Editorial Statement

We are living in an era of demented self-censorship. The old private matters—the functions of the body, the chase after love and money, the unhappiness of the family—are now the commonest stuff of public life. We are rotten with confession. But try saying that the act we call “war” would more properly be termed a massacre, and that the state we call “occupation” would more properly be termed a war; that the conspiracy theories, here and abroad, which have not yet been proved true by Seymour Hersh or the General Accounting Office are probably, nonetheless, true; or that the political freedoms so cherished and, really, so necessary, are also the mask of a more pervasive, insidious repression—try saying all this, or any of it, and see how far you get. Then try saying it in a complex way, at some length, expressing as you do so an actual human personality.

We are living in a time when Nabokov and Henry James are read in Tehran but we have pornography and publicity at home; a time when serious writing about culture has become the exclusive province of bullies, reactionaries, and Englishmen; a time when journalists can refer to Vladimir Sorokin, a towering figure of Russian postmodernism, as a “shocking” writer who became a “best seller” after his books were trampled in public by a neo-fascist youth group; a time when a magazine like Lingua Franca can’t publish, but Zagat prospers. In the future, it will be seen as the time when some of the best people in our intellectual class gave their “critical support” to a hubristic, suicidal adventure in Iraq.

The problem is hardly a lack of magazines, even literary magazines. Culture can expand now to fill the superstore. But civilization is the dream of advance—to find the new, or take what we know from the past and say it with the care that only the living can claim. “One must have been in exile and in the wilds to appreciate a new periodical,” said Alexander Herzen, founder of the mighty Bell. Perhaps you live in the city or the town, and in the safety of your own country. But you have known the exile, and are acquainted with the wilds.

More from Issue 1

Issue 1 Negation

There is a kind of fake refinement that turns into a vulgarity . . . it comes from deciding what other people can’t say.

Issue 1 Negation

Right now we plant democracy like an orchid and depart—leaving behind oilmen to drain nutrients out of the soil.

Issue 1 Negation

In George W. Bush, we have a president for whom reading a teleprompter seems to be a physical exertion.

Issue 1 Negation

Intellect did not interest them, but kids did. Childhood is still their leitmotif.

Issue 1 Negation

The naked protests, which spread across the globe, were a reminder of what went unsaid.

Issue 1 Negation

Reading the Weekly Standard is like stepping into a parallel universe. Not an alien one; one nicely mirrored.

Issue 1 Negation

This bulking-up process has transformed the game. In fact, it threatens to render the game obsolete.

Issue 1 Negation
Horse Mountain
Issue 1 Negation
Eggers, Teen Idol
Issue 1 Negation
Against Exercise
Issue 1 Negation
The Norm
Issue 1 Negation
Why Literature Matters When It's Somewhere Else
Issue 1 Negation
Fontana
Issue 1 Negation
Art Chronicle; or, The Icon Emigrating
Issue 1 Negation
Paranoiastan
Issue 1 Negation
Mogadishu, Baghdad, Troy; or, Heroes Without War
Issue 1 Negation
The Black Iron Prison
Issue 1 Negation

They are better than you because they act, and they will not let you forget it.

Issue 1 Negation

Wallace’s opus now looks like the central American novel of the past thirty years, a dense star for lesser work to orbit.

Issue 1 Negation

His characters are outsiders who create their own communities.

Issue 1 Negation

Those jokes, wherein you tweak the Man by suggesting gay sex or quoting Lacan: those are no longer funny.

More by this Author

April 19, 2014

Subscribers can now read every issue online.

Issue 18 Good News

Hundreds of NSA staff left work one night as salaried employees and returned the next day as contractors.

Issue 6 Mainstream

The hype cycle replaces aesthetic judgment with something closer to speculative investment in securities.

December 15, 2009

Earlier this fall, as part of its “New New York Intellectuals” series at Eugene Lang College, n+1 hosted a discussion with young…

Issue 24 New Age
Stars—They're Just Like Us!
Issue 6 Mainstream

Nowadays the NYRB is like a gnarled yew in the middle of a field where all the taller trees have died around it.