Order Note:
More about Magazines
26 March 2018

For many years, I had the bad habit of depositing mail on the bed. Mail does not even belong in the bedroom, much less on the bed. But it can’t stay there indefinitely, or even overnight, which means, I guess, that the act of bringing the mail into the apartment was detached from deciding what to do with it. Together, they presented a cognitive overload.

A desk or a writing table sounds like a good place for mail, but it doesn’t work for me, because everything on a desk tends to stay there indefinitely, becoming part of the décor. I have to struggle hard against this ossifying neglect. Involving the mail in that struggle would be dangerous. 

Lately, I have been putting mail on the dining table. Our dining table is a four-foot circle of very thick glass. Kathleen and I sit side by side on one hemisphere, looking into the living room. The pile of mail accumulates on the other hemisphere. Eventually, I go through it. Unlike the bed, the table can accommodate the mail indefinitely. But it looks terrible and is very annoying. So, eventually, I go through it, throwing a lot of it away. 

The important detail for this discussion is that magazines don’t go into the bedroom by default. The week before last, I instituted a ruthless new system of dealing with magazines. Sadly, I am not ruthless. There are now two issues of The New Yorker on the table in the foyer, not just one. And when I went through the pile of mail yesterday, three new issues — The AtlanticHarper’s, and France-Amérique — forced me to move the preceding issues to the tote bag containing the four previous issues, throwing away the oldest one, &c &c. I say “forced,” but in fact I did nothing. I spent a leisurely few Sunday-afternoon hours reading most of the new Atlantic. I got to it after I’d looked at some magazines from last fall that I held on to during the imposition of my ruthless new system. Having read the articles that looked interesting, I was able, finally, to throw them away 

A new Nation arrived this morning. I am feeling somewhat more forced. 

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