Anarchist bookfairs are not what they seem

frfr it was litty af
Musings in lieu of a reportback

Treacherous paths lead to the bookfair. One distro couldn’t come because their van broke down, another managed to make it on time despite getting a flat tire on the way there, one attendee walked and hitchhiked all the way from California. One attendee slept on a bench the night before, others struggled to book a cheap hotel in an expensive city, now rife with the potential for fugitive encounters with anarchists. Outside, sunny summer days, the skies were clear. At the venue of the rendezvous, not a fash or cop in sight, the coast was clear.

The 2023 Seattle Anarchist Book Fair was explicitly, unambiguously, and unabashedly anarchist, yet still nonsectarian. Strange bedfellows sat across from nihilist friends. Complicit looks were exchanged between tablers, while sussing out the tension with asides muttered under their breath, lips rendered illegible by facemasks. This literary feast hadn’t been celebrated since before the Pandemic. They say hunger is the best spice. Starving attendees devoured the offerings, wiping the tables clean, gushing with appreciation for the tablers.

Do not be deceived.
Its substance is not what’s on paper.
See past the nominal expectations.

Beyond the facade of a pay-what-you-want market… Beyond the surface of zines and books you may have already read years ago, which can be found online, and the conferences based on them, itemized on the bookfair program, along with protocolary policy notes… Beyond anarchism as a literary genre… Beyond the fog of ideas, and the shadow of truth and doubt…

Anarchist bookfairs are a front and a pretext for tapping into a magical wellspring of energy. A ritual of spiritual regeneration and reproduction, stoking the flames of anarchy and rejoicing in their warmth.

Because of all they put into their offering, giving it their all, organizers (always a thankless job) and tablers may feel burnout. Yet they still got out of it valuable feedback from attendees, readers, and correspondents they got to meet in the flesh, who expressed their loving gratitude effusively. Hundreds of anarchists came out of it reinvigorated, energized, pregnant with ideas, encouraged, and emboldened.


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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