The New Suns manifesto.Posted: October 11, 2015
Hey all. My patrons have known this for awhile now, but I’m stopping writing the column New Suns. It has nothing to do with how fiercely I believe in its philosophy, nor how generous and gracious Electric Literature was in hosting it; and everything to do with some stark realities in my life that came to the fore very soon after I started writing it. You can read the full explanation here, which I just opened to the public.
As you can see in the comments, I was, and remain, overwhelmed by the generous spirit of my patrons. And you can also see that the Patreon is NOT going away, but is continuing in a different form (about which I already have some exciting news; stay tuned…) But meanwhile, I wanted to find a place for the original manifesto to live on the Internet. Because it IS a four-alarm fuck-this deep-truth response to the bullshit in arts criticism about what constitutes “mainstream” and how it must change, and I stand by it.
More soon, mis queridas.
You might have read about how I had a culture column at Wired, and then didn’t, after I pitched a bunch of artists that included a lot of women, queers, and people of color. I got the response, ‘we only do pop culture’. To which I responded, ‘Are you interested in helping decide what pop culture is in the first place?’
I never got a reply.
There’s no way for me to say what was going on behind the scenes. What I can say is that unconscious bias is a fact, in aggregate; and that the white male gaze counts on silence, in aggregate. So this time, I spoke up.
The response was (and continues to be) overwhelming. The post got a lot of attention, including coverage in The New Republic. Lots of people from around the world via Twitter, Facebook, DM, PM, blog comment, text, and private email called for the column to have a home elsewhere. And behind the scenes, that’s exactly what’s happening. Right now, it’s not a question of whether the column would have a home, but where. That’s a great thing.
But Wired, being Wired, had money. Most of the places offering to host the column can’t pay the rate that Wired could. But writing is how I make a living, and I already do plenty of it for free. So to make the column good, I have to make enough money to justify the time I devote to it.
So here’s my deal with you:
(1) The rate Wired would have paid me was fifty cents per word, or roughly $500 for 1000 words. Patreon takes 5% and credit card and transfer fees add up to around another 5%. So if we reach $550 per column, I launch the column.
(2) For a year, I promise no less than one column a month, and no more than two columns a month.
(3) If you support the column, YOU can use Patreon to post artists whose work you want me to see.
(4) WHAT IS THE COLUMN, ANYWAY? Hey, great question. It’s about artists who create the future through their work. The founding assumptions being:
That it is possible to divert the mainstream.
That artists are the first architects of our common reality.*
That that future is already here, and it’s just a matter of those who see it and those who don’t.
That art and social change are lovers, and always have been.
That genre, like gender, is a construct of the past.**
That the United States is not the center nor the leader of world culture.
That science, art, and religion are all impulses of the same human capacity for wonder.
That the majority of humankind is brown women, and those artists’ work will be privileged above all others without hesitation or apology.
That “mainstream American art” is almost exclusively created from within, and to serve, the white male colonial gaze. That is an established fact that requires no further proof or validation going forward.
…I guess some would think of the above as “radical.” To me, it’s the most basic shit possible.
Here are some artists I want to talk to about the futures they’re making:
Ana Lily Amirpour. Ayesha Siddiqi. Nnedi Okorafor. Angel Haze. Hye Yun Park. Sofia Samatar. Daniel José Older. Meshell Ndegeocello. Ana Tijoux. Usman Tanveer Malik. Shirlette Ammons. DJRang. Alaya Dawn Johnson. Skylar Gudasz. Shirin-Banou Barghi. Jeff VanderMeer. Saleem Reshamwala. Ted Chiang. Dessa. Clint Smith. Lupita Nyong’o. Priyanka Chopra. Delano Dunn. Zadie Smith. Amanda Palmer. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Howard Craft. Nalo Hopkinson. Young Jean Lee. Janelle Monae. Danielle Durchslag. Kim Stanley Robinson. Lauryn Hill. Hari Nef. Elnathan John. Habib Yazdi. Kristine Stolakis.
Who gets to decide what pop culture is in the first place?
And we will.
*Credit: Walidah Imarisha, “Rewriting the Future.”
***I’m white. This doesn’t make me “objective.” In a racist society, there’s no such thing as a neutral position. So here’s my subjective position as I understand it: being white means having profound privilege, and for me personally, I intend to use that privilege to redistribute power. I wrote more about that in The Atlantic. If you have any thoughts about this, I would love to hear them at @monicabyrne13.