Of all the places to start a literary journal, the dark web—the shadowy corner of the Internet known primarily for illegal activity—seems like an odd choice. For starters, readers might have a hard time tracking it down (“the dark web, as Kaveh Waddell has previously noted in The Atlantic, “is accessible only through Tor, a network of computers that passes web requests through a randomized series of servers in order to preserve visitors’ anonymity”). And most people who frequent the dark web likely aren’t there to check out some new short stories or poetry.
Nevertheless, last year, a new dark-web literary publication—fittingly named The Torist—published its first issue, becoming an unusual landmark in territory usually reserved for shadier activities. According to its two founders, the anti-surveillance, anti-copyright sentiment of the dark web makes it an ideal creative environment for their publication to thrive.
One of the founders, who hasn’t attached his name to the publication, says The Torist was created to be “a place for positivity and creativity” in a part of the Internet that otherwise has a very different tone. (He originally agreed to be interviewed for this story only through encrypted chats. After some discussion, he agreed to correspond through “clear web” email instead.)