Still, it’s in the spirit of the thing.
Our first issue is coming out in a little over a month. So we thought that now would be a good time to explain exactly what we think we’re doing, starting a literary magazine.
Why do we need a thousand literary magazines and journals looking for “the best of new and established writers,” as so many journals claim to do? In what sense is it even possible for each of a thousand literary journals to showcase the best of new and established writers?
The fact is that every editor has some aesthetic commitment, and every journal has, or should have, a project. These two things don’t have to be the same; not every journal’s project is to push a certain aesthetic. But the journals and magazines we love, or passionately hate, or at any rate feel something for are those that take a stance, that make a claim. Those that say, implicitly or explicitly, “I’m interested in x, but not y.” Some journals do this by genre, and these journals tend to be the most explicit in asking for what they want. Other journals do this by tone, and these journals, even if they clearly have a certain aesthetic, often still ask for the best of new and established, etc.
We’re saying, why not be explicit? Why not take a stance?
We want to explore, and hopefully to further, a certain aesthetic tradition. Specifically, we’re interested in finding the descendents of Acker, Ashbery, Barth, and Barthelme, et al. Work descended from or influenced by that literary moment that (like it or not) has come to be called, occasionally with a sneer, “postmodernism.” Work that’s “aware of its own artifice,” work that engages in metafiction, pastiche, cut-ups, collage, formalism, fabulism, etc, etc. Which is to say, all of those things that prose or poetry can do when they’re not ignoring the essential made-upped-ness of prose and poetry.
We believe we’re coming to the end of the generation raised on Carver’s “No tricks.” We’re done with “No tricks.” We want to see what comes next. Which is to say: we want tricks. Not cheap tricks. Deeply moving, deeply felt tricks. Committed tricks. Compelling tricks.
We are not interested in manifestos or schools or anything that might ossify into some dogma of what does and doesn’t count within the Artifice aesthetic. Part of the reason why we’re interested in the aesthetic tradition we are is that we believe it is still changing, still developing, still vigorous and exciting. If we ever reach the point where we can pick work by rote, or where readers aren’t surprised by the appearance of some piece or another in Artifice, that’s the day we close the shop.
But we don’t think this is the final word on all of this. Hell, we’d love for this to become a discussion, either here in the comments, or elsewhere. And we do plan to write more about all this in the future.
Now go enjoy 2010.