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I S S U E No. II summer 2013 1
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CONTENTS issue no II. | Summer 2013
06 A Question of Limits | Will Arbery | Poem 08 All the Thunder Presents: Mary L. Tabor | FICTION 18 Back to Basics: Rebecca Roubion | Music 20 71 | Maggie Nicholson | Poem 24 TAXIPLASM: an interview with filmmaker Brian Gonzalez | ArT 46 The Sad Pornographer Finds God | Mackenzie Leigh Whitehair | Poem 52 The Turkey and the Axe: a note on post-irony | Matthew Kosinski | Editorial 58 INTO THE VOID: The Universe to Scale | Greg Ginnan | Astronomy 82 For the deep and lidless summer nights | Playlist
Cover Image: Maggie Nicholson
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Welcome back, dear readers!
These past three months have marked a period of great growth for us here at All the Thunder, and we can’t wait to show you how far we’ve come. Issue Two is jam-packed with talented contributors: three brilliant young poets contemplate the nature of God, sex, and mortality; author, former George Washington University professor, and Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Mary L. Tabor discusses her new novel, Who By Fire; filmmaker Brian Gonzalez (moniker Taxiplasm) talks about his latest performance pieces and the challenges facing avant-garde artists in commercial society; and Matthew Kosinski shakes a postironic fist at two gaudy gold sculptures in his essay, “The Turkey and the Axe.”
One of the Universe’s greatest mysteries is that on the grandest scales, vast cosmic structures begin to resemble the tiniest of microscopic systems. At a certain point, the spatial relationships between planets, stars, galaxies, and galactic superstructures are simply too complex to comprehend. But, because our primary goal is to make your head melt at least once per issue, we’re going to try. Follow Greg Ginnan into the void and learn just how tiny Earth is on the cosmic scale. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a proper issue without a playlist. We trust that you can find beach tunes on your own, so we’ve compiled a group of songs and artists less likely to appear on your summer music radar. Your time is precious; we’re so honored that you’ve chosen to spend it with us. Aubrey Sanders Editor-in-Chief, All the Thunder Magazine
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A Question of Limits Will Arbery
Only after the face of his furious years had softened, and his hands had rubbered and grown classic, and the image of Granny, contraption-connected and white, closing her eyes all twinkling and distant on a cold metal bed, had become a staple in his dreams—did Bumpa give up math. For ten years I had heard him mutter in the dark, Had seen his cheek-scars, and the sun reflect off those glasses, had tried to find in them his perfect angles, perfect curves. Mom would tell me to go visit, so I would sit, half-blind with my own math homework, and he would insist on helping, lean in—math smells like that lean— eyes like prowling prisms, hushed but urgent: Look for unbounded regions, because it’s a question of limits— See, it’s something finite, something vanishing. And I would watch dust paratroop off his sweater as he told me about dark and desperate military rooms, the planes prancing up, how he could see in them his coordinates, his curving necessity, the beautiful proofs. At her funeral, I saw the dust on his sweater, still; I stared at the curves of her coffin and imagined prayers drifting skyward in parallel procession; 6
[ continued ] I looked for sun, bending into convergence, tried to catch him doing the same, catch his eyes darting about the room, graphing the autumn draft Or the waves of melody from the balconyâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; But he sat there unmoving, head sloping down, the plane of air under his face pushing downwards into the ground: a warm, bounded region, limited and wilting, breathing her to infinity.
WILL ARBERY is a writer and theater artist living in Brooklyn. He grew up in Dallas, the only boy with seven sisters.
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mary L. tabor
The D.C. author, columnist, and former George Washington University professor talks about the experience of writing her stunning new novel, Who By Fire.
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very once in a rare while, a novel emerges from a small press that promises to part the literary tides and challenge the way we think about fiction. Mary Tabor’s Who By Fire, published by Outer Banks, simply defies genre. It is a story about love that cannot be reduced to a love story, a tragic account of desire and grief that never descends into tragedy. The novel recounts the tale of a man who struggles, in the wake of his wife’s death, to comprehend her infidelity. In his search for absolution, he reconstructs her life by imagining her affair as it might have transpired, exploring layer upon layer of memory—his, hers, those of her lover and of her lover’s wife. Tabor guides us through this dream-within-a-dream-like introspection by maneuvering the narrative lens with absolute acuity, seamlessly navigating tiers of temporal realities throughout the book. What results is an unimaginably rich portrait of human relationships: a story about the complexities of longing—for one’s own desires, for the happiness of one’s partner, for things that cannot possibly coexist without resulting in mutual destruction; a story about the feeling of missing a person while sitting in her presence; a story about the tenacity of the human spirit in the presence of suffering; a story about forgiveness. Tabor proves herself fluent in the subtle language of human behavior, where needs and resentment nest side-by-side in an unspeakable space. It is her fearlessness that holds all of it together, that renders Who By Fire a sincere and deeply moving literary feat. Excerpt and interview inside. ∆∆∆
ena went to bed in the small bedroom. She didn’t sleep with me, hadn’t for many nights. That night I should have gone outside, stood in the new-mown rows, the lawn that I’d cleared, where I made out of grass an ordered pattern soon to disappear, that I’d order again and again. I should have waited for Isaac. I should have waited for him on the hill outside Lena’s bedroom in the cover of the wood that bordered my new-mown grass. Her window faced the east. When the house was built, Lena placed this small bedroom at the back of the house so she could watch the sun rise after nights when she lay sleepless—a reward of light, of quotidian surprise for the nights of work or despair. At this point in the story I build here, I don’t think Isaac had ever slept with her in this room—or anywhere in our house. They’d dared but once to be together in our house that I know about for certain and then ever so briefly; thus the alarming act of his taking her to his house. He must have often stood on this hill with his back to the east, to the sun that rose behind his head and watched her come to the window, saw the outline of her
body, the angles and curves he’d touched. He must have known her by her shape. On a city street where she was a mere shadow, blocks away, I knew her. He’d wake on his farm early in the morning, ride his tractor in his fields, ride without mowing or seeding but rather for the cool air, the smell of earth and grass. He’d get in his pick-up and instead of going to work, as his wife believed, drive to Lena’s house, to our house, before the sun rose—to watch her. He came in the dark, stood with the sun at his back, looked straight at her and turned to go with no words. He’d need no words for this or for any way to think about it. Lena would have seen him, known his shape on the hill, as the sun rose behind him, a moment of unspeakable comfort. If they ever spoke about these moments, the comfort would disappear—a silent knowing that they must have shared, that neither would disturb with words, moments not of the world, and yet of the world, like the sun that rose behind his back, undeniable like the recurring light.
the playing more necessary. But then the oboe is lying on a bureau. It waits for her—like a demand: When will you be home? When will you play me? She told me the dream, how it woke her, frightened. A nightmare. Or was it? She reached across the bed for me, but of course I wasn’t there. She lay on her side to watch the light that would come soon from the window. She must have understood from this dream that she was hidden, a hidden thing, that she was absent. From the psalm she was studying and often quoted: “I spread my hands and perceive her unseen parts.” Was this the way Isaac opened his hands? She told me she heard music though there was none. The fright of her dream lifted with this silent sound and she said out loud, quoting from the Bible that she knew and studied, “before them timbrel, pipe and lyre.”
∆∆∆ I think of my father’s words when we worked in the fields before the sun rose, “With patience and time grass turns to milk.” I must be patient to discover—not in my nature, not at all. ∆∆∆ Lena asleep in the small bedroom, alone in the double bed while I slept alone in the king-size bed in the large master bedroom, dreamed: She goes into the closet, hears a noise, perhaps the neighbors, she thinks, and leans closer to the wall to listen. This was of course absurd in the way that dreams are because our house did not adjoin another. We lived on three acres of land and woods. From inside the closet, from the wall something touches her breast. She’s unable to move or see. Paralyzed the way we sometimes are in dreams and in this case also blind. She tries to open her eyes but can’t. And still she sees. She is no longer the center of the picture. She is the observer. Someone else goes into the closet in the light and finds a box. In it is a large crude oddly shaped oboe. A musician decides to try to play the instrument. It is difficult at first but then he wets the reed with his tongue and the oboe responds to his mouth, his touch, and the sound becomes more compelling,
∆∆∆ When will grass become milk? My father said, “Grass vanishes, new grass appears. And milk will be your food.” ∆∆∆ Isaac must have stood in the lifting shades of the dark, knew that she’d slept in the double bed adjoining the marital 11
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bedroom the way he knew that she’d replayed his words, “Close my eyes. Light a candle.” He’d seen her come outside here like Juliet or Rapunzel or Cyrano’s Roxanne and he’d watched. He climbed the deck to the little bedroom. He watched her from the open door. He would have been tired, been up all night. He needed more than the sight of her rising. She lay perfectly still, in sleep. The dream would have passed, its distress gone. Her words out loud had calmed her, and she would have rested deeply. She lay under a pale blue sheet and he could see the silk strap of her nightgown, blue against her skin, blue-pale in night light, the blue of paintings he’d stood too long before: Monet’s iris blue at Giverny, Degas’ dancing chiffon blue, Manet’s petal blue blossoming on clear water. Their blues, like silk ribbon on Lena’s shoulder, braided memory in his head, braids memory in mine. Lena spoke to me of her mother lying with her father in the early morning when she was a child, when she’d stood in the doorway, as a child she didn’t understand how this memory, the invasion would stay with her, would comfort her. 12
Lena’s mother died ten years ago, when she was old, when she was sick, victim of a paralyzing stroke. I remember her kitchen, the bluewhite water mixed from powdered milk she poured inside a Sealtest jar and placed inside the fridge. Her faded housecoat, the piece of floss she crumpled in a tissue in her pocket, the shuffle of her feet in cotton slippers on the kitchen floor, the smell of slow simmering pieces of meat, of sautéed onions on the stove mixed in the air with the yeast and sugar of the pastries she’d spent the day preparing, her rolled down stockings, her brown tied oxfords. Lena’s memories fill me: As a child, her arms around her mother’s knees, blueflowered cotton in her face, the smell of garlic on her skin. The afghan her mother had knitted that lay at the end of Lena’s bed when she was little. The night Lena’s mother died, the hospital room. Then after. Going home. The gray afghan she kept at the end of the bed in the room that faced east. The afghan she’d crawled under for the lasting feel of her mother in weight of wool threaded with blue chevrons while Lena had lain blue-pale inside her mother’s womb. Isaac stood in blue light. His lover slept. He’d stand before Lena and say, “The color of memory is blue.” Words I said as I
watched her sleep before she died. The color of shame is blue. The wind would begin to blow, the sun would be rising and Isaac would hope Lena would wake, throw off her sheet, take him to her, but still she slept while outside the sky kicked up sheets of blue. When I stood beside her bed, I saw the end of blue—the color of her lips beneath the shroud. Love and death. The space between, where I search. Isaac would have been so tired. He didn’t think what he should have been thinking: What if I should wake? What would Lena do if I saw him, an intruder on the balcony? Would she say nothing and watch him carried away, a possible burglar or pervert? Punished, for by then I would have seen him and known him and let him be carried away, exposed. He wouldn’t think any of these things. Instead he’d enter the open door, lie down beside her. She’d wrap her body round him and they’d sleep. With the morning light on their still bodies, he’d open his eyes, transfixed at the sight of her next to him. They’d never slept together. They’d made love but never slept, never woken in the morning as one. Lena would get up. She’d come to the marital bed, to our bed. Would he wonder if I would make
love to her, roll toward her, wrap my body round her? Imagine her shift to lie in my embrace, the shape of one instead of two, the ease of our joining in the morning light, of what sustained and might have continued to sustain us. Still, Isaac lay in the double bed. He should leave, escape, be safe. But he slept and dreamt: Small, narrow bones. He holds a tiny femoral in his hand and takes a fine scalpel. He carves the opening, the flat, reedless embouchure. He carves the tiny holes for his fingers. He lifts the perfect bone to his mouth and blows. He hears the sound, the clear note, the call of the thrush outside the window, and he’d wake. I see them. She went to him. She did not speak, she did not get in with him. She went to the bottom of the bed, lifted the blankets, laid her cheek against the soles of his feet and wept. He lifted the blanket away from his body. He was erect. She kissed his feet, covered them, came to his penis and folded her hands around him, briefly, not to arouse or to bring, but to comfort. She said, “You must go.” And he did, out the back, over the deck onto the hill. She stood on the balcony, her body, the angle of her hip, the shadow of her breast through the gown that blew against her in the breeze. Like a breath of blue. ∆ 13
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This novel is so incredibly complex—when did you complete the book, and how long had you been working on it? I had been working on the book for a long time. I think you can tell that there was a great deal of research that went into it. And then something happened in my life and I was forced to put it down. Last year, I went back and looked at it and I just saw that it was finished. It had actually helped to let it rest, so that I could then bring in the editorial eye. The primary editorial work that I had to do was to ensure that the through-line was really there., and that the present action was clear throughout the book. So I basically worked on it for the next eight months full-time. One of my former students read the it and asked me an incredibly crucial question that added an element to the book that never would have been there otherwise. It introduced Robert’s search for
the idea of the hero in his father, which brings into the intimacy of his life that question that he’s searching for most: what is a hero? This is a conflict that hadn’t been fully realized, and I could only see that after having put the book away for a couple of years. Did you always know that you were going to write from Robert’s perspective? Did you ever consider telling it in the third person, or even from Isaac’s perspective? I certainly realize the risks of being a female writer and trying to write in the male voice, but Robert came to me in an image that was so strong that I couldn’t help it—it just obsessed me. The idea of what someone who had been betrayed would do, and what that story might be. I think the strongest sections of the book are in Robert’s voice. As readers, are we to assume that he’s a reliable narrator? Most of what 14
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Who By Fire is ava on Ama
he tells us is speculation, pieces of the story that he’s filling in with his imagination. Should we be concerned that much of what he says might not have actually happened? I think that one of the challenges of writing this book and whether it succeeds or not, is whether you ultimately believe him. My hope is that your empathy for him grows, because he—like Isaac and Lena— straddles a line of a villainous character in a way.
