Ideas Come and Go
Ideas come & go; yet some stubbornly remain lodged in your mind and, for good or bad, eventually they become concrete.
“Many of the options we face in life are ‘mixed’, there is a risk of loss and an opportunity for gain, and we must decided whether to accept the gamble or reject it.” This is a quote from Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking, Fast and Slow’. When I came across this statement, it chimed with me for its ‘yes-&-no-ness’.
And so it goes with ideas. Daily, a thousand and one ideas pop into our minds at the rate of knots. How is it possible to judge a good idea from a bad one? Are we able to capture any one of these good ideas and acts on it? If so, is it an act of self control? It’s easy to go about one’s business from day to day without ever really knowing what would come of a simple idea.
In September 2016, I came up with the idea to create a magazine. I had had no prior experience in magazine publishing or editing. All I had was the idea to make a magazine that I wanted to read. At that moment I hadn’t even come up with a title…
Eighteen months later YES & NO was for sale on newsstands in the UK, Germany, and the US.
On the eve of going to press in March 2017, I tried to encapsulate the original idea of what I wanted to do in my first Editor’s Letter. Though, I had a vague idea of what it was I wanted to do, it nevertheless wasn’t an easy letter to write.
And so, I’m re-producing it here as an experiment to test the core of my initial idea, to see if my thoughts about the concept then are the same now.
(Note: a facsimile of YES & NO Issue 1 can be downloaded through the App).
The letter below may not be exactly as it appears in the first YES & NO, but, as my musician brother-in-law always says, it’s close enough for jazz:—
London, March 2017
Culture in the 21st century. What has it become? The past is clear-sh, but there’s a feeling of uncertainty about the future; indeed about the present. It’s certain the world is changing before our eyes. The same was also true in 1840 when Alexis de Tocqueville stated “new realities are impending”. There’s nothing new under the sun. That is apart from Yes & No.
A quarterly magazine that reflects today’s new realities, Yes & No is a tonic, and its goal is to inspire while shining a light on the magnificently paradoxical world we live in. It’s a celebration of life — urban and rural.
While all media is being steadily nudged towards total digitisation, the task of bringing Yes & No to fruition in print has been nothing if not monumental. This achievement could not have been realised without the help of the many individuals listed under the masthead. They were the first to believe in the project, and in me. To them, and countless others, I am forever grateful.
A turning point in the perception of reality itself started with Brexit and was consolidated with the 2016 US Presidential Election. These events came as a shock to most — but not to all. Whichever way you look at it, last year was a real humdinger. The fate of the future now seems to be in the balance; how it plays out is anyone’s guess. Originally back in 2015 my intention was to create a magazine for me. It’s now obvious that actually I’m not alone. This journey has made me realise that in its own way Yes & No is in fact symbolic of a tiny spark of a cultural counter-attack on the unmistakable political dilemma that is ‘Yes OR No’. A ‘Yes & No’ Generation is emerging, and the ‘&’ says it all.
In these puzzling times, who needs the distraction of conspiracy theories when around every corner awe and wonder await? Yes & No isn’t just a magazine, it’s a movement of the imagination, a mouthpiece to promote creativity, critical thinking, and abstract thought.
Have you ever had that feeling of dissatisfaction when things aren’t quite as good as you want — and expect — them to be? You can’t put your finger on the whys and the wherefores, but you wonder, am I really the only person who feels this way? And in society you search out like-minded people with whom to relate, stick together and transform that negative feeling into something positive and concrete, something better than a niggling suspicion.
Yes & No won’t try to tell you anything. It asks rather that you use the power you have to reason. If you’re looking for information, pick up a book, or — whether it be ‘true’ or ‘false’ — jump online and scan the ‘inter-web’. The pages of Yes & No are more likely to raise questions than offer answers. They won’t tell you what you should think, dictate what you should wear, see, and so on. The angle, if I may describe it as such, is to open up a two-way dialogue — an evolving conversation between the content and you. You have an opinion, and if Yes & No tells you anything, it is, why not be creative and express your opinions to the benefit of others? It’ll probably make you feel good. Perhaps this all sounds a little idealistic? To the cynics I say, we’re all in it together. What’s the harm in thinking positively about the future, banding together and doing something about it?
