Something of an e-iconoclast myself, I particularly like the way Rosenbaum has framed Lapham’s mission with the Quarterly: as a deliberate counter-assault on our Web-addled, attention-deficit age by means of curated — and timeless — content.
The cavalry charge that Lewis Lapham is now leading could be said to be one against headlessness—against the historically illiterate, heedless hordesmen of the digital revolution ignorant of our intellectual heritage; against the “Internet intellectuals” and hucksters of the purportedly utopian digital future who are decapitating our culture, trading in the ideas of some 3,000 years of civilization for...BuzzFeed.Here’s a quote from the 77-year-old editorial visionary himself, for anyone needing reminding of what a gift this man continues to be to the intellectual life of America (emphasis mine):
“I think that the value [of LQ] is in the force of the imagination and the power of expression. I mean ... the hope of social or political change stems from language that induces a change of heart. That’s the power of words and that’s a different power than the power of the Internet. And I’m trying to turn people on to those powers and it’s in language.”
Lapham has no love for what web culture is doing. He laments Google for inadvertent censorship in the way search engine optimization indiscriminately buries what is of value beneath millions of search results of crap. Even if that was not the purpose, it’s been the result, he avers.
“And that aspect of the Internet I think is going to get worse.”Extreme? Read Rosenbaum’s piece entire, then take a look at Lapham’s Quarterly. Judge for yourself.
He can sound a bit extreme when he says Facebook embodies “many of the properties of the Holy Inquisition. I mean its data-mining capacities. Or what Torquemada had in mind. I mean, the NKVD and the Gestapo were content aggregators.”