Lewis Lapham Reads “The Enchanted Loom”

Listen to the preamble to States of Mind, the Winter 2018 issue of Lapham’s Quarterly.

By Lapham’s Quarterly

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Ancient brain surgery.

Miss Helen Hecker, 1935. Photograph by George W. Harris and Martha Ewing. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

“The all but infinite extent of human ignorance,” Lewis Lapham writes in his preamble to our Winter 2018 issue, States of Mind, “about the nature of our own minds, as about most everything else in the universe—is the provocation that rouses out the love of learning, kindles the signal fires of memory and the imagination, turns to the lessons of history. We have no other light with which to see and maybe recognize ourselves as human beings. The catching and reflecting of that light has been the Quarterly’s unscientific method for each of its forty previous issues, all of them focused on the shifting states of mind that underwrite the coming and going of wars and wealth and monuments. History is not what happened two hundred or two thousand years ago. It is a story about what happened two hundred or two thousand years ago. The stories change, as do the sight lines available to the tellers of the tales.”

Listen to him read his essay below.


To listen to more from Lapham’s Quarterly, sample a series of audio adaptations from the magazine (produced in partnership with and our podcast, The World in Time.

This recording is made possible by gifts from Elizabeth “Lisette” Prince and James J. “Jimmy” Coleman Jr.

Read more on the mind in our Winter 2018 issue, States of Mind.