“There is a Chinese curse which says, ’May he live in interesting times.’ Like it or not we live in interesting times. They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men and women, [my addition in italics] than any other time in history.” This quote is lifted from a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1967. Who alive today can deny the appropriateness of the statement? ‘We’re living in interesting times’ all right.
Never has the truth of this expression appeared so naked to so many. Not everyone believes this to be a Chinese proverb — or curse. No matter — these are historic times, and you don’t have to be an historian or grand old business-man — or woman — to know it. I believe it is through culture that we can make sense of confusing world events; culture borne out of the creative spirit. Creative energy takes many forms. To follow are a few first edition high-lights.
The Yes & No cover story spotlights Hollywood director Sam Taylor-Johnson. Her first in depth interview since the release of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, Taylor-Johnson met with yours truly in New York City where we recorded three one-hour conversations during last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. This is her story in her own words. Champagne Taittinger Heiress and mother of four, Vitalie is the great-granddaughter of the Champagne House’s Founder. I met with her twice in Reims and she spoke to me about her family’s heroic history and their mission to continue the tradition of excellence in everything they do. Chicago-based photographer Sandro Miller talks about collaborating with his muse of 20 years, actor & designer John Malkovich—described by the New York Times as one of [Tinseltown’s] most clever shape-shifters.
In ‘Digital Human Dilemma’ new technology expert, Kevin Williams, administers a somewhat bitter pill to swallow as he reflects on the escalation of smart tech and how it is permeating every fibre of modern Man—from life to death. Recent studies show that more than half of young British men and women don't feel in control of their lives; feelings of self worth are at their lowest levels. In ‘Power & The Self’, one of the UK’s leading Life Coaches, Rasheed Ogunlaru, reminds us about the vulnerability of the human psyche and the growing obsession we have with mindfulness. Continuing the theme of health and well-being, but focusing on the body, Dr Laura Waters talks us through the bare facts about blood-borne viruses. ‘Bloody Viruses’ is an eye-opening two-part article that begins with an exploration of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
Three pieces of experimental writing are presented. LSD-fuelled sexual encounters, the meaning of ‘Scenius’ coined by Brian Eno, and a meditation on ‘&’ the ampersand, these texts are written by Duncan Fallowell, Finlay Clark, and Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, respectively. They show just how divers and out there plain thinking can be, while pointing to a wonderful like-mindedness of individuals living and working in different places and different times; very Yes & No!
Nosh & Gulp is the regular segment on the things we eat and drink. ‘The Taittinger Method’ gives insights into how the Champagne House creates its “distinctive, modern” taste. A companion piece to the Taittinger feature, it also complements the Yes & No Seasonal Menu inaugurated by two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr of famed noshery Le Gavroche, which marks its 50th anniversary this year. Roux Jr tantalises the tastebuds with three gorgeous recipes for a complete meal. Why not try out the mouthwatering appetiser, main course, and dessert in the comfort of your own kitchen? Roux Jr even recommends what wines to drink with each course. Creating a meal at home for family and friends can be most rewarding; the fine dining experience makes it extra special.
Yes & No puts the creative mind front and centre. It holds up a cultural mirror to reflect the eclectic yet fragile world while asking: what, how, why, where, and when? If you think the magazine doesn’t accurately satisfy this mission, then I’d be grateful if you would kindly let me know. Tell me what you like—perhaps more importantly, what you don’t like—and how you think we can improve the magazine and do things better. As I say, it’s about a dialogue with you.
Yes & No is a platform for ideas; a forum for discussion about dreams and fears and everything in between. Write to me personally at the address below and tell me about the stories and subjects that interest you, or get you angry, or make you feel good about yourself and happy—happiness and joy can’t only be about kittens doing cute things on social media! Visit magazineyesandno.com to see what we get up to in between issues, and why not be among the first to join us on Insta; we can’t boast about having many followers yet—this is only just the beginning of the journey…
The time has come for some serious fun. But, to paraphrase Bette Davis’s Margo Channing in ‘All About Eve’, you’d better fasten your seat belts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!
Found & Editor In Chief