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No. 62 | Milk
including
Brian Dillon
Sally O'Reilly
Will Wiles
Marta Figlerowicz
George Prochnik
S. Billie Mandle

and more

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Quotation Marks Gone Wild The proliferation of the use of quotation marks (for everything except citations, that is) is now well documented. "Enjoy". ­Knitting Hyperbolic Spaces How to knit mathematics' most convoluted topologies ­ The Chicago 7 Trial Bios, trial transcripts, and more! "We demand the Politics of Ecstasy! We are the delicate spores of the new fierceness that will change America." ­When Only Screaming at a Human Being Will Do A cheat sheet for how to talk to humans at various companies ­

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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. Saint Elizabeth—who vanishes from the Bible eight days after giving birth, when the men who are to circumcise her son arrive and try to name him Zechariah, whereupon she cries out, “No, he is to be called John!” for this is John the Baptist—is transformed, as in a Greek myth, into the black constellations of perforations in her soundproof paneling, then mantled with a jointed beam of light. And Saint Thomas More, intently principled, severe and merciless, who would not bow to kings, is a single, narrow ray plunging down a wooden wall, illuminating the grain in patterns reminiscent of a seizure patient’s EKG.

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F-Hole

Justine Kurland

I want to tell you why I sold my van. It’s not the first van I’ve left behind but it might be the last. I would like to publicly renounce a belief system that once seemed useful and true to me; I’ve outgrown the romantic escapism of this mode of travel. The boy who bought my van was excited to have it. He had just graduated from Bard and was planning to use it to drive to Marfa, where he had an internship. I felt like I was passing a baton. But exactly what kind of baton was it? Few things in the popular imagination are as symbolically loaded as cars. Or as guitars, for that matter. But let me start with vans.

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Labor Days

Tony Wood

Among the many things to disappear during the world-shaking turmoil of the Russian Revolution—along with czarism, the aristocracy, private banks, landownership—were the first thirteen days of February. On 24 January 1918, Lenin signed a decree ordering the country to switch from the Julian calendar, used by the Orthodox Church, to the Gregorian, bringing revolutionary Russia into line with the rest of Europe. The two systems had been drifting more and more out of alignment since the sixteenth century, so much so that by 1918, making the change meant skipping directly from 31 January to 14 February. From then on, anyone referring to events that took place before this interregnum had to be clear whether the date they were using was Old Style or New Style. The shift also explains why the anniversary of the Great October Revolution was always celebrated in November, which often puzzled visitors to the USSR.

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Sentences / The Cunning of Destruction

Brian Dillon

“In her presence on these tranquil nights it was possible to experience the depths of her disbelief, to feel sometimes the mean, horrible freedom of a thorough suspicion of destiny.”

—Elizabeth Hardwick

In some respects—the brevity of her mature work, a certain hampering mandarin tone even in the midst of literary or political ferment—Elizabeth Hardwick was a minor writer. As a critic and essayist, she was industrious but hardly prolific. As a writer of fiction, she had a couple of early misfires with her novels The Ghostly Lover (1945) and The Simple Truth (1955), followed by the obliquely fragmented triumph of the svelte, semi-autobiographical fiction Sleepless Nights (1979). She spent most of her writing life at or near the heart of a liberal American literary establishment. Her marriage to the poet Robert Lowell, whom she eventually divorced, obscured her achievements for a time. She was part of a group that established the New York Review of Books in 1963; the magazine’s founding editors Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein had been partly inspired by a mordant Harper’s article of Hardwick’s on the decline of book reviewing. Her best pieces are book reviews or occasional essays—best because most acute, most peculiar, most daring in pursuit of an elegantly weird style.


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I Feel It Is My Duty to Speak Out

Sally O'Reilly

Dear WhiteWave Foods,

I am writing to complain about one of your products: namely, Silk Cashewmilk (with a touch of almond). I imagine that you receive many complaints about your use of the word “milk,” and frequent challenges to specify where exactly on the cashew nut the teats are located. This, however, is not a problem for me, since I simply mop up what I take to be a sloppy euphemism with a pair of quotation marks. No, what I wish to complain about is the recent redesign of your half-gallon “milk” cartons.

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Journeys of Lactic Abstraction

Melanie Jackson and Esther Leslie

MILK AND BEGINNINGS

Milk is a primal substance. Milk is the first fluid to enter our mouths, to touch the tongue, to fill the belly. Our first words form around it and it flows into our language: in our thoughts and actions, we skim, condense, homogenize, express, churn, curdle, culture, sour, combine, separate. Milk, the milk of human kindness, is there with life from its beginnings and is essential for its continuation. For a premodern order, milk was life-giving and productive. Life, milk-sustained life, linked to fate and destiny. The land that flows with milk and honey was a specific reference to the homeland of a herder people—Canaan. This bountiful pasture became the model of a life sweet and fulfilled. Contemporary idiomatic speech is replete with spilt milk, milksops, milch cows, cash cows, sacred cows, the milk-hearted, the milk-livered, milk for free, milking it, milking it for all it’s worth—all expressions of negativity, weakening, and exploitation. These phrases signal something of our contemporary dis-ease with anything that evokes dependency, an abject state in an age dominated by a form of capital that despises welfare, but thrives on precarity. There is, then, a milky language that speaks to our emotions, our socialization, and our hopes. If we disrupt milk’s turbid body, it may be mobilized as a “filter” through which to explore the contradictions of the present.

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Between the Mine and the Stream

Justin E. H. Smith

Gwalia, Western Australia, 1897. A young man, an American man, rides with his entourage into town, on camelback. He is covered with blackflies. He has the air of an arrogant yet honorable man. The ragged miners assembled there know that the man has recently earned a degree in geology from a university on the other side of the ocean. He has come to apply the most advanced knowledge of modern mine engineering to extract, with their labor, the metal riches from this continent of red dust.

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Colors / Turquoise

Namwali Serpell

Art 254.
The Blues

Professor Larry P. Lazuli
MW 4—5 pm, Incandeza Institute, Studio 207

This course will immerse us deeply in the coolest, calmest, and most creative of colors: Blue. We will explore the history of Blue, from the idea that the ancient Greeks did not see the color Blue at all to Persian architecture’s mimicry of the very sky to Blue’s prominence in contemporary brands like Chase Bank and Face Book. We will explore Blue’s cataclysmic role in modern art, from Monet’s profound yet indistinct lilies to the Expressionist Blue Rider group to Picasso’s Blue Period to Rothko’s gloomiest blocks of blue. We will make our own Blue paints and dyes with materials collected by hand during our weekly nature walks: crushed shells of bird eggs, lambent petals of blooms, dust of uncouth gems. We will spend most of our time exploring that wiliest of the Blues—turquoise, a color that, like your professor, never seems to know whether it is truly Blue, or just a bit muddled.

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