The Alpine Review #3
This is an incredible magazine – fascinating in its scope and breadth of coverage.
Issue three of The Alpine Review has been a year-and-a-half coming now, so it’s no wonder that it’s a tome. I feel like a write-up can’t quite give the size and extensiveness of the magazine justice – holding it is like holding five magazines in your hand; reading and untangling it takes serious time and concentration. The Montreal-based title physically encompasses everything that its tagline promises – it’s ‘a slow magazine for turbulent times.’
We see great slow-journalism in titles like Delayed Gratification of course, but The Alpine Review is our magazine of the week because of its commitment to unpacking a theme extensively and looking at its relationship to a range of topics, and taking however long it takes to do so.
The new issue takes ‘permanence’ as its theme. Editors Louis-Jacques Darveau and Patrick Pittman explain why in their editorial: ‘The moment of “now” is as fiercely urgent as it has ever been. Now is the only time we will ever live in, and the only time we can do anything about.’ In the future, our ‘dreams of reconfiguring our bodies through gene editing, or colonizing Mars rather than fixing things at home, will seem, well, Ozymandian’, they continue.
To explore the idea, author Barry Lopez urges the reader in an interview that it’s not time for fight or flight, but a third alternative: to gather. The Alpine Review also interviews Noam Chomsky about ‘the things that never change, the things that do, and the role of the individual in a mad, chaotic world’ (above, a staple Jordy van den Nieuwenjijk illustration accompanies the piece). Then there’s also a history of toilets (also above)—a feature that you might expect to find in something like teh recent Dirty Furniture.
Not only does it feel like your holding lots of magazines when you hold The Alpine Review because of its physicality, but the content – from the illustration to the range of topics – could have been mined from a range of publications. It takes you on several journeys – but still in a distinctly Alpine Review way.
About halfway through, the stock changes to a soft yellow for a section of bite-size ‘ideas’ on topics from ‘economics / society’ to ‘food / architecture / environment’ to ‘architecture / urbanism’ (above).
There literally are mini-magazines in the magazine as well, complete with a fold so that you can tear them out easily. There’s a publication reproducing a recording by philosopher Alan Watts (above), and another featuring a series of plates from the Wende Museum of Cold War (below).
After 300+ pages that take the reader from the streets of Moscow to consider the echoes of the revolution (above), to the shores of Orkney to look at stone-age carvings (below), to northern Alaska to think about silence, the magazine ends with a commentary called ‘When It’s Ready’.
Co-editor Patrick Pittman writes: ‘In the space between issues now, we’re going to be exploring the possibility of the magazine and its community away from the page. We’ll be expanding our online lives.’ This is of course important for a magazine that comes out with such long gaps of time between each issue – it’s important to retain momentum. He also promises that this is the end of The Alpine Review in the form that we now know it and in a year or so (‘when its ready…’), the new format will be just as ambitious:
‘One of the beautiful things about magazines is that you can reinvent everything, as often as you like, while keeping the thing itself as alive as it ever was.’