CURRENT ISSUE

Issue 65 / Knowledge

featuring Lina Bolzoni, Steven Connor, Amy Hollywood, Marina Warner, Leif Weatherby, Susan Zieger, and more

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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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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ISSUE 64

Cinematic Airs

Christopher Turner

In Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, Brave New World (1932), the Bureau of Propaganda has invented the “feelies,” which bring tactile effects to popular entertainment. By holding special knobs on their chairs, audience members could enjoy titillating experiences such as “a love scene on a bearskin rug” between “a gigantic negro and a golden-haired young brachycephalic Beta-Plus female,” almost as if they were there. …

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ISSUE 64

Welcome to Armageddon!

Julian Lucas

The beauty of sand, in other words, belonged to death.
— Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes

When we say, “It’s just a game,” what we mean is that there are no consequences. Everything can be erased and done over, the pieces swept off the board and reset. Repetition invites impunity, and so players murder bystanders in Grand Theft Auto, crash airplanes in Flight Simulator, or make suicidal charges on the beaches of Normandy in Call of Duty. …

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ISSUE 64

Language at the End of the World

Jacob Mikanowski

Of all the literatures in the world, the smallest and most enigmatic belongs without question to the people of Easter Island. It is written in a script—rongorongo—that no one can decipher. Experts cannot even agree whether it is an alphabet, a syllabary, a mnemonic, or a rebus. Its entire corpus consists of two dozen texts. The longest, consisting of a few thousand signs, winds its way around a magnificent ceremonial staff. …

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ISSUE 63

Orphan Utopia

Reed McConnell

When the angels appeared to John Ballou Newbrough early one morning in 1881, he was nothing if not well prepared. A dentist and Spiritualist, he had spent the last ten years purifying himself for supernatural contact by abstaining from meat, bathing twice a day, and rising before dawn. The visit was expected.
 …

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ISSUE 63

The Desert Is a State of Mind Cast over the Earth

Michael Marder

The desert is an invention, a creation of emptiness in the plentitude of existence, an introduction of barrenness into the fecundity of being. However dry this biome, it is never entirely vacant. Besides containing rocks or sand, the actual desert from Atacama to the Sahara and from the Gobi to Mojave is propitious to certain animals (coyotes and scorpions, chipmunks and rattlesnakes) and plants (barrel cacti and Joshua trees, tumbleweeds and ironwood) that find themselves at home there. …

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ISSUE 63

Ingestion / What’s for Dinner?

Leonard Barkan

Suppose that you were a lonely analphabetic with no religious education—the year could be 2017 or 1617, it doesn’t matter—and at the same time zealous for initiation into the narratives that the New Testament offers by way of instituting the Christian faith. You are fortunate enough to have access, whether by magic carpet or internet, to the world’s treasury of sacred paintings. …

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ISSUE 62

Artist Project / Reconciliation

S. Billie Mandle

Saint Christopher, the enigmatic martyr and patron saint of travelers and children who bore the increasingly heavy Christ child across a deadly river before his own decapitation, bears brown water stains across his acoustical tiles. Light falls in displaced blades through his half-shut opening, across his little ledge, glaring the green cover of a volume lying there, angling down brown half-wall panels into the shadow realm. …

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