The Original Think Magazine (Published since 1996)

Interview with Jeffree Benet of Think Magazine

(Dan's editorial note: we received a criticism of THINK by one Alex Zaitchek and, in the spirit of fair play, invited Jeffree to read the piece and publish his response alongside Mr. Zaitchik's piece).

 

UNPRONOUNCABLE SYMBOL: What is your initial response to Zaitchek's piece?

JEFFREE: Considering that it's supposed to be a magazine review, I find it's fairly long on just one subject - the tribalism article I wrote - but I'll return to this later.

When he talks about the magazine being nauseatingly slick, crassly commercial and filled with fluff, I'd like to take this point by point.

1) Slickness - so it's designed with an eye to design and lacking a DIY aesthetic that produces craploads of printed matter that nobody wants to look at, so what? It turns off a few less people? Gets people to read it?

Whatever, but if we printed it to look like an anarchist paper, only anarchists would read it - and that would be preaching to the converted. So by doing it in the format we do, we speak the language of those who need to hear the message most. And that message is: individualism, free thought and positive creative expression.

2) Crassly commercial - In regards to Alex's criticism of commercialism, I could drop in quotes by Prez Jefferson about ads being the only thing to be believed in a publication, or the fact that every piece of paper printed on is paid for by someone, but the fact is, in the world of communications, to be successful, you have to print, and print, and print and that costs, costs, costs.

I personally have no problem with commercial messages, because I speak that language and can discern the reality. Those who can't tell the difference between an ad or an article, probably shouldn't read. I can say one thing for sure, and that's that we don't pull content for any advertisers and we stay at about 1/3 ads to content, and oh yeah, we put out 10,000 issues a month, free.

3) Fluff - As far as content goes, we've published about the effects of consumerism, the history of anarchy, thoughts on tribalism, how to disappear from your life, fiction about pagan celebrations, news about repressive 'repetitive beats' music laws in England, the biblical view of marijuana, Czech surrealism, Americanism, the sh*t that passes for air quality in Prague, human relations, journalist murders in Russia, and yeah, music, raving, clubbing, fashion and fun things to go do and actually f*cking enjoy your life and be a part of a community that's doing more than just whining in their own jaded world of intellectual ineffectiveness.

Alex seems to have several notions and preconceptions about which types of publications can communicate which types of messages. This is a dogmatic 'western civ' concept that just doesn't work anymore. And contrary to his references to us as "useful calendar" "purposeful event-guide" "club listing and review rag" our main content is not just event listings (it's only one page), or show reviews (two pages), or we wouldn't be called THINK.

And the fact that the community utilizes our mag to get the word out about alternative events and to find out what's going on, says a lot more than what any of the other "community zines" are doing.

In regards to the criticism of us not soliciting submissions, if you read the letters to the editor page, you'll find address, phone number, fax, email - i. e. , the message to write us. We get mail all the time, and many submissions. If you can't figure out how to mail something, the Terminal Bar has internet classes, so check them out Alex and save a tree. What did you specifically want to say about Alex's comments on the tribalism article?

Well, in the first place, it is not the definitive article about tribalism, but more of a smorgasbord of views on the subject, intended to shed some light on something that has always been with us - social orders.

If Alex went to some of these raves - and I'm not talking about these Marlboro, Coca-Cola, Kelly Family/U2 gigs - but real, spontaneous expressions of self in a community of like-minded people, people who might get a different programming than the "we've got to stay together and repress ourselves and others we disagree with, and the uber mensch mentality", he'd learn what I've learned, what these people have learned, that there's more to life than the bottom line, that if we stopped and f*cking thought about why we're doing something, and what might be the consequences, then we can all realize that we don't have to get into the machine and surrender our life to the soulless feeders and neo-cheaters.

I strongly believe that sh*t's gonna hit the fan, and it's not gonna be distributed evenly. Maybe this is a good thing, but what'll happen is that somebody's just gonna try and set up another 'order' and that's just the curse of the fruit-picking monkeys turned carnivore.

Maybe we need to stop looking at ways to establish our orders into the indefinite future and adapt them to the moment, and right now we've got the methods to turn this place around, better than ever before, to turn this sh*thole of an rock into somewhere cool, but a lot of people need to wake up to themselves, they need to explore themselves, and educate each other through unlimited, unfettered discourse.

And about the net and tribalism: there has been subversive discourse since long before the computer or even electricity was discovered. What makes the Web different than the telephone or the TV, is that the individual pulls info to themselves, and the reach is truly bigger than anything before.

This is good, coz it's a small world and it smells funny, and someone's gotta clean it up, and being a neo-Luddite is not the answer. Even if you believe in the dominant power structure, these questions are still human ones, and even the most diabolic schemers make mistakes, like with LSD or perhaps the web.

Technology is more outta hand than ever, and the power structure knows that it could ultimately, despite it's over confidence, be used against them. If the computer has a tenth of the influence that the printing press did just 450 or so years ago, power may not be distributed evenly, but it will fall to the tribal underground forming under what Alex feels is an information age fascism, to be prepared to defend themselves. Use the tools at hand, fruit-picking monkey, and watch where you're going. That's all we can do.

