1.21.10 Reading: "Notes from the Underground" by Stephen Duncombe

28 Comments

First, I did not realize that Do It Yourself culture came as a form of rebellion. I just thought it was an alternate form to aid more independent consumers who like creating things but not necessarily to rebel against consumerist culture. It was also interesting to find out that zines came from the so called science fiction fan culture of punk rock and how it first became manifested in music. Although, I don’t exactly agree with the celebration of the amateur, I still respect the movement. I liked how zines developed as a way for people to “plead their own causes” and how emulation became a big part of the zine scene. I especially liked the example of the editor of Fugitive Hope who used a bit of humor in his copyright. Along with the idea of emulation, what I most admire about zines is the ability for readers to become creators which is probably why this movement continues to grow today.

This is actually the first time I've ever heard the term zine. After reading this assignment I definitely learned a lot of new things. The first thing that surprised me was how zine creators try to distance themselves. I would think they would want to be close to where all the action is to fully capture what they're trying to say/portray. But I suppose the explanation given for that makes sense though. I also found Don Fitch's statement about "a big part of the enjoyment comes from getting out there on the floor and Doing Things," to be really interesting. I think that represents zines very well. It's like people are free to do whatever they choose on the floor; same goes for zines. People are able to express their thoughts and feelings through this; they're doing it by themselves and not having to be told to do things by others. I thought the common theme, go out there and do it yourself and try new things, portrayed throughout these fanzines is what really keeps people going and intrigued by this. I think some people need a little push sometimes and inspiration to do things; and it seems like that's what it's doing for some people. Lastly, I was surprised that people would choose not to copyright their work. But I suppose that's one small way of how they keep people informed and connected to zines.

I like the statement you choose about zine representation. I think it does a very good job at portraying the message that zines are trying to create. I also agree with your statement about how zines help people portray their thoughts and ideas without having to be told what to do. Although creating our own zines seems to be somewhat of a difficulty because for some many years of our lives we are told what to do, how to do and we are punished when we show the slightest bit of rebellion. I believe that being able to create and produce our own zines with teach us more about our inner selves and how we perceive the world around us.

I was also surprised about zine artists choosing not to copyright their work, but when I thought about it further I realized that it does make sense to not copyright a zine because, as you said, it can promote the zine industry freely and keep that community connected, and I think it is also a very important commentary made by zine artists about magazines etc. which are copyrighted. By foregoing a copyright the zine artists are specifically saying that what they have to say is more important than people knowing that they were the ones to say it; this is a strong statement indeed.

This is the first time I have been familiar with the term zine. I found this article to be very educational and intriguing. I find the concept of rebellion to be the leading cause behind the creation and distribution of zines. Many of the zine creatures tried to establish a sense of independence from society with the attempt to define who they were and what they believed in through the creation of zines. Along with the attempt to not conform to societies ideals many zines were used to promote music that was different and unusual to what society expected. I found the quote by Peter Crowley to be very moving, "Punk rock: any kid can pick up a guitar and become a rock and roll star despite or because of his lack of ability, talent, intelligence, limitations and/or potential." This is a really interesting statement because it is encouraging everyone that no matter what society says anyone can succeed.

I was not really familiar with the term zine either. I also thought it was really cool that the zines were created out of the rebellion in DIY culture too! The quote by Crowley really encompasses the idea of DIY and what inspired creators of zines to do what they do. I think it is cool that there are still a lot of underground places that are still inspired by the same sense of rebellion.

I have heard the term "zine" before but I was never clear on the actually meaning of it. After reading this article I have found that it is extremely different from the meaning I thought it had, and even shocking to see how passionate and the driving cause and thought behind the creation of each zine. I thought it was extremely interesting to see how rebellious and how determined they are for a removal from society. I feel that the creators of zines are determined to complete their mission on whatever it may be. They are seeing a problem and instead of complaining about it, going out and changing it, and I really respect that.

I was also surprised by the passion and drive that led to the creation of do it yourself and the zine. It really shows how much passion and committment these artists, musicians,etc. have for their work and their ideas.

I like your interpretation of the DIY culture in your statement, "They are seeing a problem and instead of complaining about it, going out and changing it." With this proactive solution to disagreements, they actually have potential to be resolved rather than create more problems in the future. I also thought it was strange that the zine creators would want to remove themselves from society, but I am assuming this only means the non-DIY society. This article provided a great insight into the "zine scene."

