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Harper's Magazine January 2021

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.

United States
Harper's Magazine Foundation
R 115,66
R 578,87
12 Issues

in this issue

4 min

Life Is Elsewhere Garth Greenwell is correct to question the concept of “relevance” as it is commonly applied to art [“Making Meaning,” Essay, November]. His arguments make me wonder about my long-held instinct to seek out “irrelevant” literature. I used to think it was a question of escapism, of wanting to avoid the intrusion of reality into the sphere of the imagination, but I don’t think that’s it entirely. I recoil from transparent appeals to relevance in my reading—in recent years, this has often included journalism and fiction forced by the marketplace to maneuver itself into some artificial frame involving Donald Trump. It’s what drew me to Greenwell’s essay before anything else in the November issue, which was otherwise largely concerned with the election and threats to American democracy. Beyond escapism, there…

4 min
editor’s desk

This issue marks the debut of two new Harper’s Magazine columnists: Hari Kunzru will now be alternating with Thomas Chatterton Williams in the Easy Chair, while Claire Messud takes over as our New Books critic. Both writers are accomplished essayists who may be best known for their fiction—between them they have published a dozen novels. And as it happens, our cover story is a long personal essay by another distinguished novelist, Ann Patchett. While the events recounted in her essay are all true, they are shaped at every turn by a novelistic sensibility—one that tends “to think of things in terms of story.” Add to these three an essay by Karl Ove Knausgaard in Readings; a review by Lauren Oyler, whose first novel will be published next month; and this…

11 min
easy chair

With two supporters, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, just elected to the House of Representatives, the QAnon conspiracy theory looks set to survive in some form the defeat of its hero, Donald Trump. Like millenarians coming to terms with the failure of prophecy, Q’s followers will no doubt incorporate the latest disappointing events into a world picture that is already a rat’s nest of connections. It may be helped in this effort by the profusion of graphical representations QAnon has spawned. The internet is littered with maps and illustrations. You can find a flowchart of the “theoretical functional relationships” of the supposed cabal of pedophiles that is operating an international child sex-trafficking ring, and a Sephirot Map of the Pharaonic Death Cult. There are trees…

3 min
harper’s index

Portion of single Americans who have had sex since the coronavirus pandemic began : 3/10 Portion of those single Americans whose sexual partner was a roommate with whom they were not in a relationship : ¼ Percentage of users on Hinge, a dating app, who would enter an exclusive relationship with someone they had only met virtually : 37 Estimated percentage of weddings planned for a date between March and August last year that were rescheduled : 52 That were canceled entirely : 7 Estimated value of loans taken out by U.S. couples for canceled 2020 weddings : $3,700,000,000 Amount of money that Singapore is offering couples who have a baby during the pandemic : $2,200 Portion of pregnant women with COVID-19 whose symptoms last for more than two months : ¼ Number of children the Trump Administration…

1 min
new from the cato institute

Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting BY RONALD BAILEY AND MARIAN L. TUPY You can’t fix what’s wrong in the world if you don’t know what’s happening in it. This book will provide busy people with beautifully illustrated, easily understandable, and entertaining access to surprising facts that they need to know about how the world is really faring. School Choice Myths: Setting the Record Straight on Educational Freedom EDITED BY COREY DEANGELIS AND NEAL MCCLUSKEY So many myths stand in the way of expanding educational freedom to all Americans. This volume brings clear logic and overwhelming evidence to bear against all the major anti school-choice myths, giving readers a one-stop guide to everything from the latest research on the effects of school choice on civic engagement…

26 min

[Essay] A MUTABLE FEAST By Karl Ove Knausgaard, from “Pig Person,” an essay in the collection In the Land of the Cyclops, which will be published this month by Archipelago Books. Translated from the Norwegian by Martin Aitken. Preconceptions are a way of seeing in which the nature of what is seen is already determined. The opposite would be seeing with an open eye that accorded everything the same value, be it blood, vomit, excrement, dawns, lawns, lynx, maggots, roe, owls, hearts, crowds, monkeys, chairs, tables. This impartial eye would be unable to see any connection between different entities and phenomena, since perhaps our most important preconception has to do with what belongs together and what doesn’t. It is how we organize the world, and what makes it possible for us to live…