A Journal of Anti-Language

Aside from their strategic deployment as a means to evade the authorities, anti-languages – slang, argot, cant, code, cipher, signal – serve to fortify bonds between members of the “discourse community” (crew) who operate them. Like all forms of linguistic concealment, their “meaning” is dependent upon direct, face-to-face encounters, relies heavily on shared experience, and requires mutual respect and approval. As Alice Becker-Ho writes, because “[t]he outlaw, the revolutionary, the cabbalist or member of a secret society, indeed heretics of all kinds are of a highly associative if not sociable disposition, [their language] calls for reciprocity – the only possible and therefore the only real equality – whose highest form is still represented by love”.

We’re bored with plain speech and mass communication. We want language to become intimate and dangerous. We want theory to become more lyrical, and poetry to become more austere. We don’t want nuanced theories of value or another “turn” to this or that. We want writing that strengthens relationships between individuals who have found each other. No need to write in order to have ideas confirmed: that is the task of journalism and academia. No need to address enemies: that is the task of representatives. No need to be “understood”: anti-languages are always “exclusive,” by virtue of their need to speak without being captured.

For the first issue, the journal will concern itself with the inside: prisons, camps, psychiatric assessment units, detention centres. If you are, or have been, incarcerated in one of these places, or by some other ISA – family, work, school, relationships, identity, “the prison house of language,” whatever – we want to hear from you. We’ll also publish reviews of works dealing with such subjects.
June 1st 2014 is the due date.



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