Prologue: Not a Prologue

It’s a thing that it’s hard to start drawing on a blank sheet of paper. You’ve got to have an approach to that expanse of blankness, a justification for that that first, violent mark.

But, let’s face it: the internet isn’t exactly a precious medium. It seems like the most appropriate entrance into this torrent of cultural mass production is in medias res. So (preceding sentences aside), that’s how I’m doing things.

I’ve finally gotten around to reading the first two issues of Another Pamphlet (a publication whose title betrays a clear sense of the “full-upness” of its context.) If it could wallow (it can’t), it would do so in its informality. Unless it is given to you old-school in the form of a couple of folded and stapled 8.5x11s in a manila envelope, it comes by email (as a PDF of those same 8.5x11s) in response to a request sent to another@anotherpamphlet.com.

Its central conceit is quasi-anonymous authorship: you know who all was involved, but you don’t know who in particular wrote each article. The producers/contributors become, to borrow a term from Somol and Whiting’s infamous Log 5 intro, a “cabal.” (It’s more apt here anyway, since they’re a clandestine bunch, which cannot be said for Log.)

The result is a double context: each author – and you’ll recognize many of the names – gets to wallow in anonymity (yes, the authors can wallow even though the publication as a whole cannot), able to say something (hell, anything) at the same time that they participate in a collective wink.

This combination, though far from the Habermasian formula, seems to be a sort of “ideal speech situation” for architects. It’s not bad to respond to, either – though I don’t have the benefit of anonymity, neither do I have the anxiety associated with responding to a specific individual.

So: somewhere in New York, there’s a cabal sitting in a probably dark, probably cigar-smoke-filled room, and they’re laughing at me. Or they will be soon.

Stay tuned: things are about to get seriously swervy.

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