Comment, Prose

The Paradox of Tradition

by Zixin Jiang At Oriel Choir this term, we are trying to revive (or rather, revive the enforcement of) the tradition of wearing cassocks (those red things we wear) during rehearsals before a service. I knew this was something we were supposed to do, but I never really knew why. Apparently, the point is to […]

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Comment, Prose

A Word from the Editors: Tradition

by Michael Angerer Modernity is the central tenet of our age, which likes to classify itself as ‘post-modern’, ‘post-colonial’, and ‘post-truth’; we tend to look upon tradition as stuffy, out-dated, and generally irrelevant to what our everyday lives should be. As you might have guessed from the presence of this column, however, there is far […]

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Comment, Prose

How Revolutions Matter

by Martin Yip I was first introduced to Les Misérables in seventh-grade music class: whenever our music teacher had time to spare at the end of class, he would go on YouTube and play us clips of its musical adaptations. I was captivated, and when a few years later the film adaptation was released, I […]

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Comment, Prose

A Word from the Editors: Revolution

by Michael Angerer It is somewhat surprising – and then, perhaps not – that the word ‘revolution’ is in itself quite unconventional: it was adopted partly from French and partly from Latin (as the Oxford English Dictionary reliably informs us) and can ultimately be traced back to the Latin revolvere, meaning ‘to revolve’; and, indeed, […]

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Comment, Prose

To Those Who Are Not Revolutionaries

by Monim Wains To the ones who lead good lives that are completely unremarkable. Those who live happy and fulfilled without doing anything that seems significant. To the vast majority of you. Have we all failed? No. Of course not. But what does that mean? Why is it that when history is taught, and the […]

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Comment, Prose

Close Campsfield

by Joanna Engle Unknown to many, North Oxford is the home to one of the UK’s ten immigration removal centres. Campsfield opened in 1993 and its detainees have included refugees, asylum seekers, foreign national offenders, and ‘overstayers’.  All of them are held without charge, without a time limit, often without legal representation. Around 25,000 people […]

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Comment, Prose

Fortune – A Fresher’s Perspective

by Martin Yip Would you agree with the claim that all freshers are fortunate? Each year, about 3200 undergraduates are admitted to Oxford, which comes to a 17% admissions rate. That percentage is slated to decrease, as the number of applicants has been increasing over the last few years, while the number of places has […]

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Comment, Prose

A Word on Movember

by Michael Angerer This, dear readers, would usually be the place to share with you some etymological musings on the word ‘spark’. Usually, we might inform you that according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it rather unremarkably derives from Old English spearca, meaning ‘a small particle of fire’; and that, more interestingly, it eventually also […]

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Comment, Prose

A Word from the Editors: Fantasy

by Michael Angerer The beauty of Fantasy – and, in part, the reason why it was chosen as this issue’s theme – is both how varied its meanings can be and how close they ultimately are to the etymological root of the word. A quick glance at the Oxford English Dictionary, preferably in its handy […]

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Comment, Culture, News, Prose

The Art of the Teal

by Amanda Higgin Xanda and I are on the bus heading from my home town into Oxford. The skies outside are grey, a welcome cool after months of heat. I’m wearing jeans for the first time since June! A few seats in front of us, I spot Boris Johnson’s scruffy form on the front page […]

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Comment, Prose

In Search of Safe Passage

The Psycho-Social Implications of the EU-Turkey Deal on Greek Islands. by Jacob Warn At the edges of Europe, there are borders you can cross, borders you cannot cross, and borders you may cross if you so wish, and to which you may or may not return. If you’re seeking refuge in Europe, the chances are […]

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Comment, Prose

Two Red Lines, Crossed

by Amanda Higgin Xanda and I have met up in my home town for lunch, since she’s passing by on her travels. It’s a typical, fairly rural town full of commuters and old people, without much left to tell you that it used to be the second largest city in the country after London. I […]

