Friday, December 09, 2005


As a bunch of people on each coast probably already know, Lewis Lapham is stepping down as big boss man at Harper's, a magazine that features an occasional fascinating article wedged into a thick mass of indigestible lefty crap. There's an interesting article on the changes in New York magazine. A sample excerpt:

>In fact, most of Harper’s is not fusty and Euro-lefty, Lapham’s “Notebook” column notwithstanding. But because his 2,500-word essays lead each issue, they tend to color one’s sense of the whole magazine. And they all amount to pretty much the same contemptuous, Olympian jeremiad: The powers-that-be are craven and monstrous, American culture is vulgar and depraved, the U.S. is like imperial Rome, our democracy is dying or dead. All of which is arguably true. But, jeez, sometime tell me something I didn’t know, show a shred of uncertainty and maybe some struggle to suss out fresh truth. “Everything I’ve written,” he says, “is a chronicle of the twilight of the American idea.” He seems so committed to the decline-and-fall critique, and so supremely uninterested in the novelties and nuances of everyday life and culture, it’s hard to take his gloom altogether seriously.

Lapham's a bad joke, and it's long since past time he left. I just wonder whether replacing him with a guy who comes from enough money that he could start at Harper's as a 29-year-old intern is the right recipe for change.

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