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Subversify Answers Your Questions-What does subversive mean to you?

By Grainne Mar 26, 2009


Dear Subversify. Your name includes it; many articles here speak of it. Yet it is presented in so many different ways I am wondering, what does it mean to you to be subversive?

Grainne Rhuad:

Good question. I gave this one some thought. Our name as most names given, was lovingly given the thought it deserves. We wanted to draw in and speak to those readers who may have ideas in common with ours; we also wanted to incite the curiosity of others who may have pre-conceived notions about what subversive means in the first place. It is an interesting conversation topic that you have given us, so what I did was offer it up to the round table of our staff and guest writers. What I found and what you will find is that everyone has a slightly different picture of what it means. These pictures are colored by their cultures, where they came from, how old they are, what socio-economical class they belong to. In the end there is no right or wrong answer, just a discussion, which is what being subversive means to me. To discuss, question and investigate the status quo. To see if –and I do mean if- something needs changing. After all we may have a grandiose idea for change based on current situations and feelings but overall change would be a bad idea. Example: The French Revolution. That type of subversion led to heinous consequences that most probably could have been avoided. On the other side of the spectrum lies someone like Larry Flint. Now some people may not think he is a subversive hero, pandering ladies flesh the way he seems to. But throughout his life has asked us, what makes this so special that I can’t joke about it? What makes that so special that I can’t have it in an article next to naked ladies? Someone may not agree with him; however you’d better show up with your game on because Larry Flint is no stupid hick. In the end, I think this is the greatest example of subversion. Make people defend what they believe with real intent of heart, backed up by well thought out logic. Making people think, even if it’s one at a time is what subversion and in the end Subversify is all about.

The David:

Subversion is a systematic attempt to overthrow or undermine a government or political system by persons working secretly from within. So Webster defines subversity.
To my mind, Webster s definition is narrow. I believe subversiveness is also the state of being involved in looking at what needs to be changed, what does not benefit the people, and then working to see that those wrongs are righted. My weapon of choice is the use of words, and it is toward that end that I write, and it is for that reason that I admire this magazine.


Ya wanna know what I think? Okay you asked for it, but I take no responsibility for this – I had eight shots of tequila implanted in my stomach after telling the bartender that I already had six at home but needed more…
For me subversive is the act of getting a person to see what you wish them to see whilst under the impression that it was their opinion in the first place; it is upheaval without being recognized as such. The act could be about an ideology, a methodology, or a behavior that is imprinted through passive-aggressive means so that the will to fight the change is kept to a minimum. It can be either negative or positive result dependent on the person attempting to be subversive when successful though the price for failure is extremely high thus making subversive-ness a tumultuous tactic to use.
A good example is from my good ol’ gutter crawling days of yore. My best buddy o’ pal in the world, Terry, is gay – not just homosexual, but gay as gay can be; he makes Richard Simmons look like an introvert. Make the mistake of putting on ABBA’s “Give me a man after midnight” and any drink you have on the table will be spilled in the wake of the mighty Terry dance of delight and if there happens to be a good looking guy sitting at the table, Terry would make sure that bloke’s drink went straight into the guy’s lap to which a horrified Terry would offer to blow dry the objects that may have been soaked by his clumsiness. ..Anyhoo, Terry and I have been friends since we both were sitting on the floor with soiled clothes, which could mean last night, but I’m talking when we were both infants so I don’t even register his antics as he doesn’t register my hetero little flamboyant quirks of attempting to get the crowds to recognize that yes, the world does revolve around me and the sooner everyone friggin’ gets that the sooner we’ll get along, damn it (aka I’m the arrogant s.o.b. with the continuous smart ass remarks in lieu of any depth of thought in answering any question that may be thrown in my general direction). One of the downsides of having such an openly gay friend when going out to drink and trawl the bars is that I am often mistaken as being gay, which you can imagine can cause for some friction from some homophobic men under the illusion that they are irresistible whether they are bent over or not. The upside is that with so much gayness emanating from Terry it causes women’s gay-dar to have phantom blips right in the area of where I happen to be standing, sitting, hanging on for dear life as the world spins faster and faster, what have you. Why would this be an upside? You may be asking yourself “wouldn’t a guy seek to prove how manly and un-gay he is when in the presence of some female flesh”? The answer is no, no I didn’t, don’t and will not. I think it must be some subconscious genetic competition thing that goes on inside a woman’s brain. She thinks to herself, “hmmm, there are so few decent guys out there, and if this dude is going after guys as well as I am, the chances of getting a good one drop considerably – I must take eliminate competition.” Hence the next morning one or two women wake up feeling proud of themselves of making point of the night one of converting a guy from homosexuality to heterosexuality even though the point was actually mine being put into them…over and over and over again. Just think, now you’ll never get the time it took to read this back…subversive of me, isn’t it?


Some see the glass half full, others half empty. Then there are the few who ignore the trivial nature of full/empty in favor of trying to capture a more complete understanding of what the fuck a glass containing water really means. Subversive thinkers are deconstructionists. An analogy might be a child that rips apart his toy to understand its inner workings. The child is given his toy, told what it is and how it works, but insatiable curiosity allows the child to destroy the the object in order to reveal more. The verbal description wasn’t enough, neither was the satisfaction of possessing the item intact. The child is rewarded by learning the simplicity that the toy presented was far more complex, and then the understanding that socialized simplicity has an inherit deceptive quality to it. Life is oversimplified, and we are all presented with ideas and asked to accept them at face value. And all too often, we accept description of things we are taught as truth. Subversive thinkers are never happy with face value. To think subversively, one deconstructs ideas to understand the mechanics. It is this deconstructive playtime that sums up the idea of this place we call Subversify. At least that is what I get from it.

The Late Mitchell Warren:

I guess it would mean rebelling against established government, conventional morality/ethics and questioning whatever happens to be the philosophy of the day. What I don’t know is if we rebel against authority because all mankind is inherently corrupt or because rebellion gives us an identity.


Do I wonder why the glass is half-full or half empty? No, I generally wonder why I didn’t get a full one. I was raised in a large family; tearing up your toys meant you didn’t have any while everyone else has all their neat things. What large families teach an individual is to always wonder about motivations. If my oldest sister was nice to me, I wanted to know why. If my brother thought something was a good idea, you could bet if I followed his suggestions I was going to get in trouble. If my mother tried to convince me I’d look good in pink, it meant she was planning to give me a hand-me-down that I positively hated.This suspicious attitude carried straight into my adult life. I figured everyone was a bit subversive about what they really wanted, so the best thing to do was examine all sides before making a decision. The more volatile people became about insisting they were right, the more convinced I was there was something up the sleeve. Too much insistence meant bully tactics, another thing you learn about in large families, especially if you’re one of the smallest. You can’t really get around a bully. You’ve got to call him out for what he is before he gets everyone bullying. Sometimes, that takes a bit of subterfuge. People don’t get it the first time you call “bullshit” because that bullshit is still walking and talking. You’ve gotta play out a little more rope, then call bullshit again, this time in a more refined manner. Example; “I believe this bovine just released some digestive juices.” Give that some time to sink in and it will dawn on others there’s enough bullshit laying around to start smelling a bit offensive, and maybe it’s time to rope up that bovine and get him out of here. So, that’s what I believe Subversify is all about. We stand here by the cow calling “bullshit”, but finding different ways of saying it.

In my mind’s eye subversion would be viewed as a tool we use to work towards freedom. I speak of intellectual and spiritual freedom, a breakthrough between defined morals and laws. These two personal governing states are devised thoughts of how to live in an organized society. They are methods that usually work but don’t necessarily mean everyone agrees with them.To me it’s like a math problem, if it’s not 2+2 equaling four then we have an issue. Math problems have solutions and are proven. The solutions cannot be argued. Religion, law, culture, tradition etc., all play unproven roles on designing what a man or woman should or should not abide by. For thousands of years these techniques were used to mold and create civilizations, but how many members of those societies suffered the consequences due to unfair rule? Even in present day, where governance in many places has been moderated to a non-barbaric system, people are forced to succumb to specific standards. We’re told that a crooked line is straight, and if we don’t see it that way, to accept it. That’s not freedom.

Unfortunately certain upbringings instill ideals that can cause unnecessary fears. These fears can be as simple as the development of a bad reputation. These stigmas could ruin one’s interaction and progress of maintaining a prestigious status in that society. For me, subversion comes into play when an individual questions why something should be a certain way and if it was ever intended to stay that way always. In the culture that I spring from, to speak out would be blasphemy. I have for the last two years been evaluating the difference between what’s deemed to be right and what makes a person happy. The status quo teaches one must sacrifice their personal happiness just so they can attain a spiritual reward in the afterlife. I beg to differ. To me, that’s being subversive.

By Grainne

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12 thoughts on “Subversify Answers Your Questions-What does subversive mean to you?”
  1. Interesting ideas on subversion. I wonder what everyone would define nihilism as. As I see that many people don’t know what it means. I had a debate with a gentleman over the meaning of nihilism when asked to describe Subvesify. He insisted that it meant nothingness. Well I went on to tell him that it was rejection of institution and conformity. He said that I was defining anarchy. Yeah, and………

  2. I forgot to mention that you’ve done a wonderful job organizing this article. Job well done.

  3. Are all things worth subverting?

    Is there a connection between subversion and perversion?

    Do we subvert for subversion’s sake?

    Is subversion a symptom of a modern sickness?

  4. Okay Savvy, here are my thought on those worthy questions:
    Are all things worth subverting? Who knows and how would you know until you tried it. That’s why the best subversive practicioners employ the incitement method, letting their plans play out with other people taking the stage.

    Is there a connection between subversion and perversion? Yes and no. Most pervse people are afraid of their subversive thoughts so they take them on crazy train rides of behavior.

    Do we subvert for subversion’s sake? Well I don’t but there are those that do, they most accurately fall within the realm of psychopath and sociopaths.
    Is subversion a symptom of a modern sickness. Are you kidding me with this one.. I don’t even know where to begin. Probably when the first human decided he didn’t want to leave a well stocked honey tree and wanted some of the tribe to stay with him. Subversion is a consequence of human group behavior and is well documented throughout history.

  5. The practicionors of deconstruction exercise their will on anything they see fit. Ask not what is worth subverting, rather try to understand why you wouldn’t try. As Albert Camus once said, “One cannot be a part-time nihilist.”

  6. […] 2009 … and think it's subversive to philosophize about the subversity of mildly racist jokes. …Subversify Answers Your Questions-What does subversive mean …An online magazine offering an alternative, subversive perspective to mainstream media. … So […]

  7. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How lengthy have you ever been running a blog for? you made blogging glance easy. The entire look of your website is magnificent, let alone the content material!

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