A zine about the struggles we face in the modern world.
This zine is called Hubris because a running theme across my personal thoughts and the stories in these pages is the arrogance of privilege. The world is full of people who feel that they’re more deserving than other people. I admit that I fall prey to this fallacy myself sometimes. The values that I want to stand for are empathy, love, and compassion. Hubris is the domain of selfishness, and the mortal enemy of a functional society.
This zine is called Hubris because I have strong opinions about the arrogance of American exceptionalism. I love the United States, but somewhere along the line it lost its willingness, and some would say its capacity, to learn. I grew up being told that some things were impossible, and the American way is the best possible way. After living outside of the U.S. for a few years, I know that this is not true. Hubris means being stuck in the past, and things not being a great as they could be.
This zine is called Hubris because I recognize my own arrogance in being a writer. I express things on the assumption that even if they aren’t original ideas, I have some unique and interesting take on them. It requires a belief that I can not only do this, but do it well enough to somehow matter. Hubris means thinking that the words I string together are worth reading, and the opinions I express are of interest to other people.
This zine is called Hubris because I understand the arrogance of being a publisher. I’m not only creating something, I’m selling it. It assumes that somewhere there’s a market for this sort of thing, and that people are simply waiting for me to deliver it to them. Hubris means putting something out into the world with a price tag on it, and assuming that people will be willing to spend money on it.
This zine is called Hubris because it’s what’s classified as a perzine. That’s short for “personal zine”, which means I do everything myself. It is entirely centered on my experiences, my opinions, and my own world view. That makes it sort of like a paper blog or vlog or podcast but without co-hosts or guests or other literal or metaphorical voices of any kind. Hubris means having the arrogance to create something that’s unapologetically all about me.
This zine is called Hubris because it takes is inspiration from samizdat. During the era of the Soviet Union, people would reproduce censored or otherwise officially forbidden material through zine-like underground publications. There was a lot of poetry, literature, and political though distributed this way. Hubris means putting this nonsense zine on par with the work of dissidents toiling under far more oppressive conditions than I, hopefully, will ever have to endure.
What is Cultural Horror?
In an increasingly divisive culture, there’s a notion that anyone who doesn’t completely agree with you is somehow your mortal enemy. People are bullied into keeping their thoughts and opinions to themselves. First-rate ideas don’t rise to the top based on their merits. The dominant views are the ones that get rammed through by whatever cultural forces are in charge at the moment. Facts don’t matter so much as ideological purity. This doesn’t make the world a better place.
The haves are declared to be deserving simply on the basis that they already have. The have-nots are judged to be unworthy, because if they were they wouldn’t be the have-nots. People march in the streets for the right to discriminate, exclude, and do far worse to people who are unlike themselves. There’s violence and racism and poverty, a whole lot of excuses around why nothing can be done about violence and racism and poverty.
Like many people in the 21st century, I suffer from depression and anxiety. The roots of my disorders can be found in suppressed emotions. I do not like to talk about, deal with, or even acknowledge the things that frighten me. The reasons that I suppress my feelings are mainly cultural. As a man born and raised in the United States, there’s a level of toxic masculinity that makes it unacceptable to display anything other than anger and aggression. Men cannot express sadness, most forms of compassion, or any type of doubt or fear. Those are perceived as weaknesses. I was never provided with the tools to deal with emotions in any sort of healthy or constructive way.
We live in a culture of fear. We pretend that we don’t, we deny it with every fiber of out being, but we do. Everything tells us that we need to be afraid. Through that terror, we are manipulated, and suppressed, and oppressed. We’re told that if we see something amiss, we should say something. What they mean is, report on the things that they have told us we’re supposed to be afraid of. Tired of living in fear, I’m saying something. This is not normal. This is not right. This is not inevitable. This is cultural horror.
Why a Zine, Not a Blog?
When I sit down to write the articles and essays for this zine, I put a considerable amount of thought into what I want to say. As I want my admittedly subjective opinions to at least be grounded in objective reality, I do some research. I put care into being as factually accurate as possible. Then I write, and re-write, and edit to ensure that the point I’m trying to make is clear. By the time I consider a piece ready for publication, I can own what I say, not have to explain myself, and allow my words to stand on their own.
While I can do the same thing on a blog, there is somehow a greater sense of urgency and immediacy. Write it and publish it now, so it can be seen now, by the audience now. There’s a pressure to do things routinely, to publish something on a far tighter schedule. Post something every day, or at least several times a week. There are limitations to the form that come more from the way SEO (search engine optimization) works, and the way people read. Those needs differ from, and largely ignore, the needs of the piece that you’re writing. You must have an eye-catching graphic. It should be no less than 300 words, but ideally no more than 600. Have headers every couple of paragraphs, to allow people to skim-read it. Forget about allowing the piece to be as long as it needs to be, or as brief as you want it to be. This madness makes blogging a commercial, rather than artistic, form of expression.
A blog post is also a stand-alone artifact. There might be a series of posts on a topic, but each article or essay is its own thing. A zine allows me to create a sort of anthology, smaller than a book but still a single body of work centered on themes and ideas that interconnect. A zine allows the pieces within a stand-alone issue to compliment one another in a way that a blog cannot.
This brings us to the bottom half of the internet. Web 2.0 and social media have made interactivity more than a standard. They’ve turned it an entitlement. After I have carefully crafted my words, seeking truth and accuracy and striving for the clear communication of my ideas, any random person can vomit up some mindless ideological talking point in response. They may not have even read the whole piece that I wrote. They could be responding to the title alone, or the first few lines, making assumptions about the actual content. It could be that they’re reacting to a comment someone made on social media, and followed a link to parrot someone else’s opinions. Those comments are now on the same page, part of the piece, polluting and diluting the original intent of the author. While precluding the ability to leave comments doesn’t foster any sort of meaningful conversation, neither do the comments sections of most blogs. The lack of interaction provides if not purity, then at least a sense of stillness and solitude.
The cost of the zine also acts as a filter in this same regard. The token fee means that people who aren’t genuinely interested won’t bother. A blog is free, and while that’s often a good thing, it also allows random people to wander in. You won’t find spammers and trolls in the pages of a zine. I know that my audience is actually here for my words.
The form below isn’t a comments section. It will send me an email with your comments and feedback. Include the words “okay for publication” if you’d like me to answer you in the next issue of Hubris.