Oh, we may say our colleges are the best in the world while we secretly believe they’re an overpriced rip-off, but leave it to Thomas Frank in The Baffler no. 23 to ask whether they’re the best in the world at committing the rip-off. Welcome to America five years after the financial crisis. It’s a place “made possible by buncombe,” as David Graeber explains here. And it’s a time of magical thinking, as Susan Faludi says in her exposé of the narrow brand of feminism on offer from Sheryl Sandberg’s positive-thinking tract Lean In.
Luckily, we have Jacob Silverman to burst the techno-bubble that is South by Southwest; Ann Friedman to explain why we’re “All LinkedIn with Nowhere to Go”; and Quinn Slobodian and Michelle Sterling to report from Berlin “How Hipsters, Expats, Yummies, and Smartphones Ruined a City.” Our midyear issue contains world-defining fiction by Adam Haslett and genre-bending prose by Thomas Sayers Ellis about Lou Beach’s surreal cover art. The carnival’s all here. From Seth Colter Walls on Jean-Paul Sartre to Farran Nehme on Buster Keaton, from Dubravka Ugrešić’s dreams of Wittgenstein to Richard Byrne’s “Nod to Ned Ludd,” The Baffler gives you the latest trends in cultural news and retail opinion. Step right up!
With the presidential election in the rear-view mirror, we wanted to think about the opposite of politics, so we thought about sex. The result was an issue in which Heather Havrilesky sent up Fifty Shades of Grey, Chris Bray tracked down General David Petraeus and his wandering PhD, Hussein Ibish remembered the Marquis de Sade, Christian Lorentzen buried the British pop star/pedophiliac Jimmy Savile, Slavoj Žižek told us why gonzo porn is the most censored of all film genres, and Anne Elizabeth Moore explored the hidden assumptions behind Nicholas Kristof’s bid to rescue the women of the world, who have nothing to lose, apparently, except their market potential. Thomas Frank and David Graeber wrote about politics after all, and Thomas Bernhard‘s homage to Arthur Rimbaud appeared here for the first time in English. Evgeny Morozov’s “The Meme Hustler,” meanwhile, made the longest single essay in the history of The Baffler. Hey, look, we’re finally in color!
In the third and last issue of our revival year, Thomas Frank tells you how theory met practice in Occupy Wall Street (and drove it out of its mind), Rick Perlstein explains how Mitt Romney lies to be loved, and David Graeber asks whether it’s possible to think that you believe something when, in fact, you don’t, or to think that you don’t believe something when, in fact, you do? (Answer: yes and yes.)