CURRENT ISSUE

Issue 66

featuring Adam Bobbette, Mark Dorrian, Lyra Kilston, Carol Mavor, Laurel Rogers, Justin E. H. Smith, and more

ISSUE 66

Dr. Southern California

Lyra Kilston

Climate is to a country what temperament is to a man—Fate.

—Helen Hunt Jackson, Glimpses of Three Coasts

In the spring of 1602, Basque merchant Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent on a mission to map the California coast for Spain. Several months later, he and his crew docked in a placid bay he named San Diego and some of them went ashore to explore the foreign terrain. There, they encountered an astonishing woman who looked “more than one hundred and fifty years old.” ...

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KIOSK / 13 AUGUST 2020

Geographical Amusement

Colton Valentine

In 1795, Henry Carington Bowles released Bowles’s European Geographical Amusement, or Game of Geography, the latest in his family’s board game series. Allegedly based on a 1749 travelogue, “the Grand Tour of Europe, by Dr. Nugent,” it combined learned pretensions with simple rules. “Having agreed to make an elegant and instructive TOUR of EUROPE,” players took turns rolling an eight-sided “Totum” and moving their “Pillars” through the appropriate number of cities. ...

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ISSUE 66

Banham avec Ballard

Mark Dorrian

In January 1961, the eminent architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner gave an address at the London headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects during which he reflected upon troubling developments that had become apparent within architectural culture over the previous decade. A month later, he spread the word to a broader public audience through two radio broadcasts for the BBC, one of which was aired on the corporation’s German service. ...

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KIOSK / 6 AUGUST 2020

Animal Farms

Thomas Fleischman

“It is a sort of fairy story,” George Orwell wrote to his literary agent in 1944, “really a fable with a political meaning.” The fable was Animal Farm, and in it, Orwell set out to destroy the “Soviet myth” and the cult of Stalin. In our time, Animal Farm has become a standard part of any school education. In August 1945, when it was published in the United Kingdom, and in April 1946 when it came out in the United States, it was political dynamite. ...

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ISSUE 65

Rectangle after Rectangle

Amy Knight Powell

This is about the dominance of the rectangular format in a certain tradition of picture making, a dominance that still holds today and extends well beyond the medium of painting. The book, the photographic print, the screen, and the museum—which has tended to favor this format—all guarantee that we encounter most pictures in rectangular frames. ...

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KIOSK / 28 JULY 2020

Same as It Ever Was

Becca Rothfeld

According to medieval Jewish commentaries on the Torah, heaven will be dazzling and dramatic. It will contain chambers “built of silver and gold, ornamented with pearls.” New arrivals will pass through gates guarded by 600,000 angels and bathed in “248 rivulets of balsam and attar.” The righteous will attend elaborate feasts and lounge in lavish gardens. As a rule, paintings of heaven are more vague and more amorphous than paintings of hell, but avuncular artists still stuff them with cherry-cheeked cherubs. ...

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ISSUE 65

Ingestion / The White Rabbit and His Colorful Tricks

Catherine Keyser

In 2015, General Mills reformulated Trix with “natural” colors. Customers complained that the bright hues of their childhood cereal were now dull yellows and purples. Two years later, the company released Classic Trix to stand on store shelves alongside so-called No, No, No Trix, the natural version. This nickname, promising “no tricks,” sounds abstemious; the virtuous customer says no to technicolor temptation. ...

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KIOSK / 9 JULY 2020

The Devil’s Chord or a Tap on the Shoulder?

Sally O’Reilly

Official Soviet press releases announcing the launch of the Sputnik satellite on 4 October 1957 pointedly publicized its radio signal frequency of 20–40 MHz—well within the range of amateur radio enthusiasts. Newspapers published timetables of its passage, and TV and radio stations and hams around the world lay in wait for Sputnik’s crackly beep, produced by a spherical body weighing 83.5 kilograms and flinging through near-space at 18,000 miles per hour. ...

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ISSUE 65

The Power of Naming

Cecilia Sjöholm

In Genesis, Adam is given the task of naming the animals. God sends them to parade before him, and he gives them names. This ur-scene of naming is at the heart of the European grand debates over the origins of knowledge. Adam’s task cannot just have been performed randomly. The names would have had to mean something, and would have had to come from somewhere. ...

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KIOSK / 18 JUNE 2020

This Head, This Body

Ana Isabel Keilson

Once, all our bodies were the body of the king. Six hundred years ago, kings had two bodies, one natural and one politic, and the corpus mysticum of their lands was made of “organological aspects: a body composed of head and members.” Louis XIV, the Sun King, inherited two bodies, but he made them different—he made them dance. ...

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KIOSK / 10 JUNE 2020

Hell Is for White People

Alexander Nagel

Naked people are tumbling into the picture through a circular opening at top right, their features immediately blurred by rising heat and smoke. Below, various bodies are being put to the flames, a traditional punishment for those consumed by lust in their lifetimes. ...

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