Maybe the critical analysis I am looking for is one that does not aim directly at the out-of-doors but, by exploring the indoors of the text and going deeper and deeper in its centripetal movement, succeeds in opening up some glimpse of that out-of-doors…
–Italo Calvino on Northrop Frye
This is something like what I had in mind when I began the Notes—an exploration of cliché through use. I am particularly interested in the types of stories we tell most often, and in why we tell them in the particular ways that we most often do; that is, in what these things have to tell us about the wider cultural moment. The fiction presented here is satire, or, as Frye himself might have called it, anatomy.
As for the format, I’m trying to force on you my own ideal reading experience. I am a great admirer of the mini/independent comics of the 1980s and 90s (Love and Rockets, Yummy Fur, Palookaville, Dirty Plotte, etc.), and of the early newspaper and Silver Age anthology comics that many of them were modeled on (Thimble Theatre, Mary Worth, Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales)—not to mention the shared ethos behind everything from samizdat and second circulation to the do-it-yourself publication of fanzines.
But I also believe in the virtues of slow reading. Consider the progress, in terms of pages per month or year, of sagas like Moebius’ Airtight Garage, Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown, Seth’s It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, or Alison Bechdel’s decades-spanning weekly strip, the “half op-ed column and half endless, serialized Victorian novel” Dykes to Watch Out For, and think not just of the patience required, but also of the level of engagement—excitement, anticipation, even bitter disappointment—fostered by that kind of temporal investment. If this seems ludicrously slow today, it may at least give the reader a better sense of the rhythm and pace (and the uncertainty) of creation. Coherence, the first of the three volumes of the Notes for a Mythology, was written over the course of seven years, and completed in the summer of 2015. It will take three years to publish at the rate I have set (the second volume is currently under way, and donations will help to make sure it is finished on time), but the Notes themselves are only a part of a much larger and as yet open-ended fiction project.
New issues will appear the first Tuesday of the month (or the first Tuesday after Election Day in November), with December and one month in the summer off.