As Non-Fiction Fashion

by Paul Fenn

Contemporary publishing is either mainstream or irrelevant. Either it originates from a few corporate authorities, on television or in print, or it is alternative, marginal and largely unread.

This unhappy fact has often inspired cries depicting over centralized corporate control of the nation's press. Yet while the public is aware of and even resents the mainstream media's near monopoly over public discourse, little thought is given to the consideration of alternative sources.

In other words, the irrelevance of alternative publishing is a demand-side, as opposed to a supply-side, problem. What threatens freedom of expression in our time is not censorship, but irrelevance, inconsequence: isolation. It is foolish to pretend in light of this rather obvious fact that irrelevance is brought to bear upon independent writing in any tangible sense; we are not censored, even by media monopolies. The fact is that few people are listening.

In the end, our resentment of centralized media is stayed by a widespread inability to judge knowledge without the assistance of some corporate authority, be it the Cable News Network, the American Medical Association Harvard University, or a government official. In this sense the centralization of public discourse is tied to the impotence of independent thought. On a certain level, we are atrophied judges on public discourse. We are no more able to judge unauthorized discussion than many illiterate adolescents are able to settle disputes rationally without police. As a rule, we are quiet observers of what we are told is going on amongst ourselves. Rather than defining society, we are defined by it.

Public resentment of centralized media demonstrates a tangible demand for relevant independent writing. We are becoming aware of the consequences of our atrophied judgement. Centralized public discourse ultimately requires centralized political power. In the absence of active, judgmental individuals, a community will soon require authorities to resolve its disputes. Like athletes who have no honor, our atrophied judgement needs police and lawyers to represent it. We have long known that education is essential to democracy; now we are learning that public education is produced by people that rule themselves, not by mere government allocation.

Independent thought has assumed its most impotent form precisely when it is most essential to the progress and survival of mankind. This atrophy of the individual before the challenges facing each of us individually is an historic crisis. More than any particular corporate or "social" problem, from nuclear proliferation to inner-city violence, from political corruption to environmental disaster, pervasive atrophy of judgement is the principal crisis underlying all others.

To meet this demand, which is a virtuous and worthwhile demand for independence, this magazine has been assembled.

Independent thoughts are no longer worth thinking because the contemporary mind is worthless, devalued by a pervasive aesthetic divorce of reason from belief. Thought is divided between insubstantial belief and faithless reason. It is either meaningfully irrelevant or meaninglessly pertinent. It is either art or science. Either, in its pure state, is a hiding place for men, indulging a speaker's prerogative not to be held accountable which matches the audience's sleepy wish not to take account.

DEEP STYLE is not scientific. We do no specialize in talking about society. Like a God, society cannot be discussed well, because it is not a thing, but a motion. Society figures in literature as the castrate's amnesiac memory of his lost organ: the discreet object studied by scientists, the fiction that artists pretend to represent.

DEEP STYLE rejects fiction, that account of what never happened, that socialized onanism of the virgin-artist, who in the best moments of his wastrelship can only stop whatever is happening to take pictures. Whereas the scientist hides under the umbrella of his inherited canon (which gives him his problems to solve, passively), the fictionist takes refuge in a chosen irrelevancy.

Fiction is a drug that engenders unnatural feelings; feelings divorced from reality, and unable to survive in its wilderness. DEEP STYLE insists on the test of survival, and scorns the breeding of perverse creatures, be they anorexic fashion models, man-boy underwear salesmen, or inviable narrators. However unhappily, we forbear and protect the passing of the dead.

DEEP STYLE consists exclusively of non-fiction.

DEEP STYLE recognizes the principle of education by example, for better or for worse. Writing is but a remnant of style that designates an individual's demeanor in the world: an example. The stories contained herein are by working men (including females in that category, naturally): businessmen, politicians, financiers, teachers, activists, psychologists, students, and physicians: men living in the secular, economic world; surviving in the exchange of services, not on inheritance, grants or tenures. We do not aspire to a Literary Lifestyle.

DEEP STYLE recognizes that imitation is the legitimate and necessary verb underlying the idea of communication: that it is not knowledge itself, but rather the viability of knowledge as revealed in human character, which opens the heart's path to the mind. Like the collage on the cover of this magazine, DEEP STYLE presents Non-Fiction Fashion: one man, three idols, and a discarded road hazard light in Nevada. Surrounded by the dominant corporate symbols of nazism, communism and capitalism, the individual exceeds them utterly. DEEP STYLE proceeds from the belief that it is the specter of something being said, of one man saying something, not the said thing itself (if such a thing exists), which is the communicable part of thought. The accounts contained herein are offered neither as analyses nor as fabrications, but rather as examples of your fellow humanity.

You are the best example of humanity available to you. It is your personal limit as a thinking human being. The stories contained herein were written with a respect for that limit. But neither are they "autobiographical." The limit they designate is "society." I offer you myself as an example of a man. I am not better than you. I am not endorsed by groups. You will have to judge me as you would any stranger. I speak to you as an equal, if you can stand that. I can, barely, in my better moments. Equality is not pleasant. Freedom is not easy.

Copyright 1993 by the Accountable Publishing Company