NO ONE online is underground. We’re on a system this instant– the Internet– that was initiated and in large part paid for by the United States Defense Department. An electronic arrangement where every word can be recorded and tracked with a few keyboard clicks.
With our new state-of-the-art print zeens, we at New Pop Lit are partially underground. They’re handmade in-house, and unregistered. No barcodes.
Why is this important? Because print underground literature is an actual alternative– samizdat!— a free space of ideas not subject to self-appointed hall monitors and censors. Breaking the hive mind. No bureaucrats, official or unofficial. In the tradition of Thomas Paine, Davy Crockett, Walt Whitman, Stephen Crane, Robert McAlmon, the Beats– and including Alexander Solzhenitsyn and a host of other international samizdat writers. The genuine article. The authentic American yawp.
THE ANALOG EXPERIENCE
We’ve begun exploring ideas behind new analog culture (vinyl, zines, film) in a newsletter, The Analog Experience. We’ll soon send copies to our “prestige” customers– those who’ve purchased three or more of our zeens. BUT you can subscribe to four issues now at our POP SHOP.
Doing so will keep you abreast of underground happenings, ideas, and debates. Plus in some small way it keeps this project alive.
Consider it a door to another world. A portal to underground culture.
The sale of vinyl records has increased greatly over the past fifteen years– 27.5 million vinyl LPs sold in the U.S. last year according to Forbes magazine– which makes them more than mere collectors items.
A plethora of online music sites explain the resurgence. Ted Goslin with Yamaha Music gives four reasons for it: -that vinyl is tangible -the cool factor -the listening experience, and -the sound quality. Another online site says it’s because vinyl is “warmer, fuller, more authentic,” and credits also the artwork of vinyl records.
One of the more thorough analyses of the phenomenon is this essay by an outfit called Way Back When at Medium:
Additionally, the cover art on albums is displayed in a much better fashion on vinyl records. Don’t believe us, just go to a vinyl record shop and compare the art on your phone compared to having it in the physical. There are so many little details missed within the artwork when it’s on your phone than when you hold the album in a physical version.
Vinyl records are also a sign of someone having an exquisite taste in music.
The question for us at New Pop Lit is whether these same reasons can apply to literary products– such as the zeens we’re selling at our POP SHOP.
Zeens are about the analog reading experience. They’re designed to be viscerally unique, with emphasis on quality of paper, art, and a lot of color, to create a warmer, more tangible presence than any other print publication. More real than digital.
(Can people truly be satisfied spending most of their waking hours in the fake two-dimensional world of electronic screens, when a 3-D alternative is everywhere around us?)
Will the analog revolt extend to the literary field? We hope to find out.
“At the Opera” in EZ2 is a cut-up multidimensional short story inspired by the innovations of avant-garde pioneers William Burroughs and Kathy Acker– but also by the editing techniques of pop music (sampling) and cinema (montage). The presumptuous goal: to create a literary collage, using public domain writing by several of the greatest novelists who ever lived.
ABOUT THE FICTION
The three other main fiction works are subtly dystopian– subliminally speculative– about where our world is now, and where it’s headed.
ABOUT THE POETRY
The poems in EZ2 were chosen specifically either for their ability to comment on an adjacent story (“Common Note” by John Zedolik commenting on “Care” by Sam Paget), OR for their ability to be part of a word-and-design fusion, where the poem is not simply accompanied by an illustration or design, but fuses with it.
THE ANALOG EXPERIENCE
Extreme Zeen 2 is the ultimate in analog literary experience, presenting words and colors which “pop” off the page and cannot be duplicated on any digital electronic screen.
THE NEW POP LIT MISSION
The New Pop Lit mission is to create publications which can engage all segments of the population– with words and presentations that are fun, stimulating, and thought-provoking. Not off-putting text-dense books, but instead, inviting attractive zeens.
THE INTERNET is in turmoil. Social media is turning hostile. Voices are being bounced be they on the left or the right. Warning signals sound like clanging bells saying, “Get off. Get out!”
In other words, it may be time to return to analog, to reality, tangibility; to something to touch with the hand like a real object and own. To PRINT.
–I note anyway that former zine publisher of Red Roach Press and other outsider projects “Joe Smith” has gone underground is producing samizdat once again in the form of a well-written zine called Alternative Incite. A zine title if ever there was one. A copy mysteriously appeared in our mailbox– yes we still have one– one afternoon– first real mail we’d received in an age amid the usual novel-sized paper blasts full of A & W and Burger King coupons. We were happy to receive it. Real mail! My favorite read in it was the Thoughts Provoked section giving opinions about articles in The New Yorker, The Economist, and Philosophy Now, while KMC (NPL Contributing Editor) most liked the essay about walking. There are also articles about “The Matrix,” about Henry Miller, about “The New Normal,” and other topics. Hearty reading.–
(Reading the fine print I discovered this note in the zine: “The price per issue is $3 and PayPal is accepted (send to firstname.lastname@example.org).” There’s also a website: https://butter-lamb.com/
But what of us? We at NPL HQ? In our frantic work at the underground (literally) New Pop Lit Literary Research Lab, have we produced anything resembling a print journal?
Though we call it not a zine, but a ZEEN. So named because we take an approach different from that of most zine writers– or lit mag editors, for that matter. For us, presentation is as important as the writing. We seek to make it easy to get to the words– to make it impossible not to.
Go to our online Pop Shop to see what we’re up to.