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August 13, 1993 - Image 12

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-08-13

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here's a fine line
between passion and
addiction. I've crossed
it. I'm addicted to mag-
Please don't misunder-
stand me. I still do other
things. I work. I read books.
I watch TV. I still take out
the garbage and run
errands. But I do this only
after I've finished reading
whatever magazine dropped
through the mail slot that
I have shelves of books I
want to read. But there is
something so seductive, so
urgent and immediate about
a magazine, that I have to
read it now. War and Peace
can wait. It's waited for over
100 years. But the New
Republic is new, full of cur-
rent information. Like fresh
bread, it should be devoured
at once.
A book is a meal; a maga-
zine is a snack.
Opening a magazine
requires no commitment. A
magazine is a disposable
friend, a diverting compan-
ion for a plane ride or a doc-
tor's office to whom you can
bid farewell with no hard
feelings or sense of obliga-
tion. To drop a magazine
into the trash pile is to
cleanse one's soul.
I have consumed it.
It is done.
Books are not that way.
They stand on the shelf
when you have finished
them, reminding you that
you half-remember their
contents, that you should
really read them again to
absorb them properly. That
quintessential book, the
Talmud, says on its second
page that there is really no
beginning and no end to its
riches. No one ever says
"Good. Now I have finished
the Talmud, and I can move
on to other things." But you
can finish Harpers.
When a magazine arrives
at the house or office, I am
seized by an unreasoning
(and unreasonable) need to
read it at once. I know that
later on, in a spare moment,
I will regret having already
read the magazine whose
bite-sized pieces would fit so
neatly into that niche of

Rabbi David Woipe is a lecturer
in Jewish thought at the
University of Judaism in Los

time. But it is too late. Now )
I must find yet another
magazine. And so the
dependence grows.
Most people allow maga-
zines to accumulate. They
have spacious wicker bas-
kets that overflow with
superannuated Newsweeks
and Atlantics. They will get
to them. Like the six moun-
tainous piles of National
Geographic in the garage, - )
their magazines will wait
for the idle moment.
I can't do that. I can't
abide the wicker basket or
the moldering magazines.
Commentary in, Commen-
tary out — that's how I live —`
my life.
Heftier magazines — the
"journals" — also make
their claim on my immedi-
ate attention. Even "high-
brow" ones like The
American Scholar and
Woodrow Wilson Quarterly
seem easier to approach
than a book. That's why I

A book is a meal;
a magazine is a

nothing pleases me more
than an issue devoted to a
subject that does not inter-
est me. It's like a reprieve: I
don't have to read it!
You may not think that
proves addiction, but I've
left the clincher for last. I
lecture quite a bit in differ-
ent cities, which means I
spend a lot of time in air-
ports. Though I invariably
bring a few books with me, -)
if I spot a magazine I like in
the airport I will buy it —
even if I have a subscription
to it.
No doubt the day will
come when I'll allow my
subscription to Modern
Judaism to lapse, and for-
swear magazines from
Chess Life and Review. The
day will come when I'm not
in the middle of three books,
all.of which have to wait
because I'm curled up with
TV Guide. The day will \/
come, but probably not soon.
In the meantime, I've
cleansed my soul. Perhaps
other addicts out there will
share their stories. I prom-
ise to get to your letters just
as soon as I finished the
latest New Yorker. ❑

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