CURRENT ISSUE

Issue 67 / Dreams

featuring Brad Bolman, Yanie Fécu, Catherine Hansen, Ara Merjian, Indiana Seresin, Matthew Spellberg, and more

ISSUE 67

On Dream Sharing and Its Purpose

Matthew Spellberg

Among certain philosophers it is a commonplace that dreams are radically private, that no one can follow you into them. A fragment from Heraclitus distills the problem: “The universe for those who are awake is single and common, while in sleep each person turns aside into a private universe.” Hegel, commenting on this same fragment, says that “the dream is a knowledge of something of which I alone know.” ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 10 MARCH 2022

The Crypto-Secessionists

Isabelle Simpson

Islands have played a key role in the development of the modern global economy as trading and military outposts, tax havens, and nuclear test sites serving colonial powers. In addition to their status as strategic economic and geopolitical satellites, islands are also special places that “have long been regarded as ideal sites for experimentation, in fiction and in reality, with their straightforward boundedness presumed to provide unambiguous limits to scope, ambition, and (if all goes wrong) contagion.”1 Today, so-called Small Island Developing States are at the center of the development of central bank–issued digital currency. Their governments’ efforts to capitalize on digital currencies—as well as the accompanying discourse of fast-tracked economic development and democratization of the financial system promoted by the states and the technology and political entrepreneurs who court them—reaffirm the role of islands as sites of experimentation, this time as fintech laboratories. ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 8 FEBRUARY 2022

Prisoners of the Dream

Matthew Spellberg

During the first pandemic lockdowns, thousands of vivid dreams were suddenly shared across the internet and among friends. Though some of them had to do directly with COVID, many were simply intense and mysterious, in the way dreams often are. Yet for some reason, people felt newly impelled to convey them to others. The dreams were soon compiled into databases, written up in newspaper articles, and eventually integrated into scientific studies. This phenomenon may turn out to be a significant event in the history of the social imagination. For thousands of years, and in many cultures, talking about dreams has been considered hugely important. But in modernity, dreams have been regularly denigrated. ...

READ MORE

ISSUE 67

Leftovers / Gazehounds, Greyhounds, and Bloodhounds

Brad Bolman

Unlike scent hunters, the greyhound is a “sight” hound, liable to chase anything it sees. “See’st thou the gaze-hound!” wrote poet Thomas Tickell, “how with glance severe / From the close herd he marks the destin’d deer!” This disposition was key to the emergence of greyhound racing, which assumed its modern guise in 1919 when Owen Patrick Smith introduced a mechanical lure called the “electrical rabbit” at a new track in Emeryville, California—the first such venue in the United States. ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 14 OCTOBER 2021

Street Views

Kim Beil

City streets seemed eerily empty in the early years of photography. During minutes-long exposures, carriage traffic and even ambling pedestrians blurred into nonexistence. The only subjects that remained were those that stood still: buildings, trees, the road itself. In one famous image, a bootblack and his customer appear to be the lone survivors on a Parisian boulevard. When shorter exposure times were finally possible in the late 1850s, a British photographer marveled: “Views in distant and picturesque cities will not seem plague-stricken, by the deserted aspect of their streets and squares, but will appear alive with the busy throng of their motley populations.” ...

READ MORE

ISSUE 67

This Land Is Your Land

Asa Seresin*

Ernest Thompson Seton, the English-born pioneer 
of outdoor education who cofounded the Boy Scouts 
of America, spent his adult life in a juvenile world 
of his own invention. The son of a selfish and abusive father, he found escape in playing Indian, a pastime 
he later celebrated in the wildly popular 1903 book 
Two Little Savages: Being the Adventures of Two Boys Who 
Lived as Indians and What They Learned. The book 
begins by describing a character with striking similarities to Seton himself: “Yan was much like other twelve-year-old boys in having a keen interest in Indians and in wild life, but he differed from most in this, that he never got over it. Indeed, as he grew older, he found a yet keener pleasure in storing up the little bits of woodcraft and Indian lore that pleased him 
as a boy.” ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 14 SEPTEMBER 2021

Melchers’s Ghosts

Monica Black

In the spring of 1953, a former Nazi named Anton Melchers, who in the Third Reich had been a newspaper editor, war reporter, and—according to his brother—talented propagandist, was admitted to the university psychiatric clinic in Heidelberg. His brother, a former high-ranking SS officer, brought him there because Melchers had stopped eating. At the clinic, Melchers reported hearing voices that accused him of sexual immorality and intimated that he would be “paraded” in the streets. Melchers was also preoccupied, his brother said, with anxieties about being “rounded up and taken away” as punishment for his National Socialist past. ...

READ MORE

ISSUE 67

Oneirocritica Afro-Americana

Christopher W. Vandegrift

Popular in Europe since antiquity, books of dream interpretation—commonly referred to as dream dictionaries or, more simply, dream books—were first published in the United States in the latter half of the eighteenth century. Initially indistinguishable from those published contemporaneously in Great Britain, American dream books came into their own during the early to mid-nineteenth century, when publishers of cheap literature began selling dream books that catered to players of policy, an illegal lottery game then sweeping Northeastern cities. ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 27 APRIL 2021

The Enemy as Sociologist

Sara Krolewski

Long before Donald Trump was calling for America to be made “great” again, the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal wrote of an American people “which was once great.” “American reality—gone with the wind,” proclaimed the subheading of a 1943 article on the industrialization of agriculture in the United States. Writing in usually flawless English, Signal’s editors criticized what they saw as a degenerated, yet still alarmingly strong, United States: a land of abundance and possibility, now riven by greed, vice, and conformity, and spurred on by ceaseless imperialism. ...

READ 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.” ...

READ MORE

KIOSK / 1 APRIL 2021

Two Lives, Simultaneous and Perfect

Becca Rothfeld

By all accounts, Maurice Schérer led an oppressively virtuous life. He never cheated on his wife. He was sober, refusing both drugs and alcohol, and he attended Mass each Sunday. Though he could have afforded a car, he never bought one, and he considered even occasional taxi trips an undue extravagance. In his old age, when he was suffering from painful scoliosis, he continued taking two buses to work in the Montparnasse neighborhood of Paris each morning, then the same two buses back home each night. He cherished quiet enjoyments: classical music, visits to museums, nights at home with his family. He was born in 1920 and died in 2010, but he never owned a telephone. ...

READ MORE