Forty Years Ago Today – Thesis Eleven, A Bookmark

by Peter Beilharz, Sichuan University

8 December, 1980. Today, Thesis Eleven is forty years old. Who would have thunk? The day John Lennon was murdered, we picked up the boxes in Julian Triado’s Renault 12, news on the radio, axles groaning, us, I suppose, otherwise elated, but also in shock. What were these new times?

Forty years is a long time. This is a lot of editing, learning, planning, writing, initiating, reviewing, fundraising, culture building.  What have we achieved? We will spend some time over the next year celebrating our fortieth birthday, taking stock, looking back and forward. Thesis Eleven is a slow journal: this is not a process that needs to be rushed.

For today, for this moment let us thank you, and all our readers and subscribers over four decades. Let us offer thanks to those who have written, and rewritten, reviewed, licked stamps and sealed envelopes, carried boxes, unfurled the banner, maintained all the everyday life functions of the journal. Let us thank those who had faith in us, who were able to affirm our purpose as well as to offer criticism.

Our next issue, volume 161 (to be published later this month), guest edited by Vrasidis Karalis, takes us back by our line in the labyrinth to Cornelius Castoriadis, who was always among our keenest supporters. Many of those who offered us inspired support then are now gone, and our seniors are also often retired or departed. Our elders are gone, and we too are older. Hourly, daily. We continue to think with them, and with many younger folk who now make the journal happen. They bring energy, enthusiasm, amazing capacity to build, to cultivate and to innovate. The best recent monument to this new wave is the recent Covid-19 online series on thesiseleven.com. Watch this space: the best is yet to come!

The distinctions we fall back on are conventional, in talking of notions of time. We need now to revisit these pasts, readdress the present, daily less clear when it comes to informing our lives from the recent past, and anticipate as best we can futures never less certain. We still have our work cut out.

There is also, underneath all this, business as usual, as best as we can anticipate. We thank our production team at Sage, and those we worked with before them at MIT Press and autonomously, as we did in the first ten of these forty years, self-producing in Melbourne. We may have been innocent, round 1980, expecting too much of our efforts. Yet they have also transformed us, and helped us to find our way, as friends and as collaborators on something bigger than us. In this sense, Thesis Eleven remains a project, even if it is not identical with that which we launched in Melbourne all those years ago. There are always new times. We continue to hope to share them with you.

Who knew that a Beatle would be shot? or that a small journal, or a crazy hope would gain global reach via a serious network of friends? Rock on, he would have said; play on. Tomorrow never knows, of the beginning.

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