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Comment, Culture, Prose

Fragm[entary t]houghts

by Caroline Ball Imagine yourself years from now, when by a freak coincidence all recordings of the Star Wars films have been lost. All that survives are brief extracts…from the prequels. Sounds horrifying? I’m only just getting started. Not only have you lost 90% of the original material, but no single surviving clip is longer […]

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Comment, Prose

A Piece of Equality

by Michael Angerer Political efforts to improve equality or diversity have a tendency to meet with fierce opposition from those who fear sudden changes; it is such fears of seeing the world spin out of control that have fuelled the rise of Donald Trump, Brexiters and European right-wing parties. Their policies have one thing in […]

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Comment, Prose

Hallowed Be Thy Name

by Amanda Higgin As I come into the chapel, I click open the hidden panel in the woodwork above the hymnals and flip on the lights. In this weather it’s more of a habit than a need; the summer sun already illuminates the checkerboard floor tiles, the familiar wooden pews and the soaring space above. […]

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Comment, Prose

The Worth of Values

by Michael Angerer In recent political discourse, it has become commonplace to emphasise shared values whenever the more difficult questions regarding national identity and social cohesion are raised; for example, in continental Europe, the phrase ‘Christian values’ is almost bound to fall in the context of immigration from Islamic countries. Broadly speaking, there tend to […]

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Comment, Prose

Roughly Elementary

by Michael Angerer The City of Oxford has a sad reputation for its particularly high number of homeless people; according to city council data, 61 rough sleepers were recorded in 2017, up from 33 in 2016. At the beginning of February this year, the city council had to activate its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol in […]

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Comment, Culture, Prose

Slow Travel: Colonised by Capitalism

by Tobias Thornes It was with some regret that I set out again to sea, and left the magical island and its comforting solidarity in exchange for days and nights sliding across the empty waves. This time, though, my journey was to be much shorter than before, and it wasn’t long I had to wait […]

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Comment, Prose

Potential Power

by Michael Angerer Our life in a modern state is made comfortable by our trust in the power of its institutions: we know that administrative difficulties are not our problem, but that of the civil service; the presence of the police makes it so much less likely that we will have to defend ourselves against […]

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Comment, Culture, Prose

Meme Analysis: Expectation vs. Reality

by Emma Gilpin “Expectation vs. Reality” is a classic meme, one that has achieved its success through the relatability of its wry analysis of the sometimes seemingly unrelenting disappointments of modern life. The internet is a strange, ethereal space where we are able to connect with people who have similar, or wildly different, interests and […]

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Comment, Prose

Dissonance Management

by Michael Leong I’ve been meditating again recently; 10 minutes a day is a relatively low cost for a sense of having dedicated time and space to take care of myself. One exercise I’ve always struggled with is visualisation – imagining a ball of light at the top of your head, sending warm, spacious sunlight […]

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Comment, Music, Prose

The Sound of Instability

by Lauren Hill Dissonance pervades our world. Tensions and conflict can tear apart the perceived stability of our lives, shifting harmony and order into a harsh cacophony of sound.  In relation to psychology, cognitive dissonance can be explained as the inner mental conflict which results from simultaneously holding contradictory and incongruous beliefs; in order to […]

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Comment, Prose

Pleasant Discord

by Michael Angerer It seems that the most desirable thing to achieve in life is harmony – that is, at least according to many religions and a sizeable number of personal coaches. Your life is supposed to run along like a well-crafted symphony: all dissonances are to be resolved at the end. That is also […]

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Comment, Prose

Slow Travel: Rich Lands

by Tobias Thornes It was nearing summer in the Northern Hemisphere when my boat at long last docked, but somewhere along the way we had slipped imperceptibly into the South, and – for now at least – winter was setting in around me for the second time in six months. I didn’t know it then, […]

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Comment, Diary, Prose

The Sound of Sheer Silence

by Amanda Higgin Xanda and I, reluctantly and rushed by timetables, exchange our goodbyes a few times in between final parting witticisms. I really do have to go!’ She laughs, ‘Bye!’, and with a click of her mouse and a low bee-doop Xanda disappears from my laptop screen. I lean back in my chair, still chuckling […]