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I think what he’s seeking is emotional truth. Whether what happened actually happened or not (since he is imagining some things he couldn’t possibly know), I need the reader to take a leap and say that ultimately, it doesn’t matter. That what he’s seeking allows him to stay on the journey of self-discovery. The level of emotional intensity that you maintain throughout the book is one of its greatest triumphs. 15
Was that difficult for you, to be immersed in such raw emotion for the duration of the book’s creation? The answer to your question, strangely enough, is not at all. I would drop into this book in ways that I had never experienced in my other writings. I was totally with Robert on his journey. I was following him. I don’t actually feel as if I wrote his parts of the book—I feel like he did! I just had the experience of reading it aloud for Audible.com, and that was completely different. I took three days to do it, and there are places where—I don’t necessarily cry—but you can hear the sadness welling in my voice. It was the reading from beginning to end that caused me to have that response. While I was in it, it was an inexorable journey that I traveled with Robert, and so it was a process of discovery for me, too. I did not know how the book was going to end. I didn’t know what was going to happen. ALL THE THUNDER
How did you come to the central metaphor of fire?
Throughout Who By Fire, there’s a list of heroic deeds that you weave in and out of the narrative. Is the act of cataloging in writing important to you?
I witnessed a controlled burn in Iowa a long, long time ago. I was standing there and that image remained so powerful to me that I just knew I would write about it. The nature of conflagration, of what is dangerous and what is not dangerous about fire, is part of the whole idea of a relationship. They’re both connected.
That is an actual list that I came across quite accidentally and collected for a long time. It’s of ordinary people who do extraordinary things, and I think that whole idea is something that I was searching for in this book. I had an extraordinary mother. No one would have called her a hero, but she was. She always knew the right thing to do. My father, too, has been very heroic in my life. Our heroes tend to be movie stars, people who fly into space, people in wars who kill political figures. But there are so many other people in the world, in our everyday lives, who are doing heroic things through the simple gesture that needs to be expressed. The kindness that needs to be done. The search for the good in our lives. And I wanted to get that onto the page.
Who are you reading right now? I’m currently reading The Tragic Muse by Henry James—I’ve always been an enormous fan of Henry James. I’m totally fascinated by Colm Tóibín, who’s an Irish novelist and playwright. I actually think he’s poised to win the Nobel Prize, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. I just finished two really wonderful books: Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers, and Tinkers by Paul Harding. Tinkers is an incredible achievement—you just can’t put it down.
To read more about Mary or to tune into her radio show, Rare Bird Blogtalk Radio, visit her website at www.maryltabor.com
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One of our favorite things about Brooklyn is the open forum of the music scene, where any and everything goes. We have all heard our fair share of gloriously weird sounds around here. But let’s go ahead and put this out there: sometimes we don’t want our music to sound like a broken robot. Remember pianos and violins? Remember how great those are? In a musical environment so heavily saturated with everything electronic, it is wonderfully refreshing to stumble upon a track like “Martyr Heart”, off of Nashville siren Rebecca Roubion’s new EP, Forests. Featuring strings reminiscent of Andrew Bird circa Noble Beast and vocals as effortlessly silky as those of Leslie Feist, “Martyr Heart” is a welcome dose of folk-inspired indie pop that recalls the power of simplicity in songwriting. Take a break from the digital wobble-throb of summer dance anthems and sink into the mellow waters of Roubion’s harmonies—you won’t regret it. Forests was released in May as a somewhat melancholic follow-up to its “sister” EP, Fields. In response to an unfortunate experience with a house fire earlier this year, Roubion will soon be launching a campaign that allows people to pay whatever they like for her albums; 100% of Fields profits will go to the American Red Cross, while 100% of Forests profits will go to the Arbor Day Foundation to replant areas devastated by forest fires.
Mmm, ethical music goes down so easy! Drink up, friends, it’s on us.
For show dates, music videos, and links to her albums, visit Rebecca Roubion’s website at www.rebeccaroubion.com, or tweet @rebeccaroubion. 19
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71 Maggie Nicholson
In the dexterity of God’s hands I find myself gnawing on his fingers tracing his love-lines trying to find my way out of his palm but all I can see is skin forever and I can’t see how the world is round or even the end of his palm. I can see the horizon line and where I would fall off. I don’t believe you that the Universe is replicating like clouds of mice or expanding like a balloon that will pop. God’s tired fingers run coolly up and down the spine of the world like a careful mistress. He sits weaving together the thoughts, the yellow words, the rose-colored wishes— he is a yellow light, but he must continue to look on when everyone has turned purple in the darkness. Then he can see that he isn’t enough anymore and I feel sorry for him.
[ continued ] Don’t tell me that I could have been anything I wanted, because I believe in the hot sheep-wool breath of fate— she breathed all over my face and I grew roots. My soul is not a ghost that travels; it was formed in the ground and it grows there. I wanted to be a pepper tree so that I could breathe and eat the sunlight and shit into the air with all the abandon of a happy spider doing ecstatic trapeze acts on a glowing thread. Anywhere I please— your closet even! But instead I was born as I am, and I like it sometimes. Other times I don’t, like when I walk past a house and the boys call out, Heyyy, slut! from the porch, because they want to fuck something animate. And when other girls walk past the house the boys call out Heyyy, sluts! and God turns his head and presses his ear close to where we are but stays quiet so we can’t hear him listening. The girls laugh and bat their eyes. They have bigger boobs than I do and they push them up toward where the boys sit on their porch— Does God blush? I always just freeze up and turn purple. 21
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God probably even sees me turn purple, which would be embarrassing, except that he has so many purple things to think about and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m just a small dot in a myriad of purple things. I want to unthread the Universe and leave it that way, in a pile of loose strings. Next time we will embrace entropy and lick the water straight from the river and no one will say they love each other because it will be implied. No one will be purple. Everything will be gray, but it wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be a sad thing because distinction will become extinct and then I could be pepper tree and girl at the same time. I will hold my tongue to the sky and slurp the sun right up like an ice-pop. God will laugh and clap his hands, and I will bow and take my seat on the ground. I am bound only to look up at him forever and never see.
