There it is, the first chronogram to wittingly appear in Chronogram in 25 years and 297 issues. I've been wanting to do this for a long time and I am happy!
A chronogram is an acrostic construction in which a date is encoded in roman numerals as the first letter of each word of a phrase. The chronogram above indicates the year of the magazine's inception, MCMXCIII, or 1993.
In the summer of that year cofounder Amara and I took a trip to the big library on the New Paltz college campus to peruse the massive 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary. We sought expressive synonyms for "calendar" as a title for a magazine about the creative and cultural life of the Hudson Valley.
We immediately liked "chronogram" because it has so many syllables and bucked the trend of mainstream magazines using short names like Time, Life, People. We noted that some of the more obscure magazines we enjoyed had as many syllables—Interview, Parabola. We admired the conceptual architecture and design magazine Metropolis, boasting four syllables, but had an intellectual rigor we found intimidating. We were satisfied with three syllables.
We also liked the name Chronogram because it suggested something concealed in plain sight, a cipher understood only by those with the eyes to see. Historical examples of chronograms appear in every language that uses the same characters for letters and numbers. These include Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Latin, all languages called objective by esotericists arguing that the vowels of these languages are pure and unmuddied by colloquial corruption. Idealistic as we were, we thought we were starting something in this tradition of flawless tongues, a magazine in which readers would find lotus flowers growing from mud.
Conceived in the minds of some twenty-somethings who were soon joined by another young visionary, Brian Mahoney, the magazine has upheld its part in the chorale of an evolving community. In these 25 years an influx of curious visitors and new, committed locals have enriched the cultural landscape if the Hudson Valley. We see a growing community of people who share our appreciation the environment, human-scale communities, local enterprise, and a pace of life more closely matched with the rhythms of nature. We hope we've helped deepen this identity for our region, and attract more like-minded people.
A guiding principle of Chronogram is that the means of any endeavor must be congruent with the result. The result we seek is to nourish and empower the region's creative and cultural life. To be congruent with this aim we strive for the print magazine and all our extended digital channels and events to be examples of the quality of substantive, creative work we endeavor to represent.
It is in this latter direction that Editorial Director Brian Mahoney and Creative Director David Perry, also a multidecade veteran of Luminary Media, undertook to redesign Chronogram, the magazine. The process spanned a full year and you are holding the result of this effort in your hands. The new design is different without being shocking, more spacious and yet more substantial, and with a deeper view into many of the topics that have hitherto received only cursory attention.
I hope to see you at Chronogram's 25th birthday party on November 10. It's a birthday party for our whole community and for you, our esteemed readers, in particular.
— Jason Stern
*According to Buddhist tradition, Maitreya is a bodhisattva who will appear on Earth in the future, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma.