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Harper's Magazine March 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

In Memoriam We at Harper’s Magazine are deeply saddened by the loss of our former contributing editor Barry Lopez (1945–2020), who died on Christmas Day. Over the course of four decades, Barry wrote more than a dozen works of criticism, reportage, and memoir for the magazine, all of them informed by the combination of wonder and moral urgency that made him one of America’s most beloved and celebrated authors. A remembrance of Barry by the composer John Luther Adams can be found on our website. The Odd Couple Ann Patchett’s account of the friendship she formed with Sooki Raphael during the pandemic [“These Precious Days,” Folio, January] is one of the most beautiful magazine stories I have ever read, made all the more meaningful because it brought back memories of my mother and…

11 min
easy chair

When I moved to New York City in 2008, my perception of safety (and everything else) was conditioned by a lifetime of American cop shows. Though I’d grown up in London and lived in neighborhoods with high levels of street crime during the Nineties and early Aughts, I assumed that I would have to be slightly more vigilant in New York. I remember the precise moment I realized that I was wrong. I was walking around TriBeCa late at night, in a streetscape I associated with gritty Seventies movies, not cupcake bakeries or multimilliondollar lofts. I glimpsed a light flickering at the end of an alley, and my mind flashed to images of homeless people warming themselves by oil drum fires. Instead I saw a glowing Apple logo, and a…

6 min
theory of data transformation

By Jer Thorp, from Living in Data, which will be published in May by MCD, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Thorp is a data artist and an instructor at New York University. “Data” has always been a restless word. It first appeared in the English language on loan from Latin, where it meant “a thing given, a gift delivered or sent.” It spent its early years in the shared custody of theology and mathematics. The clergyman Thomas Tuke wrote this in 1614 about the difference between mystery and sacrament: “Every Sacrament is a Mysterie, but every Mysterie is not a Sacrament. Sacraments are not Nata, but Data, Not Naturall but by Divine appointment.” By 1704, data had found a hold in mathematics beyond geometry. Another clergyman, John Harris, defined…

2 min
ionic pixie dream boy

From passages of letters included in Love, Kurt, a collection of messages written between 1941 and 1945 by Kurt Vonnegut to his girlfriend Jane, whom he married in 1945, which was published in December by Random House. Vonnegut referred to Jane as Woofy. Did you know that you have thirty-five trillion red corpuscles in your shapely body, and that laid edge to edge they would extend around the world about three times at the equator? Yin and yang are too wonderfully smooth on all surfaces to call to mind any persons I’ve known—least of all us. The union of most human patterns results in something less symmetrical than a circle. But Jane, darling, dammit, we’re every bit as euclidean as yin and yang: πr2 is our area and 2πr is our circumference. Here’s…

2 min
the final medical frontier

From abstracts of articles published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Early Human Development. The works were flagged for review by the publisher, Elsevier, after a college student wrote a letter citing nineteen articles between 2018 and 2020 that mentioned Star Trek. It is hoped that Star Trek may help us understand where it is that medicine may be heading. Nurses worldwide have striven to establish nursing as a profession, autonomous but complementary to the medical profession. This paper will discuss Christine Chapel and Alyssa Ogawa, who arguably are the only two nurses on board Star Trek’s Enterprise given prominent roles. There seems to be a shift toward a more multidisciplinary approach a century later in the Star Trek timeline. Both strong and weak AIs are often depicted as being programmed with safeguards that…

5 min
death sentences

From anonymous accounts written by seven different men on death row in the United States, collected in Right Here, Right Now, edited by Lynden Harris, which will be published next month by Duke University Press. 1. My first memory is of a gun. I was two years old and playing with my starship Enterprise in my grandmother’s kitchen. She and her boyfriend Bob were arguing. When I looked up to see what the commotion was about, he slapped her. Grandma reached into her bathrobe pocket, but he grabbed her arm and they tussled. Suddenly there was a loud pop. Bob howled and grabbed his foot. “Goddammit, Rose, you fuckin’ shot me.” My nine-year-old cousin came rushing in. Grandma gave her the nickel-plated.38 and told her to hide it in the basement. I…