“We See Everything and Remember Nothing…”

28 Jul
The Baffler #25

The Baffler #25

The Baffler one of the few remaining gadfly publications ( also In These Times, Truth Dig) left in this sadly monotone, monochromatic media universe has announced the webification of its entire archives (Issues 1-25). From John Summers‘s announcement:

What’s here? The entire Baffler archive, digitized. 25 issues, 432 contributors, 277 salvos, 450 graphics, 172 poems, 73 stories, 3,396 pages made of 1,342,785 words. The magazine was always so hard to find in its zine-like days. Now you can read the whole thing for the first time since the founding in 1988, when [vernacular redacted] Ronald Reagan started this mess we’re in.

There is probably nothing to be limned from the concurrent publication of the New York Times articles by David Carr (Riding the Juggernaut That Left Print Behind ) on the demise of print journalism and magazines, Jennifer Schuessler’s The Baffler Puts Its Archive Online. Carr goes through the expected reiteration of causes and symptoms of the fading print world and fills in with reflections on the changes that have been wrought in our consumption of information

Nothing can compete with the shimmering immediacy of now, and not just when seismic events take place, but in our everyday lives. We are sponges and we live in a world where the fire hose is always on.

But once a sponge is at capacity, new information can only replace old information. Last month, researchers at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand published a study that found that comprehension, concentration and retention all went off a cliff when information was taken in online. (Then again, there are those who say that we see everything and remember nothing because we don’t have to, that the web now serves as our memory.)

John Summers [photo: Robert Birnbaum ]

John Summers [photo: Robert Birnbaum ]

Ms. Schuessler’s press release-like “Arts Beat” item quotes editor Summers and has some cutesy touches— “and 1,342,785 frequently snarling words.” She concludes

The Baffler, which used to regularly mock utopian claims for the “new economy” of the 1990s, may have hung on to its grumpy technoskepticism. But Mr. Summers promised that its site will play nice with all 21st-century mobile devices, thus “pointing the magazine’s bad attitude continually outward to readers wherever they read.”

If you have somehow managed to be unaware of the Baffler and you have not landed at this literary way station (Our Man in Boston)by accident, then this would be a grand opportunity to educate and amuse yourself. For sure.

Currently reading Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (Knopf)

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