Letter from the editor - Obvious


Usually, I would have written this days ago. And I did, actually. But here I am now, alone in the publications house on a Monday afternoon, holding up the entire publication process because there was a fairly embarrassing mistake in the one I drafted this weekend. 

That letter started: “At the beginning of this year, I wrote a letter from the editor in which I announced the Cipher’s 20th anniversary. There was one glaring error in that letter’s announcement. The 2016-17 school year does not mark the Cipher’s 20th anniversary. The first issue came out December 1997, making this year the 19th year of Cipher.”

You might have noticed that there is a glaring error in that statement of glaring error. Even though the magazine did first publish in December ’97, making the ’97-’98 school-year the inaugural one, this year was still the 20th. (Here was the illustration I needed before I took my co-editors’ word for it: ‘98, ‘99, ‘00, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, ‘10, ‘11, ‘12, ‘13, ‘14, ‘15, ‘16, ’17.)

The letter I was going to write, the one about the (now-disproved) misprint, proceeded to descend into a self-indulgent play on the phrase “obvious issue”—the “obvious issue” being the issue of having issued so many issues featuring such an obvious issue. But five seconds of counting on your fingers confirm that that was never actually an issue. You would check that before starting to write that letter, right? Obviously. 

Well, not to me.

My own travails aside, we’re proud to present the last magazine of our 20th anniversary. This issue is full of articles about issues, obvious and not-so-obvious alike. Many have to do with the college: Drew Turley’s commentary on CC’s incomplete pursuit of diversity (p.42), Maggie O’Brien’s report on the history of CC’s messy relationship with human remains (p.16), Nathan Makela’s profile of Rashna Singh and the liminal experience of visiting professors (p.32), and an anonymous personal-narrative about the alienating side of CC’s hook-up culture. Many articles have nothing to do with the college: Andrew Braverman on the unnerving theory that our lives are complex computer simulations (p. 38), Ethan Cutler’s profile of an old-world violin maker who operates out of a Tejon St. alley (p. 48) and Rebecca Twinney’s report on local Sasquatch enthusiasts who have (apparently) sighted the creature atop Pikes Peak. And one piece escapes definition: Jackson Truesdale’s article about, um, his article? (p. 36)

Of course, this letter wouldn’t be complete without a few end-of-the-year thanks. To the editors we hired this year—Catherine Sinow, Sara Fleming, Britta Lam, Jackson Truesdale and Andrew Braverman—and to our new Editor-in-Chief, Ethan Cutler: I think of you all as family and it’s been incredible making these seven issues with you. To the wonderful staff at Cutler Publications—Steve Hayward, Karen West and Liz Forster: Thank you for supporting us, advising us and being fantastic, friendly people along the way. And, dearest to my heart, to our two departing editors, Maddie Pillari and Anna Cain: It’s been so wonderful working with you two. You’ve both made me a better writer and a better editor, and I know all of the other editors and writers you’ve worked with would say the same. I’m confident you’ll both go far; I can’t wait to see where. 

Last but not least, thank you to our readers. To end on an obvious but true cliché, we do it all for you. And we hope you enjoy.


Nathan Davis and the Cipher Editors


Part of the Obvious issue