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Postmaster Please send address changes to Cabinet, 181 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Cabinet (USPS # 020-348, ISSN 1531-1430) is a quarterly magazine published by Immaterial Incorporated, 181 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Periodicals Postage paid at Brooklyn, NY, and additional mailing offices.

Spring 2014, issue 53 Printed in Belgium by Die Keure, who are solid as a rock. Cover: A tourist amid the fragments of the Colossus of Constantine at the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Musei Capitolini, Rome, 1962. The original statue—which dates from between 313 and 324 CE and was some forty feet high—depicted the seated emperor and was installed at one end of the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome. Only the head and fragments of the arms and legs, all made of marble, have survived; scholars believe that the rest of the body was constructed of wood and mud brick. Apologies to eagle-eyed art historians: we have reversed the image so that Constantine’s astonishing face would not be concealed under our logo; the reversal has transformed the right hand of the emperor into his left. Photo Robert Sisson.

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Editor-in-chief Sina Najafi Senior editor Jeffrey Kastner Editors D. Graham Burnett, Christopher Turner UK editor Brian Dillon Operations Manager Alexandra Hollis Art director Everything Studio Website directors Ryan O’Toole, Luke Murphy Editors-at-large Saul Anton, Mats Bigert, Brian Conley, Christoph Cox, Jeff Dolven, Leland de la Durantaye, Jesse Lerner, Jennifer Liese, Ryo Manabe, Alexander Nagel, George Prochnik, Frances Richard, Daniel Rosenberg, Aaron Schuster, David Serlin, Debra Singer, Justin E. H. Smith, Margaret Sundell, Allen S. Weiss, Eyal Weizman, Margaret Wertheim, Gregory Williams, Jay Worthington, Tirdad Zolghadr Contributing editors Molly Blieden, Eric Bunge, Andrea Codrington, Pip Day, Charles Green, Adam Jasper, Srdjan Jovanovic Weiss, Dejan Krsic, Lytle Shaw, Cecilia Sjöholm, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Sven-Olov Wallenstein Editorial assistants Julian Lucas, Samantha Vasseur Cabinet National Librarian Matthew Passmore

Cabinet is a non-profit 501(c)(3) magazine published by Immaterial Incorporated. Our survival depends on support from generous foundations and individuals. Please consider supporting us at whatever level you can. Donations are tax-deductible for those who deal with Uncle Sam. All gifts are acknowledged online. Contributions of $25 or more will be acknowledged in the next possible issue; those above $100 will be noted in four issues. Checks to “Cabinet” can be sent to our office; please write “Be boulder!” on the envelope. Cabinet wishes to thank the following visionary foundations and individuals for their support of our activities during 2014. Additionally, we will forever be indebted to the extraordinary contribution of the Flora Family Foundation from 1999 to 2004; without their support, this publication would not exist. We would also like to extend our enormous gratitude to the Orphiflamme Foundation for their generous support. $80,000 The Lambent Foundation $15,000 The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs $10,000 The National Endowment for the Arts $8,000 The New York State Council on the Arts $5,000 The Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts $1,500–$2,500 Stina & Herant Katchadourian, Terry Winters $500–$1,000 Anonymous, Martha & Thomas G. Armstrong, Spencer Finch, Steven Rand $500 or under Pamela Cederquist, Peter Jaszi, Deborah Lovely, Case Randall, Christian Scheidemann, Sandy Tait & Hal Foster $250 or under Cameron Allan, Mark Allen, Defne Ayas, Tauba Auerbach, Randi Cardia, Sara Clugage, Freya Cooper Kiddie, Mia Enell & Nicholas Fries, George Ganat, Craig Kalpakjian, James Katzenberger, Scott LeBouef, Meredith Martin & Josh Siegel, Andrew Pederson, Jocelyn Prince & Lucky Leone, Paul Ramirez Jonas, Eric Schmid, Pooja Shah & Rebecca Ward, James Siena, Debra Singer & Jay Worthington, Margaret Sundell & Reinaldo Laddaga, Jude Tallichet & Matt Freedman $100 or under Rachel Hardisman, Jeffrey Kosky, Jim Martin, Marie-Louise Moller, Jessica Rocks, Aleksandra Wagner, Eva Ward, Mi You

Contributors Sasha Archibald is a writer and curator in Los Angeles, and a frequent contributor to Cabinet. D. Graham Burnett teaches at Princeton University. Based in New York, he is also an editor of Cabinet. “When Experience Becomes Form,” a collaborative series of performance-practices and workshops at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, ran from April to June of this year. Julia Christensen is an artist and writer who teaches integrated media art at Oberlin College. The author of Big Box Reuse (MIT Press, 2008), she recently exhibited new video installation work at Eyebeam in New York and at the Center for Ongoing Research and Projects in Columbus, Ohio. David Brooks is a New York–based artist who has exhibited at the Miami Art Museum; Dallas Contemporary; Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; Galerie für Landschaftskunst, Hamburg; Storm King, Mountainville, New York; and MoMA/ PS1 and SculptureCenter in New York City. His collaborative project with biologists from the Royal Ontario Museum was exhibited at Art Basel Statements in June 2014 and his solo exhibition at the University of Texas at Austin’s Visual Arts Center opens in September 2014. Lori Cole is currently the Charlotte Zysman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and a lecturer in fine arts at Brandeis University. She is writing a book about questionnaires issued by magazines in Europe and the Americas in the 1920s. Jeff Dolven teaches English at Princeton University, where he is director of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM ). Rubén Gallo teaches literature and cultural history at Princeton University. He is the author of Proust’s Latin Americans (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), Freud’s Mexico: Into the Wilds of Psychoanalysis (MIT Press, 2010), and Mexican Modernity: The Avant-Garde and the Technological Revolution (MIT Press, 2005). He is now working on a book on the king of Patagonia. Katherine Hunt teaches English literature at the Queen’s College, Oxford. She is completing a book about change-ringing in the seventeenth-century English imagination and is an editor of Teller magazine. Richard Klein is a Connecticut-based artist, curator, and writer who has had a lifelong interest in geology. He is exhibitions director at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut, where he recently worked with artist Michael Joo on Drift (2014), a multimedia project that is a meditation on Cameron’s Line, an ancient suture fault that runs from New York City to Vermont. Wayne Koestenbaum, a Distinguished Professor of English at the CUNY Graduate Center, has published sixteen books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, including My 1980s & Other Essays (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background (Turtle Point Press, 2012), The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press, 2012), and Humiliation (Picador, 2011). Alexander Nagel is an editor-at-large of Cabinet. Sophie Nys is a Belgian artist based in Zurich since 2012. She recently exhibited at Kunsthalle Vienna and her solo exhibition at CRAC Alsace in Altkirch, France, opens in fall 2014.

Hugh Raffles teaches anthropology at the New School. He is the author of In Amazonia: A Natural History (Princeton University Press, 2002), Insectopedia (Pantheon, 2010), and, with the photographer Tim Edgar, Insect Theatre (Black Dog Publishing, 2012). His new book about stone will be published by Pantheon in 2016. Theodor Ringborg is a writer, curator, and PhD candidate in the Curatorial/Knowledge program at Goldsmiths, University of London. He divides his time between Stockholm and Istanbul. Helene Schmitz is a photographer based in Stockholm and Paris. Her books include Linnaeus and the Dream of Order in Nature (Natur och Kultur, 2007) and Ur regnskogens skugga (Bokförlaget Max Ström, 2013). In February 2015, she will have a retrospective exhibition at Dunkers Kulturhus, Sweden, and publish her fourth book. For more information, see < > . Jude Stewart writes about design and culture for Slate, the Believer, Fast Company, and Print, among others. Her first book, ROY G. BIV: An Exceedingly Surprising Book About Color, was recently published by Bloomsbury. Ryan Thompson is based in Chicago, where he makes art and teaches at Trinity Christian College. Bad Luck, Hot Rocks, his forthcoming book from the Ice Plant, features conscience letters from the Petrified Forest National Park archives and original photographs of returned and confiscated rocks from the park’s “conscience pile.” For more information, see < > . James Trainor is a writer, critic, teacher, and regular contributor to Cabinet. In spring 2014, he co-taught the Institute for Investigative Living with artist Andrea Zittel, an experiential-learning field seminar conducted at various sites in the Mojave Desert and based at A-Z West, Joshua Tree, California. He lives in New York City.

