:: Article

Dream big

[Photo: Richard A. Meade]

Díre McCain interviewed by David Hoenigman.

The best thing about the internet is that anyone can create and publish content. The worst thing about the Internet is that anyone can create and publish content. The medium has driven a resurgence in the kind of DIY ‘zine culture that proliferated in the 60s and again in the 80s, only now, it’s possible to reach thousands even millions, globally, and you don’t even need a photocopier.

As governments and corporate giants threaten to curtail the freedoms afforded by the internet and homogenise the virtual world in the same way as the “real” world, underground publications are more vital than ever. The problem is, with a superabundance of information and misinformation and content of a low standard in circulation, it’s all too easy to get lost in the mire. Thankfully, there are some DIY publications that more than compensate for the rest, and can be relied upon to deliver not only quality, but something different as well. Paraphilia Magazine is up there with the best of them, and stands like a beacon above the sea of mediocrity. Since its creation in 2009, it’s built a respectable readership and an enviable reputation. I put a few questions to co-founder and editor-in-chief Díre McCain to find out more.

3:AM: From the very first issue, Paraphilia Magazine has featured some big contributors and interview subjects, including Steven Severin, Alan Moore, Michael Gira, James Williamson, Genesis P. Orridge, Stewart Home, Nick Tosches, E. Elias Merhige, J.G. Thirlwell and Tony Visconti, to name but a few. How did these contributions and interviews come about?

Díre McCain: Some of the people are friends and longtime supporters of the project. Others came to Paraphilia via PR wizard Howard Wuelfing who’s been an ally since 2009. Then there are those whose doors were simply knocked on, with invitations to participate. Being painfully aware of the passage of time and life’s ephemeral nature can induce assertiveness and make the feet fly rather than drag. And it warrants mentioning that everyone who’s ever been involved with Paraphilia is valued and respected equally, regardless of how well-known they may or may not be.

3:AM: There’s also a clear core of regular contributors that appears to place Paraphilia at the hub of a scene – in the same way that magazines like, say, Evergreen Review was a key outlet for the Beat Generation. Do you see the magazine in that way at all?

DM: I’m reluctant to call it a “scene” simply because it can imply some degree of exclusivity as well as a “creed,” for lack of a better word – both concepts that Paraphilia has always eschewed, hence the open submission policy. I view Paraphilia as an asylum/playground/UFO, where anyone with an open mind, true soul, and raw talent is free to enter with whatever they have to potentially throw into the mix. That said, there is indeed a regular cast of contributors, and one of the primary reasons for creating the project was to provide a much needed and well-deserved venue for their remarkable work. Fortunately, a steady stream of new folks have been boarding the ship as it floats along, and I anticipate that will increase even more when the rolling format launches in the near future.

3:AM: There’s a strong sense of identity that surrounds everything Paraphilia puts out. Is that a core aspect of the magazine’s philosophy? What’s the editorial policy?

DM: Paraphilia doesn’t have a philosophy per se. The closest you’ll find is the statement on the home page of the website. The project has been self-willed and self-governing from day one, with its creators and contributors providing necessary direction along the way. It may sound wacky, but the issues tend to form themselves, in terms of the harmony of the content. There’s an undeniable cerebral and emotional connection between the globally located contributors, almost as if they’ve consulted with each other prior to creating and submitting their work, which, to my knowledge, they never have. There have been fifteen issues to date, and each is a unique creature, with some having more noticeable “themes” than others, perhaps. The only real commonality is the sincerity of the work, which may, in fact, be the “identity” of the identity, if there is one.

There isn’t a set editorial policy either, beyond the material being impressive and coming from a real place within its creators. If it makes the cut, it’s in, and aside from the necessary formatting, the written material is only touched enough to correct obvious typos and grammatical errors. I strongly feel that whatever people have put to paper or screen is what they meant to say. I wasn’t inside their heads or hearts when it was written, and therefore, have no business changing their words. It’s a matter of respecting the work, and writing deserves to be treated with the same courtesy as other art forms when it comes to preserving its original intentions. There are, of course, cases where a good piece of writing can become exceptional with some minor revisions. In those situations, constructive suggestions are presented to the writers, and then it’s up to them to rework the material.

