In a piece on the tenth anniversary (1976) of Salmagundi, cultural critic Christopher Lasch (whose daughter Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn is a Current contributing editor) wrote:
The so-called little magazine, which addresses neither the mass market nor an audience of academic specialists, occupies a special position in the structure of American publishing. Instead of trying to please everybody, like the mass magazines, it speaks in its own voice. Although it addresses a select group of readers, as academic and scholarly journals do, these readers share neither a field of academic expertise nor a common interest in some particular field of research but something more elusive–a sensibility, allegiance to certain intellectual traditions, in some case merely a common set of prejudices–which a good editor intuitively understands and cultivates.
Like all little magazines, we can’t move forward much longer without additional support. I am reminded of a 2015 piece on little magazines by former Dissent co-editor David Marcus. Here is a taste:
In the background to all of this is the question of money. The historian and In These Times founder James Weinstein once observed: “When I founded In These Times I thought I was going to be an editor, but I discovered that to keep it I had to become a beggar.” Money has always been the great impediment for intellectual magazines….
Fortunately, our editors have day jobs. None of us receives a cent for publishing Current. Right now, as Dorothy Sayers once said, we are “serving the work.” But we also have expenses. We pay our writers, we have a business manager, and we have ongoing maintenance costs.
We are still feeling our way into what Lasch describes as a “sensibility,” an “intellectual tradition,” and “common set of prejudices.” Marcus reminds us of Dissent founder Irving Howe’s famous remark: “What Dissent should be, we were not quite sure. What it should not be we knew.” After a year of publication, we realize that we are still evolving into what we “should be.”
Will you consider joining us on this ride?
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