Most of the time, it is a serious matter when talking about mission statements, history or legacy. In the case of The Baffler, everything about its history, background, concerns and even financial issues is shared with splashes of humor and wit.
“The Baffler is America’s leading voice of interesting and unexpected left-wing political criticism, cultural analysis, short stories, poems and art. We publish six print issues annually, as well as online content every day of the cursed workweek,” reads the magazine’s About page.
In its History column, we learn more about where The Baffler is coming from.
“We’re owned by the tax-deductible (hint, hint) Baffler Foundation Inc., which is as charitable as a church, and a whole lot more fun. This foundation means we rely on your donations and subscriptions rather than chasing advertising. It also means we can’t endorse candidates for electoral office or try to make millions in profit. But hey, why would we want to do those things anyway?”The Baffler
Below are a few reasons why we included The Baffler on ComingFrom.org:
Laughable, relevant criticism
A flashback to one’s early days may be the most common way to give a brief definition of who we are. When The Baffler was born in 1988, the magazine stated its mission: to “laugh at the baffling jargon of academics and the commercial avant-garde.” Over time, its manifesto evolved:
- The Baffler: “This magazine would move in the opposite direction. It would strive for the lucidity of independent critical intelligence. It would ‘blunt the cutting edge’ of the creative class gurus, financial journalists, entertainment moguls, cyber-entrepreneurs, and postmodern theorists who were said to be delivering the country from the pesky struggles and conflicts of the Cold War and singing a sweet and blissful lullaby they called the ‘end of history.’ Where there was money to be made.”
Talk money like The Baffler
With no pie chart, no revenue stream, no angel investor and no other financial buzzwords, The Baffler describes its relationship to the tax-deductible Baffler Foundation, Inc. (plus a call for support), as well as its untraditional history with potential investors.
- The Baffler: “The [magazine] was a cultural success, so the big money never touched it. The founders didn’t exactly cozy up to benefactors.”
At the same time, readers can skim through significant (and tragic) incidents that led to changes in the magazine’s operation, like a 2001 fire that swept through The Baffler‘s Chicago office, but not its ethos.
- The Baffler: “The regular publication never resumed. But the magazine never folded. … Around Labor Day in 2010, though, the founding crew had had enough, and decided to turn over the keys to the operation neither to a university creative writing program nor to a great publishing house, but to a smaller, poorer, and less experienced crew in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”