Lewis Lapham recently retired his longrunning “Notebook” column in Harper’s magazine. In his last one, he explained his reason for writing:
The more interesting questions are epistemological. How do we know what we think we know? Why is it that the more information we collect the less likely we are to grasp what it means? Possibly because a montage is not a narrative, the ear is not the eye, a pattern recognition is not a figure or a form of speech. The surfeit of new and newer news comes so quickly to hand that within the wind tunnels of the “innovative delivery strategies” the data blow away and shred. The time is always now, and what gets lost is all thought of what happened yesterday, last week, three months or three years ago. Unlike moths and fruit flies, human beings bereft of memory, even as poor a memory as Montaigne’s or my own, tend to become disoriented and confused. I know no other way out of what is both the maze of the eternal present and the prison of the self except with a string of words.