WILL THE BELIEVER MAGAZINE BE SAVED?
A host of questions are raised by the decision of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to shut down iconic literary journal The Believer.
The Believer magazine has long been the flagship for a particular kind of upper-middle class literary self-importance. From the beginning they presented themselves as a better-than-thou cultural aristocracy, as indicated in their “belief in the good book review” and “nod to the inherent good” (per Wikipedia).
The Chief Question: Will that presumed aristocracy– including the many names published at the magazine, and the magazine’s founders– rouse themselves to save one of the pillars of their kind of literature? To date there’s been hand-wringing, but no action.
-WHY did the journal fail so spectacularly to pay its way that UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute felt compelled to drop it from their line-up?
-IS the type of precious-if-not-pretentious literary writing featured in the journal itself to blame?
-WILL there be pushback from UNLV’s faculty and students for the university’s choice to drop the publication (while at the same time spending $43 million per year on its sports teams)? Is this an indication of higher education’s real priorities? In an era when sports are dominated by gambling, and the gambling industry remains centered in Las Vegas, should a university located in that city be more concerned about the message sent by its bread-and-circuses choices? (Or, is UNLV in fact a sports program with attached university, instead of the reverse?)
In the meantime, at least one staffer– Kristen Radtke, The Believer‘s listed press contact person– has already jumped ship, taking a position with The Verge as art director.
Does anyone believe in The Believer?
(FOR THE RECORD, the author of this editorial was once discussed in an issue of The Believer, in its first year, 2003. I retain some nostalgia for its existence, am surprised no one else appears to strongly feel the same.)
–Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS