In the Marx Brothers’ film Animal Crackers, Groucho Marx, upon seeing a complete stranger who resembles the renegade musician Emmanuel Ravelli, asks the stranger, “Say, you remind me of the musician Emmanuel Ravelli…” to which the stranger responds, “But I am Emmanuel Ravelli.” – “Then no wonder that you look like him!”
The comical difference between mere ‘appearance’ and actual ‘being’ can be extended to this edition of the Knoll. Although this Knoll may “remind you” of previous editions – it may be distributed on the same paper; it may evoke a comparable radical critique; and it may offer a similar challenge to structures of oppression – there is nonetheless an uncanny, awry quality which should disrupt any reader’s recognition of the Knoll as the Knoll.
This edition comes out of discussions of equity and representation in the Knoll. Through ongoing discussions including friends who chose not to participate with, contribute to, or even read the Knoll de-spite being involved in meaningful and sustained anti-oppression organizing and critique in their own lives, we began the process of radically rethinking the structures and dynamics of the Knoll in order to create a more inclusive, accessible, and truly radical publication.
As a space for radical thought, the Knoll has the capacity to be a subversive and constructive force. In the process of exploring this radical potential, we seek to move toward collective recognition of latent barriers to participation in the Knoll and an explicit engagement with these issues not only by producing a gender-focused issue, but through a sustained internal discussion of equity, reflexivity, and political community. Seeking to engage in a self-reflexive process individually and as a collective, an important criteria for involvement in this edition was active participation and collaboration throughout production.
In this edition, we did not want to reproduce a singular, unified, and ultimately exclusionary conception of gender as a natural, stable, and bifurcated identity. We sought to take up Donna Haraway’s call to create a “self-consciously constructed space that cannot affirm the capacity to act on the basis of natural identification, but only on the basis of conscious coalition, of affinity, of political kinship.” We decided to orient our work, including the process, content, and form of this issue, around the displacement hegemonic masculinity as a symbolic order – a project entailing reflexive self-positioning and commitment to not only feminist, anti-racist, and queer analysis, but also to transforming the “apparatus of production” (Walter Benjamin) as much as possible toward the displacement of the “either/or dualistic thinking that is the central ideological component of all systems of domination” (bell hooks).
In our involvement as producers of this edition of the Knoll, we have sought to radically transform the relationships of production. In this way, we have explored, experimented with, and created strategies that stand independent of the content of this edition and that can be sustained throughout the future of the Knoll. We hope we have not simply produced radical content, but engaged in production less as reproducers of the apparatus but as “engineers” with the goal of adapting this apparatus to the aims of radical transformation (Benjamin). This radical and transformative process implicates not only the producers of this publication, but seeks to involve our readers as collaborators in this project.
– Knoll Collective, Spring 2009