“The Neutral doesn’t refer to neutrality or indifference, it is an ardent, burning activity”

In choosing Neutral as the title of the magazine our intention is far from producing a collection of dispassionate, impartial articles.

Quite the opposite

The title is inspired by the lecture course on figures of the neutral by the French cultural critic Roland Barthes (1915-1980), which he presented during the height of his fame at the College de Franc in the late 1970s.

Barthes is highly regarded as a key theoretical thinker for media and cultural studies, known most commonly for his early book Mythologies, which presents a systematic framework for cultural semiotics. However, his late writings, including The Neutral, began to creatively undo a lot of the structures of meaning that semiotics typically exposes. As Barthes explains: ‘I define the Neutral as that which outplays the paradigm, or rather I call Neutral everything that baffles the paradigm’.

The Neutral, he suggests, ‘doesn’t refer to “impressions” of grayness, or neutrality”, of indifference. The Neutral … can refer to intense, strong, unprecedented states. “To outplay the paradigm” is an ardent, burning activity’. When we read sentences upon a pace our eyes are accustomed to glide over the empty spaces between words. Yet those ‘neutral’ spaces are precisely what allow the collection of letters to become words; those burning white spaces are what force meaning to arise.

Our magazine is committed to get in amongst not just the debates of media and culture, but in-between the spaces of debates, to locate what makes them arise and what new possibilities are on the horizon. The contents of this magazine, and all subsequent editions, are to be viewed as being far from neutral or bland, rather baffling, ardent and resourceful.

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