My name is Eric Jennings, and I am the sole editor of Exist Otherwise. On this site, I go by cc bovarisme, not as a way to mask my identity but just because I like pseudonyms. I also publish under the name Erwin Dink. My credentials are non-existent. I am nobody. I might be you. My background is in theatre and performance. My day job is graphic design and website building. I am a yoga instructor with three different certifications.
As a 63 year old cis-hetero white male, I recognize my privilege and acknowledge limitations to speak on topics outside my personal experience. I am also a survivor of CPTSD as a result of childhood sexual victimization, as well as physical and emotional abuse. I am on the Board of Directors of Silenced by Stigma, and I am a volunteer with MenHealing, whose healing retreats for male survivors were instrumental in my recovery.
I want this journal to be as open and sensitive to queer and marginalized communities as possible. I invite and encourage anyone to contact me with any questions or concerns. I am open to being challenged and always willing to learn and grow. Contact Me.
Why Claude Cahun?
It’s reasonable to ask why I have chosen to model this journal after a gender-conforming lesbian woman (more about that label below). I discovered Claude Cahun just a couple of years ago while researching women photographers. Why women? Why not? I don’t need to tell anyone that women artists have often been overlooked, sidelined, and ignored by history. As a long time student of the arts I have also always appreciated work that is outside of the mainstream. Fringe and marginal artists are often the most exciting for me, as was the case with Cahun.
It was Cahun’s self portraits that first struck me because they remind me of some of my own self-portraits. (at the time I was feeling insecure about being the focus of my own photos so I felt validated by their work) I also share their background and interest in photography, theatrical performance, and writing. So they have become a personal muse for me, as an artist. Cahun’s identity as a woman who defied social norms was also inspiring for me. As a person who has struggled with mental illness and childhood trauma I have always felt like a social misfit.
Cahun was born Lucy Schwob and first used the name Claude Cahun for their writing, and then photography. As far as I know, Cahun did not call herself a lesbian, homosexual, or even gender-nonconforming (if there was an equivalent expression in their time). Their lifetime partner and artistic collaborator also used an assumed name, Marcel Moore (they were born Suzanne Malherbe). Both names, Claude and Marcel, were ambiguous at the time, and could be either male or female. This makes clear that they weren’t presenting as male, but were choosing to not be bound by gender.
Shuffle the cards. Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me.~ Claude Cahun.
Cahun and Moore were also both activists in the French Resistance, even having spent time imprisoned for their artistic propaganda. There is much about them that should be inspiring to anyone. I highly recommend the book whose title I appropriated for this project, “Exist Otherwise,” by Jennifer L. Shaw.
We are interested in works about identity, the self, and the personal. How do we, as unique individuals, navigate a world that doesn’t necessarily conform to us? What does it mean to be an individual in a society?
How many are you? Are you a single person with a single identity, or do you have the capacity to embody multiple personas? How do you present yourself to the world? To your friends? Co-workers? Lovers? Are you even you?
We are curious about gender. What is it? How can we move away from the restrictions inherent in gender duality? How important is our gender to our sense of self? Is gender fixed, fluid, or subject to change? Why is gender important? Is it?
Trauma & Recovery
What hardships have you endured? How have they shaped you? In particular, how have they shaped your sense of self? What obstacles or challenges have you overcome? What obstacles stand in your way? How has society pushed you down, and how have you gotten back up? Have you gotten back up? If not, what do you seek or need to be whole?
Please alert us up front if any content you submit may be potentially triggering, for any reason.
Why write? Why take photographs? Where does the artistic impulse come from? Does art have a purpose beyond its existence? Is it self-expression? If not, then what is it?
Intuition & Dreams
What are they? Where do they come from? Are these two phenomena related? Do they inform or influence you or your work? Are they integral to your survival as a human being?
We are not heavily invested in categories, forms, or formats. In fact, we like work that makes us go, “huh?” We use the categories: poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, essay, and script loosely. Mix it up. We will consider visual poetry, photography that incorporates text, or other kinds of mash-up. Think otherwise!
How to Submit
Please go to Submissions. If you have already read that page, you can skip directly to our Submission Form.