Jon K. Shaw editorial i

Editorial – part two

The evils of description and illustration, the reductive violence of interpretation, the generalised field of equivalences in which a work is given its value by its capacity to be translated. These sleights have long been the whipping boys for theoreticians of art. The translation from one proper form to another pulls us deeper into the deplorable, shady depths of Plato’s cave, where even the shadows – intoxicating, spectacular and pathetic – are themselves cast by shadows. No more! We have shouted and shouted again – in surprising chorus – raging for or against the dying of the light.

Whilst theorists and writers have identified the need for their product to yield to the pressures of this luminary cataclysm, have, indeed, shown willing to get down and dirty with this new ‘erotics’ as Susan Sontag would have us nominate it, there remains a lamentable paucity of sorts. That is not to say there has been nothing of note – there is a great deal, including some of the best writing of any sort, anywhere – but it is not abundant enough, neither in quantity nor in density – atomised and barely traceable amidst the fetid mundanities of that most infected and corpulent of connective tissues: inspiration.

Indeed it is ‘inspiration’ which has been the greatest enemy of a consummation between art and writing. It takes either the path of grave sincerity, snivelling and gushing out its courtly awe in carefully metered frigid stanzas (the Reverent John Ashbury?), or exchanges the briefest of sub-flirtatious glances before flitting off with ectopic memories of a deep and intense engagement.

For their part, and to their credit, artists have been more visible in pushing the use of text within their oeuvres – from the typewriter-as-weapon avant-gardeism of Terry Atkinson et al. to Cy Twombly’s sampledelic Rilke-philia. Not to mention the carving out and occupying of new territories, such as the artist’s book, or, should I say, The Artist’s Book, sacrosanct über-fetish that it so often is.

But diagnoses are cheap, and prescriptions easily given are seldom more than the vanity and conservatism of divestment…

It is by no means our purpose within these pages to demark finite qualities of a given discipline or to revel in puerile juxtaposition. We hope to offer more than a cold slab for the anatomical dissection of seeing and saying. Nor is it our intention to perpetuate, by blind permissiveness, the indifferentiable mass of our neoliberal inheritance – anything does not go. To propose that there are no real differences between art and writing need not be to assert their homogeneity, but rather to introduce resonance and agonism, and modes of affection and criticality that can yield so much more than a bland mapping of relations.

It was along these lines that we hoped to develop our editorial strategy – to stage a genuine encounter with the submissions and to work with the writers and artists to bring out what the work itself could be – whether that effort played out at the level of language or page layouts. Not to prescribe or proscribe, but to probe and enquire, defend and attack, to enjoy and to spit. To find that noontide in each work, when it casts its shadow upon itself.

– Jon K. Shaw

click here to read Tom Robinson’s editorial to issue one