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 / 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 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 / 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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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 / 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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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 / 28 MAY 2020

Kafka Swims

Aaron Schuster

There is a passage from Franz Kafka’s notebooks that reads:

I can swim just like the others. Only I have a better memory than the others. I have not forgotten the former inability to swim. But since I have not forgotten it, being able to swim is of no help to me; and so, after all, I cannot swim.

By all accounts, Kafka was a good swimmer. ...

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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 / 21 MAY 2020

What Machu Picchu can tell us about COVID-19

Adam Herring

Madre de piedra, espuma de los cóndores (mother of stone, semen of condors): that was Pablo Neruda’s impression of Machu Picchu, the hot literary take of 1950. Machu Picchu has inspired poetic, philosophical, and patriotic works over the years. More recently, however, it has also invited fears of catastrophe, as reports and opinion pieces from around the world have denounced Peru’s shortsighted and venal plan to build a new airport near the site. President Martín Vizcarra of Peru “is determined to destroy this sacred place,” read an op-ed in the New York Times this past year. That project would, the author wrote, “irreparably damage the heartland of the Inca civilization.” ...

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KIOSK / 8 MAY 2020

The Interior’s Frontier

Boaz Levin

The last decades of the eighteenth century saw a rush to conquer new altitudes. In June 1783, the first successful hot-air balloon flight took place in Versailles, attended by the royal family and an audience of sixty thousand, as the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier set afloat a balloon carrying a sheep, a cock, and a duck. A piloted flight quickly followed in October that year, with Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a chemist, on board. The flight was a success, hailed by the press as “a spectacle, the like of which was never shewn since the world began.” ...

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