Harper's Magazine November 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 127,69
R 639,07
12 Issues

in this issue

4 min

Have You Heard? I felt torn reading Joseph Bernstein’s essay [“Bad News,” Report, September]. Bernstein is correct to note that the anti-disinformation industry is largely composed of elites alarmed by the erosion of their power. As marginalized groups have embraced social media as a way to bypass these old gatekeepers, disinformation panic has been expressed most loudly by those who feel anxious about being marginalized in turn. Bernstein is also right to question assumptions made about social media’s ability to sell certain products and ideas. But his article minimizes media’s influence on society: look at the increases in flat-earth beliefs and teen depression that have been linked to how much time people spend on social media, in large part due to the retention and engagement metrics that drive such platforms. The fact…

11 min
easy chair

After New York City experienced record rainfall this summer, my basement flooded. Water destroyed boxes of books and manuscripts, sitting several inches deep in a plastic crate full of photographs. I spent days trying to rescue as many as I could, peeling old prints apart and laying them out to dry. It was strange and sad, sifting through these fragments of my pre-digital life. I had taken the earliest when I was eight or nine, using a 1950s Brownie box camera that belonged to my mother when she was a girl. For some reason I refused to take pictures of people. The grainy prints of archaeological remains and tourist sites were frustrating and dull, bearing no trace of my family’s experiences in those places. I think I had the idea…

28 min

[Essay] FLESH AND BLOOD By David Graeber and David Wengrow, from The Dawn of Everything, which will be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. In the mid-twentieth century, a British anthropologist named A. M. Hocart proposed that monarchs and institutions of government were originally derived from rituals designed to channel powers of life from the cosmos into human society. He suggested that “the first kings must have been dead kings,” and that individuals so honored only really became sacred rulers at their funerals. Hocart was considered an oddball by his fellow anthropologists, and many accused him of being unscientific. Ironically, contemporary archaeological science now compels us to start taking him seriously. To the astonishment of many, but much as Hocart predicted, the Upper Paleolithic has produced evidence of grand burials, carefully…

1 min
book of the dead

By Jeffrey Veidlinger, from In the Midst of Civilized Europe, which was published last month by Metropolitan Books. In the years after the Holocaust, survivors began compiling memorial books, one for each city and town. These literary monuments to destroyed communities preserved local stories and documented the names of victims. But such memorial books are not only histories of the prewar period; they are also prehistories of the war itself. Take the newly discovered memorial book from the town of Proskuriv, in what is now Ukraine. The book, Khurbn Proskurov, whose cover is depicted below, captures the calamity the city endured. It concludes with the names of the martyred—a list that extends to thirty pages. What differentiates Khurbn Proskurov is that it was written in 1924—nine years before Hitler’s rise to…

1 min
three deer, sharon springs, november, 2020

By Paul Muldoon, from a manuscript in progress. His poetry collection Howdie-Skelp will be published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Got up though they may be in heavy-duty gabardinethey cavort like fawn-devotees of Dionysus.Their patron saint is Joseph of Cupertino, the go-to guy for dunceswho’ll make a run for it across a four-lane highway.You have to admit they’re tenacious, holding out no less than goats or hee-hawsfor a tidbit that’s survived blight or powdery mildew.The jury’s hung as to whether the Woes of the Pharisees amount to eight (as in Matthew)or six (as in Luke).A corner of the meadow where a sky once lived is shown by that blue plaque;the sky this morning’s streaked with Coppertonenow the snow’s been washing its dirty linen in public.…

1 min
country toads take my home

From headlines since 2003 in the Sydney Morning Herald about Australia’s rapidly spreading population of invasive cane toads. Top End Turns into Cane Toad HeavenInvasion SpreadsThe City Strikes BackMore Cane Toads Than Calici VirusChilling Plan to Make Toad Hop ItTurn Cane Toads on ThemselvesCannibalism May Be the AnswerArthritis May Slow Cane ToadsAlarm as Cane Toad Hitches a Ride SouthAnt May Halt Cane Toad InvasionCane Toad Inches Further into WARats Take Fight to ToadCane Toad Sausage on the MenuEating Cane Toads Won’t Stop Their SpreadCane Toads Mount New Aussie InvasionCane Toad Hitches a Ride to the South-WestNew Hope in Bid to Halt Cane Toad MarchToads Bunker DownCane Toads, Cockroaches Set for WarThousands Killed in “Toad Day Out”Cane Toads Learn to Sleep at NightCane Toad Tadpoles Have Become Cannibals…