I haven’t been in much of a surrendering mood lately, though I’m sure that I thought of surrender as an intriguing and plausible emotion when we first settled on the theme of Uncle for this issue. Art certainly doesn’t exist without a measureable degree of total surrender—some vulnerability, some reckless courage or deep intimacy to offset the controlling device that makes form out of nothing. Families too are born from nothing, and built on indelible bonds—kinship, lineage, blood, love, dependency. Indelible bonds that get tested and twisted, frayed, diminished. You can’t choose your family but the bonds between you stand.

The issue we’re putting before you is about family and power struggles, about playground tactics, and world domination. Uncle is about newlyweds and the presidential election, about what shakes you up and what you settle for. There are no families without grudges and regrets, almost none of which can’t be settled by a deathbed. First love has echoes of psychosis—we might as well say it out loud because it’s true. Old love is some magical balance of surrender and secrets. Time outlasts politics and our world, this world, is bigger than a clock. That’s why Uncle starts with poetry about CNN and ends with love songs so old and shrouded that no one knows who wrote them.

It may sound like I’m describing a hodgepodge but there’s an order to this system, a chaotic web of influence and relations. Read carefully, lest you get stuck.