Thursday, December 11, 2008


i like the themes that have been tossed around so far and i'm sharing in the excitement everybody's displaying. so far i've been one of the slackers, following the email conversations but not jumping in yet. i think that's because i haven't been able to nail any ideas down about what exactly this might inspire me to do, which i think is the result of the fact that i don't quite know what we're going for yet. i know anna said the name 'unseen' comes out of the idea that we'll be creating new work for this thing, but without anything else to its identity or purpose, i'm having a hard time thinking of a direction to go in, or even a form (of writing, in my case) to decide upon for an initial effort. i don't think deciding on a theme is going to help me with this. i'll still have to ask myself the same questions about what general point i'm trying to use that theme to get to.

my proposal is that we spend a moment coming up with even the barest minimum of something like a mission statement or an enumeration of principles. this doesn't have to be fancy or complicated at all. in fact, i think it'd work best if we extract this from what we all already believe or hold to be important, which we'd do by talking about those things and discovering areas of overlap. i don't mean elaborate descriptions of the philosophical underpinnings of our worldviews; i mean, why are you doing this and what does it have in common with why i'm doing this?

i feel like i'm spinning my wheels even trying to describe this, so let me give an example. say, for instance, we decide that 'unseen' is a publication concerned with driving its contributors to create and exhibiting the fruits of their labor, because it would suck to be on your deathbed and know that you never wrote that story or recorded that album or painted that picture, whatever. recognition of existential imperative, you see. or we say that 'unseen' is meant to inspire new creative work simply for its own sake, because we are aesthetic anarchists and we believe that the best way to make art is to try everything and see what sticks. or 'unseen' turns out to be an outlet for publishing new work by creative people who all really like purple hats.

is this making sense? i feel like we need to fill in the blank in the statement, "we are going to work together on 'unseen' by producing new work in our respective mediums, because _____________." i'd like to think that we could come up with a pretty neat, perhaps even novel way to finish that sentence that avoids putting constraints on us while nonetheless focusing us and, most significantly, relating our individual contributions to each other in a way that makes sense.

then we can say, "theme: polar bears. go."


  1. sorry for that comment, it was completely useless. i think the adderall and exam preparation has made me filterless. might as well have just said "yes"

  2. i am going to intentionally let this one sit, without putting in my two cents just yet. firstly because i want everyone else to feel like they can jump in, and secondly because i am brain dead right now.

    but sean, that was good. way to sum things up.

  3. well...i gots two cents. gots 'em right here. want 'em?

    when anna first told me about the idea and the title, i spun off in a bunch of different directions of thought about what a cool concept 'unseen' is. i tended to place the in front of it in my mind, as in 'that-which-is-unseen,' and proceeded to think about the number of ways in which i could twist and shift and reapply this notion of the unseen to make it mean this or that, or to use it as a conceptual lens through which i could explore other topics, etc. basically, if 'unseen' was a metaphor with a geometric shape, it'd have a super-bazillion sides.

    i then badgered anna about this for an hour or two until she reminded me that she meant the title to have a primarily literal significance. oh. duh.

    but, hey...why not? i'm already going to be using those thoughts to guide me in the future, simply because of how fruitful they've already been. could a joint, multi-media exploration of 'what goes unseen' in the world, in our lives--or, just as easily, of 'what, by nature, cannot be seen,' or any of a thousand other formulations--be as open-ended and interesting to the rest of you as it is for me? i'll spare you examples here.

    so, going back to the level of meta: this is one way to meet the goal of filling in the blank in the sentence about what we're doing. but to fill in the blank this way would be to bind our work by virtue of having laid out a common conceptual space within which our individual contributions agree to stay within sight (ha!) of one another; it's like making 'unseen' the meta-theme. i'd be okay with that, but that's because i know i could be satisfied pursuing any of the projects that have already sprung to mind, and because i'd be fascinated to see how such a flexible concept gets reinterpreted by others. but that's up to you folks to decide upon.

    there. the conversation has officially begun. there are many other ways for it to go beyond simply committing to exploring a concept, even one so huge and prism-like. let's hear it.

  4. something to chew on, whether it's relevant to this discussion or not, whether you agree with him or not:

    faulkner thinking big about writing.

  5. so i think that i have been thinking about this subconsciously all day. i am guessing (though not sure) that anna started this as a way for us to all create for creation's sake. i really like that idea. now that i am out in the "real world" and have a "real job," i have found that the most rewarding things that i accomplish at work are things that i can show people and say: hey, i made this. maybe this is just because i am the kind of person who needs positive reinforcement. anyways, perhaps unseen is a way to change the meaning of "productive member of society." to be productive doesn't necessarily mean that you have to sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, and at the end of the day, you don't really know what you did. to me, unseen magazine is a way to produce something for your own sake, but for the benefits of others to enjoy/think about. so, to complete your sentence, i would say:

    "we are going to work together on 'unseen' by producing new work in our respective mediums, because we want to change the meaning of 'productive member of society.'"

    that might be too vague for our future readership, but perhaps we can expand upon it. thoughts?

  6. yes yes yes robin this is what i'm getting at. while in france i started to conceptualize aesthetic as a necessary component of existing; that being around and doing practical things are perhaps only precursors to intricately involving ourselves with the pleasing, the beautiful, the artistic and creative. and so why can't we see what we're doing as such?

    this comment written after my mission statement brainstorm was posted.