What Is Fringe’s Folly?
It took me a while to figure out what Fringe’s Folly was. At first, it was just a notion.
Fringe’s Folly (n): the inherent foolishness of writing to, and for, the outer edges of a community. The Fringe is, by definition, less populous, and as such, less marketable than the thickening mainstream center. See also: “career suicide”.
After years and years of writing, I had all these pieces that I actually liked quite a bit more than my published work, and which had been rejected (or no-replied) by the magazines. I thought, “hey – why not start a blog where I can share my work that people deem unsellable, or too edgy, or too controversial, etc?” I decided to do it with the assumption that it would never make any money in the first place. Hence the name. That notion was built into it from the start (even though I did solicit support in the About page).
Over time though, I realized my frustration with mainstream climbing media ran deeper than not publishing what I wanted to write. It was as much about rarely reading what I wanted to read. In the end, I don’t really care about grades, and I seem to lack the idolatry gene – so I don’t really care about pros either. Nix those, sponsored content, listicles, and how-to manuals, and just about 90% of the mainstream climbing media disappears. I was sick of trying to sift through the rough for the diamonds.
I still write for the mags, and I still read them, and I still support them. But they have jobs to do and ads to sell and budgets to meet, and that limits them. There’s a lot of stuff they can’t say, and a lot of stuff they really should say if they want to stay afloat.
With Fringe’s Folly, neither constraint exists. Nobody pays me, and I don’t pay anybody else, for the things you read here. That means Fringe’s Folly has no master, no rule book, no paradigm. It is sole sovereign, an open book, a paradigm waiting and hoping to be shattered.
Think of Fringe’s Folly as an experiment against capitalism. There’s no end-goal. There’s no telos. There’s no catch. It’s art for the sake of art, plain and simple. Stories for the sake of sharing.
What I care about in climbing are the average joes and janes that I might actually share a campfire with, and the stories they would tell around that fire. I care about epics, close calls, hard climbs, pushing limits – sure. But I also like long rants that amount to little more than hot air. I like underrepresented voices and points of view. I like controversial subjects that make you think, and feel.
People tell me all the time to give my work a silver lining, a happy ending, an uplifting hook. And I get that. But I also like stories that just say everything is fucked. Because sometimes, in some circumstances, that feels more honest. And above all, I’m a sucker for the truth.
The cool thing about climbing (and maybe everything) is that the fringe is what defines the center. The periphery of an object, the wild and edgy border, is what gives anything definition – be it amoeba or human or community of dirtfacedcrackedhandedstarryeyedclimbingbandits. The mainstream is given its shape by the fringe that contains it. The fringe, on the other hand, is the first thing to come into contact with the new world it moves through second by second, day by day. The fringe is the adventure. Everything else is a reduced rehashed reiteration of what has already been done.
All of this is just to say… what?
I don’t know. Maybe just this:
Fringe’s Folly is here for you. It reminds me of a great Gary Snyder poem, For Nothing:
Earth a flower
A phlox on the steep
slopes of light
hanging over the vast
small rotten crystals;
Earth a flower
by a gulf where a raven
flaps by once
a glimmer, a color
forgotten as all
Snow-trickle, feldspar, dirt.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for contributing.
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