Monday, December 08, 2014

The Baffler No.26 'Sickness and Pelf'

There's still thrill in buying hardcopy magazines. Okay, call it 'journals' if they're really thick. Am a fan of the irreverent The Baffler. It criticizes world affairs and offers up strong political and social commentary. Very American-centric. Otherwise, it's a myriad of perspectives nicely collated into themes. Been reading it for a long time and was sad to see it die in 2009. Then it was revived and seems to be going good.

I've a digital subscription to most sites, but sometimes, for certain issues, I want the hardcopies too. Got into town and hopped to the nearest newsstand to stock on these hardcopies. Bought The Baffler's current No.26 'Sickness and Pelf'. This issue "features the perspectives of those stuck in the waiting-forever room of medical culture, dogged by symptoms unassimilable to diagnostic manuals or public policy prescriptions, and baffled by the offerings of both the medical establishment and alt-medicinal quackery." While familiar, it's a painful situation that fortunately not a high percentage of Singaporeans have to go through in Singapore.

This issue can be depressing and might require readers to be somewhat familiar with the medical systems of different countries and cities, especially hospitalization, diagnosis, long-term treatment, insurance and palliative care. I know mine very well, but I certainly don't understand the rest of the world's, except for a few cities where I've the luck to experience their system personally, or have sat with friends through entire stages of their illnesses and recovery, or deaths. Unlike the usual fiction or novels, this magazine can't be finished in one sitting. In fact, I've never finished any issue of The Baffler in one sitting.

The magazine isn't just words. It holds fascinating visual art and illustrations too. This issue sees visual art and illustrations by Brad Holland, Ralph Steadman, Mark Dancey, Shawn Huckins and Stephen Kroniger, Amanda Konishi, Ana Benaroya, Jordan Isip, Stuart Goldenberg, and many more.

You can imagine solemn conversation and opinion pieces contributed by various writers, but I won't flag them all out. Too much. So I end the post with my favorite illustrations in it by Ana Benaroya. They added a lovely pop of color to the otherwise dreary topic. They appear in 'For Yama is the Lord of Death', a fictional story written by Paul Maliszewski and J. Wagner, available online too. One of their other stories is, 'Bcc: Dridge'.

Art by Ana Benaroya for 'For Yama is the Lord of Death'.

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