I read these magazines in the first place — there is no second place — in the hope that in doing so, I shall keep up with some of the things that preoccupy the culture in its wider, sometimes more youthful, often wildly excessive aspects. I tell myself I do so because it is the duty of the writer to try to grasp the unique quality of his time and make sense of it.

— Joseph Epstein, “An Extremely Well Informed SOB,” Narcissus Leaves the Pool

In theory, that sounds compelling. In practice, the “unique quality of [our] time” is often senseless and not worth grasping: