Who we are, what we stand for, and why visceral humanism will save your life and redeem art & politics.
If you were to catalog the world’s needs—a disentangling of money and power, a sane orientation toward the environment, another season of Friday Night Lights—you probably wouldn’t top your list with yet another webmag of arts, culture, and politics. You’d be right.
Yet here we are. Bear with us.
The novice bumblers of Roberto Bolaño’s Savage Detectives call themselves the visceral realists. You could do worse than to describe us as visceral humanists. Like you, we want vital literature that splashes in the mud of lived experience, that battles for radical empathy. No one wants to read poems, stories, or essays that flatten the creases of awareness.
To speak of the soul is to cheapen it, perhaps, but silence doesn’t dignify it, either. Coarsely, then: we’re not here to inflict knowingness, to flatter the reader or the writer’s sense of intellectual exceptionalism. Some of the mags we read—good ones, aswarm with smart, talented writers—are proud to inhabit a world apart, a world soaked in jargon. On the rare occasions these publications gaze beyond the Kings County line, they handle their findings with the forceps of Theory.
We hope to reject intellectual bloodsport, and to avoid the precious laziness of quirk. We seek beauty where the seams show and the pot boils over. We’re not the inventors of visceral humanism; we’re simply a happy vehicle. It’s in Shelley’s radicalism and Ginsberg’s playfulness, in the Situationists’ urgency and Patti Smith’s hunger. It’s recognizing that the messiness of empathy is more important than any abstract moralism. It’s not diagnostic; it’s creative. It’s not described; it’s demonstrated and felt. It flourished in occupied parks from Lower Manhattan to Oakland. It lives by refusing to ask permission and declining to accede to demands.
Like the weapon we’re named after, we are best engaged at a close, personal range. We recognize that the immediacy of the world demands a fusillade of impolite response. Our fire has breadth. It explodes where the spark of artistic imagination meets the black powder of political will. What ties together these essays, stories, poems, photographs, comics, and other bits of aesthetic shrapnel? The stitching that keeps Blunderbuss whole is an attitude, a stance, an approach toward the world and toward one another. Toward you, too.
Disclaimers aside, we mean the right sort of business. We are Blunderbuss Magazine. Expect cacophony.