Sublevel – Devoted to the nexus of literature, poetics, art, criticism, philosophy, culture, & politics.

Kiki Kogelnik, detail from Hanging, 1970. Acrylic, sheet vinyl and hangers on canvas. Courtesy of the Kiki Kogelnik Foundation. 

This is our Speculative issue.

As we see it, to speculate is to call into question not only what could be, but: what is, might be, or might have been. Within the eight features of our magazine, we will explore: the defamiliarizing of the familiar as a crucial tactic for investigating reality; how science fiction, fantasy, and horror not only pervade media but influence collective political and social efforts; the ways in which new technologies are pushing us toward a slippage of communication, dislodging language from reality; the space that the speculative and speculation provide for an intersection of academics and autodidacts alike; how speculation has shaped, and continues to shape, the current economic climate, specifically in relation to Los Angeles.

Myths, folktales, “what ifs,” and ideas of the unreal have informed our understandings of ourselves throughout our history. The vastness of speculation draws us in, causes confusion that feels intoxicating and creates a space for hyperbole and fantasy that feel less and less unfamiliar. It is through this very interrogation—of the impossible—that we continue to discover what is, in fact, possible. In this issue, we are not offering solutions, or at least not solutions that make sense. We are observing the impact, use, and character of the imagination on culture and, as a result, on our own psyches. When we think of the speculative, not only are we thinking about what could be—we’re questioning the validity of what’s happening now. We create new shapes, imagine hidden doors. Its potency is in its relevance.