed it. What angers me is that I stopped begging my mum to buy me mehndi cones and Ramayana comics. That I stopped celebrating Diwali and started picking at the beads on my salwar kameez. That I lamented the sight of myself in the mirror for those nine days every Navratri, rubbing the chandhan tika off my forehead for fear that everyone who saw me would laugh. What angers me is that I wore jeans and an ‘ethnic’ printed shirt to school on “International day” because the only way I could represent my culture without feeling ashamed was by doing it the way a white person would.

What angers me is that I, a fucking Indian, cannot be openly appreciative of any aspect of my culture without feeling like an embarrassed 12 year old waiting for my white friend to tell me how lame I am. What angers me is that I never had any Indian friends growing up, because they could sense the shame radiating off a girl who doesn’t even pronounce her own name correctly when introducing herself. What angers me is that I am uncomfortable when a Bollywood song comes up on my iPod when I’m in public, even when I’m wearing headphones. What angers me is that I still rub the chandhan off my forehead before even setting foot outside the temple.

What angers me is that I am so afraid to have on the skin that you are wearing. What angers me is that you can take it off, and I can’t. But what angers me the most is that some tiny part of me still wishes I could.

 

This time I don’t hold back.

This time, you can see the blood and tears gushing from my body.

This time I tell them.

I look them right in the eyes

And I tell them

There is no respectful way to steal my culture:

You can’t wear my skin without ripping it off of me first.

 

This poem previously appeared in Signals, 2016.

 

About the author
Radhika Lodhia is a queer, Gujarati dreamcat who enjoys long walks through her endless god damn poems and crying on the dl when on public transport. You might catch her occasionally in Signals literary journal, UoA's Kate Magazine, Blackmail Press, and Pif Magazine. She hopes to be social media famous and eventually make a whole ass book one day. Find Radhika on Facebook
On Being Asked What You Are

I feel like this piece of writing is conversation three in a series of at least five conversations needed to answer the question “what are you?” However, I’ve decided to write as if everyone has the prior knowledge needed to interact with this piece in a way that makes sense of the Pacific ideology and language scattered throughout. There are three things I have left in a list at the end to help you fill in the blanks.

Within the multiple islands I inhabit, constituting ‘our sea of islands’, also known as the Pacific, there is a belief that I know to be echoed throughout the various aquatic highways that link the lands my forebears navigated. In Te Reo this belief is ‘ka mua, ka muri’ (when translated into other Pacific tongues it’s similar, I promise); in English, it is ‘walking backwards into the future’. I believe this point important to highlight, because as a tamaiti of the Moana this whakatauki plays an integral part in what I am made of.

To walk backwards into the future (and vice versa forward into the past) is to acknowledge that every step I take, I draw from my gafa. Reconciling an indigenous Pacific past with a colonial Western present and thereby existing in a hybridised future. To understand what I am as a fixed, embedded and immersed being in the physical day-to-day world is to understand what tethers me to this plane of existence — which is, as you guessed it, my ‘past’!

To understand me in as ‘authentic’ a way as possible at this point in time is to know that while it is reasonable to believe we are thrown into the world, my ‘past’ , which includes my whakapapa, catches me and roots me within myself. Therefore, I am my ancestors, and by extension the lands they existed in, as the land itself is part of my genealogy as a Pacific person.

My ‘past’ and all that constitutes it — being what I know as well as what is still hidden from me — stabilises the vacuum where I exist. The fact I am here right now and can be present in this moment, sure of myself, is because I am sure of what preceded me. In knowing this I can be properly present in the now, existing as all I was and all I will be.

I am the past
my ancestral vaka,
my grandfather’s matai title,
my mother’s immigrant story
and yesterday’s lunch.

As a child of the Pacific,
I am constantly bringing the past into the future.
Although I am thrown into the world,
I land in the hands of my ancestors
the sea cries with me.

 

Reads:

‘Our Sea of Islands’ – Epeli Hau’ofa
‘Tā , Vā, and Moana: Temporality, Spatiality, and Indigeneity’ – Hufanga ‘Okusitino Māhina
‘Being and Time’ – Martin Heidegger

About the author
Eric Soakai is an Arts/Global Studies student at the University of Auckland. He enjoys country music and long walks on the beach where he can discuss phenomenology, hermeneutics and essentialism. One day he hopes to get 1000+ followers on Insta (@soakaiser) or complete his MA... the Masters in Arts is looking more achievable though.
Gaya_IS_Me
As a child, I was taught that molecules are what we are made of. As I grew up I came to understand that this is the same for everyone, and I sure as hell did not want to be made up of the same hardware material; which only changes in design (fashion). What makes us different are the experiences, or the ‘software’ as I like to call it. Each image drawn has a story, and all these stories intertwined made me who I am today.

