Monday’s Suggestion

In Matt, Monday's Suggestion, Periodicals on November 22, 2010 by Two Barbers Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lapham’s Quarterly

…is kind of a potpourri of historical literary and visual nuggets strung together on one thematic subject, such as education, nature, money, travel, war, sports, medicine, religion, or, as is the most recent Fall 2010 issue, cities.

To ratchet down a little more tightly on the modus operandi, it’s beaded by the more elemental aspects of each subject.

Taken from this Fall 2010 volume on cities, the pieces, which are on average 3 pages long and are woven with pictures: artwork, drawings, topography, and photos; and quotes, don’t really go beyond simple reflections on certain functions from cities throughout history and geography. So what it’s attempting is basically to distill its own conversational offerings to one locus made of many parts, kind of like a city which is one place representing many parts of a region. This is not to say every issue would hit the same kind of high-railed parallel, since ‘The City’, as a subject happens to provide advantageous material, but its obvious that they are all meant to be compiled in this stew-like format.

The nuggets also come from a seeming comprehensive spectrum of voices such as Plutarch, Woody Allen, Dostoevsky, anonymous, Michelangelo, Marco Polo, Groucho Marx, Salmon Rushdie, Gershwin, Pericles, Camus, Virgil, Flaubert, Wallace Stevens, Frank Lloyd Wright, Joyce, James, Hernán Cortés, Lyndon Johnson, and, of course, E.B. White, who you might guess would be the writer they started the issue with…but on second thought it’s really top-heavy with, almost completely European and American writers, and so should really be looked at as a traditional, Western-academic (male) fueled treatment. There are so few Asian and Middle Eastern guys, not to mention women, and no Africans.

You know what it’s sort of like, altogether? One of those commercials for celebrity causes like the ONE campaign. You’re bowled over pretty much immediately with the sudden urge to be as totally involved and connected with all civilization, throughout the past and present, as all the people displayed in this piece or promo, joined with the sudden reminder of the vastness, and abundance, of your ignorance to it to the point where you feel, simultaneously, inspired and deflated, like you have a ticket to Willy Wonka’s glass elevator but no time to get to it before it takes off.

But that doesn’t mean it’s ultimately daunting to read. It fits in well with a work week. The pieces are short and reflective so that they can be read incrementally. The really brilliant thing about it is that they can be educational while soothing.


This is the 2nd installment of Periodicals. Sorry for the total lack of concrete information on the publication, but here’s a link to its website and the thing it, the best way to get a feel for what the magazine is, like in some minor ontological way, would be to flip through and read it for a bit at a book store.


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