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“Creating the Catalyst”: A Helpful Introduction to The Next Big Thing by Bailey Crawford.

Sometime in mid-February ’13, on the porch of a certain oddly out-of-place gothic cathedral, diligent eavesdroppers might have heard snippets of the following conversation:

  • “…Yeah, but we … we need something new. Something big, that will really get us going. Other people too, not just us.”
  • “Yeah, yeah, something that will really help to establish a sense of, um … community. That’s what we need, a community of writers, and readers, and thinkers, and a place to put them.”
  • “Something big.”
  • “Yeah.”
  • “It doesn’t look like anyone’s in the process of creating it.”
  • “Well,” (at which point they might have witnessed a sigh and a shrug, followed by a mischievous grin), “then I guess it’s up to us.”

I forget who said what, but it was this conversation that led to the website that you’re now reading, and it will probably lead to a lot of other wild projects before its course is run. That’s because the editors of the Cerebral Catalyst approach the task of writing and publishing the way that Superman might approach saving the world while zonked out on painkillers: reckless and wobbly, but bold and determined nonetheless. The Cerebral Catalyst is the brainchild of six ambitious writers – thrown together in an enthusiastic haze and thrust into the dangerous gaze of the world, just to see what will happen. I’ve been told that it’s morally wrong to view a child as an experiment, but this is just what the Cerebral Catalyst is: an experiment with a metaphorical child. It’s foolish for any parent to think that they know what their children will become, and while none of the august personages of our editorial board are parents, we can take a hint.

We don’t know what the Cerebral Catalyst will become; we can only start it up, guide it along, and see where it goes.

When you start a project like an independent literary magazine, people are likely to ask why (although most of us here are in the habit of coming up with wild schemes on a daily basis, and most of our friends and relations have gotten used to it). The simplest answer is that we needed to, for there aren’t enough things like what you’re reading right now: the big mainstream magazines are too stuffy, the little ones are too inaccessible, and most collegiate publications don’t publish often enough. The Cerebral Catalyst is a cheerful rebel of a magazine, and it’s long overdue. For starters, this isn’t some masturbatory inner-circle project bent on inside jokes and personal glory. It’s an attempt at creating a community. Sure, you’ll see the work of the editors within the pages of the Cerebral Catalyst, because they’re impossible to shut up. But you’ll see a lot of other people here; people who were beckoned, welcomed, or wandered in of their own accord. We like those kind of people. We’re especially fond of people who want to play along, because the truest aim of the Cerebral Catalyst is to fight against mental stagnation. The point, I think, is not to push any particular belief or to appeal to any particular demographic, but simply to keep playing around with ideas and trying out new things to see what happens. And just what does the title mean?

  1. Cerebrum: n. The largest part of the brain, serving to control voluntary movements and coordinate mental actions.
  2. Cerebral: adj. Characterized by the use of the intellect, rather than intuition or instinct.
  3. Catalyst: n. A person, thing, or idea that stimulates a reaction or change.
  4. Cerebral Catalyst = A stimulation of the mind.

It has begun. Now let’s see what we can do.