Eruditorum Press: A Manifesto
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.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:17 am
Very cool Phil, looking forward to it! Though I’m not a fan of the fixed banner thing at the top of the page (it makes it harder for me to sneakily read the site at work… uuh I mean…) also I don’t see any notify by email for comments option 🙁
But yeah, excited to read more from Jane especially!
September 19, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
Same. It would be less of a problem if it were smaller, but it takes up a huge amount of space and makes it really hard to surreptitiously read at work. I get a lot of online reading done at work since reading by its nature is easy to start and stop and have open on a work screen without looking suspicious.
I could just read it on my phone, but accessing by mobile is worse. The banner dramatically limits screen space for text, and far less text would fit on the page than on Phil’s old site/layout even without the banner.
I’m excited for the new endeavor but I would really appreciate a more friendly layout.
September 20, 2015 @ 3:57 am
We’re still working on fine-tuning the layout, especially for mobile.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:17 am
** At least, I don’t think. I mean, I dunno, you’d have to ask him.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:42 am
This is great news! I wholeheartedly endorse your new direction. I’d like to welcome Jane and Jack to my regular Eruditorum breakfast perusal and wish you all the best of luck.
Now, while we’re talking left leaning politics, what about Milliband regenerating into Corbyn?
Oooh look! a captcha puzzle to confirm I’m not a robot. I’m gonna miss those spamming witch doctors.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:53 am
I always wanted to see an episode where a character comes home and discovers they’ve been killed and replaced with an android duplicate when they try to post on some website with captchas. I pitched this idea to some friends and was reminded it’s basically the plot of Blade Runner.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:45 am
You’ve got an issue, at least in chrome, with how the top banner displays the title over the logo, very hard to ready when it’s all white-on-white, but literally everything else about this is great news 🙂
September 15, 2015 @ 9:39 am
Yeah, I am getting the same thing, because I have my zoom set fairly high in Chrome – I am reading this on my living-room PC from my couch, so I need the zoom up high, and the top banner doesn’t quite work.
But I’m very excited about the new project!
September 15, 2015 @ 1:32 pm
Odd. I’m looking at it in Chrome right now, and it’s displaying correctly, but I’ll poke at it and see what I can figure out. Try clearing your browser data and seeing if it fixes it, if you would?
September 16, 2015 @ 8:19 am
I’m at 100% zoom and it looks perfect now.
September 15, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
Ah, OK, the logo/text crashing into each other is a known problem that’s on the to-do list for today.
September 15, 2015 @ 11:08 pm
Just an update – not complaining, as I know this is hard work and there are bound to be teething troubles – but viewing the site in Chrome with the zoom up (250%) now makes both the tagline and the author-links show up over the text rather than in the header at all.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:51 am
Part of the new manifesto is that the links on the Eruditorum page don’t actually go to the stories, they just link back to the Eruditorum page.
September 15, 2015 @ 1:28 pm
Yeah, we discovered that bug at 5:30 AM and went to bed instead of fixing it. It’s on today’s to-do list.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:53 am
A dream come true.
September 15, 2015 @ 7:02 am
Under Tardis Eruditorum you seem to have lost the original “mad man itgh a blog” intro.
I would like to very strongly suggest it should be the first link in the “posts index”, and also it deserves to be the main intro that new users first see.
I say this because it was the first and best piece that hooked me on this site. I’ve re-read it a dozen times…
“When the lights finally go out on the last people on the last world… there will be a wheezing, groaning sound and…”
Also, I second the bug about the white banner text, the first word is on top of / overlayed over the white scroll image…
September 15, 2015 @ 8:06 am
The banner at the top doesn’t seem to like Chrome, I just see a big plain white bar up at the top.
September 15, 2015 @ 7:46 am
Noo, not the paisley! Actually, it made my eyes go a bit funny on long posts, so this is great news.
More seriously, um, yeah, this is great news.
September 15, 2015 @ 7:48 am
You probably ought to fix up some sort of redirect or “We’ve moved!” page on philipsandifer.com. At the moment you just get Page Not Found, which is likely to perplex a lot of people.