columns 7 Legend / Notes on Glaze

Wayne Koestenbaum Make jam, not art

8 Colors / Crimson

Jude Stewart Bled dry

11 Ingestion / The Endoscopic Imagination

D. Graham Burnett The eye inside

13 Inventory / “Do You Believe in Angels?” and Other Inquiries

Lori Cole Eugene Jolas’s questionnaires for transition magazine

main 21 Campanologomania

Katherine Hunt The mathematics of change ringing

29 Artist Project / Overgrowth

Helene Schmitz

34 Emotional Investment

Rubén Gallo Marcel Proust’s Mexican stocks

45 Artist Project / Burnouts

Julia Christensen

stones 51 Mass Effect

Sasha Archibald In the shadow of Giant Rock 58 Artist Project / Plague Stones

Sophie Nys

62 A Difficult Calculus

Theodor Ringborg The alien pain of bladder stones 64 Anthropomorphic Erratics of Fairfield County, Connecticut

Richard Klein A speculative archaeology

71 From a “Wounderous” Place

James Trainor Reading the rocks of Kaaterskill Falls

81 Style-Eating Granite

Alexander Nagel Mineral entropy

85 Foundations

Hugh Raffles Histories of London Stone 93

Artist Project / An Archive within an Archive within an Archive

David Brooks

100 Surrey’s Black Eye

Jeff Dolven Making chaos with the readiest missiles

AND 64 ½ postcard / rock and roll 80 ½ bookmark / the size of

Ryan Thompson

104 kiosk / Spring 2014




Legend / Notes on Glaze Wayne Koestenbaum “Legend” is a column by Wayne Koestenbaum in which he considers an image provided by the editors of Cabinet.

Why must art change the world? Recently in Paris I encountered the best confiture I’ve ever tasted: it came from Sicilian oranges. Jam won’t change the world. We don’t ask jam to foment revolution. Why must art be higher than jam?


legend – colors untrustworthy word? What is hiding behind the threadbare crushed velvet of that crimson curtain?

COLORS / CRIMSON Jude Stewart “Colors” is a column in which a writer responds to a specific color assigned by the editors of Cabinet.

I. In which the author admits a peculiar anti-crimson bias, momentarily fulminates, then buttons herself up to plumb same Crimson lies, like a tired prostitute. It’s a much-rouged, well-furbelowed, heavily perfumed word. Its usage signals an author reaching for superlatives: throat-catching beauty, heart-stopping gore, great powers clashing in war, the reddening of downy-pale cheeks with embarrassment or sex. But too many authors have lazily pushed the “crimson” button, and the word has gotten tuckered out. Used today, the word crimson should provoke skepticism. Why did the author pick this



Jean-Jacques Hauer, The Death of Marat, 13 July 1793, 1794. Courtesy musĂŠe Lambinet.





Ingestion / The Endoscopic Imagination D. Graham Burnett “Ingestion” is a column that explores its topic within a framework informed by history, aesthetics, and philosophy.

In the course of research into the history of spy cameras, I stumbled recently on the following letter to the editor in the British Journal of Photography, volume 55 (1908): Gentlemen: In these days of great photographic possibilities one is often obliged to take in a great deal connected with what used to be called our “art-science,” but it is not often one is expected to actually swallow a camera and electric light plant at one gulp.1

A doctor at St. Alban’s Naval Hospital in Queens, New York, examining a fluoroscopic image showing the position of a Gastro-Photor inside a patient’s stomach. The swallowable two-inch-long camera was capable of taking images from sixteen directions at once. From Life magazine, 30 May 1949. Photo Bernard Hoffman.



Low-budget “endoscope” courtesy of the US Air Force, with whom the Navy apparently did not share its technology. According to the October 1951 issue of Popular Mechanics, the camera, invented by captain Harry R. White, was “not recommended in scientific practice,” but did make it “possible for a dentist to photograph his own teeth.”

At the threshold. Still from James Williamson’s 1901 film The Big Swallow.


ingestion — Inventory

inventory / “Do You Believe in Angels?” and Other INQUIRIES Lori Cole “Inventory” examines or presents a list, catalogue, or register.

The questionnaire was a ubiquitous genre from the turn of the twentieth century through its peak in the 1920s and 1930s and magazines continue to use the form to this day. Questionnaires—also known as surveys, symposia, or inquiries— consisted of broad, open-ended questions such as “Why do you write?” and “What is the avantgarde?” posed by magazine editors to their contributors, whose responses were then compiled and published in subsequent issues of their journals. Part of the questionnaire’s appeal for editors was its capacity to solicit material from their contributors at little to no cost. Questionnaires were also popular because they provided a formula that contributors and readers alike recognized, one that engaged in, mocked, and usurped technocratic language for the periodicals’ aesthetic platforms while allowing editors and respondents to contest the issues of the day.



The art of solicitation. Letter from transition magazine to Gertrude Stein, 25 August 1928. Courtesy Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.












author Main


Campanologomania Katherine Hunt

In an article in the Spectator in July 1711, the eponymous character Mr. Spectator—as written by Joseph Addison, one of the magazine’s founders—described his exercise routine. When in town, and therefore not able to go out riding, “I exercise myself an Hour every Morning upon a dumb Bell that is placed in a Corner of my Room, and pleases me the more because it does every thing I require of it in the most profound Silence.”1 We know dumbbells now as handy at-home pieces of gym equipment—free weights that have been around, in some form, at least since ancient Greek athletes used halteres to increase the length of their long jumps. But the dumbbell that Mr. Spectator refers to, and from which the heavy gym weights borrow their name, is something different. An illustration of a similar piece of equipment, published in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1746, shows a wooden contraption in which two crossed bars with weights on the ends are mounted on an axle, around which is wound a length of rope. This mechanism would be elevated within a room, or placed in a garret, with the rope hanging down for a person standing below to pull. It mimics the apparatus used for ringing church bells, with the bell itself replaced by two weighted bars— it’s these that resemble the dumbbells of today. Ringing a bell, in private apartments, is here a form of quiet exercise; a church bell—a clanging, public, noisy thing—becomes, in the dumbbell, an object whose silence is its greatest asset. How did something as loud as a bell—something which is experienced so much more often, and more powerfully, by hearing than by sight—become dumb? The answer lies in the extraordinary fate of English church bells in the century before Addison was writing and, in particular, in the invention of change ringing: a technically and intellectually demanding new way of ringing bells based on the principle of constant but controlled change. Change ringing, known from the nineteenth century onward as campanology, is still practiced in England: it makes that pleasing jumble of pealing sound often used in films as an easy aural symbol of a wedding, a noise so ubiquitous that its underlying form is easily missed. In the second half of the seventeenth century, this

Bell-ringing as exercise. By replacing the noisy bell with two weighted bars, the apparatus could provide a silent workout. From The Gentleman’s Magazine, 1746. Courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University.

new kind of ringing was a major craze in England, and the possibilities of its complicated system made people think about bells in a way that detached them from their older, and other, functions. Until the middle of the sixteenth century, English church bells, like other European bells, had a variety of uses: some sacred, some secular, and many that were both. Bells called congregations to church, and told them to flee if there was a fire; they rang to signal a death in the parish, and they rang to help the passage of the souls of the dead through purgatory. Other bells, or other ways of ringing the same bells, commanded people to say a particular prayer. Bells were incredibly well-loved by their parishes and were often baptized and given godparents; their individual tones were voices that spoke to the communities over which they rang. They were among the loudest sounds in the soundscape, making up a language that its parishioners could understand. In the Injunctions issued by the ten-year-old king Edward vi in 1547, these many and varied uses for bells were drastically reduced. Only one bell was now allowed “in convenient time to be rung Overleaf: “The strange operation & mistery of numbers.” Peter’s Mundy’s notation of all possible changes on three, four, five, and six bells in his travel journal “Itinerarium Mundi.” Entry made after Mundy’s visit to London in 1654. Courtesy Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.