I agree with you. I also respect the zine creators. When they face a problem they choose the non-violent way to express their feelings and change it, instead of being agressive and irrational.

I was also shocked to see how passionate people were about the creation of zines and zine culture. I find it interesting that people continue to relish the zine art form despite the fact that some choose to receive no credit for their work to go along with the anti-copyright sentiment, which shows how truly rebellious and forward thinking this movement is. I also really respect that there is a strong sense of meaning being conveyed through zine art.

I found the ideas represented in the reading to be really refreshing. I especially liked the idea of the "celebration of the amateur." At one point it's stated that "Without prerequisites, authorizations, or specialized training, innovative creativity can flourish." And I think this is absolutely true. In the professional realm-whether the medium be magazines, art, or something else-creations get diluted with others' opinions and expectations. But as an amateur, I feel that things are kind of untainted by outside influence-that the product is entirely the creator's own.

It takes all kinds of people in this world in order for innovation and progress to happen. In “Notes from the Underground” two main themes seemed to occur: stereotyping and originality. Throughout the article the author, Stephen Duncombe, writes criticizing “high society” individuals for stereotyping the DIY culture. In his writing, Duncombe saturates disdain for the high status people through stereotyping them in return. By stereotyping the higher status people, the DIY culture is being like the people they were trying to separate themselves from in the first place. One of the main things the DIY people have criticized was how the media manipulates the world. To counteract this influence, the DIY culture has made zines as a way to express themselves and encourage others to take action. These zines are derived from magazines which is in the mainstream, thus being original is clearly out the window. The DIY culture does have many intriguing aspects that present valid points such as “living a lot lower impact” and empowering individuals. It’s refreshing to know that even though a person may not be skilled in an area, they still can contribute. Overall this view into how the DIY culture has been very interesting to me because I did not have any previous knowledge.

You (and the article) mentioned how zine creators often encouraged others to create zines as well. I really likethat aspect, since 'real' magazines view other publications as competitors. But the people who are making zines obviously enjoy it, and want others to enjoy it as well. They don't care about competition or making money or gaining popularity. They are in it for themselves and their message.

I have never heard of the term "zine" before until our class last week. To read and take in all these historic happenings and wonderous events from this reading about the background of "zine" was absolutely refreshing. Last Thursday, a couple of classmates and I from our class asked each other what a zine was and how to create one; we even googled it at the library to find out what it was! Now, I couldn't help but smile at Scott's small confusion from Yale University (at the end of the reading) and his perspectives about zines and the people who create them. I loved it how he found the path of zines interesting because he (same as I and my classmates) saw that this form of art (zine) from artists had no rules or boundaries and yet they express so much emotion and message. Not only did the creators stirred so much emotions within their readers, but they also gave hope and inspiration too. Overall, zines have no rule and there's no exact way how to produce them except with your own expression and creation.

I agree with you about the part where you state that emotion runs high in zine creators and they often seem very passionate about what they do. It was also funny to read about the Yale man who became confused with the zine art form. I like that there are no rules to zines, it makes for more fun.

Before last week I had no idea what a zine even was. However, I do read many magazines so that sort of helped me grasp the concept of what a zine is. After reading the article, I have a much better understanding of a zine. From what I understand it's a form of art or expressing yourself. A form of art with not just words and not just pictures but both of those mixed together to create something that expresses you and your thoughts. People are allowed to make whatever they want out of their zine and are able to take risks and not follow the rules. It is a way for people to share things with the world in a different way. By viewing someone's zine you can recognize their message and passion that they put into it and really understand what they are feeling or trying to say.

Just like you, I had no idea what a zine was before this class. I liked how you said that zines were, "a form of art with not just words and not just pictures but both of those mixed together to create something that expresses you and your thoughts." This is really interesting because I haven't really thought of zines this way and it certainly helped make see zines in a different view and perspective.

It was very interesting for me to read this excerpt, I have had some brief encounters with several different zines, and the origin of zines has always intrigued me. It was very helpful to look at the beginnings of zines and the DIY culture; I can appreciate the intent behind zines more now that I know why they were first created. The encouragement for anyone and everyone to make his or her own zine intrigued me because it is hard to imagine someone "unqualified" creating something akin to a magazine. (Then again, what are the elusive qualifications one must have in order to create art?) Yet, the rough aesthetic which comes from amateur creation of zines is the characteristic which, for me, is most entrancing about them. To see something, which looks so easy to make, published and distributed is enough to prompt anyone to let their creative side go wild and make a zine to express themselves; I know I love the idea! I think the individual expression that zines afford their creators is much more vast than a regular magazine could ever hope to be, in fact, the two bear little resemblance. they are simply very different forms of art. I am excited to embrace the DIY culture in this class and explore further the rebellious values which drive zine culture.

