vol i: voicings/articulations/utterances

1. Amidst austerity measures today, we find ourselves increasingly precarious and pixelated; atomized, alienated, and irreparably glitched. Yet rather than attempt to definitively theorise, analyse, and explicate this contemporary situation, we found ourselves returning to these few questions: How do you speak a place? How do you speak from a place, or non-place? What might the reader expect to see from a certain region, and why? Who speaks, and in whose vernacular?

For the inaugural issue of The State, then, we kept the theme intentionally vague; fifteen writers from around the world responded in myriad voices and ways. Topics range from sociohistorical looks at sewers and single parenting throughout the ages, to reimagining a weedy field as a portmanteau of globalisation. Others take a more personal approach, interrogating experiences of Afropolitanism, of being a person of colour in post-9/11 America, and of returning to the Gulf with your tail between your legs. They are joined by two ‘website-specific installations’—exploring joblessness and speaking in tongues—which are scannable within these pages. (Though near-obsolete, we find ourselves especially fond of the QR code)

2. There is something to be said about launching a new print journal in this media climate. As writers and editors, we float in the ‘printernet’—that uncertain space inhabited by print cultures as they transition to mediated online forms. Publishing has been on dialysis for years; we keep up a deathwatch only occasionally peppered with reverent elegies. Yet for all we trust that print will continue to die, we don’t seem to quite believe in the internet, either. Even as we upload our lives to the cloud, we wonder whether the internet’s tubes just might break after all; whether it isn’t dangerously ephemeral, fleeting, transient; whether it will still be there tomorrow.

We might also wonder what came first: the tablet or the book? Long before Facebook, we were painting our self portraits on cave walls. Long before Twitter, we were inscribing our daily annals onto wax tablets. Media is inherently cyclical, and seems doomed to repeat itself—as tragedy, as farce, as meme. The screen begins to resemble the page, which resembled the scrolls of antiquity, which in turn mimicked the screens of the future. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. Fast-forward to 2070. Nature has engulfed and encroached upon the city; printed matter no longer exists. The page has become superseded by the screen, which covers every possible surface. The anatomy of the codex has been thoroughly contorted, its spine ruptured, and its pages vectored through time and space. Perhaps we should augment the page, and let it be a screen too.

—The Editors


  • Jaymes Baassiri—Strange Odysseys
    on the strange odysseys of single parenting throughout the ages

  • Jaswinder BolinaEmpathy for the Devil
    on an immigrant, a girl riding a unicycle, and post-9/11 Ohio

  • Sophie ChamasRunning in place
    on precarity and returning to the Gulf with your tail between your legs

  • Alex Casper ClinePieces of Eight
    on a critical theory of chiptune, eight bits, and the Spanish real de a ocho

  • Margaret EbyMississippi Goddam
    on Money, Mississippi and the age of civil rights tourism

  • Megan EardleyHistory Going Nowhere
    on Church of England conversions and thick, unarticulated anxieties

  • Roman GautamCoded Poetry
    on appreciating programming code as poetry

  • Malcolm HarrisBifo Says Relax
    on Bifo’s program of senilisation, robots, and fetishes

  • Sean Higgins—That Dreadful Vortex
    on a Krzysztof Wodiczko sonic installation, empathy, and the affective dread of war

  • Linnea HincksSomething Rotten in the State of Sweden
    on conspiracy and misogyny in Sweden, via Julian Assange and the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

  • Wilfried Hou Je BekAdventures in the Cryptoforest
    on adventuring in the Utrechtian cryptoforest and weedy messiahs of globalisation

  • Claudia Merhej—Waste Not, Want Not
    on the politics of food under austerity and a resonant wartime Britishness

  • Mena OduTribal Marks
    on experiences of Afropolitanism from okada-dodging in Lagos to coupé-decalé on the Upper West Side

  • Olivia RosanePortrait of the Artist as a Mad Man
    on the church and the corporation, from medieval artisan through to graphic designer

  • Anand Vivek TanejaSewer Gas
    on albino alligators, manholes, sewers, and the miasma of modernity

Images: Reanimation Library—A Basic Course in American Sign Language, 1980
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