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Happy are those ages when the starry sky is the map of all possible paths — ages whose paths are illuminated by the light of the stars. Everything in such ages is new and yet familiar, full of adventure and yet their own. The world is wide and yet it is like a home, for the fire that burns in the soul is of the same essential nature as the stars; the world and the self, the light and the fire, are sharply distinct, yet they never become permanent strangers to one another, for fire is the soul of all light and all fire clothes itself in light. 

—From The Theory of the Novel, Georg Lukács, 1920

Executive Order 13769 bars entry into the United States to citizens of predominantly Muslim countries. Prototypes for a southern border wall are in production. Marriage restrictions, bathroom bills and other attacks on IX, not to mention the rising visibility of white supremacism, all represent the attempt to silo in fear in the face of change.

And yet, we are so close to not being strangers. It is possible today for almost anyone to share ideas with almost anyone else instantaneously, anytime, anywhere – virtually for free. The ability to develop online social networks architected the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street. Grindr is being utilized not just for hookups, but also to connect refugees.

Communication is survival. We share information and tell each other stories to forge a common culture. But while the echo-chamber of contemporary mass media reinforces the common, it is precisely the inclusion of “foreign elements” that precipitates the growth of culture. It is not enough to tell and retell the same stories ad nauseum. The stories have to change, and we have to change with them.

Nowhere is the crisis of common culture more obvious than Miami, a port city that has, throughout its history, both invited and suppressed dialogue among diverse people: pleasure seekers, refugees, artists, and fugitives. With this in mind, Issue 22 of The Miami Rail documents shared wisdoms, oral narratives and unreliable memories, from individuals who are shaping new cultures as they move through them. In these short stories, poems, commentaries and conversations, Miami reveals itself as a restless petri dish of critical exchange and growth. A family. A home. And a brief moment of communion between light and fire.

Alexandra Cunningham Cameron

Editor in Chief