A Magazine from a Different Wyrld
For the past few months, I’ve been working on an ambitious creative project, so far without a title.
The work has mainly consisted of thinking, jotting down disparate thoughts, and talking with collaborators: Jenna Cha, who made the cover for Russia’s Psychotic Break; Giorgos Terzakis, who made lots of art for PsyPol (How Lenin and Stalin Killed God, The China Issue, Fear and Power in the Russian Dreamscape, Limits…); and Sam Khan, who writes Castalia Journal and has produced two chapters of what looks like beginnings of a novel after our conversation.
It usually takes me about 1,5 hours to outline the basic contours of my idea. I have two recordings where I do just that, in conversation with Sam and Giorgos, which I’ll publish in the coming weeks.
It would have been a premise for a novel if a novel was something I wanted to write. Instead, I’m thinking about making a physical magazine from a fictional, somewhat dystopian world of the future (which, incidentally, has no magazines in it — thoughtbots that beam information directly into people’s brains made all media obsolete).
The latest spin on the idea is to turn it into a workshop:
I’m still weighing this option, but it intrigues me more as the time passes.
I’ve got something of a philosophy about creative work, which would be fun to articulate; I’ve got tips and stories to share; I have even acquired a bit of a cred over the years — apart from the moderate success I’m enjoying here at PsyPol, I have also spent many years working very fruitfully with Robert Wright and, more recently, with Glenn Loury, and in both cases the job was to come up with ideas and find ways to implement them. I appear to have somehow become a professional.
More importantly though, I’ve got this very expansive open world of a project, which aspiring artists and writers could contribute to in a million of different ways, with my direction and feedback.
The model might be:
Any paid sub to PsyPol can join weekly workshops and work on this thing alongside me, Sam, Giorgos, and Jenna;
I’d provide writing prompts and direction for art;
Sometimes I’d deliver informal lectures on the creative process, and other times we’d discuss our work-in-progress;
Anything good would get published in PsyPol, thus giving new authors an access to an audience of 7k+ subscribers;
The best stuff, if it fits the format, would get into the print magazine I plan to eventually publish.
But I am getting ahead of myself. As of now, I haven’t organized my own drafts and ideas in such a way as to be able to share them with others. I keep talking people’s ears off — and though the reception has been very positive, this talk needs to start converting into something more tangible.
So this issue is a step in this direction. I gave myself the weekend and the part of Monday that’s not occupied by work to write out a letter from the fictional founder of this fictional magazine from a fictional world to his fictional staff. It doubles, of course, as a letter from me to my collaborators.
I didn’t finish it — it ends abruptly — but I produced 1,500 words and a few drawings, and I’m starting to put my finger on some very slippery parts of this whole undertaking.
I will iterate this next Monday.
I’m going through the pile of documents Divanov has left at my apartment, and there’s something in there I want to share with you.