September 15, 2015 @ 8:23 am
September 15, 2015 @ 10:35 am
I believe the redirect is working now.
September 15, 2015 @ 11:38 am
Unfortunately, the redirect doesn’t seem to be working. Going to http://www.philipsandifer.com/, I’m still getting the message: “This webpage is not available” and the frowny document face on Chrome.
September 15, 2015 @ 11:49 am
It’s been working for me this whole time. Something to do with cookies/cache?
September 15, 2015 @ 12:00 pm
Weird. It works for me in Mozilla, but not Chrome. But in Chrome, the banner isn’t whited out.
September 15, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
My guess is that this will fix itself on the day as the change propagates across various DNS servers, but we’ll look into it.
September 15, 2015 @ 8:01 am
You’ve redecorated. …I kinda like it.
September 15, 2015 @ 8:28 am
CONGRATULATIONS :D! Well this is exciting, isn’t it?
September 15, 2015 @ 8:49 am
Well, we’re all doomed, then.
(Seriously, congratulations! This is really exciting!)
September 15, 2015 @ 9:05 am
September 15, 2015 @ 9:47 am
Wait – that isn’t the right icon for Jane . . . I’m so confused.
Anyway, I said I would definitely back a Jane patreon if you wrote about Doctor Who, and so I’ve put my money where my mouth is. My patreon level (meager though it remains) is now twice what it was for Phil alone.
September 15, 2015 @ 10:10 am
I have an icon? I don’t see an icon. I’m so confused. Actually, I’m not confused. We’re just rolling out the site. At the 11th hour, natch. It’ll take a bit to get it all cleaned up.
Anyways, I’m thrilled to be writing up Doctor Who for Eruditorum Press! And thrilled that you’re thrilled. The first half of a two-part essay on Season Twenty goes up later today, with the second part coming in Thursday morning. Next week I anticipate a comparison of Ex Machina and Humans, and then the first of my Lost Exegesis bits.
We’ve also got plenty of other Doctor Who stuff coming your way in the next few months: weekly reviews, weekly podcasts, and of course the monthly Pex Lives podcasts, too, the next of which will feature ME! (and Kevin and James) talking about Carnival of Monsters, Nightmare of Eden, and our first impressions of The Magician’s Apprentice.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:31 pm
You can get an avatar by tying your e-mail address to a Gravatar account. Until you do that, you’ll have a randomly assigned one.
September 15, 2015 @ 12:59 pm
Love what you’ve done with the place 🙂
I was just wondering – might you have a Twitter account for Eruditorum Press that auto-tweets new articles as they are published?
September 15, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
That is a thing I may well create today.
September 15, 2015 @ 1:57 pm
Thanks. Hoping it’s more than just me who thinks it’s a neat idea; live updates on a singular account.
September 15, 2015 @ 2:34 pm
Nice. Let us if I can comment on this site without something strange happening…
So if the comment get through, then I will personnally be very, very, very, VERY happy with the change.* I’ve been following Phil’s writings for almost two years now, and…
…well, it’s been absolutely fucking fantastic, that’s what I’m trying to say. Since the (from my perspective) beginning I felt it was an excellent way to quench my thrist for a deep, academic analysis of the result of human thougt and action, (including, but obviously not limited to fiction) but as the thirst grew, I started reading more texts written by your empire-to-be, (mainly Jack) and before you know it, I find myself identifying as a Marxist. So nice job, there.
So I’d like to thank you, as well as Jack, Jane and everyone else, for all you’ve written so far, and for all you are going to write. Reading the blog(s) has made some rough times in my life bearable, and it is currently making some good times even better. It has also, without a doubt, changed the way I interact with the world for the better. I daresay I’ve already turned another interllectual into a leftist interllectual myself. So in short, your blog is slowly changing the world, and the new format can only help the process.
So keep on writing. We’re all the better for it.
Oh, and good luck with the new editorial duties. Much harder than editing your own texts, I imagine…
*If it turns out I still can’t comment, that sentence reads with only one “very”.
September 15, 2015 @ 5:55 pm
Blimey, you mean I actually convinced someone?!
