Postmortem – Stuplex 002 & 003

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1 July 2015, Stuplex 002 – Decadence was released for sale via the website; the previous night we had launched the second edition at the Liverpool Everyman Bistro. The rapt and enthusiastic crowd consisted of a fine selection of local glitterati, surrealists, decadents and the odd reclusive bohemian. All braved the day long heatwave and the overwhelming basement temperature to witness an event which has since been whispered about in the bars, across the towns and remains echoing through the capital cities of Europe; if you hear mention of a ‘happening’, then this is where it began.

A little over a year before we’d successfully launched 001 – Decay. Hungry for more laborious hours huddled over printers, staring at computer screens, cutting paper, searching for perfect envelopes and contemplating postage, we promptly embarked on the next edition. Themed around the idea of Decadence, the second edition of Stuplex was to be bigger (literally) and more ostentatious (metaphorically).

The main problem with Decadence is that it doesn’t mean quite what you think it means, in you’re head it’s probably akin to debauched parties of bygone eras, champagne in crystal cut glasses, bowls of cocaine on every table etc. Essentially most ideas of Decadence won’t be too far from the heyday of Studio 54 but, that’s exactly what it is whilst not being that at all. The ‘moral and cultural decline’ cited in the dictionary definition of Decadence went further than the idea of luxurious self-indulgence. It made it more interesting. I can’t speak for the other contributors but a society or person on the edge of moral and cultural decline is endlessly fascinating; it’s the Weimar Republic, it’s Howard Hughes’ OCD fuelled reclusiveness. It’s the aged Dietrich’s painful preservation of perfection as poor circulation swelled and cramped her beautiful legs. Decadence is our response to decline, to failure and frailty, it’s the gilt preserving the rusting cage.

The contributions are interesting, from a gold cassette to decadent ration books to government experiments, the response was almost consistently and coincidently one of austerity. When we started 002 the word ‘austerity’ wasn’t bandied around with such flagrant disregard for its meaning. It’s somewhat ironic however, that we appear to be living in an increasingly decadent country, a decadence justified by austerity! I diverge slightly into politics not because it’s a place where Stuplex lies, quite the contrary, we’re simply not that serious or that mad. But it seems that an instinctive reaction to decadence, to a Ration Book allocating perversity and hedonism is the acknowledgment of political discontent. Having talked to people at the Manchester Artists’ Book Fair, we were surprised that the idea of decadence was quickly subsumed into a current, ongoing political dialogue. Is decadence therefore the product of political tension, in an increasingly have and have not society is decadence the natural reaction? It was certainly true of hyperinflation in the Weimar. Whatever it is, it’s been the most unexpected response to our second outing.

002 consists of:

Gold on Red by Alan Dunn: a C6 gold cassette featuring Harry Nilsson’s Voice by Lizzie Nunnery and Vidar Norheim and No One Could Have More by Mike Badger.

The Indulgence Pass by Damon Fairclough.

Alpha-Beta by David Hering.

Rapt by Martin Heslop

Letter From Constance Strain To Her Sister, Emma Puddingstone by Richard James Hughes.

A Design for Meagre Living by Lizzie Nunnery

The Auction of Thomas Rakewell and Rakewell House Remains by A. E. Pearsall.

Book of Pleasures (Pages One To One Hundred) by Will Sergeant.

23 First Lines of Decadent Novels I Will Never Write by Jeff Young.

Copies are still available in the Stuplex Shop priced at £25.00 plus £5.00 postage.

In direct contrast to the year long wait between 001 and 002, 003 is already with us. What Stuplex is exactly still remains to be defined, but I’ve always been keen on the possibility that it can be used as a catalyst or platform for individual and alternative projects. In short, Stuplex isn’t just about the boxes. For 003 we published Jeff Young’s 23 Enigma Vortex Sutra. This has been made available as a limited run of 230 copies, 115 of which come with a CD featuring a live performance at the Liverpool Everyman on 23 October 2014. Though it felt like much longer, we managed to put together 230 completely handmade copies in a little over 2 months.

The origin of the ’23 Enigma’ comes from when William Burroughs was in Tangiers and knew a Captain Clark who ran a ferry to Spain. Clark told Burroughs that he’d been doing the same route for 23 years without an accident. That very day the ferry sank and that evening, while Burroughs was thinking about the incident, a radio bulletin announced the crash of Flight 23 on the New York – Miami run. The pilot was another Captain Clark. After that Burrough’s kept a scrapbook of 23s.

23 Enigma Vortex Sutra is Jeff Young’s Liverpool-centric version of Burrough’s enigma idea. It starts with Ken Campbell scattering Jung’s dream magnolia petals through Mathew Street, from there we visit the ghosts lurking in the veins of a modern metropolis.

Both copies of 23 Enigma Vortex Sutra are available to purchase in the Stuplex shop, £5.00 for the book only, or £8.00 with the CD (plus £1.20 postage).

More information about Stuplex can be found on the website and our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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