K atherine Hunt

or knelled before the sermon.”2 Bells were so useful that a single one was still to be used to call the godly to church, but in this new post-Reformation England, their other uses were no longer officially approved. The dead didn’t need help through purgatory, because it no longer existed; there was no need to command anyone to say popish prayers such as the Ave Maria by ringing the Angelus bell, because these prayers were now deemed useless. But parishioners had such affection for church bells that this particular injunction was never seriously enforced. They went to great lengths to keep their bells, sometimes by burying them until the zealous storm had passed. What all this meant was that, despite the curtailing of their liturgical uses, at the beginning of the seventeenth century a lot of church bells remained hanging in church towers. Ringing them was an activity pursued with great enthusiasm, often by groups of boozy young men. Paul Hentzner, a German lawyer who traveled through England in the final years of the sixteenth century, wrote that the English were “vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear, such as the firing of cannon, drums, and the ringing of bells, so that it is common for a number of them, that have got a glass in their heads, to go up into some belfry, and ring the bells for hours together for the sake of exercise.”3 It was in these long, beer-fuelled ringing sessions that change ringing was invented, as a codification of the disorganized ringing that Hentzner describes. It seems to have started in London and southeast England in the early seventeenth century; it spread, and by the 1660s was a fashionable recreation, with societies springing up all over south, central, and eastern England to further the practice. Bells were still useful as signals, gathering and scattering the communities over which they rang; they still operated as important symbols, too. But change ringing was an innovation that overlaid, and operated in parallel with, these other signals and symbols. Whereas other Protestant countries repurposed their bells to play musical tunes, as in the carillon popular in the Netherlands, change ringing was the English answer to the question of what to do with these leftover Catholic objects. Change ringing operates on a simple but strict system of permutations. All the bells in a church

tower are rung in rounds; each ringer rings a single bell, and the bells are hung such that the ringer is able to control the sound, making the bell strike once and only once per pull. Every bell must be rung once in each round, and the order in which the bells are rung (that is, the order of the round) may never be repeated. Change-ringing notation uses numbers, with each number standing for a bell. If a ring of five bells starts ringing from highest bell to lowest, with 1 representing the highest bell and 5 the lowest, the first orderly round can be written as 12345. The following round might be 21345, then 23145, and so on; each new round is known as a change. The aim, in theory at least, is to exhaust all the possible orders in which the bells can be rung, without ever repeating a round; different ways of exhausting all the possible orders are known as “methods.” Strict rules govern which bells can swap places with which, and ringers developed a terminology—words all full of motion: bobs and dodges, hunts and “extream” changes—to describe the various ordered swaps the bells need to make so that they successfully exhaust the circuit and return to the original round, 12345. The number of the possible orders is given by the factorial, a calculation now expressed in mathematical notation by an exclamation mark. For five bells, the possible number of orders is 5!, or (5 × 4 × 3 × 2 × 1) = 120. The factorial increases at a dramatic rate, and really merits its hysterical punctuation when it reaches 12!, or the number of orders possible on twelve bells: 479,001,600. The size of the numbers generated by the factorial fascinated early writers on change ringing. Richard Duckworth, author of Tintinnalogia (1668), the first book on the practice, wrote about how quickly it had developed, given that “within these Fifty or Sixty years last past, Changes were not known, or thought possible to be Rang.” Now though, he continues, “neither Fortyeight, nor a Hundred, nor Seven-hundred and twenty, nor any Number can confine us; for we can Ring Changes, Ad infinitum.”4 Duckworth, whose book explained the structure of change ringing and gave newly devised methods for it, was amazed at how numbers could be made to spread and increase in such a way—but also at how change ringing could corral and comprehend such numerical copiousness. The Cornish merchant and traveler Peter Mundy, writing in his diary in the middle of the century,



also wondered at what he called “the strange operation & mistery of numbers” in the system of change ringing, in which so few units could, when permutated, “amount unto such a prodigious summ.”5 Mundy’s journal, which he called, surely knowingly, the “Itinerarium Mundi,” is principally taken up with tales and (endearingly bad) drawings of his travels in Europe, central and east Asia, and India. He wrote about the customs, buildings, and the natural environment he traveled through, including women’s fashions in Bremen, the Indian practice of suttee, and the gruesome punishments given to prisoners in Turkey, Danzig, and Sumatra; he was in Agra when the Taj Mahal was under construction; and he might very well have contributed to the extinction of the dodo, by eating one. But upon his return to England after several decades, during a visit to London in 1654, Mundy was taken with the new and curious practice of change ringing and wrote about that, too. “The sweet Ringing of our tuneable bells, especially in changes, which [in] my opinion deserves notice,” he writes, “first, for the Art therein to bee observed, (2) their melody, and (3) the singularity of it. Not the like, nor nothing Near, to bee heard in the whole World beeside.”6 For Mundy, the “singularity” of the practice came mainly from the numerical profusion that its system produced. On a fold-out piece of paper double the size of his already-large journal, he wrote out all changes possible on three, four and five bells, up to the 720 changes on six bells: the numbers 1– 6 written out, painstakingly and compulsively, over and over again until all their permutations had been exhausted. Change ringing was based on the factorial—an exhilarating, if blunt, form of multiplication—so it did have a basis in mathematical calculation. Indeed, the operations of change ringing permutations can be explained by the branch of algebra known as group theory, which was only codified in the nineteenth century. But for all those copious rows of digits that Mundy wrote out, the numbers of changeringing notation don’t really need to be numbers. They don’t combine in any arithmetical way and are only used because each digit is unique, but equal; 5 is worth no more and no less than 1. These are numbers that might just as well be shapes, or fruit, or—perhaps—letters. The form of change ringing

is, after all, a series of anagrams; the obsessive permutation of the row can be explained by George Puttenham’s description of an anagram, in his influential poetry manual The Arte of English Poesie (1589), that is “to breed one word out of another not altering any letter nor the number of them, but onely transposing of the same.”7 Peter Mundy capitalized on the breeding, generative power of the anagram and turned to letters and to language in order to comprehend the massive numbers immanent in change ringing’s permutations. Mundy seems to have realized that not only are there twenty-four ways of permutating the order of four bells (that is, 4! = 4 × 3 × 2 × 1 = 24) but also that there are, potentially, 24! ways of ordering these twenty-four rows—24! ways of permutating the permutations, if you like. If the factorial of numbers up to six could fill that huge page with his handwritten digits, how much paper might 24! take up? Mundy saw an immediate connection between these unwieldy numbers and the letters of the alphabet. The early modern English alphabet didn’t distinguish between i and j, or u and v, so it had twenty-four letters: a perfect fit. He wrote out all twenty-four permutations possible on four bells, and assigned each permutation (1234, for example, or 2134) to a different letter. Mundy imagined these permutations of twenty-four letters printed in a series of books. He postulated that each book would contain five hundred leaves, so a thousand pages, and each page would contain two columns with twenty-four changes in each. He estimated the dimensions of each book and then calculated the “superficies” (surface area) of the earth. When laid down, the books would cover, he concluded, an area 754 times greater than that of the surface of the “earth and seas”: the said number of books wold not be conteyned in 754 such worlds as these if they were laid one by one, butt if so bee they were to be heaped all uppon one world close packed then would the heap bee 188 ½ foote round about or 754000 bookes one uppon another over the whole world imagine’d to be dry land.8 In Mundy’s calculations, the books, covering “754 such worlds,” would smother land and sea with


