Thursday, August 19, 2010

Harper's and the Mail

continues to amaze me. At least one or two articles each month impels me out of my chair to share what I've just read with someone close to me, or to scan the pages into my computer to e-mail them far away. In the current issue alone, Jeff Sharlet's terrifying yet somehow lyrical piece on Ugandan homophobia--a current bill up for debate would make it a crime punishable by life in prison, and in some cases death, to be gay--was one of those. As was Garret Keizer's short piece on the American Post Office--or the Postal Service, I should say, a change, he informs us, which was made in 1970, the same year the Service was required to operate as a solvent business.

Keizer takes the familiar GOP talking point about the inefficiencies of the mail (and by proxy, government) and turns it on its proverbial head, arguing instead that "indispensable and eminently reliable post offices" have reinforced his faith in socialism. He then goes on to analyze American acrimony towards the mail and its carriers, citing everything from our need for speed to resentment over mail worker's pensions. And then he gets metaphysical: "What is our lust for speed if not the desire to abandon our own bodies, to shake off their mortal subservience to the laws of time and space?" As for Keizer, he doesn't "want to be a seraph or a sunbeam but a citizen, that is, to live in a physical body and geographical community, bounded by time and space."

To subscribe to Harper's only costs something like $17 a year. I highly recommend it. It even comes in the mail.

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