Volume I, Issue II: 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.

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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of Albert Camus’s interpretation of the classic Greek myth, which builds on the concept while distancing it from the outdated monoculture and social context from which it emerged.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, they can hope to escape the pit for good.

We have some truly incredible writers featured in this issue who are working towards a better understanding of our nuanced emotional responses to capitalism and examining 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.

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