The pdx zine symposium was held this year in the massive gym at Portland State University. It was so much larger than I imagined. I met some really interesting new people, and saw some old friends I didn’t expect to see from the F-Bomb zine back in Tacoma.
Shawn Wilbur’s table is worth mentioning. He runs the blog Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth and had an amazing collection of vintage-style anarchist texts from the 1860s – 1890s, the golden age of anarchism, and pre-anarchist texts from as early as the 16th Century. Shawn is an ardent collector, archivist, and an impressive Pierre-Joseph Proudhon scholar. He carried a small collection of his own writings on the classical anarchist texts, mostly about Proudhon. I just assumed those texts were collecting digital dust in an online archive somewhere.
We talked about the famous “Property is theft!” maxim and I asked whether Proudhon meant to include personal property (like the backpack I was wearing) in that category. Shawn said no, that Proudhon was a little bit “sloppy” in that sense, and that Proudhon was primarily referring to land holdings. I walked away with a couple zines from his table, one entitled “Slaves by Choice: the discourse on voluntary servitude, or the Contr ‘Nu” written in 1549 by Etienne de la Boetie. (So I guess they are online but whatever that’s not the point.)
Shawn said some of his translations of Proudhon are going to be published with AK Press this year. He also put together the extremely long “Anarchist FAQ” hosted on lots of anarchists websites over the years.
What’s great about a fair like this is that you meet people who write their own zines. You talk to them. Then you haggle back and forth and debate. As I walked up and down these aisles I heard people debating about obscure comic history, about local folklore, the Beehive Collective was there, Radix Collective was there, Bitch Magazine, Independent Publishers Resources, Eberhardt Press, some people at a table called “We are Not Bored” were there, and a bunch of anarchists from other cities, even Britain. Local science fiction writers were deconstructing futurism, radical librarians were discussing digital archival etiquette. The new Stolen Sharpie Revolution was there. Nihilism, Anarchism and the 21st Century was there.
By the way Zen and the Art of Paranoia is an absolutely hilarious Portland zine about how everything is going to shit, right before your eyes, and you can’t trust anyone. Nobody, not even friends and family, or the kindness of strangers, passes the test. Descartes’ Meditations for the people. You can’t find this kind of stuff online.
I met a friend of a friend (he has a blog too) and read through his Baudrillardian travel zine, Utopia, over a burrito. After talking with the writer about some contemporary ideas in anarchism, I really wished I had some zines of my own to share with all the zinesters. I wished I’d put together my new Potlatch distro for the symposium.
That it’s for now. Thanks Portland Zine Symposium!