3:AM: Some of the stuff seems pretty far-out, and much of what’s in Paraphilia is intense and visceral. Is there anything that’s off-limits?

DM: A line would certainly be drawn at any material that’s blatantly offensive solely for the sake of being offensive. There has to be a purpose or reason behind it, and simple “shock value” has no value at Paraphilia. Not to mention the fact that I generally find it desperate, affected, and boring. Nor is Paraphilia a platform for people to spout flagrantly and pointlessly prejudiced views. I’m broadminded to a fault, and believe in letting people speak their minds, but still have my limits. Moreover, as editor-in-chief, I ultimately have to answer for whatever appears in the magazine, regardless of what the disclaimer says at the beginning of each issue. If a piece of writing, painting, photograph, etc doesn’t sit right with me, for whatever reason, it won’t be included.

3:AM: The quality of the magazine, in terms of content and presentation, is way beyond that of the average free online publication. Who does the editing, design and other duties, and how do you fund the production?

DM: There are currently two contributing editors – Christopher Nosnibor and Craig Woods – who handle a portion of the interviews and the occasional review, and the former assists with the fiction submissions as well. Their help has been invaluable. Regular contributor Chris Madoch recently signed on as an associate editor, and plans to resurrect the presently defunct poetry section once the new rolling format is up and running. On the promotion front, dixē.flatlin3 operates the Twitter account. Other than that, I’m on my own. The editing, design, and assembly of the magazine, the website maintenance and tech issues, the email and telephone correspondence, the promotion and public relations, chasing up contributors and material whenever necessary… it’s all me. It wasn’t always that way, though. The person who co-founded Paraphilia with me, D.M. Mitchell, began limiting his involvement with the magazine in early 2011, and stepped away from the project altogether earlier this year. He’ll continue to contribute on occasion, and also plans to launch a new line of books that will operate under the main publishing house.

As for the funding of the magazine (not the books) there’s no money coming in and none going out, which I believe is partially responsible for its success. My idea of success, that is. Removing that influential and often dictatorial factor has liberated Paraphilia and preserved its integrity. And that was another motive behind the magazine’s creation: to give phenomenal art – sans the industries’ grip – to anyone who would love and appreciate it. I can’t say for certain that Paraphilia Magazine will always be an entirely non-monetary (ad)venture, but for the time being…

3:AM You’ve published some books, too. Could you talk a bit about these?

DM: There are currently seven books on the Paraphilia label: The Seventh Song of Maldoror, which is a collection of loosely linked surrealist set-pieces that blend the picaresque and slapstick of Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges with the existential nihilism of Burroughs and Bataille. The author is Paraphilia co-founder D.M. Mitchell, who’s also worked with seditionary publishers Creation Press and Savoy Books, and created Oneiros Books (who published material by Grant Morrison, Steven Severin, John Coulthart and Alan Moore, among others).

The Membranous Lounge by Hank Kirton, one of the writers who provided the motivation to create Paraphilia. Hank is a wordsmith of the first water whose work combines threads from a variety of lineages. On the one hand, there’s the grotesqueness that inhabits the underbelly of Americana: carnival art, sideshow freaks, Weird Tales, B-Movie monsters, eschatological apocrypha. On the other hand, it taps into a nihilism and despair that’s the product of dreams betrayed. Although that may sound dark or negative, Hank’s writing is surprisingly touching and beautiful. The book has an introduction by Jim Rose.

Messages to Central Control by A.D. Hitchin, which is a collection of asemic texts from the edges of a sexualised universe. It’s a shifting collage of condensed micro-novels, intense and corrosive uzi-bursts of poetic anti-narrative from an alternate cyberporn universe intersecting ours. A.D. Hitchin’s fetihistic “poems” have enjoyed considerable popularity on the internet for quite some time, and are now collected in one volume, complemented superbly by disembodied images by D.M. Mitchell.

Parasite by D.M. Mitchell, which is a continuation of the themes and stylistic experiments collected in The Seventh Song of Maldoror, but with a much stronger narrative structure. The book functions on several levels. On one, it’s a picaresque sci-fi romp that scythes its way through a multitude of ideas it casts aside recklessly. On another, it’s a cheeky Escher-esque post-structuralist puzzle that pokes fun at movements such as neoism and plagiarism. And lastly, the author’s dropped references to a plethora of 60s and 70s television shows, comic books, toys and films. The reader is challenged to see how many they can recognise.