I, like everyone else, wasn’t aware that Do It Yourself came from a rebellious attitude. I always thought it was an attempt to save money on things. Today, I feel like DIY has become a way to almost stand out. DIY projects, such as “make your own bracelet” or “turn old jeans into a purse” have become a way to stand out, to show you’re unique style and original creation. I didn’t know what a zine was before reading the article, and it’s interesting to see that I have actually seen and read many of them, I just didn’t know what they were called. I am a fan of a lot of “punk” music, and artists’ zines are frequently available at big music festivals I attend. I found the point about trying to change the image in mass communications something interesting to think about. One’s “group” is always going to be represented as a generalization, never as a clear representation of the individuality of its members. It may not always be the best to fight for your group’s portrayal or inclusion into a mass communicative media, but maybe better to be able to focus on the diversity of your group in its own manner, in this case a zine.

I thought you had some really good examples of DIY projects. I agree with you that they are a way to stand out and make a statement- just like zines. I also thought the examples were a good comparison to zines because they can have hidden meanings/messages behind it. The things people put on their zines and the colors someone chooses for their bracelet can say/mean a lot of different things. I thought your statement about mass communications was a good way of looking at it, as well.

I certainly thought the Zine reading was very interesting. I had heard of MagaZine before, but not Zine alone. It is pretty intriguing to hear the part about Zines often times ignoring intellectual property rights or copyrights and not generally citing sources and taking no credit themselves. This goes against what they teach us as business students. But at the same it makes sense in that zines are supposed to be a free sort of publication that takes no set form and has an abundance of history and ambiguity to it. It is a kind of rebellion and a form of art altogether. I also like and respect the fact that zines are "underground" and ignore the commercial art in that it isnt polished and slick, but takes on a meaning truly of its own and often lacks form and concreteness.


I agree with you in the respect that zines stay "underground". One really needs to be committed and driven to not really care about the opinions of society. I think that the fact that they stray away from keeping having a form or concreteness symbolizes their thought of wanting to stay away from the mainstream thoughts and publications.

I really enjoyed what you had to say and I share a similar interest in the copy right issues surrounding zines. I was fascinated that these practicing 'artists' didn't want to protect their original creations, but in turn this is exactly what its about. The zines are just an under-corporation handmade publication. As you had also mentioned I put some thought into zine art as really accepting the imperfections of the piece. While it sounds weird to have these imperfection I believe it is what gives the piece its true feeling.

I’ve heard the word zine before, but never really knew where the term originated. After reading this article, I now not only know where the term came from, but understand the essence of what a zine stands for. Prior to the reading I did not know that a zine was firstly created as a form of anti-consumer culture. I found the excerpt about the man killing his T.V. and in the process, understanding more about it, particularly interesting. I think it is a really cool analogy of what zines are; Things torn taken and torn out from different materials, and put together to make something new.

I had never heard of the word zine before class but I had a good idea of what it was. I agree that the article was very informative in explaining what a zine is and the message it sends out. It was a great way to learn about zines seeing as we are making one! The story about the man killing his TV was very interesting but made sense in kind of a wierd way.

I didn't know that Do it Yourself came from anti-consumer culture as a rebellious form. The only times I've seen DIY are DIY bracelets, DIY teady bears, DIY quilts, etc. However this article helped me get a general idea how zines developed and how they are used these days. I am also looking forward to making a zine as a project in this ARTS 1903 class.

Aside from our first day of class, this reading was really my first insight into zine and punk culture. While I had witnessed punk culture I had never known the true sources of their expression and its use of zines. The connection between zines and the do it yourself slogan where also explored throughout the reading. The development of this new sense of being able to do it yourself where birthed from the zine. The idea that stuck with me most from this reading was the example of the zine "Sideburns" which displayed a diagram of three guitar chords and followed it with "Now Form a Band." This idea just encompasses the idea of 'do it yourself' mostly because this is how I have learned how to play guitar and mandolin, just by teaching myself.

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