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Summer / Fall 2021. Edited by Steve Finbow

Anthology cover copy.jpg

From Steve Finbow

the editor of the Infinity Land Press Anthology


Curating – like the words journey and icon – has lost some of its heft, its meaning; people curate breakfasts, they curate Instagram photo albums. As competitors on The X Factor talk about their ‘journey’ to the stage and the screen, so Dude Perfect and PewDiePie are ‘icons’ of YouTube and social media. But I would like to reclaim these words, restore ‘journey’ to the glory of Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s The Worst Journey in the World and Antonin Artaud’s ‘Concerning a Journey to the Land of the Tarahumaras.’ I would like the word ‘icon’ to invoke Andrei Rublev and Dionisius not Ant and Dec, Athanasius Kircher not Jared Kushner. And I will use the word ‘curate’ to explain my methodology in editing the very exciting project that is the Infinity Land Press Anthology.

Anthologies have always been important; they introduce new writers/artists and new writing/artworks to the reader/viewer. These are ten anthologies, published between 1972 and 1993 that were seminal to my reading and my writing. I chose to buy them because there were writers/artists/thinkers included in them that I liked but, in reading the collections, I discovered many more and went on to read their books: The Naked I: Fiction for the ‘70s, Frederick R. Karl & Leo Hamalian editors, 1972; The New Journalism, Tom Wolfe editor, 1973; The Existential Imagination: From de Sade to Sartre, Frederick R. Karl & Leo Hamalian editors, 1974; The Poetry of Surrealism: An Anthology, Michael Benedikt editor, 1974; Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre, Walter Kaufmann editor, 1975; Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature, Alberto Manguel editor, 1983; Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology, Bruce Sterling editor, 1986; In the American Tree, Ron Silliman editor, 1986; High Risk: An Anthology of Forbidden Writings, Amy Scholder & Ira Silverberg editors, 1991 and Avant-pop: Fiction for a Daydream Nation, Larry McCaffery editor, 1993. These anthologies informed my literary and critical imagination and I still read them, dip in and come out with new insights, changed ideas and new material.

I use the word curate to explain that I imagine the anthology to be a kind of printed exhibition, a space to wander around in, creating different energies and perceptions; an arena which produces infinite conversations between reader/viewer and writer/artist and between the works. A book in which the individual texts and images are permeable not solid, that intersect with and bleed in and out of each other; a place where new art and writing becomes evident in the interstices between the works. 

I envisage the anthology to be simultaneously a Wunderkammer and a Gesamtkunstwerk – not in a dusty museum way but more like Félix Guattari’s idea of ‘chaosmosis’ – an experience of osmosis in an environment of constant change. Although the book will be a ‘constructed situation’ in which, as editor, I decide which works precede and succeed another, this will be predicated on juxtapositions, chance findings and experimental couplings. It is a matter of connection, proximity and junctions, of caresses and friction, of knowledge and propriorception. And, of course, the reader/viewer must rebel against my selection, rearrange the work, self-curate, take the book apart, put it back together in a different way, think of exhaustion and collapse and rebirth and resurrection. Both means of curating manifest shifting relations between the works and expand the definition of what an anthology can be. Sometimes, there will be a preference for homogeneity, at other times, for difference. There will be zones of contact and regions of conflict. A taxonomy of the weird and the violent, the erotic and the transgressive, always in a state of flux, constantly reanimating more and more mutations. 

In the initial conversations with Karolina and Martin, we thought about having a ‘theme’ for the book but quickly realised that the theme would find itself – no form but in content. Every contributor has been involved with Infinity Land Press in some form, whether creating whole books, or providing introductions, afterwords, interviews, images, and so what we hope will emerge is an anthology that showcases the individual artists/writers while also encapsulating, in various ways, the Infinity Land Press ethos. In the invitation letter to submit, the only suggestion Karolina and Martin gave was that the artists/writers ‘come up with a new or never published “poisonous” piece of work.’ And I like to think of ‘poisonous’ in terms of Jacques Derrida’s idea of the pharmakon, ‘This pharmakon, this “medicine,” this philter, which acts as both remedy and poison, already introduces itself into the body of the discourse with all its ambivalence. This charm, this spellbinding virtue, this power of fascination, can be – alternately or simultaneously – beneficent or maleficent. The pharmakon would be a substance – with all that that word can connote in terms of matter with occult virtues, cryptic depths refusing to submit their ambivalence to analysis, already paving the way for alchemy.’

I am very much looking forward to collaborating with the writers and artists involved in the anthology. Here is a list of contributors: Audrey Szasz, Brad Feuerhelm, Dennis Cooper, Devin Horan, Eugene Thacker, Gary J. Shipley, Hector Meinhof, Jack Sargeant, Jeremy Reed, Jukka Siikala, Karolina Urbaniak, Marc Hulson, Martin Bladh, Michael Mc Aloran, Michael Salerno, New Juche, Paul Curran, Philip Best, SMH, Shane Levene and Stephen Barber. And I will contribute a critical introduction. It is planned for publication in the summer of 2021. 

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