Maggie Nicholson is a journalist in West Seattle. She is a loving uncle to three nephews: Harrison, Moon and Truffle III. She likes to eat cherries and sunbathe. She is currently working on a collection of short stories. 22
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TAXIP B R i A N
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hen I arrive at filmmaker Brian Gonzalez’s P a r k S l o p e and sketches that line the entry hallway. “Gifts,” he expla to keep the company of such talented artists, it would seem that painting on display was inspired by co
His own inspirations are diverse. In the living room, we leaf thr fashion, philosophy, and art-history books that form a stack waist and Kierkegaard, the result of continued self-education by way everything, takes evident pleasure in the act of dialogue, in sh
With a record like his, it’s no wonder he has so much to say. Bria Now 26, he has garnered accolades from Art Basel Miami Beach, performance, SXSW, NYC’s Armory Arts Week, Lincoln Center’ Times Square Art Alliance played his video painting Stasis on six by sign operators in Times Square history. He has produced multi Untitled Magazine, and Contaminate NYC, and he is cu Sean Ono Lennon about avant-garde
In the city that never sleeps, Brian is the artist who never rests. Un Prosecco, in which case he
a p a r t m e n t the first thing I notice is the long row of paintings ains, “made by good friends.” Though he considers himself lucky t the artists count themselves among the fortunate; nearly every onversations they’ve shared with him.
rough an alchemical encyclopedia and discuss his collection of t-high. He speaks with dynamism about Descartes, Jung, Camus, of voracious reading. In fact, he speaks with dynamism about hared revelation—especially where his own art is concerned.
an graduated with honors from the School of Visual Arts in 2009. Sundance Film Festival, the Robert Wilson Watermill Center for ’s Dance On Camera, and Cutlog Art Fair. This past January, the xteen screens throughout the month, the largest coordinated effort i-disciplinary video work with Atlantic Records, Chimera Music, urrently co-directing a feature-length documentary with e fashion designers threeASFOUR.
nless, of course, it be to talk about his latest work over a bottle of e will make an exception.
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After your successes at Armory and Cutlog, are you planning on performing The Seeds that Release again?
Which was quite central in Seeds. What was the significance of the four-hour performance? Originally, my partner came up with a design to web the interior of a space for a party. It was actually a satellite fair for Armory Week, which we called the UnFair. For me, the design was only the first half of the sentence, because I am interested in addressing the human element. Inevitably, that led to performance. And of course, the idea of duration came from the fact that a party would last several hours, and there
We’re speaking to a curator for the Dumbo Arts Festival, and we’ve had an offer to do an Akrai residency in Italy. Honestly, though, I’d like to do something much more dangerous for Akrai, but something that is equally demanding. I’m very attracted to endurance in performance.
would need to be some sort of journey to fill that duration.
that can be brilliant. But I’m looking for something that explores every nuance of every moment, moment to moment, for that entire expanded amount of duration.
It makes perfect sense that I started off in film and have slowly worked my way into exploring other performative avenues, because in film, the primary medium is not actually the motion picture. It’s duration. There’s a Point A and a Point B and there’s a journey between them. There are crescendos, climaxes, nuances, and breath. There is timing. All of these things are also relative to performance art. There are certainly a lot of very simple performances
Marina Abramović has been such a huge inspiration in the amount of endurance that she goes through for her work. This idea of the elasticity of the human condition is very inspiring, probably more so than most art that I see in general. It reminds me that I am capable of the same things if I push myself to extreme levels.
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All photos of The Seeds That Release courtesy of Noan Major
And beyond her endurance, much of her work creates a tension between performer and audience because of the enormous amount of trust she places in them.
I was looking for absolute symmetry. Also, I’m a big fan of butoh, which is an ancient Japanese style of dance where you’re completely immersed in a certain mental volition, but you’re moving in the way that the Universe is telling you to move. Every movement is subtle, very slow, but felt at maximum capacity. And that’s something that’s very inspiring when done over a long duration.
Exactly. And these notions of trust a n d responsibility and the active reciprocity of the audience that the piece is contingent upon is something that I’m really exploring right now. For Seeds, I was thinking a lot about rotation, and infinity, and human connection. Paired with Joe’s idea of the web, I wanted to show the ways in which two people are bound to one another. The piece essentially consists of two men who are infinitely connected. Being an admirer of the female form, I’ve always worked with women in my pieces. But in this particular piece, there is so much delicate movement that a woman would seem the obvious choice, and it’s in some ways more interesting to see the male form in these very delicate positions.
Having these two men bound together with elastic tethers allows each of them to feel what the other is doing. The idea is that they are responsible for their own connection, and the audience is responsible for severing their ties with a very ominous pair of scissors placed on a table before them. I think in a lot of ways, people are born connected. But the audience knows, the same way that the divine nature in all of us knows, that severance is necessary and inevitable. They have to implement that responsibility over the course of the four hours, and ultimately, the performers are released from their bonds, liberated in their own bodies. Something like that has to be at least four hours, because not only is that amount of endurance so impressive, but it allows the viewer to become truly entranced in it.
Did you consider using one man and one woman? I really did, but I like the idea of these being two parts of the same person. 31
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The audience knows, the same way the divine nature in all of us knows, that severance
necessary and inevitable.
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Why do you paint the men in white? It’s funny, when we did the piece at Armory, people who reviewed it were so certain that we were addressing all kinds of preCivil War issues. And I can see how they read into it that way, but it had really never occurred to us because it was never about race, but about individuality.
it interacts with the straps it starts to look like scarification. You can see how long they’ve been performing based on how decayed it is, so it’s a great aesthetic tool. I very much admire performers who are not only willing but excited to push themselves to completely experience the spectrum of struggle as a means of communicating to people that they are also capable of living through it and coming out the other side a rejuvenated human being. These two actors are incredible, incredible artists.
I certainly don’t discourage the racial implications that people have made, but it’s not something that we intended. The white makeup is simply a butoh tradition, and as
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There has always been grea the waters of the avant-gard ubiquitous in all of New York. feel like an artist
So, I’ve stalked your video work and I’m dying to know more about Tell Me Your Secrets. That was originally a performance commissioned by Contaminate NYC, who are really great at facilitating collaborations between artists. Gemma Fleming and I worked together and came up with the idea of a chamber of vulnerability. There’s a performer who’s confined in this pyramid, and the entire interior is mirrored, and they’re doused in this non-Newtonian fluid, which means that it responds to vibrational patterns in an anti-gravitational way, so that it moves upward. A friend who has a PhD in psychoacoustics wrote an algorithm that translates the vowel patterns of people’s voices into vibrational patterns. So we rigged the bottom of the pyramid with shakers and speakers, and people are actually speaking their secrets into this chamber of vulnerability. The performer is inside the space for four hours, and there’s a window where you can look in and watch them. I did it nude once, painted head to toe in black. It was pretty insane! Please tell us, how does conceptual artist pay rent?
To move forward, we will ha vulnerabilities, and challenge th expression of thes
Well, my primary source of income at the moment is from a documentary
that I’m working on with Sean Lennon about our friends threeASFOUR. They’re brilliant. They do costuming work for Björk, collaborations with Yoko Ono, they’ve had works in the Met. But, being as ingenious as they are, they have a very small commercial presence, because in the
at trepidation about entering de. The struggle has become Making this film has begun to tic responsibility.
induct him into the zodiac. Before that, it was crop circles and the fourth dimension, the influence of the tesseract, or 3D printing on the human body. People aren’t brave enough for it. So the documentary explores all these avenues and the much larger question of this fear of innovation in the creative world. There has always been great trepidation about entering the waters of the avant-garde. The struggle has become ubiquitous in all of New York. Making this film has begun to feel like an artistic responsibility.
Have you ever considered leaving New York to move west, or to take your work abroad? I think right now, New York is absolutely the place to be. I’ll go abroad once I feel that I’ve exhausted the resources I have here, maybe to Berlin or to London. Honestly, I think New York facilitates so much suffering, but it’s all so good for us. I mean, come on, the weather, MTA, all of it is a constant pain in the ass! New York is essential for the constant limits it places on you. But I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I never felt comfortable in my own skin. When I moved to New York, I felt like I had found my people. I knew I wasn’t some kind of anomaly.
ave to embrace all of our he institutions that inhibit the se vulnerabilities.
commercial market, there’s an enormous fear of innovative fashion, or innovative art in general. ThreeASFOUR doesn’t talk about “this season’s girl” or silhouettes. They talk about Ophiuchus, and doing a puja ceremony to
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â&#x20AC;&#x153; There is a universe within ourselves, and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s where it 38
t begins and ends—where everything begins and ends. 39
- BArLi La nT HG Eo nT zHaUl Ne Dz E R
Sean Lennon (left) and Brian Gonzalez (right) are co-directing a documentary about avant-garde fashion designers threeASFOUR. Photo by Noan Major.
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What is the difference between Brian Gonzalez and Taxiplasm? Ah, that’s…[laughs] I’ve never been asked that before! Taxiplasm is about making creative and cathartic experiences that are as painful as they are pleasurable and that prompt one to ask questions they might never have asked before. Brian Gonzalez just makes work, and things to support Taxiplasm. If there’s an experience that’s being provided that’s designed to create a certain amount of resonance in you emotionally, psychologically, then it’s credited to Taxiplasm. A lot of the conceptual art that I try to make, at least performatively, should exist in a place for somebody where I would
hope that they struggle to find the words to describe it. I want it to exist in a place that is the farthest from their brain. All language is a substitute, so they can’t describe it on any level that they’ve learned. They experience it on their most human levels. The flaw that so many people make in most conceptual art is that it becomes an excuse to be sloppy, or lazy, when actually you have to work a lot harder to account for all of the possible contingencies of thought. When you’re able to apply a structure to something that’s very conceptual, it becomes so much more poignant. If it’s something that stays with people, that lingers, that they feel and have to shake off after a while, then that’s a definite success for the art.
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At All the Thunder, we call ourselves a magazine for the myth and the mind. Art, music, and writing are, in the truest sense, new mythologies that we use to make sense of our world. What does the word myth mean to you, to your work, to your creative spirit?
in these very Biblical settings. The key is figuring out what I am going to provide as the creator of this mythological setting that will speak to what the next stage of our humanity is. I think this simply has to do with having to understand our weaknesses as a species. To move forward, we will have to embrace all of our vulnerabilities, and challenge the institutions that inhibit the expression of these vulnerabilities.
A lot, actually. When I was in film school I wrote a myth of my own about the birth of intimacy, and what it means, and why so many people become afraid of it. We are so expendable, so fragile. That kind of fragility is something that needs to be emphasized in a much more progressive way in a mythological space, in a spiritual space. We should recognize that there are so many things that are larger than we are, and that the enormity of it is so unfathomably awesome. When I think about the true essence of sublime, it’s terrifying. That’s something that I want to communicate in my own work.
Institution is…[laughs] the formula of evil. Thus becomes hierarchy, and a system of rules, and conflict. Finding a way to coexist and creating a climate where it’s safe to have anxiety, to be unsure, is paramount. The goal is not to have answers to anything. We should be learning how to ask better questions. That’s really the function of the myth.
The next few films that I would like to make are very mythological, and take place 44
And, of course, mythology strives to do something for humanity that science actually achieves. And there’s an element of God that exists in science. I think that the next stage in religion is actually understanding a religion absent of religion. Understanding God that exists not in terms of semantic laws that people wrote a couple thousand years ago based on classism, racism, and years of hierarchy and torture that exist in royal systems, kings and queens and deities— all this bullshit, really. But what existed in them that was fundamental to their own humanity that still exists within ours, that
we can understand now from so many other points of view, and that we can explore in a much more peaceful venture that doesn’t have to do with decimating half of the world with war and nuclear bombs. There is a universe within ourselves, and that’s where it begins and ends—where everything begins and ends. 45
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The Sad Pornographer Finds God Mackenzie Leigh Whitehair
The sad pornographer finds god, holed up inside the Motor Inn off I-78 behind Roadside America and the miniature suburban village. Motel vision, perched at the edge of the bed, barely dressed with grease stain on white collar, and opaque globule over plaid boxers, presumably a year’s old self-sexual miasma. The sad pornographer finds himself indeterminate, exterminate and halfway to holy. Bathed blue in the luminescence of a TV preacher, who tells him that he is bad, just before asking for all of his cash, “This is a stick up!” He paid for a dirty movie, but couldn’t get off—figures—the stale stigmatas inside of his hands make the pleasure painful, though all is not lost; he touches himself later 46
[ continued ] to muted infomercials instead, dreaming of faceless strangers who will give him cheap head, and scold him like his mother. At 1:52 AM the sad pornographer spends precisely 48 seconds staring at the clock, thinking of all the people who do not know or wonder where he is, least of all himâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; what kind of life does he live? The coffee on the nightstand has gone cold, coasters missing, so the Bible for impromptu bar-cloth, purely out of respect. He watches the condensation trickle off the moleskin like a heated breath, a bead of sweat off the back of the overweight waitress who plied him for a ride in the alley behind Dennyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. For 4 minutes and 23 seconds he was almost in love, or some grunting transient imitation of, he was warm at least, and now he wants to die. 47
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The absences cause his hand to grow furious over a notebook half-filled with suicide letters and mathematical configurations. He does not know why his father drank or why his Labrador ran away, but he can calculate how many times he might have blinked that day, give or take a few unaccountable variables, and that is something, some semblance of order, too. September 30th, the sad pornographer marks the date, and this morning his mother is to blame. He bids her a feeble farewell before pausing and scribbling down the name of a girl he loved when he was twelve, then his name, too, one after the other a facsimile of together, and the assaulting litany of could-have-beens: Sunday dinner with the in-laws, folding laundry in the afternoons, watching television at night, side by side on the sofa, jacked with the possibility of sex or some tired intimacy. 48
It is the fight that provokes him, someone to argue with and at, someone to want to die over, a reason—the girl he loved when he was twelve—wonder would she recognize him now? His solitude is punctuated by the moan which permeates the cracked plaster, the knowledge that next door, someone is happy, if only for a brief cessation, someone is blissfully, temporally dead. The sad pornographer listens with bated breath; these are things that he wants, too: a body to warm, familiar beds, wet sheets. The trivialities pitch his shorts, stiffening him, the thought of something, anything familiar. Monotony is chaos is comfort is anxiety, and thus, the mantra forebearing—how many minutes would it take to travel to the sun from this exact location, Motor Inn off I-78? How many hours has he been alive; how many hours has he been lost? 49
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The floral wallpaper curls back, the toes and pleasure heightening from beyond his four walls, and under his breath, the sad pornographer begs them quietly, miserably, not to finish. Not while heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s still perched at the edge of the bed, struggling to pen a proper goodbye. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Come out with your hands up!â&#x20AC;? The TV Preacher says, he is bad, he is a bad bad man, maybe, though he really just feels sad, and can no longer tell the difference. His perfect mother, the woman on TV is asking for donations, and he is having a hard time pretending that this loneliness is charity, her face merging with that of the overweight waitress, both wanting him in a flash, loving him like a seizure, stroking him with all the beleaguered conviction of a war criminal.
The sad pornographer begins to cry, so wanting to die, he asks her to leave after she has already gone. At 2:05 AM precisely, he imagines what it would be like to kill, by bullet or by brick, by the fingerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s point, his filthy soul to anoint. In his own hands he sees the face of God, shriveled and childlike, opaque, with cash or check, a fake in the name of the father, amen.
MACKENZIE LEIGH WHITEHAIR is a 21-year-old writer from Pennsylvania, whose main focus is poetry and short-fiction. She excels in the art of grave-digging and blind-optimism. Previously, she has been published in The Longest Salmon.
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his was going to be a very different essay before my parents came to visit me for four days in Connecticut. Something pseudo-academic and painfully intellectual, about poetry and politics and Tumblr. But my father is a supermarket manager; my mother works the register at a Christmas Tree Store (They sell more than Christmas trees. Someone should have renamed the place by now). It was a good essay, the original version, but there can be no better subject for a 23-year-old poet than these people. You will have a knee-jerk reaction about all of this. You will expect that I am here to cast my working-class parents in a heroic and tragic light: products of exurban New Jersey, busting their asses in retail work to put me through expensive private schools. It all culminates in me graduating at the top of my class at Rutgers, winning awards I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily deserve, becoming a teacher in an underfunded and woefully screwed school district 150+ miles away from home. This is the stuff the American Dream is made of. But my parents are an excellent poetic subject for different, more complex reasons. Because we watched the movie Lincoln and my mother cried. Because my father spent upwards of 15 minutes in the screw aisle of Home Depot looking for the proper fastening tools to install a window box on our back porch, incidentally revealing to me the cosmic mechanisms behind a well-secured place to plant flowers. Because I drank a lot of scotch and stayed up very late with my mother the first night she was here, so that she could talk to me about the psychic damage of being afraid of every single adult male she encounters when she is walking by herself at the Manasquan reservoir. Because my parents are not folk heroes with backwoods wisdom and a misguided love for a capitalist system that keeps them perpetually oppressed. They are two very real human beings with the amazing ability to give a sincere and unironic fuck about the lives they and their children are living. 53
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remember being at a bar with my friend and mentor Pat Danner. We were discussing great American writers, debating the literary canon. He could not believe how much I loved David Foster Wallace, how much I stressed the necessity of the loose post-ironist movement. I think he may have called me an asshole at one point. The conversation ended before I could rightfully convince him of the emotional heft of post-irony (and the stylistic talents of DFW in particular, with his penchant for a deliciously convoluted high-intellectual prose that simultaneously revealed and rebuked the emotional crisis of the contemporary educated US elite), because a girl he was trying to sleep with entered the bar and started talking to us about Marxism. My parents are the great post-ironists.
e’re at the Hartford waterfront, my parents and my girlfriend and I, wandering the Lincoln Financial Sculpture Walk. The seven or eight meager sculptures along the trail are, of course, all dedicated to Abraham Lincoln’s life. We are all kind of buzzed. Mom likes the golden statue of a turkey the best. Dad is particularly fond of Lincoln’s axe. I don’t know if I should try to inform them of what makes these sculptures aesthetically bankrupt or just let them bask in a genuine appreciation for art, as bland as that art may be. I decide to let them bask. They are moved, and I envy them.
t’s really goddamn hard to be an art lover in the year 2013. Issues of pretension aside, there is a certain cynicism to being an aesthete right now, here, in America. Merriam-Webster tells us that an aesthete is “one having or affecting sensitivity to the beautiful, especially in art.” Our very lexicon is convinced that there is some sort of fakery going on here. You can’t possibly love art without some sort of affectation, without putting on some sort of self-congratulatory ruse. The culture-at-large is onto you. You’re a liar, you’re trying to look better than us. We know your game. But I know that there are more incisive ways to represent the nascence of a sociocultural tradition (e.g., the presidential pardoning of a Thanksgiving turkey) than a big gold sculpture of a turkey. And maybe some of these truly moving ways involve irony. But we’re sick of irony right now, because our wider culture has a two-dimensional understanding of what irony is – i.e., pretending to like that which you actually don’t in an effort to maneuver around the vulnerability that comes with actually liking something. But post-irony is not a movement meant to abandon irony. On the contrary, it is a movement meant to embrace the sincerity of real feeling that the effective use of irony can achieve – a sincerity of real feeling that is not at all unlike the real feeling my mother has about the gaudy gold turkey at the waterfront. I said that my parents are the quintessential post-ironists. This is not because they loved a gold turkey sculpture or a mundane representation of an axe. This is because they loved these things and admitted wholeheartedly to loving them. And I begrudged them this love, which shows I have a long way to go in my own post-ironist education.
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can align myself with the post-ironists and still take issue with the aesthetic failures of these sculptures. I can even try to tell my parents why I don’t think they should like these sculptures as much as they do. But I cannot say to them, “You don’t get to have the emotions you are having right now.” I can resent the catalyst for their emotions, but I shouldn’t resent the emotions themselves. Because my parents stood on the sculpture walk and felt something and copped to feeling this thing. And that’s what it means to be post-irony: to own your emotions, to know and admit that they are yours. Question the feelings, if you will. Be wary of what made you feel this way. But don’t deny that you felt it. And especially don’t deny it because the people around you don’t agree with you. Asking my parents to not feel moved by the turkey and the axe because these sculptures are amateur at best is the same as asking me to feel moved by Harry Potter because my own taste favors the academic. Either way, you are denying the audience its right to feel something sincerely, truthfully, and gorgeously because it does not square with your own taste.
y parents are able to escape the tangled self-doubt of the contemporary aesthete because they don’t position themselves as art-lovers in their everyday lives. What I envy them is their ability to feel freely and unconditionally that which they feel. It takes tremendous courage to do this today, when we are constantly at one another’s throats re: emotional resonance. I am angry at you for being more moved by J.K. Rowling than Amelia Gray. You are angry at me for the converse. Neither one of us is letting the other feel what they feel. Not that I believe that we should feel without questioning our feelings. On the contrary, one of the reasons I unabashedly love my
position as an art nerd and continue my arts education is because I find it thrilling to probe my own emotional responses to the art I encounter. But we cannot probe our own feelings to any meaningful extent if we don’t own those feelings first. We can’t truly analyze an art object unless we admit to our role as audience – and part of being that audience is feeling something. Even if it isn’t what you want to feel.
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se to scale
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OUR NEIGH t h e
f you have ever taken a road trip that lasted longer than a couple of days, you are probably familiar with that realization of just how far apart places are and how sluggish the pace of your car seems by comparison. Start applying that thinking to the planet as a whole and it begins to feel a lot bigger than a pale blue dot. However, when put into the cosmic perspective, it doesn’t take long for Earth to dissolve into the indistinguishable sea of space dust that’s whirling and expanding into the empty unknown. Because the numbers and distances that arise when talking about the cosmic arena are so dizzyingly large, many scientists make use of analogies in order to convey a crude sense of scale. Take, for example, Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s analogy of the billiard ball: despite Earth’s highest mountains and deepest underwater trenches, the scale of its geological features is so negligible that if the planet
HBORHOOD a n e t s
were shrunken down to the size of a billiard ball, its surface would be smoother than any ever produced. The same goes for our neighboring terrestrial planets, so-named because of their solid, rocky features. The four planets closest to the Sun (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) are all relatively similar in size, with Earth being the largest. It’s when we peer further into the recesses of the solar system that Earth begins to shrink. Known as the Jovian systems, the four outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) dwarf our own. Jupiter—aptly named for the Roman God of sky and thunder—occupies over 1,300 times the volume of the Earth. If you combined all seven of the other planets, they still would not rival Jupiter’s size. Even the massive storm on Jupiter’s surface, known as the Great Red Spot, is large enough to envelope our entire planet.
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The moon hangs 244,000 miles away. This image shows Neptune as it would appear from Earth if it replaced the moon in the night sky. During the day, solar eclipses would last over an hour-and-a-half.
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If Jupiter were as close as the moon, its gravitational tidal forces would cause Earthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crust to swell and crack.
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t h e
s u n
nd yet, as gargantuan as Jupiter is, it pales in comparison to the Sun. Over 99% percent of all the mass in the solar system is found inside of our star, which has a volume equivalent to that of 1.3 million Earths. This is why even the 93-millionmile gap that lies between us and the Sun is insignificant compared to the amount of energy that constantly traverses it. To put the size of the Sun in perspective, if you were to board a standard commercial 747 jet traveling at its average speed of 570 mph, it would take you nearly seven months to complete a single flight around the Sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s circumference.
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BEYOND THE SOLAR SYSTEM t h e
l i g h t
y e a r
ust as we try to understand Earth’s relative size by comparing it to that of other planets, the size of the Sun can be better appreciated when we hold it up to other stars. But first, let’s take a quick look at the units astronomers use to measure the enormous distances between stars.
At this rate, light reflected by the Moon takes about 1.5 seconds to reach us, while the Sun’s rays have to travel for 8 minutes before striking Earth. Farther out, it takes the light of the Sun 43 minutes to reach Jupiter, and a whole 4.1 hours to reach Neptune. When we combine how fast light moves with the amount of time it takes for it to get anywhere in space, we can begin to understand just how vast the distances between cosmic objects really are.
Keeping those figures in mind, the closest star to the Sun is 4.4 light years awa or 25 trillion miles. The nearest star in the Big Dipper constellation is 58 ligh years from us, while Polaris, the North Star, is 325 light years away.
Although it may sound like a unit of time, the light year is actually a unit of distance. Simply put, one light year is the distance that an unimpeded lightwave will travel in one year. Some simple arithmetic can translate this concept into more recognizable terms. The speed of light is known to be 186,000 miles per second. Per second, people. That means that if you let loose a photon on a trajectory around the Earth, it would circle the planet 7.5 times in just one second.
So, if the speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, this means that one light year is equivalent to 5.9 trillion miles. At the mention of the word trillion, our minds come up against a conceptual wall. To give you a rough idea of what one trillion means, if you were to set an alarm clock to go off in 1 trillion seconds, it would sound 31,710 years from now. Or, if you were to lay one trillion iPhone 4sâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on top of each other, the stack would be taller than 737 Earths!
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t h e
s t a r s
Eventually, when Betelgeuse explodes, its supernova will be so bright that it will be visible in daylight to the naked eye.
e have seen that the Sunâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sheer volume renders orbiting bodies like Earth and Mars trivially small. Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mind-boggling is that our Sun is actually only an average-sized star, and quite unimpressive when compared to some of the giants patrolling deeper skies. Aldebaran is one such star, a red giant that lies 65 light years away in the constellation of Taurus. At this late stage in its life, it shines 425 times brighter than our Sun, with a diameter over 43 times as wide. But even Aldebaran seems like a pebble when compared to stellar behemoth Betelgeuse, recognizable as the left shoulder in the constellation Orion. With a radius over 1,000 times that of the Sun, this red super giant is so large that if you placed it in the center of our solar system, its edges would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
Earth < Jupiter < Sun < Aldebaran
It should be noted that bigger is not the same as more massive: despite its enormous size, Betelgeuse is not much heavier than our
Sun. This is because red giants are stars undergoing a late phase of their stellar evolution, during which they expand dramatically and become less dense. In approximately 5 billion years, our Sun will do the same, possibly engulfing the Earth. R136a1, the most massive star known to exist, is a blue hypergiant located 165,000 light years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Burning bright and fast, this star shines with a luminosity 8.7 million times greater than the Sun, and will eventually meet its end in a cataclysmic hypernova, which is roughly equivalent to the energy released by 100 supernovae. But when it comes to the largest star, stellar monster VY Canis Majoris takes the cake, with a volume that could fit 7 BILLION suns. Earlier, we saw that flying a plane around the Sun would take about 7 months. Circumnavigating VY Canis Majoris in that same plane would take over 172 years!
n < Betelgeuse < VY Canis Majoris
R136a1 is currently the most massive star on record. This blue hyperstar shines 8,700,000 times brighter than the Sun.
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Stars like VY Canis Majoris continue to challenge current theories of star formation due to their incredible size.
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t h e
etâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s zoom out further. Recall that one light year is equivale light years across, 1,000 light years thick, and contains at from the galactic center, Earth is located in one of the Milky down to the size of a football stadium, the area of our entire so be the size of a grain of sand with a diameter of one millimet galaxy (120,000 light years across) are bot
a l a x y
ent to 5.9 trillion miles; our own Milky Way galaxy is 110,000 t least 100 billion individual stars. Residing 25,000 light years Way’s massive spiraling arms. If you could shrink our galaxy olar system—Sun, planets, and asteroid belts included—would ter. The Milky Way, along with our neighbor the Andromeda th slightly above average for galactic size.
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BEYOND THE GALAXY t h e
s u p e r c l u s t e r s
couple hundred million light years from Earth, the galaxy NGC 6872 is the largest spiral galaxy yet to be discovered. From end to end, it measures over 520,000 light years across—that’s almost five times bigger than the Milky Way.
At this point, the scale of things can be too incomprehensibly BIG to really grasp. But let’s take one final step back. On the largest scale we know of, astrophysicists are mapping clusters of galaxies, as well as clusters of clusters of galaxies. Known as galactic filaments, hundreds of thousands of galaxies attract each other and form colossal “walls” that resemble networks of roots or neurons. We’re talking about structures that stretch billions of light years in length. If you can’t get your head around it, don’t worry, we can’t really either. But just know that the further out we look, the more mysterious the Universe becomes.
The trophy for biggest galaxy, however, goes to another freak of nature, IC 1101. This gargantuan group of stars was discovered at the center of a supercluster of galaxies, and is believed to be the result of the merging of several cosmic bodies. As of 2013, IC 1101 is believed to be a whopping 6 million light years in diameter.
s scientists and international space programs develop more highly sophisticated computer modeling and telescopes, future generations are certain to continue to peer into the void. It is safe to assume that most of our questions will never be answered. But in the effort to truly grasp the cosmic scale, we ultimately rediscover the wonder of our own existence, strange and unlikely phenomenon that we are.
image credits: 58-59, 79: The Millennium Simulation 60-65: Ron Miller 66-67: Roberto Ziche 68-69: Hubble Heritage Team, D. Gouliermis (MPI Heidelberg) et al., (STScI/AURA), ESA, NASA 70-71 infographic: space-facts.com 72-73: ESO/P. Crowther/C.J. Evans 74-75: public domain 76-77: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
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Title: This Explains Everything: Deep, Beautiful, and Elegant Theories on How the World Works Editor: John Brockman, founder and publisher of the online science salon Edge.org What’s It About? This Explains Everything is a collection of answers to the question: “What is your favorite deep, elegant, and beautiful explanation?” Over 120 thinkers, including physicists, astronomers, musicians, doctors, and psychologists, contribute to discussion, providing a wide spectrum of fascinating ideas, theories, and perspectives. A few of the contributors include Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, V.S. Ramachandran, Lee Smolin, and Daniel C. Dennett. Why We Like It With answers ranging anywhere from one sentence to five pages, the book creates an informal setting in which the reader may join a roundtable of great minds and observe their impassioned discourse. Because the prompt itself is all-encompassing, the book covers a wide variety of topics, from biology and cosmology to logic and intuition. The scopes of the answers differ as well. Some of the contributors’ responses, such as philosopher Daniel Dennett’s essay on migrating sea turtles, focus on specific phenomena to explain broader trends. Conversely, others attempt to tackle more elusive and abstract notions, as seen in Brian Eno’s essay “The Limits of Intuition”. With such a smorgasbord of illuminating responses, every reader is bound to find something that deepens his or her appreciation of the world’s many wonders. Image: NASA, ESA and J. M. Apellániz (IAA, Spain) 80
on our list Title: Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier
Author: Neil DeGrasse Tyson
What’s It About? Astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director Neil DeGrasse Tyson published this new book as part of his on-going effort to generate more interest and attention towards the American space industry. With a first-hand understanding of NASA’s evolution over the past fifty years, Tyson provides a historical context which leads the reader to the inevitable conclusion that the nurturing of a healthy space program was responsible for enormous growth in the past, and that with proper funding, it could be so again in the future. Why We Like it Tyson is a warrior for NASA’s cause. Nobody can better articulate the desperate need for proper funding of the space program or the indispensible benefits that would result. For this reason, he has always been one of our favorite public educators. Between his passion for the cosmos, his remarkable eloquence, and his unfaltering wit, he has the potential to become as influential as the beloved Carl Sagan. For readers unfamiliar with Tyson, Space Chronicles proves an accurate illustration of his tone and vision, sampling from public talks, interviews, and essays. Though the book is rather light on the science end, readers will still come away with a solid grasp of where our space industry has been and where it may (or may not) go.
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This is not a
for a sunny day at the beach.
This is for the deep and lidless summer nights, the afternoons caught indoors with the breath of Thunder and warm winds at your window. This is for the long drive, the contemplative moments spent in transit. letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s get lost. 82
First Fires BTSTU (EDit) Reach for the dead ash/black veil dye the water green without you still sleeping human transits violent dreams will there be stars anti-pioneer
Bonobo Jai paul boards of canada apparat bibio lapalux chrome sparks daughter bonobo crystal castles blonde redhead feist
open in spotify 83
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E D I T O R S:
C O N T R I B U T O R S:
Aubrey Sanders | Editor-in-Chief, Creative Director
Matthew Kosinski | Poetry Editor
James Case | Fiction Editor
Mary L. Tabor
Greg Ginnan | Science Editor
Mackenzie Leigh Whitehair
Special thanks to Maggie Nicholson and Noan Major for the use of their photography in this issue. 84