DUST Issue 23 Editor’s Letter
In contemporary discourse, a concept like Victory has long become outdated. Or rather, it has turned into a tired rhetoric that falls short of addressing the intricate power dynamics and the tangled narratives that shape our current landscape. As terms like Victory and Defeat became increasingly subjective and contextual in our postmodern era, their opposition seems to have blurred, and the traditional concept of Victory, with its connotations of dominance and superiority, has faced scrutiny, deconstruction, and ultimately been discarded as obsolete—a relic from a bygone era.
However, we are not there anymore. The Russian military invasion of Ukraine, in flagrant violation of international law, has shattered the illusion of the world we thought we inhabited and brought us back to a harsh reality, one in which the war in Europe remains a haunting possibility; the line between aggressors and victims is again unequivocal, and the word Victory has once again taken centre stage, and it is longed for more than ever before. What appears evident today is that Ukraine’s resistance is reshaping the very notion of Victory before our eyes.
From once being a hollow and empty concept, Victory has now regained its essence as a heartfelt aspiration that, today, we deeply hold for Ukraine, for Europe, and for the very idea of democracy itself.
In light of these circumstances, we would like to reflect on this term and make it ours, embrace it while redefining and understanding what Victory could mean today. What position do we want it to have in contemporary discourse? Can Victory represent a personal and generational perspective that extends to every aspect of our lives in the present in which we are living?
From the broad to the specific, we’d like to think that today, Victory takes the form of a profound conviction, a driving force that propels us to strive and reach forward. A commitment that goes beyond mere external achievements and transcends into a journey defined by self-discovery and empowering breakthroughs.
Victory is what happens after we knock down the barriers that limit us, and we stop acting out of a sense of inadequacy. Victory means thinking the unthinkable and reaching the unreachable. It is an attitude that demands a relentless pursuit of self-awareness and self-mastery—a commitment to surpassing our obstacles and defying the current reality and the status quo.
There can be no victory without the audacity to break free from our burdens and rather focus on the very aspects of our condition, even the most minor, that can establish a pattern leading towards that Victory.
When the mind alone cannot solve its own problems, it is through self-love and self-acceptance that we can seize control over our own destiny. Victory is a process that demands trust and takes root in practice. As comparison and self-doubt have no place in this narrative, Victory belongs to those who stop trying to conform because, within Victory, they have already found their own perspective.
On an intimate and even spiritual level, how can this be translated? We don’t subscribe to the concept that a spiritual Victory should be over the egoic self that keeps us entangled in desires and material attachments. Instead, we prefer to think about it as the ability to embrace and, at the same time, transcend it, as our Victory is a dance between earthly existence and our higher essence that, more than ever, urges to be addressed. Do we have the mental capacity and energy to hold them both, finding our distinctive way through the world’s mediocrity? Can we break through expectations and those limiting self-identities we once clung onto in an effort to belong? Do we have an image of ourselves that is fundamentally our own? And, in this sense, how much do we let technologies inform our understanding of ourselves?
When we speak of Victory, we are referring to the celebration of our individuality and humanity, which becomes particularly crucial today as it faces constant challenges from the ever-evolving technological landscape. While silicon-based intelligence constantly tempts us with its seductive promises of efficiency and convenience, the ongoing advancement of artificial intelligence is resulting in the progressive automation of our everyday lives.
However, when we realise that our uniqueness cannot be found within the realm of machine-driven logic, we should be compelled to look for more. Victory, in this sense, is only possible as an act of rebellion—an affirmation of our identity in the face of algorithms, automated profiling and binary codification. When artificial intelligence can acquire information, self-reprogram, and surpass human capabilities, the only realm in which we can truly set ourselves apart is no longer knowledge—in which we are already overtaken and outpaced—but the realm of experience. Our Victory lies in redefining what experiencing is and comprehending how we can have a higher experience of reality, knowledge, and who we are. As algorithms already handle the realm of mediocrity and the ordinary, we can seize the chance to elevate ourselves beyond it to a place where machines cannot reach us, where we are free, and where our human experience and our relationship with nature can be redefined. As a response to the expansion of artificial intelligence, we have the opportunity to redirect our attention and discover our individuality in the very place where it resides—on the borders of ourselves, on the fringe of the human experience where it merges with the spiritual. That is the only space for uniqueness, where we can truly experience a sense of connection with our inner self, others, the ecosystems, and the universe itself. Victory means moving beyond our fragmented mindsets and finally feeling alive in these deeply ingrained interconnections. It is an approach that goes beyond the pursuit of instant accomplishment or immediate gratification—a prevailing mindset nowadays— and instead realises that its ultimate value is determined by its long-run influence on others. In this sense, Victory can only exist within a collective dimension and can only be intended as a consequence of love, never greed.
Therefore, when we talk about Victory, we don’t mean a vague ideal but a concrete perspective that can span from the most ambitious goals to minor actions. It can range from a vocation embodying the pursuit of political and social victories to an attitude that permeates every aspect of your life. It is the understanding that, in the end, what matters is doing what you do with care, conviction, and dedication because—regardless of any other considerations—this is the only way for people to really engage with whatever it is that you do and be ultimately elevated by it. Victory is indeed an attitude that can emanate from even the smallest actions.
If we have to talk about ourselves —meaning the people behind this publication—and give an example among others, we can say that having been able to print this magazine twice a year for the last 12 years feels like a significant Victory to us. By remaining committed to the almost outdated practice of printing paper and embracing the efforts that come with it, we know we put ourselves before an altar that demands a certain degree of commitment in honouring beauty, and we are doing so because experiencing beauty and dedication is what we came to learn to be profoundly transformative.
It doesn’t matter what you do, but if you commit to it and make it your daily practice, your necessity, your way of expression and your way to understanding yourself and the world while growing within it, you are, in fact, celebrating a Victory. You are, in fact, creating a legacy. Every small personal achievement, in this perspective, serves as a testament to the ambition of uplifting ourselves from the depths of ignorance, its lowest inclinations, and the pervasive mediocrity that has come to define our era.
Whenever you put your heart into what you are doing and you evolve in the process, you know it results in something that is beyond you. You know you are creating something that transcends your reach, that interconnects with everything else, and because of that, when somebody somehow happens to stumble upon it and experience it, you know that experience is no longer yours alone, but it exists to determine that shared feeling that today we call Victory.