Welcome to the third, perhaps central part of the Towards 2012 project. Central because its themes are at the heart of what we’re looking at (and taking part in) here—ourselves as a species. How we are different from, and similar to, other life forms. What it means to be human. How we relate to the processes of evolution, and why we may be a crucial part of it.
The theme ‘Culture & Language’ is probably a bit too broad and unwieldy to tackle properly in one issue; but then again we’re not concerned with being ‘authoritative’ or ‘complete’. Excitedly throwing out models, ideas, memes, inspiration and catalytic information is what this project is about. Although the pre-set theme was a bit amorphous, the visions that emerged through the first two parts, together with a healthy dose of organic order emerging spontaneously from editorial chaos, led to a very densely inter-related collection of writings. There’s quite a few conflicting voices here—good!—but there’s also a powerful, if hard to define, uniting drive behind the various contributions. Something to do with a refusal to let intelligence be separate from intuition and passion, with a defiant lack of respect for orthodox thinking. And an ever-sharpening focus on that most basic fact of our existence that has been shunned, ignored and repressed for thousands of years, the body.
There are quite a few pieces here that have appeared in various forms before, in other publications and other media—it’s hoped that this recycling will prove worthwhile. Some works will reach people they never would have otherwise, either because of the obscurity of their original appearances, or because they wouldn’t normally be noticed or considered by someone who’s picked this publication up on the strength of another article. We aim to cross-fertilize.
Aside from all this, hopefully this tome is greater than the sum of its parts. Editorial policy here walks in an undefined zone between Unifying Vision and rabid eclecticism—probably a lot to do with our hazy publishing status, which hangs somewhere between the ‘book’ and ‘magazine’ categories. Also, to amplify the common threads and odd juxtapositions, we’ve gone for a slightly re-vamped layout. The quotes, web sites, organisations and publications you’ll find listed down the sides of the pages are often placed to complement the main text—windows out into related fields, conceptual support from unexpected sources, playful connections… And sometimes they’re just there. Some of the quotes from the same person follow on in sequence, some don’t.
A heavy influence on this part, and a big concern for many of the writers here, is the internet. The first time I logged on, my mind simply flipped with the immensity of it all. Not just the information I directly accessed, but all the other information implied by what I came across, the probably infinite possibilities for information exchange that the internet opens up. I had to go outside and walk around for a bit, shouting “FUCK!” in astonishment. One of the first thoughts that occurred to me was that the only way I could get a handle on this new tool was by focussing clearly on what I wanted to get out of it. Since then, I’ve come to enjoy the occasional free-form wander around the web, without goals or aims (rambles which are definitely most fun with friends—the monitor becomes the steering wheel of conversation, not the obliterator of human contact I’d expected).
Nevertheless, I think that my first experience, and the conclusion I drew from it, is totally relevant to this part of the project. There’s a huge amount of information in here, and countless pointers to more and more zines, books, web sites etc. The challenge posed by this, and the information overload in our society as a whole, is that you must become very clear about what you want—your desires—to constructively survive the onslaught. This doesn’t mean becoming rigid and inflexible, rejecting anything that doesn’t slot into your preconceived idea of what you want. It means gently, constantly re-assessing your wants and needs according to what you encounter and experience, and learning to use all the tools you have before you to achieve your desires.
Above all, what you have in your hands is, like language (and culture?) itself, a tool. And because we’re interested in future possibilities, there’s a lot of speculation here pointing towards the next step in communicative tools. A step beyond verbal language, beyond the processes both you and I are engaged in now. What you hold is one of those fingers pointing at the moon—remember to see the moon once you know where it’s at. Don’t get transfixed and charmed by the sight of that trembling, excited finger. Check out for yourself why it’s excited…