What if the first “cultural” device was not a weapon, but a recipient?, asks Ursula Le Guin in The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction (1986). It had to be, she says, since “sixty-five to eighty percent of what human beings ate [in] Paleolithic, Neolithic, and prehistoric times was gathered; only in the extreme Arctic was meat the staple food.”
History is made of stories, and “it is the story that makes the difference” for Le Guin: “So long as culture was explained as originating from and elaborating upon the use of long, hard objects for sticking, bashing, and killing, I never thought that I had, or wanted, any particular share in it.” By switching to the recipient as origin, Le Guin felt grounded, “personally, in human culture in a way [she] had never felt grounded before”.
Only by questioning the “victors’ history” did Le Guin, and many others nowadays, find their place in “human culture”. By retelling History, challenging dominant narratives and engaging with alternative ones, or speculating on what could have been, we can reconfigure the present and envision differently what could come next.
For this U+Zine, we propose a speculative fiction exercise taking place somewhere in the past, in the format of your choosing: images, essays, poems, etc. It can be an original piece, an existing work, or a work in progress.
Think of an event, a representation of that event, that you believe might have changed the course of history; or maybe one that should have taken place. Your piece can be centered around an object, a situation or a person; slightly bifurcated from the story told today, or completely invented to change a situation.
What would have happened if the event didn’t take place? Or if it took place differently? How would we be shaped by it today, and how would it shape tomorrow?
We’re interested in new histories, different ways of recounting and relating.
By December 1st, send us a story,a drawing,a picture,a sentence,original or not,that you created or that inspires you.
You can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
or drop it on our open collective platform
What will it produce?
As for all the thematic explorations in the UZINE cycles, the content will be assembled and published in the form of a small-open source magazine, providing food for everyone’s thought and imagination: selected creative proposals, references, links to follow, short texts and images, to make this exchange a stepping stone, an invitation to collectively push this exploration further.