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About Us

(The story of Misfit Press is inextricably linked to the story of Misfit Incorporated, which is inextricably linked to the story of AJ and Melissa Leon. These fascinating stories have been told at length on many other occasions – in newspapers, on TEDx stages, during numerous interviews and chance meetings in wine bars. If you want to explore the weird and wonderful company that is Misfit Incorporated, peruse our site. For the full backstory, check out this video interview.)

Misfit Press itself was established in 2014, with the publication of AJ Leon’s The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The little-known backstory to The Life & Times is that it was originally slated to be published by a major American publisher, who headhunted AJ after noticing the popularity of his blog, The Pursuit of Everything. About a third of the way through the writing of the book, AJ began to get twitchy about the compromises involved in traditional publishing: uncompromising editorial pressure, a lack of say on issues such as design and artwork. Not long later, AJ bailed on the contract, and decided to publish the book himself. The Misfit team created and ran a Kickstarter, aimed at raising $15,000 to cover publishing costs. By the time the fundraising had run its course, pledges totalled more than treble that amount. With the excess funds, AJ and Misfit decided to go one better than just publishing a book, and also founded a publishing house.

Since its founding, Misfit Press has steadily flourished. In 2015, we took under our wing Wolftree, the finest arts journal in the American Midwest; we released our 2015 Anthology, featuring the finest creative work we encountered over the preceding year; and The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit continued to find readers across the globe. In 2016 we published Destination Shakespeare, the debut poetry collection from esteemed Shakespeare academic Paul Edmondson; and we have more Shakespeare-related publications in the works for 2017, including Shakespeare On The Road, a tale of a Shakespearian adventure across the US.

Last  year was a big growth period for the Press, and there is lots more on the way for 2017. As you’ll see from our Forthcoming Publications section, over the next twelve months we will be publishing Saya Sayama: Three Years in Myanmar by incredible photojournalist Spike Johnson, a photonarrative account documenting a unique moment in Myanmar’s history: the violent shift from General Ne Win’s fifty-year dictatorship to the country’s first steps towards democracy. Also imminent is Tangentially Reading, featuring some of the most insightful, shocking, touching, and hilarious moments from the first 200 episodes of Christopher Ryan’s much-loved podcast, Tangentially Speaking.

These are exciting times at Misfit Press. To keep up to date with everything that’s going on, follow us at our blogFacebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Into the future, we will always continue to work in the fashion we do right now: with authors we like, on projects that matter, in a way that leaves writer, reader and everyone in-between satisfied. We will also never renege on our One-for-One pledge; for every publication we ever sell, a child in India will receive money towards prescription eyeglasses, via the Misfit Foundation.

w: Dane Johnson

Rambles: In My Own Way, by Alan WattsA review of the Autobiography

Rambles: In My Own Way, by Alan Watts

Dane Johnson is a freelance writer, currently based in San Francisco, where he dedicates his time to reading and writing. For one year, he’s determined to read a book every week and share a book report – both reliving his favorite homework from grade school, and tackling a reading list that has been “growing out of control”. These reports focus on three things: 1) what he liked or didn’t like about the book; 2) favorite quotes; and 3) new vocabulary. You can find more of Dane’s writing and work here.


 

I LIKED…

W

atts’ way of storytelling and philosophizing is hilarious and smart. He discusses noetic ideas in a lighthearted way that invites everyone, from all walks of life, to feel welcomed into a conversation. His playful inquisitiveness allowed me to sift through some major existential questions from a posture like that of a curious child rather than a serious intellect.

In reading this autobiography, it’s clear that Watts’ life was driven by relentless introspection paired with an indulgent quest after the essence of existence. He was an Anglican priest, a professor, a prolific writer and lecturer on Zen Buddhism, and a self-proclaimed shaman, yet as he recalled the many characters who played major roles in his own formation – many of whom were famous artists, writers, and philosophers, like Aldous Huxley, Krishnamurti, and Carl Jung – I was reminded that the journey into love and an expansive understanding of existence is always informed by our relationship with others.

Since I’m currently a resident of San Francisco, I found his description of the city during the counter-cultural 60s particularly interesting. The divisive spirit that fueled clashes between groups from different schools of thought in Watts’ time (conservatives versus hippies) is still prevalent here now (long-time residents versus newly-arrived techies). His reflections are time-capsuled social commentaries from the perspective of one who helped shape the spiritually and socially liberal perspectives that are still evidenced in the character of the city today. The fact that he stimulated and facilitated so many progressive conversations in the Bay Area, and most certainly beyond, has caused me to look at my surroundings with a more empathetic and invested concern. We make the worlds we live in, for better or worse.

