(This posts comes to us from Andrew Wessels, who contributes to The Quarterly Conversation, as well as a number of other literary pursuits. His new site The Offending Adam delivers new poetry and book reviews every week and does so with an innovative approach to. Here he explains where the site comes from and how it works.)
I have been in an email conversation with G.C. Waldrep about the choice of title for our journal, The Offending Adam. Although our title comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V:
Consideration, like an angel, came
and whipped the offending Adam out of him.
the quote that I kept gravitating towards when trying to explain the journal’s vision was the following from Emerson’s “Spiritual Laws”:
Forging, through swart arms of Offence
The silver seat of Innocence
What is an offending Adam? There is something offensive to the act of writing, the act of editing, and the act of reading. To write is to attack the blankness of the page. To edit is to separate the chaff from the wheat. To read is to turn words into meaning. Literature is a locus point of offensive acts and one should embrace that offensiveness without hesitation.
But to be offensive does not mean to be violent or aggressive. The Emerson quote speaks to this specifically: through offense we can gain innocence. It is almost a reversal of the fall from grace.
So what tool of offense does TOA use? Simply put, consideration. If consideration does not sound like a particularly offensive weapon, I believe you are wrong. First, remember: we don’t mean to offend and harm; we mean to offend and achieve innocence. Second, think again about consideration. How often do we really consider something fully? When we do consider, aren’t we really beating that thing up a bit?
We have set up our journal to encourage, provoke, and even force consideration. We decided early on to embrace the publishing structure of the Internet and publish regularly, which for us is a new issue each week. In addition to providing continuous content, this also allows us to focus entirely on one writer each week and give that writer our complete and undivided consideration.
Our own consideration of each writer is put front and center with our editorial introductions. Each piece of content is selected by an editor, and many of the submissions are built through a process and conversation in which many pieces of content are read and discussed, before a final contribution is finalized. Our editorial statement talks about the bridge between the writer and reader as well as the reader and the journal. These introductions allow us to communicate specifically what drew us to this writer, to these words, and what we personally found enjoyable and worthwhile.
What we hope is that our readers come to us each week for a new issue that not only do they read once on Monday, but that they return to during the week. We want the words to stick with them, the writing to resonate and become a touchstone of each person’s week. Perhaps that desire is idealistic, but we thought why not give it a try and see if you can get to the silver seat of innocence.
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