Meaningful: Dublin Selected *294


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"As a culture we seem somehow bored with thinking. We instantly want to know" states Maria Popova, the founder of Brain Pickings, in a fascinating recent podcast conversation with Krista Tippett from On Being. Popova went on to cite the epidemic of listicles, the fetishism of disruption, the conflation of journalism with news and the bias of presentism as examples to support this.

"We've been infected with this pathological impatience that makes us want to have the knowledge but not to do the work of claiming it. The true material of knowledge is meaning and meaningful is the opposite of the trivial…The only way to gleam knowledge is contemplation and the road to that is time. There's nothing else. There is no shortcut for the conquest of meaning and ultimately it is meaning that we seek to give to our lives," is Popova's eloquent summation of the contemporary conundrum we all face within the distractions of the discovery economy. The tagline for her website is "An inventory of the meaningful life" after all.

In a week in which 40,000 people hustle and bustle their way through the city aiming to disrupt and game-change our future lives, Popova's thoughts act as a necessary counter-balance of consideration. A reminder that meaning should be sought both within and beyond the thrill of the new, the now and the next.

Who's picking up their copy of War and Peace this week? Michael or Stephanie?


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Brief Encounter

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Ahead of the launch of its first print edition later this month, Brian McMahon, the instigator and gatekeeper of Brand New Retro tells us more about the venture.

Photo credits: Emil Hernon

Where did the idea for Brand New Retro originate?

The initial idea was to digitise and document content I had created from back in the postpunk days of the late 1970s/80s. This included scanning pages from Too Late, a fanzine I produced with my brother Eamonn and digitising recordings of groups I was in, such as Choice. I named the blog Brand New Retro as the content I posted was 'brand new' to the internet. I soon realised that it wasn't just my own personal stuff that had no online presence but other fabulous Irish fanzines such as Heat and indeed more mainstream magazines were also absent.

How did you go about sourcing materials?
I had my own collection to start with, accumulated over the previous 35 years. These mags were either purchased at the time of issue or vintage copies picked up at car boot sales, charity shops, jumble sales and markets. My brother & mother kindly donated their collections to me. Eamonn had a good stash of fanzines whilst my mother had a selection of fashion mags from the 1960s. I think the time we spent producing our own fanzine made us appreciate the effort and work involved in magazine production and so we were less inclined to throw them away. Once the blog became popular I worked harder at sourcing new content, visiting more markets and car boot sales and getting there earlier. I told traders what I was interested in so they could keep me in mind. I've picked up some nice stuff at the wonderful Dublin Flea Market. Online can be expensive but takes less time and is worthwhile when looking for a specific magazine.

When did you decide on creating a print version?
Although it was something I'd be thinking about for years, June 2014 was the date, I decided to collaborate with my friend Joe Collins on a print version of the book. Joe is a graphic designer and has worked in Marketing and Advertising for over 20 years. He was a fan of the blog and in particular the old adverts. Just as Dennis Hopper was the perfect Frank Booth for Blue Velvet, Joe, with his graphic AND advertising experience, was the perfect man for this job. And he proved this. We collaborated very well to produce what I think is beauty of a book.

Do you have some personal favourite discoveries?
I have loads. Every scan has a story behind it as regards where it came from and how I sourced it, which I really like. I love discovering stuff from my childhood years (1960s). Stuff which I don't specifically remember or had forgotten about, but can still relate to. I'd say, my biggest discovery was appreciating the significance of New Spotlight magazine in the 1960s. I remember it from the 1970s but wasn't a big fan because of its excessive coverage of the show band scene. But now I know and appreciate what a gem of a magazine it was. Particularly in the 1960s as it
showcased some fantastic Irish design, adverts, photos and illustrations along with cool columns by Pat Egan, Sam Smyth and Donal Corvin.

Have you noticed a trend towards retro in advertising, typography or other creative forms at the moment?
For sure. But it's always been like that. People are influenced by the past whether they are aware of it or not. Talking to Joe about this recently and he observed how hand rendered type has been very popular for a number of years. It's evident with new business and many bespoke projects. It gives a look of crafted and makes things look personable. The larger global brands have understandably not embraced the look. Instagram is also responsible for this trend with its sun kissed retro look.

Are there particular fanzines or magazines you have struggled to track down?
No. None in particular. I'd still love to have more Irish magazines but I like working with what I have and making the most of that. The book doesn't set out to be the definitive collection or listing of every Irish magazine.

What's planned next for Brand New Retro?
For now I'm just excited about the book coming out. I'm looking forward to meeting some of the people who were involved with the original publications at the launch.

Brand New Retro, published by Liberties Press, will be published later this month. Check their website for launch details.

Le Help

Le Cool is a free weekly magazine distributed every Thursday that features a selection of cultural events and leisure activities, revealing the things you really shouldn't miss. We filter out, among other things, the best art, film, music, and club nights, as well as a careful selection of extraordinary bars, restaurants and other fine places. Le Cool content is chosen because we believe it is worth your time and will never be traded for money.

To contact our editorial team, email Stephanie.
For marketing, advertising and other commercial type stuff, email Michael

Published by: LE COOL GROUP

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