A Dream of Stone, which is an anthology of posthuman ghost stories edited by me and D.M. Mitchell. It features writing by Matt Leyshon, James Miller, Ele-Beth Little, Christopher Nosnibor, Lana Gentry, Claire Godden Rowland, Andrew Maben, Kimberly Dallesandro, Charles Christian, Craig Woods, Simon Marshall-Jones, David Gionfriddo, Gary J. Shipley, Tony Rauch, Hero MacKenzie, Paul A. Toth, Ron Garmon and Iris Berry. The stories are neither traditional gothic tales nor attempts to simply transplant the traditional tale to a contemporary setting. The concepts of real and unreal, external and internal, and even haunter and haunted are turned upside-down and inside-out, and given an entirely new slant.

Twilight Furniture, which I’ll allow the author to describe: “The book was created in response to author Stewart Home’s assertion (on his blog) that in many of his books he was attempting to render, through repetition to the point of banality, the sexual and violent content of his texts commonplace and drained of affect. The author of the book (a good friend of Home’s) appreciated and agreed with what Home was doing, yet at the same time, took it as a challenge to see if (s)he could achieve the opposite and, through a particular mode of repetition, imbue banal everyday objects with a febrile eroticism. Taking an Ikea catalogue as source material, texts were permutated and edited until an anti-narrative emerged that shimmers with violent sexuality. As the book was created using disembodied techniques and linguistic mechanisms, the author wants his/her name kept anonymous. The text truly speaks for itself.”

Bukkake Brawl by Made In DNA, which was originally published as a sustained transmission of Twitter posts. It’s a satirical novel that deconstructs the phenomena that make up the contemporary mediascape, which is bombarding humankind’s senses in an increasingly saturated form. Neon-lit carnage and posthuman porn delivered with the obsessive clarity of a narcotic rush, Bukkake Brawl heralds a new form of expression that promises to transcend literature while borrowing its forms and mannerisms. The book also includes the novella Media Whores.

3:AM: Are there any more books planned?

DM: Paraphilia Books recently merged with UK based publisher Clinicality Press, and at least two more lines will be established by next year. At the moment, that branch of the project is on hold to regroup, and is no longer accepting unsolicited manuscripts. As soon as the details are worked out, it will be re-launched with a fresh approach and progressive plan of action designed to make it more of a collaborative creative community rather than a company. More books will be released in 2013, and in the meantime, the Paraphilia titles, as well as a nice selection of Clinicality Press titles can be found at the website.

3:AM: Paraphilia Magazine has managed to not only keep going for four years, but seems, if anything, to be gaining momentum rather than settling comfortably into its niche. What plans are there for the future?

DM: Besides the book publishing plans, the magazine is about to morph into a rolling format, as stated earlier. It’s been in the works for ages, and I’m confident that the time is right. In addition to providing a more regular flow of content for Paraphilia’s ever growing readership, it will open the doors for more contributors to participate. Plus it will eliminate many of the remaining restrictions, including the strict deadlines. There will still be deadlines, but they’ll be loose, with the contributors ultimately deciding when their material appears via the timing/timeliness of its submission. It’ll be a bit of an experiment at first while it finds its footing, but I’m hoping it will ultimately result in a new virtual hangout for the kindred beings who gravitate toward Paraphilia. As for the journal format, there will be one more regular issue in early December of 2012, then it’s being retired for an undetermined amount of time. As for other plans? I dream big, and think even bigger. I’m sure at least one more harebrained idea will hit me like a gamma blast in the coming months.

David F. Hoenigman was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio but has lived in Tokyo, Japan since 1998. He is the author of Burn Your Belongings (Jaded Ibis Press) and the organiser of Tokyo’s bimonthly PAINT YOUR TEETH, a celebration of experimental music, literature and dance. He is an assistant professor at Meikai University and also writes for The Japan Times. He is currently working on his second novel, Squeal For Joy, forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, November 29th, 2012.