Zine Review: Pieces #15: on altered states

Pieces #15: on altered states
56 pages

Pieces 15 is a US paper quarter-sized, black and white zine about altered states of being – from reality to non-reality.

“Acceptance is hard, let me tell you, and I’m working on it. I’ll probably be working on it forever, to be honest, but I think pretty much everyone else in the world is too.”

Pieces 15 opens with Nichole writing about writing in a coffee shop in a catch-all notebook. An old notebook that is a catch all, which is definitely different than a journal or diary. I love this image of the writer (no matter what anyone else says), and it immediately puts me at ease as I start to read. From there Nichole writes rather poetically about the fast ‘summer storm’ way this zine came together and what it’s all about.

She starts with derealisation and depersonalisation, states that she experienced even in childhood as well as currently as of the writing of this zine. This moves into thoughts about drugs and alcohol and deconstructing taught beliefs to come around to her first psychedelic experience. She also touches on lucid dreaming, even giving tips on how to lucid dream as well as sharing some lucid dream experiences as well.

The middle goes into Nichole’s thoughts on life in general, which can feel like an altered state in and of itself when a person isn’t part of a big societal norm – let alone the opposite of many of them. I think a lot of people will understand Nichole’s feelings of not knowing her purpose or what’s meant to be happening. Which leads into the mushroom experience.

The trip itself is as intense as I expected but in ways I didn’t expect. There are hallucinations, trippy revelations, and scary moments where Nichole writes about the Demon (which you may know if you have read previous issues but won’t deter you if you don’t). It’s all very raw, vulnerable, and presented to the reader without any self-judgements or assumptions about what the reader may gain from reading it.

And we wrap up where we started: writing in little cafes and enjoying people watching.

I’ve always love Nichole’s zine style. The quarter size with plenty of pages, black and white, cut and paste with a lot of elements that make it feel like part zine, part art journal, part diary. She uses patterned papers as well as a lot of butterfly, flower, and time-related pieces which suits my design preferences totally.

Nichole’s zines – and this series in particular – have always resonated with me, so I was not surprised to find this feeling again with this zine. She writes about the familiar feeling unfamiliar, even in childhood – a state she writes about more articulately than I could. I’ve also been able to lucid dream from time to time. And goodness knows I’ve often asked myself and the universe what my purpose is. I found the trip experience to be one that made me infinitely curious and incredibly cautious as well.

The Pieces series is one I will always recommend. While they are on different topics and span more than a decade, if you have liked one then you will like them all. With each new issue I feel honoured that Nichole has showed so much of herself and let herself be so vulnerable in these zines.

Grab a copy.

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