On this same vein, technology - our big bane according to Alex, who seems to type and slap his opposable finger on a pen pretty well - is the only way we've got to solve the problem. This doesn't mean that just the mega-corps of faceless machinations should do it, but all of us need to take control of the episteme, or create our own.

Don't think that just because somewhere there are a bunch of clever monkeys out to trip you that you can't do anything except join them: that's what they want. Instead, golf right on through and do your thing; just remember to respect the rights of the others. That's the tribalism I'm talking about, the free association of individuals, working for a tomorrow that's worthy of the name.

And when Alex goes on dissing quotes, it doesn't matter to us where the thought comes from, what matters is what it says. I could care less who wrote it or why, or when, or under what mental state, general weather conditions, etc.

I care more about what the message says, because any judging of another's motive is speculative at best, and scandalous at worst, and, as we all know, any thought that is truly good will never die. (And though we avoid titles and share all profits equally, here's our real editor's response: I'm fully aware that the 'tribalism' piece was not up to your speed level, Alex, and am very impressed at how you picked the easiest piece to target, we thought you would, but anyways I don't read Think, I read PBJ. Sorry. Ed. KK.)

UNPRONOUNCABLE SYMBOL: So give us a little background on your affiliation with SIN Magazine and your experience in advertising,

JEFFREE: Well, I've always been into doing communication arts with the goal of avoiding the pigeon-holing that occurs in our society, whether it be writing, design or photography, and studied all these subject on my own, without any formal training. Back in the early 90s I worked on the launch of SIN magazine in the Republic of California, and experimented there with what the limits of a national youth magazine were, what you could get away with, what the noema was.

As senior editor for a couple of years, I tried to steer the music-heavy magazine into a vehicle for positive thought, reaching an audience of very receptive minds, minds that had been written off as "juvenile" "immature" and "lost". From the responses we got, I think we succeeded, but maybe too well, because we got too big, too fast; the money started to roll in and everybody started trippin' and that led to a split up of the mag into two new ones: 'Hypno' and 'Axcess', the later being far superior.

After that, I began doing more and more street fashion photography, and eventually landed in an ad agency, where I did some 'anti ad' ads for Guess Jeans, some Airwalk TV spots and fashion retail ads for several other blue chip companies.

UNPRONOUNCABLE SYMBOL: About the Church of Subgenius off-shoot, what was that about?

JEFFREE: The Cult of Bodia? Well, if you know who Bob is, then you'll know he had a wife, Connie. What we could never find out was though, was who was his first kid? One day, in a Circle K in New Orleans we found a box of candy called "Spider Eggs" and on the card was a big spider in a web, a frightened Bob and Connie, and a snickering kid; lil' Bodia, laughing in the face of danger.

We contacted the Church, and received no reply, again and again. So we started our own sect, a merry band of pranksters, the details of which are incriminating, to say the least; suffice it to say it involves many thousands of $'s in monkey-wrenching in the corporate playland known as LA. And one of our "sect" is now working in South America for a well known US intelligence agency under the code name "Bob Dobbs Jr."

UNPRONOUNCABLE SYMBOL: What are your views about media as a virus, how strong is your virus, social infection, and what you've observed about media in Prague, etc. , and your anarchistic views.

JEFFREE: Symbolic activity is the term that describes any form of communication, and the interpretation of these symbols is where the noema (point of knowledge) takes place, inside the perceiver's brain. In order to communicate effectively, you need to develop methods of communicating that effectively transmit your data, whether it be "red cat" or "buy this hat". I prefer printed material, and I've found there are three basic 'principles' that help make it effective. Printed matter should:

1) Attract the reader's attention. 2) Be easy to read and understand. 3) Have a lasting effect on the reader. Printed matter is worthless if no one is attracted to it or reads it. It is wasted if no one remembers its message.

Any time you attempt to communicate with someone, you send out a "me" statement that plants a semiotic 'virus' inside the civic body - it microscopically alters the urban visual code and the public's perception of consciousness, All communication is an infection in the social body - whether it be a cave painting or the launch sequence codes of inter ballistic nuclear weapons: it's just how they affect the social body.

All media is a virus, and enough people have talked about that not to talk about it here - except to say, "How strong is your virus? How many people get the data?"

Anarchy? Hate that term, I prefer the term "Nonarchy" the belief that you alone are qualified to live your life, and that you shouldn't try and lead others, but work together instead, and don't follow anyone. Our family bible has a motto in it "Neither a king, nor a subject be." It's kinda middle class, I'll admit, but it says a lot to me.

I prefer the free association of people; the elimination of borders; the manufacture of goods with longevity and durability being the criteria; social medicine; social partying, and using our vast repository of knowledge and technology to make things right.

Unfortunately it seems to me there are too many morons out there with nothing to lose or everything to horde. So let's work on that first, let's just be here now.

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