(NY, NY—Sept 11, 2014) This is a press release—not just in a (un)conventional but literal sense—an announcement that as of today we hereby release the word 'press' from our name + will now be known as Calamari Archive, Ink.
The word/role of 'press' has always confounded us. It sounds aggressive, like we are pushing something. When we 1st started doing this we did indeed 'press' or squeeze chapbooks to flatten the spine, but nowadays the only thing we press is a button to send PDFs to the printer. This name change represents a philosophical schism, in response to a shifting publishing landscape. There seems to be an expectation that a 'press' should not just publish books but promote + market them as commodities w/in the competitive confines of a larger economic system, reducing them to products at the expense of their integrity as art objects. How does 1 keep up w/ the competition in this day + age of mass amateurization + not buy into the commodifed hypocrisy of it all? Not that we ever were 'in' with the insider's club, bookie bookmakers, in the dust-collecting 'industry' of publishing, even at the small press level ... but the proliferation of social media + the shitstormed climate of self-promotion has only exacerbated our reluctance to play the game, to press on unquestioning, to brainlessly blast promotional junk at the oncoming blitz to see what sticks. Calamari's survival skills never included aggressive or even guerilla marketing chops. Given fight or flight, we choose flight + like our namesake squid, our only response to threat is to squirt ink. All we can do is publish books + keep them from becoming endangered.
Printed in archival ink
The word archive more accurately reflects our organizational ambitions, incorporated as we are as a collective, as a curated collection. We've always resisted having a mast-headed manifesto, but back in 2010 when American Book Review asked us for 1 we said: «Any statement or manifesto about the press is contained in the summation of its books at this time.» The same is true now.
Over the past 10+ years, the entity formerly known as Calamari Press has quietly published over 50 book objects (including the acquired 3rd bed imprint). Some of these have been 1st books by emerging writers such as Blake Butler, Miranda Mellis, Robert Lopez, Peter Markus + Chiara Barzini, while others have been resurrected reprints of out-of-print cult classics by established writers such as David Ohle, Gary Lutz, Stanley Crawford + Scott Bradfield (making us more kin to a no-kill shelter than a press). In addition, we have published several webbed issues of Sleepingfish (+ currently it is ∞-ly ongoing online) + have digitally archived all 18 issues of The City Moon.
This change to archive is also a nod to Dalkey, + to Derrida. Our publishing philosophy is also rooted in Deleuze & Guattari. Per D+G, a book's function is to form rhizomes w/ the world + inevitably «there is no difference between what a book talks about and how it is made.» The tendrillic arms of Calamari are living rhizomes, each branching off + spinning a new book organism w/ archival ink running thru the veins.
An ever-forming reflexive legacy
This game-changing name-change does not necessitate a new manifest ... this new manifestation of Calamari remains a summation of the books it is built on. In the context of an ark, a manifest is a living document listing the books it comprises. + the verbs to manifest + publish share the same etymology from the latin, «to make public». From the getgo we've been drawing up our publically traded manifesto by our bootstraps as we evolve, letting the accumulating books dictate the course.
Calamari Archive is itself a sea-faring book composed of living books, a fractal ark of arks, a dendritic river branching off a new rhizoming river w/ each release, a library that flows deterritorialized rather than be confined by banks or bookends.
A transparent economy of words, w/ compounding currency
Minimizing obstacles towards replication, dissemination + such deterritorialized flow is our primary concern. In an ideal world, books should be free, but practical concessions must be made to appease our capitalistic economies of barter/exchange (at least for real paper-based books, digital books are another story + some are indeed provided on a 'pay what u want' basis). There are various players (printers, distributors, etc.) involved in getting a book to your doorstep that require monetary compensation. And the smaller + more organic the farm-to-fork flow, the higher (proportionally) is the tax. To compete w/ the Amazons of the world, some join forces to form larger streams. But as little streams merge into rivers, autonomy + original integrity is sacrificed or lost in the shuffle. To remain a truly «independent press» requires constant resistance to the dominant forces that pull toward the raging mainstream of mediocracy that floods otherwise already over-saturated markets.
Calamari Archive can't compete in such economies + has never pretended otherwise. Even being «non-profit» requires 1 to buy into bullshit bureaucracy. We operate alone. + we consistently operate at a net deficit + are transparent about our losses. Each year we post an «economy of words» disclosure on 5¢ense summarizing our financial situation (here's from 2013). Call us idealistic + cliché to say money doesn't matter, but we honestly believe $ is just an empty exchange variable + in the end original books + art are the ultimate forms of currency, liquid streams that will keep rivering + deriving new revenue streams long after we are gone. To again quote D+G: «The only literature is that which places an explosive device in its package, fabricating a counterfeit currency, causing the superego and its form of expression to explode, as well as the market value of its form of content.»
Undoing the wrongs of copyright
The 1 amendment to our new manifest is that going forward Calamari Archive will no longer publish copyrighted works. © is a cancerous snake that bites intellectual property in the foot. As it stands, we can no longer live w/ ourselves being part of such a corrosive + antiquated system that restricts the ability of a work of art to freely copy itself + propagate. At most we will insert the ɔopyleft symbol in books: (ɔ), all rites reversed. As we've said before: To publish should mean to set free, not restrict.