 

About the author
Gayatri Adi is a travel and food enthusiast who loves to read fictitious books and write bad poetry. When people ask her what she is passionate about, she says that it is to help people. But she lowkey wants to get rich quick and potentially be a benevolent dictator (still debatable). Other than this, she is very passionate about helping make change and uplift people who have a dream.
Apply Heat

I can’t count the times I’ve breathed in the smell of burning flesh. Cried in the kitchen to the hissing slice of steam. Cooked little patches all over my wrist, tracing up towards the elbow.

I used to work as a baker. Tapped my arm up against the heated steel, flowered open a bleeding gap.

I know I tend to stare. Blankly down, at the proof of my strata. Here’s the layer of fat, here’s the rest that’s pink. Here’s the angry red.

When you get a burn you’re supposed to run it under cold water for ten minutes, immediately. We call this blanching.

I stand in another kitchen as the buzzing quiets down to my partner asking if I’m okay. His face is white (we call this blanching).

How do I tell him I’ve misplaced body? That these angry reds and pinks belong to someone else.

That I would know if I’d burned myself because it would hurt.

About the author
Eliana Gray resides in Ōtepoti. Their style is somewhat elliptical, sometimes confronting, always filtering towards the cracks. Their work can be found in Bones, Critic, Electric Cereal and their two chapbooks which can be found, along with a lot of pictures of the author, on their Instagram (@foxfoxxfox).
the transit of mercury

                                                   |  we
is not a word that comes naturally to me  |  more sputum than breath  |  an emotion of leaking  |  i feel like a single digit  |  straining with a second  |  nothing so romantic  |  as a collective identity  |  collected the different parts of me all strewn  |  like wooden pieces of a broken doll that dropped out the back of a moving van  |  how can i be so embarrassed about what i lack ? i wake up inside the body of a man every morning and fear  |  she loves me for it  |  how can i be  |  a question that doesn’t take to a hook or mark  |  standing in front of a crowd  |  i imagine myself naked and trying in vain to cross my legs  |  to tuck it out of sight  |  but the hair gives away the game  |  i know i come from the great Y in the sky of science  |  my

chromosomes bleeding softly out my ears  |  i try to staunch the flow of it but  |  that just goes against how much the universe has expanded in the time since  |  Tāne parted the great curtain of flesh to get the lights working  |  for the first time  |  and the last  |  where is my mountain  |  what the fuck do i whakapapa to if the chain has already been broken so many times  |  did they eat Cook in the end ? his statues are only just now beginning to leave us  |  say goodbye to the Coromandel my sweet and rotten murderer  |  where you once sat with Green and watched the transit of Mercury  |  the report said you were cast into the sea but being cast into the sea brings to mind images of choppy waves greener than pounamu  |  the rock of your memory being pulled into Tangaroa’s great maw  |  where he consumes every part of you  |  even the powdered wig  |  not what the photos reveal about your memorial  |  just a beached chunk of cement  |  stuck  |  and staying put like an infected tooth with its roots deep  |  your claim is on the roads and you will pull them into the ocean with you out of spite  |  measuring what lengths it will take to leave us naught but dust to feed on  |  grubs bursting with pus  |  tuatara bloated on the harem of weta  |  there is a different version of death everywhere we look  |  the wharenui of settler colonialism is an ancestor with such a hunger for death  |  that it’s still killing to fill the hole inside itself  |  this hole is reflected in me  |  a mirror that throws a negative onto the spaces between my

ribs  |  where i’m pulled inside-out by it  |  turned into a ghost  |  there is something terrifying about seeing through yourself  |  i look in the photo again and it’s not a coastal scene or statue ripped up  |  but a little boy trying to get the devil out  |  the devil being boyhood itself  |  the photo shifts into a liquid glistening all silver and poison  |  my pale fingers disturb and twist around a little girl now holding the holes in the arms of a sweater to keep the cold out  |  gripping pieces of a puzzle  |  Hagrid or a dragon or a scene from a space opera about the connection of all things  |  and war  |  she is scared of getting erections or becoming a savage  |  firing blanks into the night sky  |  she craves to see a transition  |  i haven’t known my own experience  |  i haven’t claimed anything darker than the belly of a whale  |  pressed against the beaches of the east coast  |  i am complicit  |  i am complacent  |  i am a singular abstraction stretching over a sheet of glass  |  my own makeshift plate  |  swab me down to see what kind of colonies grow in the conditions of my

body  |  what kind of colonisation spawns from passive inheritance ? a tongue i never learned to use waggles with a language that was never given to me  |  it’s rolling in r shapes on the floor tumbling back and forth  |  i can taste the fur of the carpet  |  feel the bite of the staples as they try to pin me 2-dimensional  |  the phlegm of Scottish or the hum of the reo  |  a man and a woman incoherent in my shelf  |  a library flooded out  |  parchment drenched to parchment  |  leaves of words blur together trapping me as they dry shut  |

