The Baffler doesn’t pile it on. Neither does it confound, bewilder, flummox or confuse. Instead this eminently sensible, uncommonly lucid thrice-yearly throwback of a publication has a very unusual distinction among extant things: it’s missed. That is, Baffler readers must regularly long for more Baffler-like discernment in their other media, in their day-to-day dealings, in other facets of their lives. Sure, Baffler tweets, so there’s the tease of real fidelity. But even an f’ing quarterly comes out more often than this voracious but sadly reclusive companion. Of course you must think before you speak, otherwise you’ll end up sounding like all that Baffler finds execrable, including — as it tells in its own history — “digital swindles like LinkedIn, Kickstarter, and Facebook-branded feminism to banality shops like The Atlantic and This American Life, hip cool cities like Berlin, and curious distillations of pretend meritocracy, like Harvard.” So we must respect the Baffler‘s need for time — which, together with intelligence, separates the cogitator from the bloviator.
The Baffler voice has been whispering since 1988 about folly, disinformation, swindlers, pretenders, dilettantes (well, maybe dilettantes are okay), cronies (of the crony capitalism variety), and prêt-à-porter market-engineered lifestyles. (They have probably also railed against using French terms to sound fancy, and we agree, but ready-to-wear doesn’t have that Altman imprimatur–oops.) That’s 25 years during which the world has pretended — with all its disruptions and new paradigms — to change beyond recognition, a notion any perusal of Baffler back issues will put swiftly to rest. Baffler prose contends with the same malfeasance and insincerity as it did a quarter century ago. Baffling, yes. Fortunately writers like Susan Faludi, Eugenia Williamson, Rhian Sasseen, Thomas Frank and Jacob Silverman can make both amusing and enlightening what would otherwise read merely as despair.