The Hypocrite Reader publishes reportage, criticism, history, sociology, theory, creative non-fiction, translations, manifestos, leaks, analysis, popular science, synthesis, verse, wedding announcements, and Viking-themed erotica. Just because something doesn’t fit into any of those categories doesn’t mean we won’t publish it.
Prospectuses for our October issue, "Vices and Devices," are due September 20 but welcome earlier.
One time I was sitting on a bench smoking a cigarette and a junkie bummed one off me and he said he was happy and I said uh huh and he said do I want to know why he is happy and I said um and he said because--
"Because I've learned to use my vices. We all got vices, oh hell you know that (waving cigarette in my face) you know about vices. But you gotta know how to use them! That way they become deeevices, you know? Devices you can use, you get de-viced. I'm learnin' to devise with all my vices! That's why I'm happy, lover: I'm learnin' that every day."
The Ancient Greek poet Archilochus wrote that "The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." The English poet William Blake, quoting a proverb of Hell, wrote that "The fox provides for himself, but God provides for the lion." The fox figures also in a fable of Aesop, boasting to a cat of his many ways of escaping hunters; the cat confesses that she has only one. When the hunters come, the cat scampers up a tree while the fox is killed and eaten. The fox is full of devices--resourceful, scheming, multiple, polytropic like Odysseus, morally suspect like Odysseus--as though to have too many ways is to be eccentric, uncentered, dissolute. Craftiness (vice, devising) is opposed to wisdom (purity, virtue) as the many is opposed to the one.
Are our vices bad because we hate them, or do we hate them because they're bad? The inveterate addict is tormented not only by regret at the effects of his poison but by contempt for the one who cannot stop himself from swallowing it. Vices fill the dark corners, junk drawers and idle hours of our lives with small moments of weakness, cowardice, failure of will; and perhaps the sum of all these little givings-in is in the end more harmful than that which we give in to. (The vice-ridden man understands the ascetic better than the self-satisfied ever could: his mind turned constantly toward petty renunciations he cannot quite manage to perform, he dreams of someday freeing himself through a great renunciation, turning away from the world as a whole in one fiery act of decision.) But then, perhaps we like our vices just for this: the everyday demands such iron discipline, we require small, almost symbolic, almost pro forma ways of letting go, of giving in. Is that what a vice is for?
Goethe writes that our virtues and vices spring from the same root. Nietzsche goes farther--at times he suggests that a vice is a stunted virtue, a virtue squandered for want of love. (The spiteful man, with more courage, could have possessed the rage that moves mountains; the opium-eater might have been such a poet had he taken more seriously his lust for the waking dream.) This suggestion turns the question of the for-ness of vice on its head: no longer "what do we want from our vices?" but rather "what do they want from us?"
We would be delighted to receive submissions on the following topics among others:
- the difference between vice, sin, and "character flaw"
- are vices solitary by nature? (compare, perhaps, virtue?)
- Shklovsky's "Art as Device". The familiar, the estranged.
- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
- Value [perhaps in opposition to] function
- Trichotillomania (and other bodily compulsions as vice)
- Las Vegas vs Cancun. (Consider: gambling, wet t-shirt contests.)
- Form. Formalism. Deformity.
- Can only people have vices: can animals, can governments, can relationships, can locales.
Please submit article prospectuses to firstname.lastname@example.org. A prospectus is a paragraph or so explaining what your article is going to be and giving an approximate word count. If we don’t already know each other, it would be helpful to have a few sentences about you, including any areas of expertise and previous writing experience, but no need for a full cover letter or anything like that. At the Hypocrite Reader we practice activist editing and pay our writers only in sincere appreciation. Feel free to submit prospectuses for issues further in the future as well: our November theme will be "Lovers and Friends," December "Nocturne," and January "Dear Mom."
If you’d like to provide thematically appropriate illustrations for a future article (photographs, collages, digital art, etc.) please send us a sample of your work at email@example.com. If we like you, we’ll suggest an article in the upcoming issue for you to illustrate.
Thanks for asking! The Hypocrite Reader accepts donations to help fund our print anthologies. If you’d like to help support the project, you can contribute through our PayPal account, which is linked to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to contribute through means other than PayPal, get in touch and we’ll be happy to work something out. All donations will go towards the publication of the anthologies and nothing else. Note that we are not registered as a nonprofit and donations are, unfortunately, not tax-deductible.
We no longer publish wedding announcements.