Editor's Note

Jayleen Serrano, editorial director
2021

It's been a harrowing 2021. A disorienting sequel to 2020's litany of challenges, it seems we cannot agree on anything. Instead, it often feels as though we are all running on different tracks expecting to arrive at a place of stability, some form of homeostasis.

Entropy is a measurement of chaos. The second law of thermodynamics posits that energy expended in a closed system cannot be recovered. Further, this axiomatic law asserts that entropy will always increase. Order will be eroded regardless of what we do to stop it. Entropy dictates nearly every facet of our reality. Flowers die; data rots. There is no way to uncrack an egg. This process replicates itself on both a micro and macro scale--and maximum entropy spells death.

Still with me? This outline of the end of the world can send even the most resilient of us into an existential despair. Indeed, these are dismal prospects. Cue negentropy.

Erwin Schrödinger, the esteemed Austrian physicist of Schrödinger's cat fame, proposed yet another paradox: negative entropy. A scientist well-known (and often begrudged) for his comparatively whimsical theories, he argued this was too simplistic, that consciousness is too enigmatic to be explained by any hard and fast law. In fact, he argued that organisms feed off of negative entropy (rather, free energy) and this is how we have circumvented doomsday equilibrium. He insisted humans were capable of reversing this process, of uncracking the metaphorical egg. His belief in the paradoxical nature of biological life propelled his dreamier ideas. I believe it can do the same for us.

In his own words: “Science cannot tell us a word about why music delights us, of why and how an old song can move us to tears.”

How do we measure our grief? How do we separate strawberry seed from flesh? Can we? Should we? In a world propelled by energy and disarray, this issue attempts to honor loss, memory, irreversibility, and the disordered order we try to grab ahold of.