Issue 67 / Dreams

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


Inside the Kill Chain: An Interview with Craig Jones

Boaz Levin and Craig Jones

Warfare today is often closely supervised by lawyers, yet, as Craig Jones shows in his important study The War Lawyers, this does not necessarily mean violence and brutality have been mitigated. Tracing the emergence of what he describes as “lawfare,” Jones focuses on the United States, where this phenomenon first emerged, and Israel, where it has been perfected over the last two decades. Combining historical research with hundreds of hours of interviews with senior military lawyers, Jones’s account suggests that the conventional understanding of the relation between law and war, and perhaps even our understanding of law more generally, should be rethought. Boaz Levin spoke to Jones via video in June 2021. ...


KIOSK / 3 MARCH 2023

Polaroid’s Secret Showman

Jonathan Allen with Jan Isenbart

In the spring of 1954, Reinhard Müller stepped onto a stage in the German city of Wolfsburg as a volunteer in a magic show. His presence was captured in a small sepia photograph, where he can be seen in conversation with a tuxedoed magician holding the elegant pocket watch that Müller has just entrusted to him.1 The conjurer is Helmut Ewald Schreiber (1903–1963), better known by his stage name Kalanag. He is in the final stages of a trick called “The Devil’s Mail,” a popular feature of his world-touring magic revue, Simsalabim. A few moments before, Müller’s watch had been reduced to fragments in a mortar by sharp blows of the magician’s wand. In the photograph, Kalanag can be seen returning the now miraculously restored timepiece to its owner. But his watch is not all that Müller will take with him when he leaves the stage. To his delight, he will also carry this snapshot, delivered to him in an envelope by the magician within moments of the very scene that it depicts.2 ...



Into the Labyrinth

Dan Handel

The year was 2013, and I was sitting in a large atrium hotel in Buffalo, taking a break from the annual meeting of the American Society of Architectural Historians. Aspiring academics trotted alongside senior members of that occult group to catch the panel on the freestanding chapels of medieval Europe or the talk on Lord Chesterfield’s boudoir, but none seemed to be paying attention to the space we were all circulating in. ...



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.” ...



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. ...



770 Is Here!

George Prochnik

On the flatlands of central Israel, not far from Tel Aviv, “770,” the triple-peaked brick Gothic Revival home of the Rebbe, rises in a spanking orange vertical from a large parking lot. Stroked on one side by the fronds of a low palm tree, it appears fresh as a desert flower sprung up overnight in a flood’s wake. On Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, 770 has the same basic three-story profile, its windows and doorway framed by limestone surrounds, but here the house has doubled in size and added another trio of gables. Edged by a gas station and displaying a relaxed, liver-colored spread in its bulk, the building makes itself at home in the sprawling, unbuttoned metropolis. In New Jersey, 770 has gone a bit suburban-mall office park. On the shore of Lac Désert near Montreal, one might detect a hint of the trademark Canadian maple leaf in 770’s sharp angled gables. In São Paulo, 770 is jammed between soaring white skyscrapers; it has shed girth to squeeze into the teeming megacity. And in Milan—where 770 is wedged between an ample, peach-hued palazzo and a low, old, murky yellow home—the bay window distinguishing the original structure’s center section has transformed into a stylish glass balcony. ...



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.” ...


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. ...



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. ...



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.” ...



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.” ...