Performing at our Garden Party on Saturday 24 July, are some of the students from the newly created MA Creative Writing course run by Sam Kelly and David Bishop at Edinburgh Napier University. As part of their course, the students looked at the form of the manifesto, and went forth to make their own challenges.
“A manifesto has a madness about it. It is peculiar and angry, quirky, or downright crazed.” – Mary Ann Caws 1
The manifesto disrupts the indolence in established artistic norms.
The manifesto manifests at times of societal upheaval, crisis, and war.
The manifesto is a product of the times and a rejection of the times.
The manifesto is a razing of prevailing norms and accepted truths.
The manifesto is a judgement, a proclamation, a demand.
The manifesto kills the past.
The manifesto is the new.
The manifesto is now.
“The [manifesto] demands blood.”
– Charles Jencks 2
In the first trimester of the MA Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University, we were given the opportunity to start our own movement and write our own manifesto. A number of us had a clear idea of what should be challenged and, how we would go about it. For some, this was the first time they seriously considered what needed to be changed and how. For others, this was an opportunity to satirise the medium of the manifesto itself.
The creation of a movement and manifesto allowed us to carefully consider our writing; what influences us, what decisions we make regarding style and content, our role as cultural producers, and how our writing reflects or rejects dominant discourses.
The movements and manifestos that have emerged from this show a diverse, “angry, quirky,” and “downright crazed” response
- Caws, M.A. ed. (2001) ‘Manifesto: A Century of Isms’, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, pxvix
- ibid, pxxiii
Ever Dundas – The Sinsualist
Composing and designing the Sinsualist Manifesto brought together many influences, with Queer Theory at its core. I wanted to make a break with established norms, and to bring Queer Theory to a new audience, as it is still to break into mainstream consciousness.
‘Sinsual’ is both an attack on the religious and the secular-scientific. These dominant discourses have violently converged on the body, reifying established norms, and constraining our potential. Queer Theory razes the very foundations of our society. It is exciting, fun, and dangerous. In terms of literature (and all the arts) it opens up so many possibilities.
The Manifesto of Sinsuality is the starting point. I want people to find out more about the theorists and artists I have cited and bring about a Sinsualist revolution.
Mark Nicholls, John Fagan, David Marsland and Jonathan Whiteside – Hatism
Hatism is a manifesto about wearing hats. It doesn’t aspire to a plateau of intelligence higher than this.
The manifesto satirises the various silliness of manifestoes past and present, using hats as the running joke throughout, and runs with this joke until everyone else has run away.
We decided to do this manifesto since we are naïve cherubs with an outstanding sense of humour. Our artistic sensibilities have not developed to such a state of refinement that we might consider writing (or even performing) such a manifesto beneath our dignity.
Hatism is here, and it has the snazziest headgear in the Edinburgh area.
Sean Martin – Anarcho-Oneric-Quietism
The Anarcho-Oneric-Quietist Manifesto comes from convictions that I didn’t know I had, but seem to have become apparent over the last few years. Dreams, myth, a dissenting/refusenik political stance, a fascination with folklore and old wives’ tales, plus a few nods to writers who are also working in a similar field gave me the impetus to try to get the manifesto down on paper.
It has been important to me for the writing to reflect these ideas, to suggest rather that dictate; to hint rather than describe; to infer rather than point to directly. Such an approach is, I believe, valid for our secular, consumerist times; a culture dominated by all that kills the soul and the imagination. From such things writing comes, and, indeed, all creative work which is vital to… well, I’ll leave that up to you.
Siân Bevan – the Mulipote
The Mulipote was formed out of itchy-fingered frustration at the number of poor female characters in genre fiction. Its creation pokes fun at clichés, which readers buy into, while demanding a higher standard in modern literature. The Mulipote is confrontational, but manages to remain light-hearted, feisty and mellow.
I want (well, I suppose I should demand, but very politely) the Mulipote to become a guerrilla movement, with bookmarks and stickers praising or condemning the strength of female characters in the literature that surrounds us. The Mulipote swear, swagger and we love decent books above all.
Barbara Melville – Booki$m
Like so many pieces of genius, Booki$m began as a light joke in a dark bar. But it soon evolved into a mischievous, sceptical trick that endeavoured to dig deeper than the ‘books as currency’ proposition. The ideas are always met with the same sorts of queries: how’s worth decided? Is debt promoted? Will people steal it?
And that’s what Booki$m does: it provides the spade. Receivers may be scoffers, even attackers – but at least they’re after answers. By encouraging us to read our wages, Booki$m casts our attention to the questions we should be asking about any money system. It may take a quiet approach, but that’s ok: Post-Booki$m will be louder.
Silvia Barlaam, Christina, Jenni Green – La Sufferance
The goal of the Sufferists is to shamelessly channel the trauma and misery of childhood into bankable fiction.
To achieve this aim, we have devised intricate strategies of childcare designed to transform children into bestselling novelists whose works are REAL and TRUE. There will be no more overprotecting children into a numbing cocoon, suffocating all experience and expression. Our aim is to bring the veracity of SUFFERING back to art.
The manifesto looks with scorn upon cynical airport fiction, and satirises the cheap and tacky whores of contemporary hackdom. If the public want suffering, then the artist must truly SUFFER. Our aim is to put the art back into the mainstream, to put artifice in the trash where it belongs.
We believe art is learning the best way to express suffering. This is our business. This is what we do. Viva la Sufferance