Rough Beast Magazine recently published their second issue, titled Bullshit. It’s a collection of prose, with self-proclaimed interests in literary inventiveness, cultural barometers, personal archives, and dilettantism; and a stated distaste for irony, polemics, complacency, and dogmatism. The latest issue is not just an engaging exploration by authors and photographers (which can be found online), but also a handmade print zine. It was produced with a risograph and each text was hand sewn into individual folios that are held together with a silkscreened sleeve. In an edition of 100, the art-print is a rare and beautiful find.
The individual folios give a physical weight to ideas – a weight that we are no longer accustomed to, kind of in the way holding a printed photograph is a bit surreal these days. The separation of each of the texts into these objects gives the reader a chance to savor them. One text, a spirited conversation between two of the writers entitled ‘Exiling Waste’, acts as a sort of self-commentary on the reality of the paper publishing: an uneasiness with the digital is set in contrast with an even more striking tension between the seeming permanence and the foreboding decay of materiality.
How do we deal with this materiality? The publication does take on some big philosophical questions, and one existential argument seems to be: it takes projection. In the table-of-contents folio, the editors have listed their created ersatz-names for the images appearing in the magazine. I wonder if the (purposely?) untitled photographs are in fact a provocation to the viewer to name the material that is engaged with and presented. By revealing the kind of fun, or perhaps necessary, editorial tool of the ersatz-name, the reader is pulled into a kind of ‘fact-checking’ between the parties as they compare words to images.
Considering the issue’s name, Bullshit, maybe we are being called on to consider all of reading as a sort of ‘fact-checking’. I can only recommend delving into your own judgment of the work online or in print.
Blog entry by Anna Kostreva in Berlin; Thursday, Feb. 05, 2015.