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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KIOSK / 7 AUGUST 2019

Ringing in Your Ears

Lily Scherlis

There is a building in the neighborhood of Bötzowviertel in northeast Berlin with a panel of doorbells that make no sound. This special bell board at 35 Käthe-Niederkirchner-Straße is a memorial: the names listed next to the bells belong to eighty-three Jews who occupied the building’s forty apartments prior to their deportation, escape, or death during the Nazi era.

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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 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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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 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 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 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 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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