As the New Year begins and the Christmas tree needles snap, before I enter more vessels that will take me travelling across hot asphalt and through the bluest of blue skies and the darkest of dark rains, I offer this. Soon it will become a permanent fixture of Paper Castle as we grow and expand our halls carved with gilt imagination, interaction, possibility and the infection of spirit. This is what it’s all about, this is why I’m here, this is what will one day be chipped into the tablets at the helm of the Paper Castle door.
Paper Castle Press harbors a concern for existentialist ideas; for the essence of living; for authenticity. We have a philosophy that harks back to those of the forebears of our previous generations, ideals that have been eclipsed by capitalist identity consumption.
Identities are spend-thrift in today’s culture. We devour and denounce identity, and our sense of self as rapid as the food we consume, the videos we watch, the paths we go down. With internet and digital media so prolific and easy to use, expression is everywhere, and possible everywhere. So, where is our voice? Where have all the deep, hearing and speaking voices gone?
Paper Castle provides the channel and tap for these voices to be developed, sharpened, and reawakened. To illustrate our philosophy, consider two powers of the recent cultural geography: First, the existential concerns of 1970s rock band Pink Floyd, in particular bassist Roger Waters, who introduces what can be called the cornerstones of Paper Castle’s philosophy. In essence these are concerns about the nature of being, of time and finitude, for the economy, and modern psychology.
Fear, alienation, anxiety and madness are elements of human existence that artists, writers and musicians hardly touch today, but which Pink Floyd dared to explore in an environment of warping cultural change. From the floral psychedelia of the ’60s, Pink Floyd began to focus minimalistically on two poles: the limitless space of philosophical musings, or ‘possibility’, up against the stone cold ground of reality. These two poles form the elemental structures of human existence. Philosophy is, after all, about “stripping away all of our confusions and prejudices, so that the light of understanding can reach the objective, permanent truth of things.”*
Another force who has infected past generations and indirectly premeditated a key psychological feature of modern society, is the Marchesa Luisa Casati. This electric tornado of a woman was muse to countless artists, aristocrats and spectators. She was, as many are today, preoccupied with her own transformation; with how she appeared in reality; in essence, with her being. However, her drastic exhibitionism eventually led to the obliteration of her self. We are interested in the reversal of that phenomenon. What if we begun paying at least as much, if not more attention to that which has the power to succeed our eventually evaporated shells?
Paper Castle Press is more than a publishing house. It is a clearing for a tribe, a vessel for philosophic ideas, intelligent speaking voices and listening brains. One does not need to shout to be heard. One does not need to know Hamlet by heart, have read all the classics, nor have a degree in English to be an intelligent human. Being an intelligent human is about listening, not just hearing. It is about reflecting, not just watching. It is about speaking, not just saying.
Paper Castle Press celebrates all forms of difference, and recognizes that life has not created two people in likeness of each other in all the history of men and women and children. In light of our difference, our speaking, listening and propulsion for reflection; we humans are unusual, terrifying, and absolutely amazing as a race of spirits on this great, blue ball in the galaxy. We have immense power, immense capacity for mistakes, immense propulsion towards discovery and breakthrough.
In the 21st century, identity seems to overthrow what we as people think, feel and experience. Why, one might ask, should I divulge that part of my human existence? Why speak louder from an internal place than act in defense of my external self? Because space is becoming available for what works for humans, as intelligent beings living on a great and now connected planet of continents and cultures, to shine through the lattices of those externally crumbling structures.
We stand as a generation who have learnt a lot, heard a lot, and inherited a great history of teaching. Things are not what they used to be, and they never will; be they good or bad, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we stand as a generation now able to use the resounding ideas of the past in an intelligent way. We have powerful new tools, a newly amorphous culture to navigate, and new requests to make of our world.
In his Inaugural Address as President of a divided America in 1961, John F. Kennedy addressed the future of spirits unborn when he said: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation.” He explains that “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.
“I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation,” he said. “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it – and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.” LIFE magazine declared in it’s ’60s double issue that the era he welcomed was one of “tumult and change.”
Another leader from not so long ago addressed his people heralding the same torch: “What we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow,” and that the people who made this difference are those who “put their hands on the arc of history” and bent it “once more toward the hope of a better day”** It is not victory itself, but human beings who bring the light of infinite possibility into realization.
There exists now an immense opportunity to develop a thriving culture of voices and ideologies, personal and individual expressions, concerns of a human matter – concerns for the young, our fears, hopes, anxieties, madnesses and alienations. Youth is potent. Age is the inheritance of education. Choices are able to be made now more powerfully than ever.
What remains and what we will remember are voices: learned, listening and inherited, those of the people around you – your own as it makes a mark on the fabric of this world’s reality. Above all other fleeting guests on the river of time and space, we will remember you, what you say, what you change, and how we transform.
An invitation to greatness, written by Sophie Ward, writer and founder of Paper Castle Press.
*George A. Reisch, philosopher and independent scholar
**President Elect Barack Obama’s acceptance speech.