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Harper's Magazine

Harper's Magazine June 2020

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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
$8.86(Incl. tax)
$25.20(Incl. tax)
12 Issues

in this issue

4 min.

Ordinary People Thomas Chatterton Williams provides a remarkably elitist take on Portugal’s immigration policies [“The Wanderer’s Port,” Easy Chair, April]. His perspective appears to have been shaped solely by his experiences among wealthy American and European expats. Williams acknowledges the impetus behind Portugal’s campaign to attract immigrants: the need to grow the tax base required to support its Socialist government. However, he fails to recognize that only the privileged can benefit from the tax breaks and other incentives the government has put forward. Williams bolsters his narrative with anecdotes of “well-heeled” expats in Lisbon: a Swiss friend who only has to work three days a month, a French former trader who invites him to a penthouse party, three couples with children who are enrolled in prestigious international schools and cared for by full-time…

5 min.
editor’s desk

Among the many things disrupted by the spread of the novel coronavirus and the global mobilization against it has been our sense of time. In part, this is simply the logic of exponential growth at work: it took months for rumors of a virulent new disease halfway across the world to become reports of a handful of cases in the United States; weeks for that handful to become hundreds; and days for those hundreds to become thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands. Experts told us repeatedly that what we were seeing in China and Iran and Italy was bound to happen here. Warned to act before it was too late, we instead watched with a kind of skeptical fatalism as our future unfolded elsewhere in the present tense. Then it…

11 min.
easy chair

On the fifteenth of March in Paris, as the novel coronavirus outbreak—just deemed a global pandemic—ravaged Spain and Italy, I strapped my infant son into his stroller, grabbed a bottle of wine from my nascent stockpile, and walked unworriedly with my wife and daughter across the plaza to our friends’ home to share a meal. In front of a small Catholic church, an outdoor mass was taking place, with congregants standing several feet apart from one another, an odd sight that didn’t register until later. The previous evening, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe had announced the closure of restaurants, cafés, and other nonessential businesses across the country. It was technically against the wishes of the government for us to keep this lunch date. The point, of course, was not that everyone…

3 min.
harper’s index

Chances an American has gone to work while feeling sick : 3 in 4 Percentage of U.S. doctors who said in 2014 that they had gone to work sick in the past year : 83 Percentage of those doctors who said they had done so because they “did not want to let their colleagues down” : 99 Average number of text messages sent per second over AT&T’s network during peak traffic on New Year’s Eve : 15,000 During peak traffic in the last two weeks of March this year : 23,000 Percentage decrease in the total number of steps taken by New Yorkers during the first week of the city’s stay-at-home order : 50 Factor by which Google searches for “bidet” increased in March : 7 By which searches for “bread recipes” increased : 3.3 Percentage of Americans…

26 min.

[Essay] SICK SAD WORLD By Elisa Gabbert, from The Unreality of Memory, which will be published in August by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Viruses and bacteria hijack our minds; they make us act weirdly. For example, Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat feces, makes mice less afraid of cats; this is an evolutionary strategy, making it easier for the parasite to get from the mouse to the cat. When it spreads to humans, it may increase their risk-taking. One study found that people with toxoplasmosis, the infection caused by the parasite, “are more likely to major in business.” An NBC News story suggested optimistically that the parasite “may give people the courage they need to become entrepreneurs.” That would be an extreme case of a microscopic parasite altering the course of our lives.…

1 min.
1st trial for the new aubade

Does the season match the birdsong,did I hear the birdsong over the white noise machine,who brought the white noise machine here,was it the other, heaving next to me under a shroud,for how many seasons has he/she been sleeping herenext to me, was there a logic of want to begin within a seaside town or a dark box rattling underground,did he/she come through a revolving door like the termitewinding up through the drain of my sink basin,was there a seasonal contract or perpetual exchange,who installed this sour drain in my middle, is it timeto adjust my angles, for whom, whom today, tomorrow,what is history cloaking, as burlap wraps around wet figs,is there a logic of want, when will my season match my song.…