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Thursday, 23 August 2012

Besancon Zine, Text of the Poncey Intro

 I may or may not scan the zine I've stuck together about my trip to Besancon, Proudhon's hometown. It is mostly sketches and book extracts with a little bit of route explanation - very little navel-gazing. But I added this poncey introduction to it:

What's this Fanzine made out of?

Aside from these explanatory notes right here, everything in this fanzine travelled with me from Besancon: the compiling of these various pieces into a fanzine format allows me to collect these memories and traces together, and they are joined together by the journey they made with me.

- the map is what I used to locate myself between France and Switzerland & the 'Sunday 29 July' text are snippets from a printout of my blog entry, which I carried with me on my journey, alongside an explanation of the anarchist pilgrimage project, quickly translated into french by a work colleague of mine (this involved revealing my anarchist politics for the first time to everyone in the shared office). These were intended to ease introductions with european anarchists who were gathering in St.Imier - for why, you'll have to wait;
- the times new roman quotes are from my copy of George Woodcock's 'Proudhon' which I started reading as I reached the border on the way back from Switzerland (I'll also be making a similar zine from/about the St.Imier conference, to share at a report-back session in my hometown);
- the sketches were with a pen & pad bought in St.Imier, both now used up, and the locations were derived from that Woodcock book (which was surprisingly readable);
- the comments in 'this font' are my typed-up notes, scrawled at the time - a sample is included on the page with the fort picture;
- the photos were taken with the disposable camera that that those notes will later record me buying;
- the details of 4 Bisontin anarchist groups (in french) are taken from a flyer I had from St.Imier (on the train to which I also had the company of two some Bisontin anarchists - they got hassled by police at the border, telling them they'd better be pacifist or else! I meanwhile played the ignorant non-francophone tourist and wasn't even searched);
- my 60 euro train ticket to Paris is also stuck in the mix, and additional pictures are photocopied from an A4 magazine on Proudhon (in french) I bought at the bookfair in St.Imier, 'Itineraire',

and finally:
- the scrap of cartoon on the front cover, complete with its anarchist allusions to property and against election, came from one of the flyposted door-shutters in Besancon, just by the Librairie L'Autodidacte.

It is precisely that kind of trace, linking the present with the past, that gives me the thrills and sense of revelation on these journeys. To see a circled A in graffiti, or an anarchist sticker in a foreign town, is one thing, but you can never know the route, or the relevance behind it to the history you are pursuing: but to see one produced by a local group, in the very neighbourhood where the person you are tracking was born, is something else. And this one: it is stuck on someone else's unused property, it features pictures as well as words (my fanzine enthusiasm is closely linked with my visual-textual love, ie. comics!), it is layered upon other layers and layers of other flyposters, carrying through time in one place. The address is on the very street that the flyposter was pasted, and the square that was behind my back as I collected it will this month host the latest in a regular series of anarchist gatherings and open-air gigs: it's the centre of the local anarchist scene. The topics, also, those ideas carried forward from the past, are against playing the electoralist game, and of challenging the social normality of richmen's property ownership: two of the very issues that are what make Proudhon important, why historically we pinpoint him and rework, reprint his arguments (as I do in this zine, using Woodcock's helpful summary, over the last 3 pages). The use of the phrase 'anarchist', core arguments used by what was to become the anarchist movement, they are all there, in that fragment of paper and wallpaper paste, sun-faded ink and ideas and time.

These are the kind of themes that I wish to address in my presentation at the Loughborough Anarchist Studies Conference, 3 - 5 September 2012. And (for those who aren't there) it is for this event that I have printed this fanzine. I am beginning a series of art performances, with which I intend to share some of my experiences, thoughts and sketches form a much bigger journey I began 2 years back, following the routes of Bakunin And Kropotkin. If you're interested, or would like to join me next summer on a part of the concluding travels, see

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