Lewis Lapham: Mixed Media

WED, APR 29, 2009 (58:50)

Harper's Magazine editor Lewis Lapham observes that the media these days speak in so many forked and foreign tongues - film, book, video game, broadcast, blog - that without a dictionary or a concordance it is hard to know who is saying what to whom. Over the last 50 years it has come to pass that on an examination paper at the end of a year's course in the history of western civilization a sophomore at a high-end New England university can answer:

"The Greeks invented three kinds of columns - Corinthian, Doric, and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth."

How does a writer tell a straight story to readers who think in circles? Maybe by sending smoke signals.

+ BIO: Lewis H. Lapham

Lewis H. Lapham is a national correspondent for Harper's Magazine. He is also the editor of Lapham's Quarterly, a journal of history which debuted spring of 2007. Mr. Lapham is the author of numerous books, including Waiting for the Barbarians, Theater of War, Gag Rule, and Pretensions to Empire. The New York Times has likened him to H.L. Mencken; Vanity Fair has suggested a strong resemblance to Mark Twain, and Tom Wolfe compared him to Montaigne.

Mr. Lapham currently writes Notebook, a bi-monthly essay for Harper's that won a National Magazine Award in 1995 for exhibiting an exhilarating point of view in an age of conformity. He has also written for Life, Commentary, the National Review, the Yale Literary Magazine, Elle, Fortune, Forbes, the American Spectator, Vanity Fair, Travel and Leisure, Golf, Golf Digest, Parade, Channels, Maclean's, the London Observer, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. Lewis H. Lapham was inducted into the American Society of Magazine Editors' Hall of Fame in February of 2007. A native of San Francisco, Mr. Lapham has studied history at Yale College and Cambridge University.

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