K atherine Hunt

pages and pages of meaningless words. In fact, Mundy’s calculations were off: he made a mistake in his multiplication of 23!, so his final total is wrong, but the application of his numbers is more important than their accuracy. He framed his calculation in terms of a vastness he could begin to comprehend: the book in which these notes are written also contain his diary entries written while he himself was covering the surface of the globe. In the prefatory essay to his Campanalogia (1677), the second book to be published on change ringing and which, like Tintinnalogia, functioned as a manual for the practice, Fabian Stedman also imagines the permutated bells as letters and thinks about the possibilities they might suggest for language. “If we consider the multitude of different words, wherewith we express ourselves in Speech,” he writes, “it may be thought almost impossible that such numbers should arise out of twenty four Letters; yet this Art of variation will produce much more incredible effects.”9 Change ringing opened up Stedman’s imagination to the “art of Variation” generated by the operation of the factorial. Like Mundy, Stedman displays wonder at the vast numbers produced by the combination of things into larger and more varied objects, but his experiment, though similar, was even more complicated than his predecessor’s. Stedman also uses twenty-four bells as a starting-point to extrapolate into language and uses not just permutation but combination, too: the order of the letters are still permutated, but they do not all have to be present every time. Whereas Mundy imagined the resulting numbers (or words) printed out, Stedman wonders how long it would take people to say each word out loud, guessing that the infinite numbers of them [words] would not permit a Million of men to effect it in some thousand of years: it would be evident, that there is no word or syllable in any language or speech in the world, which can be exprest with the character of our Alphabet, but might be found literatim and entire therein, and more by many thousands of Millions than can be pronounced, or that ever were made use of in any language.10 Stedman’s is a truly optimistic linguistic experiment. He claims (albeit Eurocentrically) that his combinations include every word and syllable “in

any language or speech in the world”—and he has also managed to catch words that are not words, or not yet words: currently meaningless collections of letters that represent not gibberish, but potential. In Stedman’s calculations, bells speak: not the signaling language of their old uses, but a language of permutated units with dizzyingly vast numbers of possibilities. Both Stedman and Mundy start with the very real ringing of very loud bells, but each quickly accelerates into the imaginary and unringable, performing a drastic abstraction of the bells and their sounds. The number of bells that Stedman and Mundy discuss is unrealistic: because of the mechanisms needed to hang bells for change ringing, there would never be twenty-four bells in a church tower (even today the maximum is almost always twelve, and eight was the most that one was likely to find in the seventeenth century). And although the goal of change ringing’s system was to exhaust all possible changes, the physical constraints and demands on the ringers were such that it was not really possible to ring the complete circuit on any more than seven bells—the possible combinations presented by eight bells (40,320 changes) would, using Stedman’s estimate that ringers could ring 2.4 bells per second, have taken over thirty-seven hours to fully work through. But the excessive notation imagined by these theorists of change ringing was never really part of the practice. While change ringers must understand the shape of the particular method they are ringing, they do not follow written notation for each and every change. Nor do they memorize the individual changes. Rather, the practice relies on the ringers internalizing the patterns of the method, perhaps by looking at notation that shorthands the whole method, showing only the key moments at which the permutations change course in order to exhaust all the possible orders. Ringers know principally by doing: they anticipate when two bells will have to swap places in the following round, and they feel their way as a group through the ringing of all the orders of the rows. Change ringing’s linguistic potential may have been exploited by Stedman and Mundy, but in the bell-tower it is a sweaty, communal, and profoundly corporeal activity. Ringers have to work as one body: all performing the same action, like rowers in a boat, but—unlike



rowers—not at the same time, with each ringer ringing their individual bell as a part of the whole. That enthusiastic glass-headed ringing that Paul Hentzner described became by 1700 a highly regulated, communal recreation—and as the complexities of change ringing increased, with more bells being rung, and greater sophistication in the patterning of the different methods, the practice became more widespread as well. During the Restoration, and to the end of the seventeenth century, many new societies sprung up to practice and to further change ringing. Some, like the London Western Green Caps, drew their members from apprentices and other young workingmen; others, such as the Esquire Youths, had members of the nobility and gentry among their number, as the society’s name suggests. Bell-ringing was no longer something done by just the loutish lower class: its intriguing system had made it popular as an organized leisure activity among all sorts of people. The strict rules of change ringing’s system were reflected in the written orders to which ringing societies demanded their members agree: the Esquire Youths, for instance, had to swear to rules in two categories: “order in our Arte and exercise or manner in our behaviour & deportm[en]t.”11 Rules governed the permutations, and they governed behavior; change ringing was an activity bound by orders of all kinds. What happened, amid all these rules, to the sound the bells actually made? The urge for order certainly didn’t preclude musicality: Mundy, after all, praised the “melody” of change ringing, as well as its “Art.” It was important that the bells be in tune with one another; ringers must “understand the Tuning of Bells,” cautioned Richard Duckworth, “for what is a Musitian, unless he can Tune his Instrument, although he plays never so well?”12 Nevertheless, musical considerations do not seem to have been very important in the drive for permutational exhaustion. The music historian Charles Burney wrote about change ringing in 1789, and particularly about the description of the practice he found in Tintinnalogia. While Burney praised the way in which Duckworth’s book gave “every possible change in the arrangement of Diatonic sounds, from 2 to 12” and “the wonderful variety which the changes in bells afford to melody,” it was precisely the profusion of such changes—the thoroughness of its anagrams, which Stedman and Mundy found

Plaque recording the first successful ringing of an entire peal of 5,040 changes at the Church of St. Peter Mancroft, Norwich, England, 2 May 1715. Photo Neil Thomas.

so seductive—that rendered the practice ultimately unmusical. “It must not,” Burney continues, “be imagined that all the changes … would be equally agreeable, or even practicable. … [I]t is extraordinary, that melody has not been consulted in the choice of changes: there seems a mechanical order and succession in them all, without the least idea of selecting such as are most melodious and agreeable.”13 For Burney, change ringing fails as music because there is no selection, no “choice of changes”: but it was precisely that all changes are present and neatly worked through that was, for Stedman and Mundy, the beauty of the system. To perceive and understand the totalizing system of this “mechanical order and succession,” listeners of change ringing have to make their ears work hard. The antiquarian Thomas Hearne, Assistant Keeper of the Bodleian Library in the early eighteenth century, was an expert on the practice; he wrote in his diary about how he would walk around Oxford, listening to the ringers ring. His understanding of change ringing was so precise that he could hear when the ringers made a mistake—that


K atherine Hunt

is, when they got the pattern wrong and rung a row out of sequence, or repeated a row that they had already rung. This required an intense kind of listening: on one occasion he admitted, “I do not know that I ever gave greater attention to anything in my life.”14 This is mathematical listening: a sort of deep aural counting in which those rows of numbers are somehow heard, and understood. This consideration that change ringing demands of its listeners suggests it to be an ancestor of a much later kind of music: the twelve-tone compositions of Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and later adherents of serialism. Twelve-tone music is, like change ringing, all anagram: all twelve notes of the chromatic scale must be played, and the order in which they are played must be varied every time according to strict rules. Theodor Adorno, a fan of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone music, wrote that “all that can actually be heard [in these compositions] is that the constraint of the system prevails.”15 There is no evidence that Schoenberg or Adorno knew about change ringing, but Adorno’s remark, which seems to answer both Burney and Hearne, might well be applied to its tumbling sound. Although few people listened as carefully as did Thomas Hearne, the sheer quantity, and the resulting length, of change ringing’s profuse permutations began to gather crowds. In the eighteenth century, large audiences would stand and listen to bell-ringers’ feats of endurance as they competed—for four hours, or more—for trophies of gloves or shirts, or just for the glory. The term peal began to apply to a set of at least 5,040 changes; plaques were put up in ringing 1 Joseph Addison, The Spectator, no.115, 12 July 1711. 2 Paul L. Hughes and James F. Larkin, eds., Tudor Royal Proclamations, vol. 1: The Early Tudors (1485–1553) (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), p. 399. 3 Paul Hentzner, Travels in England, during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, trans. Horace Walpole (London: Edward Jeffery, 1797), p. 64. 4 [Richard Duckworth], Tintinnalogia (London: Printed by W. G. [William Godbid] for Fabian Stedman, 1668), p. 2. There is no author given for this work, but it is now understood to have been

written by Duckworth; it was published by Fabian Stedman, author of the later Campanalogia, who may also have been involved in compiling its contents. 5 Peter Mundy, “Itinerarium Mundi,” entry after 1654, manuscript, Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS A315, f.216v. The journal was unpublished in Mundy’s lifetime, although in the early twentieth century, the Hakluyt Society based in Cambridge, England, published a multi-volume edition of the journal under the title The Travels of Peter Mundy, in Europe and Asia, 1608–1667. 6 Ibid., f.215v. 7 George Puttenham, The Arte

chambers to commemorate feats of ringing that achieved these giant numbers. And the profile of the practice shifted: over the course of the eighteenth century, ringing became, once more, largely the preserve of men from the “lower orders,” with far fewer members of the gentry taking part. Addison’s dumbbell, competitive ringing, Burney’s contempt: by the middle of the eighteenth century, change ringing had changed. The kind of exhaustion that bells offered was not just abstract and permutational but also physical and, though still immensely popular, change ringing was no longer the intellectual curiosity it had been to Mundy and Stedman. The authors of a successor to Stedman’s book, published in 1702, confided that “it will be very improper, and not in the least to our purpose to stuff this Treatise full of unnecessary and useless Examples of the Variation of Numbers.”16 But it was just that kind of example that had caught the interest of the early writers on change ringing, and their enthusiasm for the conquering of numbers had in turn driven the development of the practice. Change ringing emptied church bells of their individual sonic characteristics and read them as numbers or as words; it abstracted them so far from the aural and material that they could be transformed into silenced pieces of exercise equipment for Mr. Spectator to huff away with in the quiet and solitude of his London rooms.

of English Poesie (London: n.p., 1589), p. 82. 8 Peter Mundy, “Itinerarium Mundi,” f.216v. 9 Fabian Stedman, Campanalogia (London: Printed by W. Godbid for W.S., 1677), p. 13. Note that Stedman spelled the word with an a before the l, rather than an o as is conventional today. 10 Ibid., p. 16. 11 “Rule Book of the Esquire Youths,” 1662, manuscript, British Library, Additional MS 28504, f.24v. 12 [Richard Duckworth], Tintinnalogia, p. 3. 13 Charles Burney, A General History of Music, from

the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London: printed for the author, 1789), vol. 3, p. 413. 14 Thomas Hearne, Remarks and Collections of Thomas Hearne, ed. H. E. Salter, vol. 9 (Oxford: Printed for the Oxford Historical Society at the Clarendon Press, 1914), p. 328. 15 Theodor Adorno, Philosophy of New Music, trans. Robert HullotKentor (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), p. 92. 16 J. D. [John Doleman] and C.M., Campanalogia Improved, or, the Art of Ringing Made Easie (London: printed for George Sawbridge, 1702), p. 14.


Artist Project / Overgrowth Helene Schmitz Kudzu is a highly aggressive vine that has invaded large areas of the American South. Originating in East Asia, the plant was first introduced into the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia as part of a botanical exhibition at the Japanese pavilion. Visitors admired kudzuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s large, beautiful leaves and rapid growth (during the summer, as much as a foot in twenty-four hours) and before long, Americans started to grow the vine in their gardens.



Marcel Proust learned most of what he knew about Latin American history and politics from a most unusual source: the stock market.1 After the death of his parents—Madame Proust died in 1905, two years after Dr. Adrien Proust—Marcel inherited a considerable fortune that was invested in bluechip stocks and bonds and was managed by Léon Neuburger, a family friend who worked for the Rothschild Bank. When the novelist began purchasing exotic financial products, Neuburger asked his nephew Lionel Hauser, who was close to Proust and almost the same age, to take charge of his friend’s portfolio.



Mexico Tramways Company stock certificate, 1933. Thirteen years after the end of the Mexican Revolution, the company’s stock price had recovered, but Proust did not live to reap the benefits. Courtesy Rubén Gallo.


RubĂŠn Gallo

Above: The lines that Proust helped build. From Mexico Tramways promotional materials, ca. 1910.



Above: Tramways circulating by the Central Post Office, Mexico City. From Mexico Tramways promotional materials, ca. 1910.


Rubén Gallo




Rubén Gallo



Opening ceremony for Mexico Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first electric tramway, ca. 1900.


Rubén Gallo




artist project / BURNOUTS Julia Christensen

A constellation is a sector of the night sky, much like a zip code, used by astronomers and stargazers to indicate the location of any particular celestial body. Within these constellations are asterisms, the technical name for the familiar representational images, such as Hercules or Virgo, that have long served as identifying landmarks in the night sky. (Since the early twentieth century, scientists have been careful to distinguish between the two words, but â&#x20AC;&#x153;constellationâ&#x20AC;? continues to be the lay term used to designate an asterism.) In 1930, after a lengthy process, the International Astronomical Union (iau) defined the official boundaries of constellations, in the process splitting certain ancient asterisms across multiple constellations. But often a given asterism lies within a single constellation bearing its nameâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;when a stargazer finds the asterism Orion, for instance, then they are viewing the region of the sky known as Orion.


author stones


Mass Effect Sasha Archibald

Two hours east of Los Angeles, three hours west of Las Vegas, and many miles from the nearest traffic light or roadside diner lies a single boulder in the Mojave Desert claimed to be the largest rock in the world—at least until 2000, when a large chunk broke off, neatly and without provocation. Now split in two, it is still called Giant Rock. Graffiti blackens the lower surface and atvs roar nearby. There is an occasional tourist. For two eccentric Californians, Frank Critzer and George Van Tassel, the immense girth of Giant Rock was not simple geological happenstance but a sign portending mystical significance. In the hands of these two men, Giant Rock became the locus of a strange episode in the twentieth-century history of the American West. Like all Western heroes, Critzer and Van Tassel felt themselves poised between worlds, and at the threshold of civilization. Both felt vitalized and validated by the rock, and both saw it as a natural hub, laboring for decades to make it a gathering place. Absolutely inert and yet fecund, Giant Rock was less a rock than a destiny.

There is little trace of this history at the rock itself, except for a dusty slab of concrete. The concrete conceals a cavern, built by Critzer as a home, and later used by Van Tassel for telecommunication sessions with aliens. No one knows how Critzer stumbled on Giant Rock in the 1930s, or why he decided to move there, but he was obviously clever and resourceful. Critzer saw that the rock’s immense shadow offered succor from the heat and, following the lead of desert tortoises that dig holes in the sand in which to cool themselves, he used dynamite to blast out an abode beneath its north face. Engineering a rainwater-collection system and a narrow tunnel for ventilation, the home he excavated was never warmer than eighty degrees Fahrenheit and never cooler than fifty-five. Perfectly suited to its site, Critzer’s abode refuted the paradigmatic inhospitality of the desert. Above: A meeting place for flying objects, identified and unidentified. Undated postcard of Giant Rock during the Van Tassel family’s occupancy of the site. The café sign features an image of a UFO.


Sasha archibald

The area surrounding Giant Rock at the time was untrammeled, uninhabited government land, marked on maps as “unsurveyed.”1 Critzer was a squatter, and his closest neighbor, Charles Reche, a long five miles away.2 No more than half a dozen men had seen Giant Rock in the last two decades, Reche told Critzer, and Critzer, motivated by entrepreneurial ambition, loneliness, or the pioneer’s sense of duty to domesticate the landscape, took that as a challenge. Giant Rock sits beside an ancient lakebed, flat and firm, which Critzer transformed into an airplane runway, dragging a leveler behind his 1917 automobile. Tacking up a windsock and whitewashing a nearby boulder—Giant Rock is only the largest of many towering rocks in the vicinity—Critzer opened Giant Rock Airport for business. Then he turned to the terrain, using his car to clear thirty-three miles of road that eventually connected Giant Rock to two mines, Reche’s home, and, finally, the nearest paved street. A 1937 article about Critzer in the Los Angeles Times admiringly described these homemade roads as “the straightest desert road that anybody ever saw,” reckoning that Critzer held the world record for one-man road building.3 By 1941, Critzer’s Giant Rock Airport averaged a plane a day, flown mainly by amateur pilots who also kept Critzer supplied with food and company. As legend goes, his visitors ate German pancakes at his kitchen table, their legs propped up on spare boxes of dynamite. Critzer hoped to spur investment in the area, and fantasized about opening a winter resort. His plans came to naught. On 25 July 1942, during a police visit gone awry, Critzer’s stash of dynamite exploded and he was killed. His exit from Giant Rock is as shrouded in mystery as his entrance; according to various accounts, the three officers were inquiring about missing dynamite, or gasoline theft, or the antennae Critzer used to attract a radio signal. Some speculated that the combination of a German name and isolated airfield during World War ii justified a visit. Perhaps the explosion was an accident, or perhaps it happened exactly as the officers claimed, with Critzer shrieking, “You’re not taking me out of here alive! I’m going, but another way, and you’re going with me!” before he blew himself up.4 One man was particularly intrigued by these events, and made his way out to Giant Rock from

Los Angeles as soon as he could.5 Thirty-two-yearold George Van Tassel noted that when he arrived, Critzer’s cavern was stripped of belongings and the car gone. The only trace of Giant Rock’s tenant was a bit of blood splattered on the walls of his cave. The United States still had several laws in place that rewarded intrepid settlers with free land, such that Critzer’s industriousness at Giant Rock almost certainly would have guaranteed him legal ownership. At his death, however, the land reverted back to the government’s newly created Bureau of Land Management (blm). Van Tassel was not deterred, and began brewing a plan to relocate. Five years later, in 1947, he managed to lease the property from the blm and left Los Angeles for good, bringing along his wife, Eva, and their three young daughters. Despite Critzer’s efforts, the area remained an improbable place to raise a family. The Mojave appears in newspaper reports of the 1940s and 1950s as a place where garbage was dumped, bodies were found, airplanes crashed, and foolish tourists died of thirst and exhaustion. Nonetheless, Van Tassel reopened Critzer’s airfield, which he renamed the Giant Rock Interplanetary Airport, and added a few structures to the landscape, including a cinderblock restaurant, the Come On Inn, where Eva served hamburgers and pie. The family slept outside in the open air. There is little record of Van Tassel’s life other than his own words. He dropped out of high school in Ohio and emigrated to southern California, joining the World War ii -era aeronautics industry at a time of unparalleled growth and expansion. Though he later glorified his career, describing himself as a flight test engineer, test pilot, or even personal pilot to Howard Hughes, he told the 1940 census-takers he was a tradesman, a tool and die maker. At the time, he was working for the Douglas Aircraft Company in Santa Monica and living in a modest home with his wife and children, as well as his mother-in-law and his wife’s three younger siblings. He moved from Douglas to Hughes Aircraft, and then to Lockheed, leaving the factories for good in 1947, a year of massive layoffs as aeronautics production recalibrated to peacetime. The vacancy of Giant Rock must have presented itself as a golden opportunity. Opposite: Giant Rock today. Photo Sasha Archibald.




Sasha archibald

Relieved of his nine-to-five job and invigorated by the desert environs, Van Tassel began a flurry of activity—writing, meditating, publishing, and building. He founded a religious non-profit, the Ministry of Universal Wisdom, and an associated college, and began mass mailing its official organ, the Proceedings of the College of Universal Wisdom. In a few short years, Van Tassel emerged as a central figure in atomic-era ufology. His first book, I Rode a Flying Saucer (1952), was a diary of alien messages “radioned” by otherworldly intelligences to Van Tassel’s telepathic mind; shortly after, he met aliens in the flesh, whom he described as “white people with a good healthy tan,” all measuring exactly five feet six inches.6 The leader, Solganda, spoke excellent English “equivalent to [actor] Ronald Colman,” and through thought transference conveyed to Van Tassel directions for building a time machine, the Integratron.7 The Integratron was to become Van Tassel’s lasting monument. Like an automatic car wash, the Integratron was an amalgam of architecture and machine. Its purpose was not to transport a fixed body to a different time, as time machines typically do, but to eliminate time’s effect on a body; the machine produced time, rather than suck it away. An architect drafted plans for the building’s distinctive dome-shaped design— two stories high, supported by arched fir beams brought in from Washington state, constructed without any metal, and painted a brilliant white—and Van Tassel broke ground in 1954, on a plot of land three miles south of Giant Rock. Construction proceeded in piecemeal fashion for twenty-four years, up until Van Tassel’s death in 1978. Van Tassel never pronounced his time machine complete, perhaps because he couldn’t achieve the promised effect, or perhaps because funds solicited to complete the Integratron constituted a crucial source of income. It still stands, carefully maintained and fantastically incongruous with the contorted Joshua trees and endless-shades-of-beige shrubbery. Devotees claim that Van Tassel’s plans for completing the design were stolen, but he may have had no plans. He alternately described the device as very complicated and very simple, and was always inscrutable when pressed about mechanical details. During one television interview, he boasted vaguely that the Integratron was built following

Top: Van Tassel’s boulder, crowned with a car hoisted using a windlass and cable, was featured as a “Picture of the Week” in the 15 October 1951 issue of Life. Photo Larry Frank.


Mass Effect

This page and opposite bottom: 1957 Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention at Giant Rock. The fifth gathering of this annual meeting was photographed by Ralph Crane for Life’s 27 May 1957 issue. The image above depicts the cavern blasted out of the rock by Critzer.

the directives of a seventeen-page equation given to him by aliens and tested by specialists in Chicago; elsewhere he said the formula was very simple and made known to him by alien thought transference: f=1/t where (f) is frequency and (t) is time. In truth, the Integratron was an elaboration of the research of George Lakhovsky, an iconoclastic Russian scientist whose writings circulated among anti-establishment types in southern California. Lakhovsky understood bodies not as factories or battlefields, but as electrical conductors, an analogy that reached back to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century studies in bioelectricity.8 Individual cells, Lakhovsky argued in his 1925 book, The Secret of Life: Cosmic Rays and Radiations of Living Beings, are designed to receive and transmit electric impulses, with each of the microscopic components of a cell analogous to a component in an electrical battery. Electromagnetic energy causes cells to infinitesimally move back and forth, and the rate of these movements directly corresponds to the health of the living creature. When cells do not receive enough, or the wrong sort of, electromagnetic stimulation, their vibrations slow; a man dies when his cells cease to oscillate. Lakhovsky believed that the rate of cellular oscillation could be increased through the body’s proximity to metal conductors. Donning a metal bracelet or attaching metal plates to the soles of shoes would create an uptick in cellular vibration and thus improve health. (In Lakhovsky’s limited experiments, a young woman suffering excessive flatulence was cured by wearing a heavy metal belt, and a “cancerous” geranium began to thrive when a coiled wire was attached to its stem.)9 Lakhovsky’s theories in fact culminated in a device designed to cure cancer, the Multiple Wave Oscillator. This machine existed in several iterations but the main components were two large copper coils of wire buzzing with high-frequency voltage. (Later, Lakhovsky came to believe the coils alone were sufficient, and far more convenient.) The patient sat between these coils for healing sessions of varying duration. The copper coils intensified some cosmic rays and filtered out others, creating a restorative electromagnetic charge that was received by the body’s two coil-shaped receptors—the wavy mitochondria inside each cell and the inner cochlea of the ear—and directly conveyed to individual cells.


Sasha archibald

Van Tassel made a few inspired changes to Lakhovsky’s invention. He increased the size of the coil so that it was as large as the building itself, lining the entire width of the Integratron with thin copper wire that spirals out from the building’s inner core.10 The building’s current owners, three sisters who use the space for “sound baths”—sonorous performances of tonal reverberations made by sweeping the rims of quartz bowls with rubber mallets—suggest that the healing area of the Integratron is at the center of this copper spiral, within the building’s circular core. Van Tassel had originally planned otherwise; subjects would be transformed, he wrote, as they walked the interior perimeter of the structure, entering one door and exiting another, in a precise 270 -degree arc. In any case, whereas Lakhovsky sought to cure cancer by placing his subjects between two spirals, Van Tassel hoped to restore youth by immersing his subject within a spiral. The other difference, of course, is that while Lakhovsky’s device was transportable, Van Tassel’s was not. Had

the Integratron worked as promised, it would have been a healing experience bound up in landscape and pilgrimage. Indeed, even today, it is impossible to disentangle the various effects of the copper spirals, the domed sanctuary, and the desert calm. As he was building the Integratron, Van Tassel continued to host an annual ufo convention, an event he first convened in 1953. Critzer’s roads were put to good use as ufologists followed Van Tassel’s hand-drawn map, camping out nearby, exchanging grainy photographs, and beseeching the skies for a mass visitation. There were speeches from a podium almost as tall as Giant Rock and performances by airplane stuntmen; in 1960, Van Tassel went so far as to use the convention to launch his presidential campaign. Attendance was reported at anywhere between three hundred and twelve thousand, depending on the year and source, but it remained a newsworthy event for well over a decade until, in Above: The Integratron today. Photo Sasha Archibald.


Mass Effect

1970, the Los Angeles Times hinted the Van Tassel might cancel for lack of interest. “People see so many flying saucers, they’re just not a novelty any more,” he lamented.11 Van Tassel continued writing, however, eventually publishing four books.12 His later texts are especially scattered and repetitive, and sometimes degenerate into nonsensical wordplay. Sundry bits of Mesmerism, Mormonism, Scientology, and the writings of Nikola Tesla are patched together with Van Tassel’s tendency to megalomania and enthusiasm for fringe science. He endorses studies proving that a person can tune into the frequency of another by touching a drop of their blood; a head of cabbage mourns the death of another head of cabbage; clothes can be cleaned with sound; breathing patterns will make a man levitate; razors set beneath an inverted pyramid-shape will never dull; and by encircling the city with seven pyramids, Los Angeles could eliminate smog. Sprinkled amid such claims are his biblical interpretations. As a Christian ufologist, Van Tassel understood the Bible as a literal history of interplanetary visitations. Angel, he clarified, is just another word for alien, and the Ark of the Covenant is correctly spelled the Arc of the Covenant.13

At dusk at Giant Rock, Van Tassel’s fanaticisms seem benign. To the urban traveler, the desert landscape feels so still and empty that to entertain an improbable something is a sympathetic alternative to accepting an apparent nothing. Van Tassel and Critzer understood the desert void to be a deception; emptiness was only a disguise for an invisible force field, a potent thrum of archaic energy. Van Tassel liked to muse on the fact that his first name, George, contained not one but two combinations of the letters ge, which he understood to be an acronym for Generate Electricity, while Critzer, not to be outdone by his successor, is remembered for boasting that his body was so full of energy he could recharge batteries by sleeping with them under his pillow. In the midst of a blistering nothing, Giant Rock was the totemic conductor of a great something.

1 Lynn J. Rogers, “Pioneer Establishes Unique Desert Home,” The Los Angeles Times, 9 May 1937. 2 Reche was the owner of an original Mojave homestead dating from the previous century, and also a local hero; he was a former police sheriff permanently injured during the famous 1909 manhunt for Willie Boy, a Chemehuevi Indian who kidnapped a girl to whom he was engaged, killed her father, and escaped to the backcountry. Led by a bloodthirsty posse, the manhunt lasted nearly three weeks and ended in the girl’s murder and Willie Boy’s suicide. 3 Lynn J. Rogers, “Pioneer Establishes Unique Desert Home.” 4 “Dynamite Suicide Climaxes Desert Search,” The Los Angeles Times, 26 July 1942. 5 Van Tassel claimed he knew Critzer from a chance meeting years previous when Critzer had stopped by an auto repair garage in Santa Monica owned by Van Tassel’s uncle. According to Van

8 Van Tassel likely encountered Lakhovsky’s work not through primary texts but through excerpts published by the Borderland Researchers Foundation. The Foundation also published directions for a DIY Multiple Wave Oscillator (MWO), no bigger than a briefcase and under fourteen pounds: “The deluxe MWO diagrammed here can be built by any intelligent 16-year-old with readily available electronic parts for under $35.” The instructions resulted in at least one FDA sting. See Bob Beck, “The Russian Lakhovsky Rejuventation Machine,” Journal of Borderland Research (November 1963), reprinted in Thomas Brown, ed., The Lakhovsky Multiple Wave Oscillator Handbook (Garberville, CA: Borderland Sciences Research Foundation, 1988), p. 1. 9 Lakhovsky reported that plants will grow “tumors similar to those of cancer in animals” when they are inoculated with Bacterium tumefaciens. See Lakhovsky, “Curing Cancerous Plants with Ultra Radio Frequencies,” Radio

Tassel’s story, Critzer was down on his luck and needed a car repair; they fixed the car for free, let Critzer crash on the garage floor, and sent him off the next day with $30 and a backseat of groceries. Critzer subsequently mailed Van Tassel a map of his whereabouts and Van Tassel made the first of many visits to Giant Rock. The story may be mostly true, but has some inconsistencies. Van Tassel described the automobile as a 1917 four-cylinder Essex, for instance, a model that didn’t exist, and the gift of $30—$400 in today’s currency— seems an extraordinarily generous amount for a young boy and auto mechanic during the Great Depression. 6 “The Extraordinary Equation of George Van Tassel,” television interview by Jack Webster for Webster Reports, aired on KVOS, 18 June 1964. Available at < watch?v = wZbFsFWk__c>. 7 “The Extraordinary Equation of George Van Tassel.”

News (February 1925), reprinted in Thomas Brown, ed., The Lakhovsky Multiple Wave Oscillator Handbook, pp. 34–37. 10 Aluminum foil was to have lined the interior of the Integratron’s high, rounded ceiling and intensified the electromagnetic rays. 11 Charles Hillinger, “Flying Saucer Business Not What It Was,” The Los Angeles Times, 29 March 1970. 12 He also claimed to have given exactly 297 lectures and appeared on 409 radio and TV shows, numbers that cannot be substantiated. 13 Van Tassel’s interpretation of Genesis is particularly disconcerting: Eve was not a woman but a wild animal, and the original sin to which Christian doctrine refers was bestiality. Through Eve’s debased genetic line descend all the horrors of the modern world: materialism, corruption, nuclear bombs, and even taxes.


artist project / plague stones Sophie Nys

In plague-stricken seventeenth-century England, the need to quarantine sufferers of the disease produced a number of unusual social conventions. Among these was the establishment of so-called plague stones, which served as meeting places for, and boundaries between, the healthy and the sick within an affected community. In addition to serving as a site for exchanging messages, the stones also functioned as a point of commerce where goods were left for the ill, who in turn paid for them by placing coins in a hollow carved into the top of the stone and filled with disinfecting vinegar.

Rylstone, North Yorkshire

Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk

Low Bentham, North Yorkshire

Brookhouse, Lancashire

Clifton, North Yorkshire

Altofts, West Yorkshire

Eyam, Derbyshire

Kirkstall, West Yorkshire

Leeds, West Yorkshire

Penrith, Cumbria

Ackworth, West Yorkshire

Semley, Wiltshire


A Difficult Calculus Theodor Ringborg

A bladder stone develops from an infinitesimal mineral mass of concentrated urine that gradually accretes layer upon layer to sculpt what is called a calculus (Latin for pebble, whose use in abacuses gives us the English word calculate.) It is the intense pain they inflict, however, that has magnified them into stonesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;we find it hard to imagine that something precipitating so much anguish could be so small. The body forms other types of stones, too, all of which are equally painful if left untreated. Though these other stones are today more common, it is those that form in the bladder that used to be most prevalent, enough to warrant mention in the Hippocratic oath. Used in some variants still, the passage from the first English translation reads: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.â&#x20AC;?1


A Difficult Calculus

Above: Jan de Dootâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bladder stone and the implement with which he, ouch, removed it. From Nicolaes Tulp, Observationes medicae (1672). Courtesy Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.


