October 22, 2004

Public Journal Explores Private Life

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Politics, fiction, poetry. These three subjects are the bastion of current collegiate literature and the only topics that Jonah Green ’06 and Dylan Greif ’06 ever encountered in the multitude of student-published magazines distributed across campus each semester. Disenchanted with the lack of individuality and personal expression in print, Green and Greif founded a publication that lets students communicate to the world exactly what they are thinking, scheming and feeling.

Green’s and Greif’s work, the Public Journal, serves as an antidote for that closed-off, lost-in-the-crowd sentiment that often pervades a place as large as Cornell. It is a medium that allows people to open up and self-indulge in the normal yet unspoken experiences that humans endure on a daily basis. The magazine’s title was conceived from the simplistic notion that it was to be analogous to a private journal, one normally kept in the confines of an undisclosed location but now made accessible to the masses.

The collection of stories in the magazine encompasses a wide range of themes, including sexual encounters; depression and loneliness; relationships with parents and pure streams of consciousness. Submissions are not judged on the basis of content. Rather, they are selected only for the depth of their sincerity and intimate nature.

Green views the publication as “a magazine of honest expression, where the authors are concerned only with themselves as subjects, to confess and reveal everything they want to, but for some reason feel they can’t.”

In order to avoid the repetition of many literary magazines whose format remains constant with every issue, the Public Journal has developed a distinctive layout. Rather than accompanying each piece with its creator’s name, the journal utilizes a contributors page in which all authors are noted, but not linked with their narrative. As a result, individuals submitting stories remain semi-anonymous and have few qualms about sharing their revealing, often-embarrassing accounts with hundreds of readers. Many contributors feel that there is a definite catharsis involved with revealing personal information to a captive audience. Greif explained that students “are looking for an outlet other than EARS.”

The Journal’s inaugural edition was circulated last spring in select colleges throughout the University. As the demand was greater than expected, the next edition will publish at the end of November with twice as many copies available.

Another project Green and Greif are working on is the Little Public Journal, which will be a smaller version of the Public Journal that can be released on a more frequent basis. The theme its first issue will be the awkward state of 12-year-olds. It will consist of actual journals from children, as well as from contributors who were able to unearth their journals from that time in their lives.

As a means of attracting publicity and gathering stories for upcoming issues, the Public Journal will have a table, chairs and a few half-filled journals set up on the Arts Quad today. The editors encourage any students who may be in the vicinity to take a seat, grab a pen and reflect for a couple minutes on their recent experiences and thoughts. “We believe this form of self-concern is healthy, [and] in fact should be mandatory,” Green said.

Archived article by Rachel Weiss
Sun Contributor