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January 07, 2008

Musings on intelligent life

The Christmas break is over, and the creative vampire bats that suck up the blood of language have returned to me at last. Which isn't to say that I've not been creative over the holidays - anyone who witnessed my abortive attempt at roast potatoes would have a hard job denying it - but rather I have once more been hit with a mad spell of creativity. Which is why I'm writing this, of course.

Who knows how and why they come and go. Perhaps they follow magnetic currents and land marks like birds, moving in migration patterns from one willing mind to the next. Or perhaps they reside deep within the animal hind-brain of the human vessel, rising to the surface only when summoned with the correct libations - a certain concoction of stress, caffeine and milk. Who knows.

Anyway, as an impulse purchase I picked up a copy of "intelligent life", a new magazine being published by the economist. (My semi-autistic half is railing, since I managed to acquire episode 2 of voume one. Fortunately I have a yorkshire half as well, which wears a flat cap and keeps its money in the mattress, and it refuses to allow the autistic half to send off for a back issue numer one). I don't actually have very much to say about it, but I felt I had to blast something out before I started writing on a wonderful short story idea that just came to me.

The magazine is gorgeous, in terms of production values. It resembles those strange photography magazines you only find in very large or exclusive bookshops, the ones that cost more than a hardback. The print is large and sprinkled lightly over the pages like chocolate dust on a cappucino. Or Moccaccino-latte, or whatever kind of chocolate-topped caffeine beverage you sup on. The articles? An interview with Phillip Pullman, the main reason for my purchase, a little light musing on the value of language to clear thought (very much removed from all the Kripke and Frege I was studying last term, I'm sure), an interview with a man who believes that the average IQ is increasing...

It's chocolate box intelligencia, for people too busy and disinclined to read artistic journals, and yet too expensive and rich to read the Guardian. (G2 magazine specifically. A weeks-worth of G2 will give you pretty much the same content as two copies of "intelligent life", although the fashion advice and the review sections you would have to take from the Saturday Guardian and the Observer). You can tell the wealth of the demographic by the adverts - one of them, for a private money eating firm or something, reads "Too much money? We can help. Our specialist money-burners..." and so on.

It may sound like I don't like it. Actually, I very much do. The feel of it in my hands. The opulence. The lush paper of the pages (they're practically card they're so thick and glossy), the beautiful full colour photography throughout, the high quality graphic designer they've obviously shanghaid. I'm waiting for a moment to spring straight into Philip Pullmans dirty six page pull out, and gobble up every sparse word.

The magazine is classy, it promises to make the reader classy. Classy enough not to have to use words like "classy". Classy enough to be cool without saying it. Classy enough to be unafraid of its own intellect.

Will it last? I don't know. I probably won't buy it again unless they keep up the interviews. Not that that matters - the real demographic for this sort of thing is the rich. And how many rich people can there be?


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