 

FAVORITE QUOTES

“…I sometimes suspect that taking a scholarly attitude to a subject is a lame excuse for doing what you secretly enjoy for no good reason.”

“I am what I am only in relation to what everything else is.”

“For this is a land destroying its wealth with money, and will end up with nothing to eat but numbers.”

“But we would understand the sense of life if we would sing more and say less.”

“One of the curses of Western industrial culture is the proliferation of “nice residential areas” where no shops or small businesses are permitted, and which require, as their counterparts, business districts for unrelieved commerce, to which one must commute for several miles to ply one’s trade or buy groceries — there to find parking impossible and, in transit, to clog the air with unnecessary gasoline fumes. These “nice residential areas” establish an aesthetic standard of the good life which — though millions buy it — is for me a dreary wasteland in which people are trying to divorce pleasure and leisure from work, so that the pleasure becomes vapid and the work drudgery. Unless I am to live far out in the country, give me a place where a grocery, a laundry, a smithy, and a pub are within easy walking distance.”

“Now it is curious that wherever there flourishes what may loosely be called a bohemian style of life, the affluent bourgeoisie are filled with envy and want to move in, so that the land values go up and the artists, writers, hippies, and other weird characters who gave the place its color can no longer afford to live there.” – speaking of Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, 1972

“To this day it remains beyond my comprehension why so many people who are neither sick nor starving cultivate drabness as a way of life, and feel embarrassed for those who come out in vermilion trousers or dance in the streets.”

“…the highest form of religion was to transcend religion. He called it the religion of non-religion. I call it atheism in the name of God…”

“The which than which there is no whicher.” – Watts referring to what religious-minded people would more simply call God

“So often I wonder why, instead of drinking in pubs, Americans put up with dark and lugubrious saloons, glimmering with the phosphorescent light of jukeboxes. Presumably, so as to be invisible to their guilty consciences.”

“No literate, inquisitive, and imaginative person needs to go to college unless in need of a union card, or degree, as a certified physician, lawyer, or teacher, or unless he requires access to certain heavy and expensive equipment for scientific research which he himself cannot afford, such as a cyclotron.”

“….real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter.”


NEW VOCABULARY

Bucolic: of or relating to the pleasant aspects of the countryside and country life.
Treacle: something that is annoying because it is too sentimental, or molasses
Beneficent: (of a person) generous or doing good.
Avuncular: of or relating to the relationship between men and their siblings’ children.
Obsolescence: the condition of no longer being used or useful : the condition of being obsolete
Maudlin: self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.
Bombastic: high-sounding but with little meaning; inflated.
Genuflect: lower one’s body briefly by bending one knee to the ground, typically in worship or as a sign of respect.
Incunabula: an early printed book, especially one printed before 1501.
Urbane: (of a person, especially a man) suave, courteous, and refined in manner.
Fastidious: very attentive to and concerned about accuracy and detail.
Suffuse: gradually spread through or over.
Virile: (of a man) having strength, energy, and a strong sex drive.
Arcane: understood by few; mysterious or secret.
Prestidigitation: magic tricks performed as entertainment.
Lugubrious: looking or sounding sad and dismal.
Cogent: (of an argument or case) clear, logical, and convincing.
Paramour: a lover, especially the illicit partner of a married person.
Impudent: not showing due respect for another person; impertinent.
Invariably: in every case or on every occasion; always.
Dilettante: a person who cultivates an area of interest, such as the arts, without real commitment or knowledge.
Sinological: the academic study of China primarily through Chinese language, literature, and history, and often refers to Western scholarship. Its origin “may be traced to the examination which Chinese scholars made of their own civilization.”
Adamantine: unbreakable.
Ribald: referring to sexual matters in an amusingly rude or irreverent way.
Sophistry: the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving.
Vapid: offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging.
Milieu: a person’s social environment.
Pedant: a person who is excessively concerned with minor details and rules or with displaying academic learning.
Aphorism: a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Prurient: having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters.
Heuristic: enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves.

1192 words

Like words?

W:

7.28.16

Dane JohnsonDane Johnson is a published poet and award-winning lyricist from California. Currently, he works as a freelance writer and contributes to causes and companies around the world. You can learn more about his work on his website, ramblewithaplan.com, and creep on his Instagram by following @ramblewithaplan

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