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Harper's Magazine

Harper's Magazine March 2020

HARPER’S MAGAZINE, the oldest general interest monthly in America, explores the issues that drive our national conversation through such celebrated features as Readings, Annotation, and Findings, as well as the iconic Harper’s Index.

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United States
Harper's Magazine Foundation
$9.49(Incl. tax)
$25.20(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

4 min.

Breaking the News It was gratifying to see Greg Jackson revive the ideas of Neil Postman in his meditation on the media [“Vicious Cycles,” Essay, January], for Postman highlighted the degree to which broadcast journalism is driven more by profit than by civic responsibility. Because of decades of market incentives, news is beholden to the strictures of entertainment. This is not a value judgment but a description of the industry’s business model. Absent systemic change, it cannot be otherwise. Still, we may be dealing here with something even more powerful and resistant to change than markets. As Jackson suggests, when we seek news sources that reinforce our own worldviews, we are looking for validation of who we are and why we are here. “When we turn away from the news, we will…

12 min.
easy chair

In the Seventies, when I came of age politically, being a lefty was all about believing that “the people” would always save us, if they just knew the truth. We were still immersed in the Century of the Common Man. We believed, as Henry Wallace once put it, that “the march of freedom of the past one hundred and fifty years has been a long-drawn-out people’s revolution.” The moral arc of the universe might be long, but the people, united, were pushing us more and more quickly along it. This view was bred in the bone, our national religion from “We the People” through Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” to Carl Sandburg’s The People, Yes: Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,Yes to the hopes of governmentOf the people by the…

29 min.

[Essay] RING OF FIRE By Jordan Kisner, from “Phone Calls from the Apocalypse,” an essay in the collection Thin Places, which will be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Nearly every day now, my phone rings from numbers unknown to me. The area codes are always Californian, and always different. The calls started from cities in or near Los Angeles: Culver City, Inglewood, Marina del Rey. Then, once I stopped picking them up, they’d come from farther north: Merced, Turlock, Patterson, Stockton. My parents still live in California, so when I’d see these unlisted California numbers, I’d think that one of them was in the hospital and I was being notified. I’d pick up, worried, and hear a long silence. Then a man’s voice would say: “First they deceived you, then they…

2 min.
mammary lapse

My first symptoms were migraines. They lasted three days and occurred three times a month. Then, weakness in my right leg, numbness in my right arm, tingling in both, a sore shoulder and neck—to a point where I couldn’t turn it. My family doctor gave me Maxalt for migraines, inflammation meds, and suggested massage. Nothing was helping. I started to have swelling in my feet and ankles and hands, my doctor said watch what you eat. I then went on water pills—I don’t know why. My feet turned blue with broken blood vessels, joints all over started hurting; I couldn’t stand up from bed. I had to stop working. I started tripping a lot. My doctor said, “It’s your shoes.” I fell in the bathroom and bruised my tailbone. I…

1 min.
mr. me too

RichWell-knownOver-tanOrangePinkAll-AmericanHigh dramaLiving largeOn the linksOn the newsMaking big moneyStacking paperGrabbing titsRunning for officeNot equipped to take this country overGot a lot of votesMight actually be the presidentOur presidentPOTUSAin’t deserve that positionGot the nukesTaunting K. JongTweeted somethingArguing about nonsenseCalling favorsTaking dollars from y’allTrying to build a fucking fenceBuilding the wall to stop the dopeMaking racist remarksSupporting white supremacistsSpreading that hatredFired his chief of staffBringing back the Reagan eraMight bring slavery backThe new HitlerNot as bad as they say he isWants to make everything betterTalks real estateTrying to make America greatMy hero…

1 min.

In the dream I wrote this poem called “Electric.”Somehow I got the t in the middle of the titleto wiggle. All the words of the poemwere crossed out with clay-colored linesthat ran through like fences or wires.I could only see the tops and bottoms of the letters.When I scraped the words of the poem with a knifelike a scratch card, the text remained hiddenbehind opalescent scarswhich hovered and shifted, “cloudlike,”wherever my eyes rested. I put the shavingsunder a big lens, and it seemed to me that was the real poem.I remain unsure of what it said. The sound attached was red,almost “a berry caught in an engine.” I do not thinkI want to write anymore. I haven’t in many months.One line occurs to me and repeats. It will not make…