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ISSUE # 11

Magical Thinking is a term that, among other things, means the belief that one's own thoughts, wishes, or desires can influence the external world. Often times Magical Thinking can be a negative term, causing anxiety and leading to assumptions not based on fact (this is particularly problematic in our current political climate). But we’re interested in looking at Magical Thinking in a positive light. We’re exploring this as your gut. Looking for what lies beneath the surface of interactions with places, objects, and people, symbolism that affects our everyday, codes and keys that you absorb and use to navigate the world. Using your inner pull, your intuition, your instincts. That which is not firmly physically planted in reality, but that which you perceive, that which you know, emotionally, spiritually, psychically. To reference/think about:

  • “Mysticism, prophecy and the hidden life in a world of objective fact.” Fanny Howe (The Needle’s Eye)
  • Solitude and introspection
  • Astrology and/or symbols that we associate with ourselves, histories and mythologies that we tap into
  • This quote from Fiona Duncan’s interview with Ariana Reines for Editorial Magazine: “The emulsification we’re all experiencing—of mind, of gender, of body, of seasons, of climate, of traditions, of blood—everything is somehow in a process of mix and dissolution [...] Also, thinking that you know what you think—Mercury poisoning. I obsessively tell myself this process is necessary, and I obsessively wonder (and worry) what it leads to.” Thinking you know what you think is, in a sense, magical thinking
  • The benefits of accepting emotions as non-intellectual, and not marking emotions as less valuable/valid than intellectual thought. This quote from Kristin Dombek: “Sometimes if you intellectualize an emotional situation to yourself, you later will realize that the situation had a different reason than you thought it did.”
  • The way that our tastes/ what we like serve as stand-ins/short cuts to our personalities
  • Do you believe in fate or not? Coincidence? Something beneath it?
  • Karma, karmic debt (what you owe, what you put forward)
  • Trusting what you feel drawn to, analyzing what you feel drawn to
  • Roland Barthes describes a classical anatomical breakdown of the two parts of the body: superior-external: the head, artistic creation, noble appearance, that which can be shown, that which one ought to see. The other is “second is inferior-internal: sex, instincts, “impulses of the moment,” “the organic.”’ With Magic Thinking, we are interested in the second description, getting outside the head and into the body
  • Dreams, decoding them, how they spill over into daytime; dream journals, reoccurring dreams
  • Fantasies
  • Invisible forces that are at play in our world: politically, racially, socially
  • Internal spaces, bedrooms, apartments, studios and the way you arrange them and the way that affects the self
  • Internal spaces of thought - journals, notes, emails or text conversations. Tangible evidence of thoughts and introspection
  • The importance of spatial environments: how you respond emotionally city/town/country and it’s landscape/markers, whether it’s repulsion or attraction
  • The way places (like buildings, rooms, theatres, streets, houses etc.) hold specific meaning to you/to our culture (historically, for example) because they’re so associated with a specific incident
  • The idea that places have power, that you have to go somewhere in order to “start your life” like New York, a big city, abroad, etc.
  • This quote from Tony Kushner’s play Angels in America: “Maybe seeds will be planted, maybe there’ll be harvests then, maybe early figs to eat, maybe new life, maybe fresh blood, maybe companionship and love and protection, safety from what’s outside, maybe the door will hold.”
  • Conjuring events
  • The desert, and this excerpt from Joni Murphy’s Double Teenage: “Julie watched The Passenger, Badlands, Zabriski Point, Paris, Texas. These different deserts provoked the same feelings somehow. The more she read, the more she thought that for these artists the desert were not real places but voids to project onto [...] To them it envoked death and spiritual rebirth.”
  • Creating your own states of being for yourself. Kristin Dombek describes getting a confidence by looking within yourself and your interpretations as: To get a confidence that's not reliant upon other people completely but also isn't that isolated confidence [Joan] Didion prescribes to and Salinger's Franny [from Franny and Zooey] longs for, is through acknowledging that. You do things for other people, you get experiences, you interpret those experiences and you have to listen to other people's interpretations and you have to do that over and over again.
  • Hexes, spells, rituals (intentional or otherwise)
  •  Prayer. The neverending Orthodox prayer in Franny and Zooey. “The Jesus Prayer involves internalizing the prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me" to a point where, in a manner similar to a Zen koan, it becomes unconscious, almost like a heartbeat.”
  • Poetry and words as incantations, spells, counter-spells. Phrases or mottos that we cling to like spells, to counteract or enact things
  • Phases of the moon, its effects on people, the power it imbues
  • Traditions, superstitions, lucky charms - totems or actions one takes on. Crossing fingers, dirty socks/underwear, lucky dice, the last cigarette in a pack flipped over.
  • Repetition
  • Playing a character, having a certain perception of who you are/should be and in thinking so modify your surroundings to react in a way that follows that narrative. Wanting to be a dog person and then believing all cats hate you. Sabotaging certain relationships.
  • Greek mythology. The Renaissance's obsession with Greek mythology.
  • Louis XIV, the Sun King. Creating your own legend.
  • Pygmalion Effect: higher expectations lead to an increase in performance
  • Pygmalion the Greek myth: carved a statue of the perfect woman and fell in love with her (she then later becomes real through his prayers to Aphrodite)
  • Self-fulfilling prophecy: a positive or negative prophecy, strongly held belief, or delusion—declared as truth when it is actually false—may sufficiently influence people so that their reactions ultimately fulfill the once-false prophecy.
  • From Claire Dederer’s essay “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?”: This, I think, is what happens to so many of us when we consider the work of the monster geniuses—we tell ourselves we’re having ethical thoughts when really what we’re having is moral feelings.” - we often try to masquerade the difficult as intellectual when it is in fact, instinctual and emotional
  • The gendering of emotion


