People of the universe, please attend carefully. The message that follows is vital to the future of you all.
Welcome to Eruditorum Press, a group blog and small press dedicated to innovative and intelligent cultural criticism. I suspect most of you, at least right at the moment this posts, have come from Philip Sandifer: Writer. Hi, I’m still Phil Sandifer, and whatever it is you came here for is still here and will continue to be here, unless you came for that monochrome paisley, in which case your life will now be an endless sea of disappointment. I’ll still be doing weekly comics reviews, Last War in Albion, and a rotating project a la The Super Nintendo Project, as well as hosting Weird Kitties. There’s also going to be a lot more.
We, or at least I, am acutely aware that there is no shortage of pop culture analysis sites on the Internet, all of them claiming that they’re different and unique. We, however, think that we are different and unique. For one thing, we’re a somewhat more personal affair. We’re still funded by the same Patreon the site has been funded for a year now by you, dear readers, although some of that money will be going to people other than me now. (Everyone is either paid a modest sum or stubbornly refusing my money here.) And there’s a new milestone goal called “Phil stops losing money on this idea” that I’d love to hit, by the way. But more than that, I think we offer a perspective that’s unlike what you can get from any of the other sites in this vein. And that perspective is… well… hmm.
One of the most absolutely satisfying things about my blogging career over the past few years has been the fellow travelers I’ve met and befriended. I’ve become a part of an intellectual circle of critics, not through any active attempt to create a critical empire, but just because I’ve had the honor of meeting cool and brilliant people doing cool and brilliant work. Which, now that I think of the implications under late capitalism, is appalling. I should absolutely have a critical empire, dammit, and so now I’m making one.
More seriously, I don’t want to be so crass as to define the terms of this intellectual circle or anything. I’m sure that if you asked the other contributors what the vision or mission statement of Eruditorum Press is, you’d get different answers, which is as it should be. Indeed, you’ll get different ones, of varying degrees of sincerity and coherence, every time you refresh the page. But it’s traditional, when christening mad endeavors like this, for the editor-in-chief (oh fuck, that’s me) to offer some sort of confident mission statement as to what it’s all about. So here’s a faltering attempt at, if not a manifesto, at least a description.
Obviously, we’re most easily united by common interests. This is not a Doctor Who blog, and some day I may even hire someone who doesn’t like Doctor Who, although it is obviously always going to have something of a special place within Eruditorum Press, as will British culture in general. It is, more broadly, a blog about speculative fiction and geek culture, but in as wide a sense as can be imagined. Indeed, wider than that--there’ll be content that falls outside even the most inclusive definitions of either. But they serve as starting points, both in understanding the site and in our thinking.
We’re also all politically on the left, although, much like our common interests, this is a diffuse concept. Some of us are political leftists in the sense of voting for the more left-leaning party in whatever two-party quasi-democracy we live in. Others are radicals who reject the entire structure of party democracy in 2015, and are frankly somewhat skeptical about this whole “western civilization” thing to boot. But our leftism is a part of our cultural criticism. This doesn’t mean that the site is going to be an endless stream of leftist propaganda, at least any more than it always has been. But it does mean that our perspectives on culture are going to be biased towards diversity, pluralism, socialism, anarchism, Marxism, and a wealth of other such words.
Moreover, our interests in speculative fiction and progressive thought are inextricable. I commented on Twitter a while back, in response to someone talking about sci-fi as “comfort fiction,” that for me it was discomfort fiction; a genre I turn to in order to be disturbed and alarmed by weird, new things. It is, in other words, a genre for diversity and radicalism, always hungry for new things. And we think criticism should do the same, both in content and in form.
Speaking of form, we’re also inclined towards working in the long form, as opposed to just giving first reactions to everything. This isn’t a breaking news sort of blog. We’re not interested in the first take; we’re interested in the detailed take that you’d never thought of before. That doesn’t mean we aren’t going to respond to current events or that we aren’t going to have short posts alongside the longer essays, but we’re not the place for the latest casting announcement.
Finally, and most importantly, we want to destroy the world. If the point of speculative fiction is to imagine weird new things, the point of criticism is to bring weird new things into the world and thus to reshape it. Eruditorum Press is committed to finding interesting, useful, and provocative ways to read art in the hopes that, in doing so, we will find interesting, useful, and provocative ways to live. We are mystics, we are radicals, we are probably out of our skulls, and it’s going to be awesome.
Which just leaves introducing the band, as it were. I’m Philip Sandifer, your Blakean anarchist Marxist occultist host and overall cat-herder of this shindig.
First up is Jane Campbell, longtime commenter and guest poster, who’s been quietly part of the Eruditorum family behind the scenes since doing the editing work on A Golden Thread. She’ll be bringing her visionary approach to topics including Lost, Doctor Who, and whatever else happens to interest her every week under the Jane Says banner, kicking off this afternoon with the first of a two-part look at Season Twenty of Doctor Who.
We’ve also got Jack Graham, the man who pushes Malcolm Hulke to second place in the rankings of great Marxists to write about Doctor Who. He’ll be doing what he’s always done at Shabogan Graffiti, which is to say, brilliant Marxist commentaries that advance his vision of Gothic Marxism and, as he puts it, “the struggle in terms of the strange.” He’ll be along tomorrow morning with a bomb-throwing take on Iron Man, but we’ve got his entire archive on tap up above, and frankly, you owe it to yourself to read it all.
Finally, we’re thrilled to bring in the Pex Lives team as our house podcasters, bringing you the Pex Lives monthly Doctor Who podcast, along with Jack Graham’s Shabcast and a plethora of other auditory pleasures.
I’m hoping to expand that roster, and there’s definitely people I have in mind to hire, so if this all excites you and you want more, might I end with the crassly capitalist suggestion that you head on over to the Eruditorum Press Patreon page and consider backing it, and once we hit that milestone I mentioned we’ll be able to move on to even bigger and madder things, as well as giving the new team the sort of pay they deserve.