September 16, 2015 @ 10:01 am
I was mad enough to begin with, so don’t flatter yourself.
I’d write that I thoroughly enjoy your work, but I think we both know that’s neither true nor intended.
Well. you’re doing a bloody good job, anyhow!
September 15, 2015 @ 4:27 pm
Wow. This sounds amazing. Congratulations, and good wishes to the fledgling empire!
(And if nothing else, at least I’m more likely to remember to read Shabogan Graffiti now…)
September 15, 2015 @ 4:45 pm
By the way, I like the logo.
September 15, 2015 @ 6:14 pm
Though I’m not a fan of the fixed banner thing at the top of the page (it makes it harder for me to sneakily read the site at work… uuh I mean…)
Yeah, this seems to be a pointless piece of design – if your primary mode of publishing is medium-length essays, nobody needs to access a hamburger menu any faster than pressing “home” will display it.
(Also, when clicked, the menu pops open on the other side of the browser, in white-on white boxes that then stay open and cover up the text one is reading, or the comment box one in which one is typing…)
Now to read Jane’s S20 post!
September 15, 2015 @ 6:17 pm
^ when I tried to post this, it took me to the Books page, because its invisible white box was hovering BEHIND the “reply” button.
Additional: I keep getting repeated failed CAPTCHAs, and the auto-reloading tag lines that appear in the banner are difficult to read because of being white lettering over a white logo image.
September 15, 2015 @ 7:14 pm
The current comments system, including its captchas, is a temporary state of affairs; we’ll be going for something more robust soon.
September 16, 2015 @ 1:07 am
Amazing! Well done all! I am really excited about this new site and the collaboration between you all and what new stuff will come out of it!
Be great to hear Jane’s work more and Jack too. Exciting times indeed.
“Though I’m not a fan of the fixed banner thing at the top of the page (it makes it harder for me to sneakily read the site at work… uuh I mean…)”
I really do like the design of the site generally but agree with above in that I don’t see a need for the fixed banner. When I am reading (which is why I come your work) they always feel like they are in the way for me.
Also I zoom the page a lot too, and the logo is crashing into the banner text – I am on an older version of Safari (due to change to newer soon). And it would be fab to have a ‘subscribe by email’ feature.
One last thing, I did like the feature on the older site where in the archive list there was a drop-down menu for each year and month. I liked that as it allowed me a quick visual scan for posts I wanted and I could find them easily.
I am sure i will manage somehow to get through the days ahead without B&W paisley or spamming witch doctors, but I don’t know how…
September 16, 2015 @ 1:09 am
My first comment when I tried to post was an ‘error’ on page, but then saw that comment had posted.
September 16, 2015 @ 3:56 am
Gosh this sounds quite exciting- it tempts me to de-lurk! Hope it all goes very well- not least the idea of moving away from the single blogger model! And seeing some more Doctor Who posts will always float my boat, as I think I’m the only sentient creature this side of Alpha Centauri who hasn’t got round to watching Game of Thrones….
John G Wood
September 16, 2015 @ 6:37 am
Wow, what a great move! Well done everyone, and I really hope it works out for you all.
Just read Jane and Jack’s pieces – will inwardly digest while walking the dog.
The floating menu obscuring the text (at least in Firefox) is pretty annoying, though. And three attempts at captcha and counting….
September 18, 2015 @ 3:12 pm
I like how we all get our own little pattern.
September 19, 2015 @ 4:25 pm
I just tried to post a comment as a reply above and failed a dozen times in a row to prove that I’m not a robot. This is existentially troubling. Let’s see if I have the same issue posting a brand new comment.
Hmm. So far, yes. One last go.
September 19, 2015 @ 4:30 pm
Okay, that worked, eventually. The original comment: I am mildly saddened that a host of bookmarked Eriditorum posts I’d saved to “read later” are no longer reachable at those URLs. But you know what they say: He who hesitates must spend 20 seconds googling the title to find the new location.
Hmm, that’s not really much of a problem, I guess.
Good luck with the new Eruditorum! I look forward to seeing what comes out of it.
But what do you have against robots, anyway?
September 20, 2015 @ 10:39 pm