Sunday, 11 September 2011
A regular subscriber
Now, as I work through the backlog in chronological order, a year late more or less to the day, I'm enjoying a sort of double vision of the past twelve, indeed, fifteen months. The actual reviews are pretty much untouched by this. After all, it often seems to take the LRB a year, if not longer, to get round to looking at a book (which means I live in the, albeit fading, hope that, one day, one day soon, Any Human Face will be given a page or two - Jeremy Harding, are you there?) My favourite contributors - Diski, Castle, Kermode, Campbell (again) - don't suffer in the least from being read twelve months late. It's the current affairs pieces that are both here and now, and there and then. There and then because the writers are talking about the future and the predictions that articles of this type routinely and necessarily make can now be checked off against events, and found, reassuringly often, to be spot on. But also here and now, because what they have are insights I didn't have, or don't remember having, that continue to inform and deepen my understanding of the present and beyond. It's worrying, but also perversely comforting, to see how often the direst forecasts have already turned out to be true. (I'm thinking Lib Dems and painting oneself into corners here.) To provide a little balance, of course, there are also several assertions about the future made with an assurance that would silence anyone and yet are so totally off-the-wall as things have turned out that their authors must be writhing with embarrassment and wishing what's written could be erased forever. (I won't go into detail here...) And, of course, there are massive gaps (although I may just not have reached the relevant issue). The imminent collapse of the Euro. The Arab spring. But whether what is written turns out to have been accurate or not, there's a lovely sense of eavesdropping on a conversation you've only just missed - if that were possible - or can't quite join, that illusion of depth that tricks of perspective inevitably provide. What I want to do now is slowly, slowly close the gap between then there and here, between then and now, as the year away is slowly absorbed, and made sense of in ways that not even the LRB can finally help with.