A new chapter in the Unpsychology story
“Why are things as they are? Must they be as they are? What might they be like if they were otherwise?” To ask these questions is to admit the contingency of reality, or at least to allow that our perception of reality may be incomplete, our interpretation of it arbitrary or mistaken.”
(Ursula LeGuin, It Doesn’t Have to Be the Way It is in No Time to Spare, 2011)
Unpsychology’s imaginings began under a canopy of trees, one Sunday morning in 2013 at the Dark Mountain Project’s final Uncivilisation gathering. I was presenting a workshop based on some ideas and experiences about psychology, therapy and culture – and the theme seemed to hit a chord.
From that initial assembly and subsequent conversations between myself, SF author Cae Hawksmoor and others, the seeds of Unpsychology were sown.
Back then, we called ourselves a ‘journal of post-civilised neurodiversity and wild mind’. Cae and I co-edited the first two issues; then– who was part of a ‘soulmaking’ group that had emerged from these unpsychological conversations –joined as co-editor from issue 4.
Over a decade, we have published eight issues of the magazine: anthologies of art and writing that travel deep into the human (and other-than-human) psyche. We have asked questions about the way things are, considering ways of seeing and experiencing, and how these might emerge in the present (what we might call the ‘relational now’), and into the future.
Our project has spawned a rich ecology of creativity and inquiry. We have published two anthologies on the psychological implications of the climate emergency. We have opened our pages to the other-than-human; to the deep swell of earthsongs; to the nature of childhood; to the wild mind and the urgency for equality and justice for all beings. And we have become fascinated and inspired by the Batesonian ideas of Ecology of Mind and transcontextuality.
We have published authors and artists from all around the world. Some are well known writers and artists – Jay Griffiths, Tanya Shadrick, Thomas Hübl, Helen Moore, Susan Richardson, Bill Plotkin – while Nora Bateson’s contributions, and the Warm Data community’s collaboration with us for our last issue were a particular highlight.
However, many of our contributors have never been published before. They submit their work because they are drawn to our values and themes. We particularly value working with these people, hearing their voices, and seeing their work appreciated and celebrated.
Over the decade a core of writers, artists, practitioners, therapists and activists have developed, who have come to this project as part of their way of questioning and responding to the way the world is right now. They ask – with their own unique mix of eloquent words and images – the questions that Ursula LeGuin also posed, that go to the heart of how our culture and civilisation operates.
Following our 2022 Anthology of Warm Data (produced in partnership with Nora Bateson and the Warm data community) we are now working on an equally ambitious project: Imaginings. This issue aims to reimagine the present within and beyond social, ecological and multi-species contexts, with a focus on ‘fictions and fabulations’ (to use the framing of Donna Haraway in her book ‘Staying with the Trouble’).
Growth and change…
Unpsychology is coming to Substack to grow and change. We are not a ‘business’ and have no desire to be one – ‘growth’ for us is not an entrepreneurial endeavour, nor are we pushing towards some big goal, purpose or transformation. We are happy in the grounded, uncertain, messy life of the everyday. We see our growth as organic and ‘tentacular’ – reaching out to others who share this kind of perspective, to see what transpires and emerges!
Having said that, we are not naive, and we know that any enterprise or project needs to be sustainable. Unpsychology is a free digital publication – and will continue to be so – but the everyday world can be expensive! As we adapt and change and grow (and we have some ambitious ideas for our future issues) we do need to be able to reach our subscriber and contributor community.
We want to be able to do more than just put out an annual anthology of amazing creativity! We want our beautifully curated publications to spark conversations on and offline. And we’d like to offer a space where people can reflect on questions of change and complexity, and maybe explore ways of living that are more in line with the best of human and other-than-human life, psyche and existence.
We’d love you to join us
We’d love you to join us! You may have been aware of us for some time, and downloaded our digital issues of Unpsychology Magazine over the years. Or you might be new to Unpsychology and intrigued by this rich, diverse and sometimes strange creative project!
However you come to us, we see this as the start of a new chapter for this community of ideas and practice. We’d love you to help us shape it: by continuing to subscribe to this publication and submitting your work to us if you feel drawn to do so.
Meanwhile Unpsychology Magazine will continue to be available free in its digital form – and offered as a gift. However, if you’d like to offer support – financial or otherwise – we’ll be very grateful!
This is a new home for us. We hope it will be a place where you will find writing and creativity that stimulates you and prompts you to ask your own version of the questions Ursula LeGuin posed in her fictions and essays.
(Note: we also have an archive of articles and dialogues on Medium at: https://medium.com/unpsychologymag and we’ll still be posting there for the foreseeable future).
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So very good to see your truly soulful undertaking moved here to Substack where it can find even more readers. I tell many people each month about you, and how you were one of the very first editors to take a chance on me. As a small way of saying thank you, I'd love to feature your Substack in one of my monthly Season Three newsletters on here - I begin again at the end of this month, so it would likely be my May or June issue. I can feature you without causing you any extra work - or we could do a Q&A... And before then I'm already now going to add you to my recommended Substacks! Tan xx