The visuals

  • Desert landscapes
  • Opal
  • Large and open terrain
  • Gradient
  • Pastels
  • Constellations
  • Phases of the moon
  • Cowboys, the costuming that makes up a cowboy
  • Melting metal (mercury)
  • Milky, haziness (air, water)
  • Old Tarot Cards
  • Colours: pastels: pink, yellow, blue, lavender, desert browns, inky blue, iridescence
  • Candles & Religious altars
  • Big colonial houses
  • Symbols and myths relating to all different cultures, including ones that are personal, that you’ve made up yourself




























  1. Frida Kahlo painting, The Two Fridays (1939)
  2. Delfine Belfort, The Witching Hour for Dazed (2013)
  3. Daria Hlazatova
  4. Willow Smith by Tyrone Lebon
  5. Maury Gortemiller
  6. Olivia Bee
  7. Ron Miller
  8. still from Brujas music video, Princess Nokia/Destiny Frasqueri
  9. still from film Mustang, directed by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
  10. Michael Tunk for Angel Olsen Sleepwalker EP
  11. Solange by Petra Collins
  12. Igor Pjörrt
  13. Nan Goldin
  14. still from The Florida Project directed by Sean Baker
  15. still from Paris, Texas directed by Wim Wenders
  16. Lex Morales
  17. still from Kill Bill directed by Quentin Tarantino
  18. Albert Aublet - Selene, 1880
  19. still from Paris, Texas
  20. Still from The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
  21. aura photo by Rose Aura (Toronto)
  22. still from Celine and Julie Go Boating directed by Jacques Rivette
  23. still from Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins
  24. Wangechi Mutu
  25. Mark Rubinstein
  26. Massimo Vitali
  27. Tateishi Tetsuomi - Spring, 1973


As per usual, if your photo is on this page and you've not been credited (from us being unable to find you) please email us ( so we can add your credit or remove the photo if that's what you wish!!!


Are you interested in having your work featured in Plasma Dolphin? Please keep in mind this issue is online! This means we accept multimedia contributions including videos, music, gifs, etc. Whatever that big brain of yours can think of.


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  • a short bio (1-3 sentences) about yourself
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Pitch to us ASAP. Final submissions will be due March 1st, but please message us by February 17th with process work/sketches for visual pieces so we have an idea of where the piece is heading. Written pieces go through an editing process so pieces of writing (unless they are exceptionally perfect) will not be accepted if sent on the due date with no pitch or progress work has been sent beforehand.


As you can read about in our About Us section, Plasma seeks to create a cohesive publication that has a consistent curated tone to it, while at the same time preserving and showcasing each contributors voice. Due to this, our process involves working closely with the editors on your piece. Please first send pitches before drafts! If your current pitch doesn't match with the current theme, you can re-pitch it for a later issue or talk to us about how you could re-work it to fit with the issue better. We're working towards making the best publication we possibly can and are excited to see what you come up with!

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