1914: a new atlas of the night sky

The title of this 1914 Russian lithograph translates as “War in the air.” I can’t make out the text at the bottom, but according to the bibliographical data online at the Hoover Institution Poster Collection (item RU/SU 365) it “describes modern aerial warfare.” Photoshopped.

For Isaac Babel

Source: Slavic and East European Collections, The New York Public Library. “Vstupaite do Chervonoi Kynnoty!” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1917 – 1921. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-83ae-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99. Photoshopped to restore color. The Ukrainian text translates as:

Join the Red Cavalry!
The Red Cavalry has destroyed Mamontov, Shkuro, Denikin.
It is beating the Poles and Petlyura.
Now the need is to destroy what is left of Wrangel.
Workers and peasants, join the ranks of the Red Cavalry.

And after more Photoshop surgery, the cavalryman looks like this.


One is wearing a bow tie, one is wearing a clerical collar. Those are as close as this array of images will get to an idea of the extreme. The photographer Fabian Bachrach took a uniform group of subjects – powerful white male Americans during the Cold War years – and represented it, component by component, in a uniform way. He was one of those artists like Vivaldi with his concertos or Morandi with his still lives of bottles who created generously within the limits of a single form. In the aftermath, Google has sorted his creations into a grid.

Viewed online, framed by the bezel of a monitor, the grid loses its cell-by-cell distinctions. It becomes a single picture made up of repetitions of a single picture: a complement to Bachrach’s single mode of composition, a mosaic of just one compulsively relaid tessera. The compulsion hasn’t just shaped the grid, either; it has locked the tessera into its own tessera-form. Not even if it’s pried out of the grid can it regain its pre-grid human content. Before it entered the grid, that content depicted a man within an aura of historical reference symbolized by (for instance) a title: President Dwight D. Eisenhower; Senator John F. Kennedy; Professors Edwin O. Reischauer (of Harvard) and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (of Harvard). But the grid is a barrier against aura. To the image, it admits only indices of visual data: areas of light and shade bounded by height and width. And whatever it is that can be named within the grid won’t be named Dwight or John; it will be named wallet-size print. Forever after, it will be speakable of only in grid language.

But within that language an image may still mean. It won’t mean within an aura; it will mean within the grid. Consider, for instance, this portrait of an aged, FIV-positive feral cat. It’s large, but if it were shrunk to tessera-size, couldn’t it take its place seamlessly within the Bachrach array?

And then wouldn’t the cat live on in there – live on as a someone, without a name but with a history not of what he has done outside the grid but of what he is within?

Cook up this metaphor: mud with sour and bitter sauce, hung on the clothesline

Jason D. Greenblatt, Donald Trump’s lawyer, sends a threatening letter to Trump’s ghostwriter.


Source: Jane Mayer, “Donald Trump Threatens the Ghostwriter of ‘The Art of the Deal,'” The New Yorker 20 July 2016. http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-threatens-the-ghostwriter-of-the-art-of-the-deal