Volume I, Issue II: Anti-Sisyphus


Why You Should Buy, Subscribe, and Donate

Since our first issue, Protean has grown into a known quantity, and we’re confident that we continue to have valuable work to offer. Protean’s first issue, Pattern Machines, was very well-received, and our online readership grows by the day. Our collective has established a strong and dedicated editorial team, a fantastic lineup of writers and artists, and a weekly output of incisive online content.

Moreover, Protean is an entirely reader- and supporter-funded operation. We do not take money from advertisers—which is why we have launched a Kickstarter. To publish at scale, we must raise funds, and we can’t do it without our passionate, engaged readership. To see a list of our amazing writers and contribute, check please visit our Kickstarter today!

What We Need to Succeed

After the revolution, we’ll all live lives of leisure in a post-money, post-work society. But in the meantime, we still pay the bills.

Our most central goal is to ensure that we pay our writers and artists at fair and competitive rates to help sustain their work and livelihoods. Funding, printing, and distributing the fruits of their labor requires money up front. We are fully dedicated to using those resources to produce nothing but the highest quality full-color magazines and to continuing to give online content away for free.bf5dcfe20876a0023e6a18b6d5ab2cff_original.png

Making magazines can be pretty expensive, particularly if you’re paying your contributors fairly. This is why we price each issue at $20. Our fundraising goal for our initial issue was extremely modest: $500. We ended up raising five times that amount.

We believe we can do even better this time around, which is why we’re setting our goal at $7,500. This will allow us to increase our print run, expand the amount of content per issue, and pay some of the best writers and artists on the left.

The Theme: Anti-Sisyphus

Protean Magazine Volume I, Issue II’s theme revolves around the small, daily indignities that capitalism foists upon us. There are a thousand tiny absurd moments each day in the worlds of work, commerce, media, and more that insult our humanity and our intelligence, rob of us our dignity, and delude us about the nature of the world. These tiny costs to our mental health, our self-concept, and our understanding are factored in on the ledger, taken for granted as the baseline reality.2d0e17b4a4f4e9536fbc6ca115fca92c_original.png

We’ve developed a central metaphor to stand in for the weight of these disharmonies. Our title for the issue is Anti-Sisyphus—with a nod to Deleuze and Guattari, it’s a retooling of Albert Camus’s interpretation of the classic Greek myth, which builds on the concept while distancing it from the outdated monoculture and social context from which it emerged. While yoked to endless toil, Sisyphus is a bit of a Randian übermensch, a heroic individualist. He is a fallen king, and his uncomplaining rise to the occasion of his cursed task feels in line with the Great Man theory of history, normative concepts of masculinity, and a whole bunch of other tropes that run counter to the kind of people that we’re trying to reach with this issue.

To us, in a reversal of the Sisyphus myth, Anti-Sisyphus is an ordinary person who, in place of the traditional mountain, is instead trapped in a pit. They are not heroic, except in their own small and quiet ways, and were certainly never royalty. And while they may have to labor away at a futile job, they must also face down an avalanche of absurdities that every day threatens to bury them. By night they must dig themselves out, only for the cascade to begin anew each morning. But they do not toil alone nor suffer in solitude, and by recognizing their collective condition, can hope to escape the pit for good.

We have some truly incredible writers commissioned for this issue who are working towards a better understanding of our nuanced emotional responses to capitalism, and the ways by which we might reassert our dignity and our humanity against the world’s hostile edges. We hope to have your help in supporting their work.