Pairing: The New Inquiry and Fast Company


There are some things that probably should not pair well together, and yet, because of certain underlying affinities, they do. This can be as simple as a shared medium, a simultaneous release date, or something more arcane, something that could only be explained narratively, the way stories in The Thousand and One Nights unfold sometimes: you start to talk to one character and before you know it he is telling you about something that he once heard from a neighbor who could not be trusted. The pairing of The New Inquiry and Fast Company are probably in the latter category.

One is an edgy online literature and culture journal, the other is a traditional glossy print magazine about business that is also online. The two publications were launched close to fifteen years apart; Fast Company during the heady days of the 1990s tech boom and The New Inquiry back in 2009, in the wastelands of the subprime mortgage-driven housing market crash. In both cases they were entering into healthy industries. There was still a robust market for new print magazines in the 90s, even in an overcrowded field like business news. In the late Naughties, the internet had already begun to move away from the personal blog towards more professional, experimental media models.

The timing of these releases is probably what made it possible for both of these venues to survive until today. In 2016 the literary cultural market has reached oversaturation, and the same intellectual website that was able to flourish in 2009 might not find itself able to do so online today. The chances of a new glossy magazine launching, never mind sustaining itself for twenty years is more of an impossibility.

Both of them are metrically identical: one short, stressed syllable followed by a dactyl.

Let these two sidle next to each other without really interacting. You can sample from both without feeling the need to commit to either of them. What one lacks, the other easily provides. Reading is endemic to both of them, thye're just devoted to different types of paper.

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