Strange Things I Believed as a Child:
That a subtle numerological code in C.S. Lewis’s “The Magician’s Nephew” gave precise instructions on how to enter Narnia.
That Queen Latifah had relinquished her throne to follow her passion for acting.
That I would find an intact velociraptor skeleton if I dug enough holes in the background.
That Anon was an incredibly prolific author who, like Madonna, Michelangelo and Bono, had decided to go by only one name.
I never did find that passage to Narnia, but not all of my childhood delusions are ridiculous and implausible. Anon is indeed quite prolific. For artists dabbling in the highly personal or controversial, a cloak of anonymity provides freedom. It can give oppressed groups the ability to share their voice; Virginia Woolf “ventured to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.” Similarly, some have argued that the author of Hamlet used the pen name “William Shakespeare” to escape the censor. In fact, filmmakers anticipated this edition of the Cipher when they named their Shakespeare conspiracy movie “Anonymous.”
In this issue of Cipher magazine, student writers–both named and unnamed–dissect issues of anonymity. When a student disappears on a class hiking trip, one writer reflects on how even our closest friends can become invisible, page 9. Later, a student researches the plight of Canadian First People and the difficulty of discussing indigenous rights, page 48. One artist, page 28, uses the medium of the comic strip to illustrate the legacy we leave behind when we die, and on page 39, an anonymous writer reflects on a four-year Colorado College career of loneliness.
Agree or disagree. Tear up this magazine or post rave reviews on CC Confessions. Writers can take pen names, but only the reader is truly anonymous. You might pick up a discarded, ketchup-stained Cipher under a table in Rastall, or you might devour these pieces while procrastinating in Tutt during fourth week. You might even find yourself reading this letter from behind a computer screen. Regardless, your identity is veiled, and you are free to anonymously read and react.
-Anna Cain and the Cipher editors
Art by Walker Walls-Tarver