Ars Notoria means the art of the noteworthy. What events, people and historical moments are worth writing about, worth depicting? History is almost always written by the victors, the oppressors, and one of their first tasks is to erase memories of resistance to their oppression. The question of historical memory is a very important one for those of us who want change, who want social justice and equality, who want humane, democratic socialism.
When we looked at the media landscape, I and my fellow editors, writers, poets, and artists at Ars Notoria were very disheartened. It is a desolate landscape from one perspective. We used to rely on mainstream outlets for a semblance of balance. At least, for a long time we tried to believe they would hold to professional standards of journalism when it came to reporting on the wonderful new opportunity that arose with the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. We were proved wrong not because we were naive, but because we continued to hope. I suppose we still continue to hope.
In response to the professional and moral failure of formerly reliable mainstream media outlets, a hodgepodge of amateur, web-based, alternative Left Wing media outlets has arisen. In some cases these are run by young (excruciatingly pretentious) academics. In other instances the outlet is run by a panoply of intersecting activists who are better at emoting and sloganeering than writing. In a few other cases the people behind the new sites seem to adopt a progressive line and then hide behind their largely rhetorical output. If some sites have any influence it is really not through merit, but through a little endorsement from right on celebrities – probably family friends. These sites act as limited echo chambers. They are not enough.
Something is missing. It seemed to us – we were in broad agreement – that instead of merely criticising other people’s attempts at constructive engagement it was up to us to step up to the crease and do the same; to create a media site that was broadly left, that could include both sides of the Brexit argument, that could include communists, socialists and strong social democrats and to provide a voice to many more people – not just the well meaning middle class.
Without playing masturbatory academic games, we want to write and read articles with more depth and analysis and include other cultural modes of expression too, like poetry, literature, comics, photography music and art.
In short we want to create a quality left wing magazine that doesn’t disappoint. The site that you see before you is that idea in embryo. We hope to develop it into something worthwhile by 2021 and then, in 2021, we decide together on its final shape in preparation for making a solid contribution to a Left Labour victory in the elections in 2024.
If you feel you are in sympathy with us, if you like what we have done so far, if you feel you could contribute in any way to our experiment – so far so good – then please contact us at: