If a writer is one who writes then Marginálie is, for the moment, the work of a writer who has dedicated their life to the craft and hopes to continue to do so. If a writer is one who has been published or who has made their living from writing, then Marginálie is, for the moment, the work of an aspirant writer. The two definitions each have their own ideological baggage and it may be left to the reader to determine to their own satisfaction what these may be and the degree to which the two categories may overlap now and at other times in history.
A reader may choose to define themselves in any number of ways and the act of reading may be more or less political, more or less active, more or less rewarding depending upon how they choose to do so. What ought to be clear to any reader who chooses to incorporate the act of reflection and/or critical thinking into the act of reading, is that the second of the above two definitions of a writer is a subset of the first, and that it has traditionally not only, nor even primarily, been the reader who chooses which writer may either be published or make a living from their craft. More recently, more or less any writer may choose to be published, even if they may not choose to be widely read. How empowering this is for either writers or readers may be endlessly discussed. What is difficult to dispute is that fewer writers are in the privileged position of making a living from their writing, and fewer readers are in the position to choose the work of those most privileged writers who are free to develop their work for a paying audience.
The structures of traditional publishing where writing does not merely exist in published form for anybody to chance upon or make the active choice to seek it out, but is also distributed so that readers have a chance to read it and indeed pay for it, have changed many times since the invention of the printing press. Over the last generation, those most prominant structures of conventional publishing which have involved editors, manuscript readers, agents, critics, awards, festivals, and marketing departments have as good as collapsed. Newspaper circulations have fallen catastrophically, substantively impacting the role that professional journalists have had in holding politicians and leaders to account. The market for general fiction has also collapsed even in those markets privileged by the global language, English. In markets with a minority language such as the Czech Republic, sales have been hit by readers attempting to learn, maintain, and extend their grasp of other languages such as English, and, in a globalised culture, reading translations of international hits. Quality has suffered as a result meaning a decline in the traditional role of the writer of fiction to hold up a mirror to society. There may be reason over this same period to find succour in the quality of HBO series, but this does not offer us much in the way of diversity nor even the same accessibility as was once found in the printed word, and the televisual equivalents of newspaper journalism are even more seldom of a comparable quality. What social media has done for us as writers and as readers leaves the most informed in these issues with little reason for joy. Rather, it reflects the overall picture of a specious sense of connectedness masking the appropriation of the means of the production of meaning in the hands of a diminishing handful of oligarchs who have not even the remnants of the internalised conventions of the editors and curators of the most corporate of mainstream media and little self-awareness from their content creating serfs to keep them honest.
Marginálie is an attempt to develop and at once publish works which may be of value for some of the readers who find themselves underwhelmed by what is currently available. It is offered in the hope that some may choose to pay for these works in the belief that both the individual, and society benefits from having those who dedicate themselves to producing cultural works.
If Marginálie is, at its outset, the work of one writer, it is also designed with community development in mind. Initially, this will likely happen in baby steps. As with all such projects, development will be influenced by the degree of involvement and interest.
Currently, Marginálie is a collection of drafts towards a pilate issue zero. The reasons for this are many and various and a reader may piece them together by exploring the site. It is likely that with feedback and the discovery of a small and broadening readership, the project will more quickly assume its final shape. All the more reason to dip in now and sniff around while it remains a noisy, dusty building site, when a simple page refresh may throw up surprises, and a single email may significantly influence its development.
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