Critical theory is not exclusive to fluorescent-lit libraries or poorly scanned PDFs – POLLEN is proof. It is a new, annual publication that sits at the intersection of academic and poetic expression. Edited between Sydney, New York and Berlin by Lachlan Gell, Harry Glass and Ezekiel Morgan, these three collaborators bring expertise from the fields of law, philosophy, anthropology and journalism. Gell describes the process of each POLLEN issue as taking, “a multi-sided idea from the philosophical tradition and unpacking from it a constellation of thoughts, problems and images.”
Issue #001: The Idea Of Natural History arises from the radical concepts of The Frankfurt School theorist, Theodor Adorno. Specifically, his rethinking of natural history as both a field of study and as a cultural ideology. “The call is to reconsider the seemingly fixed conceptual opposition between the natural and the historical,” says Gell. “Natural history is really more than a concept to be explained. Rather, it stands as a certain optic, perspective or mood through which various phenomena can be uncovered.”
The introductory essay, compiled over a year by Gell and Glass, acts as POLLEN’s thematic brief. “Contributors were approached because of their direct involvement in the field, and those who were indirectly addressing similar questions,” says Gell. Contributions are varied: an interview with creators of the meditative 2011 film, Samsara; Tito Mouraz’s stunning photography from Portugal; as well as in-depth music and literary reviews. “POLLEN is open to both experienced and less-established contributors,” says Gell. “By drawing from poetry, photography, short fiction and other more accessible forms of expression, we thought we could expose those ideas to a wider audience.”
POLLEN defies the academic literature to which we are accustomed; weighty concepts are explored in a totally accessible way. Gell confirms that the only prerequisite for reading POLLEN is an, “Interest in human society and the natural world.” Issue #002 (to be released late in 2015) will address the theme of “mere life”. In Gell’s words, it will explore, “The area of indistinction between ‘human’ and animal, the rise of ‘life’ as an issue for politics, as well as the ‘body’ and the idea of creaturely suffering.”
POLLEN Issue #001 is available online or at selected stockists.