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Comment, Prose

Current Narratives

by Michael Angerer To us, narrow-minded land-dwellers that we are, the sea has for millennia been the great unknown, the Other, a fear to be overcome. Even now, in the age of submarines and recreational scuba-diving, it has managed to remain enigmatic: it is one of those so-called interesting facts that less than five percent […]

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Comment, Prose

Making a Move into a Movement

by Amanda Higgin Xanda and I sit at a coffee shop window overlooking Cornmarket, exchanging forecasts for the term ahead as we warm our hands around drinks. Xanda is drinking green tea; I’m in dire straights with my collections revision, so I’m on coffee. I’ve been complaining about the need to make life choices, although […]

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Comment, Diary, Prose

Love Note to Oxford

by Shirley Russell I suppose it should come as no surprise that I’ve fallen completely in love with you. After all, this is a return and not an introduction. I’ve seen you before; I’ve seen your spires and your streets and your narrow little lanes and cosy coffee shops. I’ve been in your libraries and […]

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Comment, Prose

Slow Travel: The Vanity of Man

by Tobias Thornes How curious it is, my friends, that my memories should remain so vivid of the far distant journeys that I made so many decades ago. I have now recalled to you that first happy adventure I had, in the long-ago summer of 2017, which so piqued my yearning for exploration and magnified […]

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Comment, Prose

What You Think Will Happen

by Michael Angerer Every ending is an invitation to look forward. As we move through time, the impenetrable murk ahead, like infinite layers of cobwebs, resolves into wispy strands of memory that trail behind us; and with every new layer we brush aside, we hope to get a glimpse of the next. This, ultimately, is […]

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Comment, Culture, Prose

Becoming Vulnerable

by Michael Leong It is 3am now. A couple of us had been playing ice hockey; afterwards, JJ and I retired to my room and decided to plan next term’s Oxford Mental Health Support Network launch over a couple of beers. Our conversation returned, as it tends to do, to the people we’re hoping to […]

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Comment, Diary, Prose

Slow Travel: A Journey to Remember

by Tobias Thornes The representative of the Vietnamese travel company was most apologetic. ‘We could not get your ticket to Beijing,’ she said. ‘Only to Nanning. You can buy the Beijing ticket in Nanning. We will refund your Beijing ticket.’ So that was that. It was nine o’clock at night; the Nanning train would leave […]

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Comment, Prose

The Symbolism of Poppies

by Cora MacGregor Each November fresh controversies arise regarding the Remembrance poppy. These ostensibly emerge out of individual cases or concerns particular to the present day: the expectation for public figures to wear a poppy, how to reconcile this with the demands for neutrality, and fears over the potential for slimy politicians to exploit the […]

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Comment, Creative Writing, Prose

How to Write Yourself a Past 

by Michael Angerer Our memories are the stories that we tell ourselves: to remember is to scribble in faint pencil across the fabric of our lives. When inspiration strikes – a light across the ceiling, the warmth of a bed, a cup of tea – we conjure up an image of the past that neatly […]

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Comment, Diary, Prose

Slow Travel: Soul of a Nation

by Tobias Thornes Through the green heart of Thailand we had rushed, where the hills erupt like forested thimbles or rounded dice scattered across the plain: a mesmerising memory of a land where Earth still stores some beleaguered secrets amidst her lofty nooks. The train snipped the undergrowth, charging over little-serviced rails. Yet, sluggish seemed […]

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Comment, Prose

The Power of Music

by Josh Cottell ‘Music can shine light into places where nothing else can reach.’ James Rhodes seems to sum up my thoughts exactly. A pianist by profession, his 2014 autobiography describes his journey through an abusive childhood leading to a tough relationship with mental health. His journey is certainly an inspiration to anyone, yet it […]

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Comment, Culture, Prose

Gaps

by Amanda Higgin On the last day of Summer Eights, Oriel’s first crew walks away from the river exhausted and a little disappointed. A couple of promising bumps in the first races were followed by a few uneventful row-overs, leaving them the fourth boat on the river. Close enough to take the headship next year, […]

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