About the author
essa may ranapiri (takatāpui; they/them/theirs) is a poet from Kirikiriroa, Aotearoa / they have words in Mayhem, Poetry NZ, Brief, Starling, THEM and POETRY Magazine / they will write until they're dead
www

I live in New Zealand, I was born in Indonesia with a disability, I went to public schools where I had great teachers, I grew up in a stable family that (I assume) has always loved me, I have an all right number of passable friends, I go to the University of Auckland. Some of these things are important.

None of these things made me.

That statement is not entirely true. I acknowledge that my parents’ decision to move to New Zealand was probably influential. I can’t fathom what would have changed had I not moved here — Would I have been more religious? Would I have been more successful? Did this decision make me who I am today? I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it had at least some impact, and in this way I accept that my parents made me.

Another factor which may have made me who I am is my disability. For better or worse, this has had a larger impact on my life. It has made me a cautious, anxious person and has been the major source of my otherness. It is perhaps this otherness that has led me to seek virtual spaces where physical exertion is unnecessary for enjoyment.

The bulk of my personality was formed on the internet; my thoughts and values molded by my time in game, music, film, blogs and forums. I hadn’t really used the internet for much other than playing flash games and reading scanlated manga until I was around 10. It was around that time that my love of books was replaced by the easily accessible, digestible entertainment that can be found online. Internet native — this is what educators call students who grow up in the digital age. In reality, I was more a digital immigrant, moving into this new world as it developed while I aged into young adulthood. The music I listen to and the books I’ve read have been defined by the likes of Reddit, 4chan and the various music blogs that shill their sound of the future. (As an aside, websites like Reddit and 4chan are banned in Indonesia, and I am curious whether a censored internet would have hamstrung its influence over me.) My aimless virtual wandering has also impacted my morality, as my values are based on the consensus of the spaces I reside in online. It is these consensuses, these aggregations of ideas that have made me who I am, rather than any person I could individually name.

My relationship with the internet is not that simple even though it is constantly making me. I’ve never had a Twitter account, yet I check Twitter every day to witness fanwars and political fights. I go on Instagram to keep up with my favourite musicians, but would never consider creating one myself. The internet is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning and the last before I go to bed. It has probably become the biggest influencer in how I think, how I feel, how I treat the people around me. Despite this, I don’t have much of an online footprint. I refuse to participate in most online discussions because too many of them devolve into trolling, flaming, and general negativity. My Facebook was created only after years of pressure; it’s barely used.

There is an inherent irony in the fact that I am simultaneously immersed in and isolated by the internet. Perhaps I am genetically predisposed to being reserved, quiet, passive in reality and in virtual spaces, and perhaps this fate has made me me more than the internet has. Or maybe I’m just too lazy to post stuff online.

I don’t remember having a distinct personality before high school, before I spent most of my time facing the black mirror of a screen. I may be overstating the influences of my favourite virtual spaces, but in my mind there is a dearth of defining childhood experiences. Though there have been good moments, I find it telling that I measure time passing through milestones in the virtual space; from decade-long video game release schedules to re-watching favourite underground musicians blow up on social media. Though the internet may be a tool to create content and connect with people around the world, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that it is also the opposite. It is a mechanism through which people like me can be influenced and their identities formed and solidified.

About the author
Rafi Baboe is in his second year of a Law and Commerce degree at the University of Auckland. He enjoys a good brood and is an avid fan of musicians with less than 100 monthly listeners on Spotify.
Evolution of R&B

Just as your environment shapes your tastes and preferences, I contend that the opposite holds true, especially as it pertains to music. While my early musical choices were mere reflections of the people around me, the impression they had was nonetheless long-lasting. This playlist takes you through the musical influences that shaped the majority of my formative years.

About the author
An undergraduate student specialising in data science, Radi is in pursuit of a life arming global institutions with emerging technologies. He regards listening to RnB & Soul demigods like Daniel Caesar and Anderson .Paak as the most meditative of pastimes.