Anthropomorphic Erratics of Fairfield County, Connecticut Richard Klein

There is another class of objects which commanded the attention, and to all appearances, the veneration and perhaps worship of these ancient peoples. A stone which from some natural cause assumed the shape of a man or an animal was held in special esteem. ... Such objects were regarded as fit dwelling places for some manitou or spiritual influence. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Charles C. Jones, Antiquities of the Southern Indians, Particularly of the Georgia Tribes (1873)1 Scattered along a narrow, northâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;south trending band in southwestern Connecticut are numerous naturally formed rocks that are notable for the singularity of both their form and material. Dragged out of the woods and fields by eighteenth- and nineteenth-century farmers during the heyday of New England agriculture, the stones are frequently perched in prominent locations along the back roads of the region. Surprisingly, this study marks the first time that these curiosities have been put into a broad historical perspective that includes research into the specific geologic and cultural landscape in which they occur, as well as contemplation of cultural attitudes towards natural found objects. Their story touches on geology, agricultural practices, glaciology, Native American religion, the psychology of form, and speculative archaeology.

Anthropomorphic erratic, Newtown, Connecticut; 38 in. high. Photos Richard Klein.


Anthropomorphic Erratics of Fairfield County, Connecticut

Cyrus Sherwood Bradley’s “Great Waterfowl,” Southport, Connecticut; 42 in. high.


Richard Klein

Pequot Swamp Fight monument, Southport, Connecticut.


Anthropomorphic Erratics of Fairfield County, Connecticut

Illustration of anthropomorphic stones from the appendix of E. G. Squierâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s book Aboriginal Monuments of the State of New York (1849).


Richard Klein

Two erratics, Easton, Connecticut; each 22 in. high.


Anthropomorphic Erratics of Fairfield County, Connecticut


Richard Klein

Erratic originally from Wilton, presently located in Brookfield, Connecticut; 37 in. high.


From a “Wounderous” Place James Trainor

Oh Mercury! Scenery by the square foot! Sublimity by the Quintal! —Willis Gaylord Clark, “Ollapodiana Number x xi ,” The Knickerbocker or New-York Monthly Magazine, November 1837 prologu e On the densely wooded flanks of the mountain, I found that I had absentmindedly strayed from the faint hiking trail and descended a similar but unmarked path: a path that was no path, a series of gently shelving bluestone slabs, fractured and worn, with dark mosses and lichen mottling the sides of nearby boulders and tree trunks. For no particular reason, I paused on one random ledge and gazed down at the dried leaves and gravel at my feet. One curving bit of fallen foliage caught my eye. The filigree of its stem, hidden under some other leaf litter, seemed almost a thing designed. I bent down and sifted through the pinecones and pebbles

and found that it indeed was handmade: the letter S, incised with an exquisite grace in the stone beneath.

Above: Thomas Cole, Kaaterskill Falls, 1826. This painting, a copy by the artist of a now-lost work he made during his first visit to the area in 1825, was commissioned by Daniel Wadsworth, founder of the Wadsworth Athenaeum.


James Trainor


From a “Wounderous” Place


James Trainor

Woodsman insignia

A â&#x20AC;&#x153;wounderousâ&#x20AC;? place


4 July 1819 (with Batman to boot)

T. A. Burgess

S. L. Hayes



From a “Wounderous” Place

Thomas P. Wood and friends

F. B. Barshell

S. R. Gifford

S. W. Bullock

Cole, probably not Thomas

Surveyor’s benchmark

Sans souci


James Trainor


From a “Wounderous” Place



From a “Wounderous” Place

Opposite: Asher B. Durand, Kindred Spirits (detail), 1849. The painting depicts Thomas Cole and the poet William Cullen Bryant standing under a beech tree on whose trunk the artist has carved the names of the two friends. Durand’s own name is carved into the granite rock on which they stand.


James Trainor


Style-Eating Granite Alexander Nagel

One day around the year 1200, a carver in the busy workshop of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela halted work halfway through carving a frieze. The granite on the right side is still intact but for some shallow incisions, guidelines that would have been chipped away if the carver had followed their invitation to excavate the motif three more times. But he didn’t. Why? Around 1200, the cathedral, flush with money, was undergoing major additions and renovations under the direction of the famed Maestro Mateo. It is not hard to imagine that at the hectic site plans were subject to sudden change. One can almost hear the tink-tink-tink of the chisel come to an abrupt stop at the moment the foreman said, “We’re not going to have a lintel there anymore—stop carving.” Or: “We’re going to make the lintels bigger. Don’t ask me why. Just stop.” Or maybe: “Roundels are supposed to be round, not wobbly like pretzels! Just drop your tools. You’re fired.”

Above: Lintel, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Museum, ca. 1200. Copyright Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Museum. Photo Ovidio Aldegunde.


Alexander Nagel Atlantic coast, near La Coru単a.


Style-Eating Granite

Unidentified Dominican saint with arms close to body, Pontevedra Museum, ca. 1350. Courtesy Pontevedra Museum. Photo Francisco Prado-Vilar.

Crucifix, broken at the main joins of the arms and elsewhere, then recomposed, Pontevedra Museum, ca. 1200. Courtesy Pontevedra Museum. Photo Francisco Prado-Vilar.


Alexander Nagel

Lid of a butcherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tomb, Pontevedra Museum, ca. 1500. Photo Alexander Nagel.


Foundations Hugh Raffles

It’s a wet November evening and the only movie that tempts us is Patrick Keiller’s London at the nft. We take a crowded tube to Embankment and, heads lowered against the sting of slanting rain, brave the swaying footpath on the Jubilee Bridge, dark outlines hurrying over the darker river. When we reach the South Bank, the theater’s drab concrete brutalism is one with the movie’s unforgiving camera and mournful voiceover.

Gathering moss. London Stone in its current home.


hugh raffles



Copperplate map of London, ca. 1559. Courtesy Museum of London.

Eighteenth-century engraving depicting the rebel Jack Cade striking London Stone in 1450. Courtesy British Museum.


hugh raffles



Gaspare Landi, Ulysses and Diomedes Stealing the Palladium, 1783.


hugh raffles

Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest.




david brooks


Artist project / AN Archive within an Archive within an Archive David Brooks

At the Austin Core Research Center (crc) of the University of Texas there is a hangar-sized warehouse containing an archive of more than two million rock core samples and well logs. These vast holdings span the entire era of prospecting for oil in Texas, from the nineteenth century through the oil boom years of the turn of the twentieth to today, with more recent examples also coming from elsewhere in the United States and from abroad. Core samples are now extracted in lengths upward of fifteen hundred feet from depths exceeding twenty thousand feet, at a cost of more than four million dollars per sample. Once the productivity of a well or reservoir is determined, oil companies have no reason to keep these cores and cuttings. However, the University of Texas at Austin does, finding great value in the geological data provided by these costly and irreplaceable artifacts, and has for decades been amassing a monumental repository of these by-products of the oil industry.

Rock cuttings: 6770-A to 6771 Drawer 2, Box 9, Shelf 10, Bay C, Aisle 48 Periodical: San Antonio Evening News, 9 February 1940

Rock cuttings: 3665 to 3666 Drawer 10 Box 2 Shelf 10 Bay I Aisle 48 Periodical: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 April 1939

Rock cuttings: 7458 to 7459 Drawer 8 Box 5 Shelf 7 Bay H Aisle 48 Periodical: The New York Times Magazine, 12 December 1937

Rock cuttings: 6756 to 6757 Drawer 9 Box 4 Shelf 9 Bay D Aisle 48 Periodical: San Antonio Express, 1 October 1939

Rock cuttings: 6740 Drawer 7 Box 6 Shelf 9 Bay O Aisle 48 Periodical: The Longview Daily News, 13 November 1938

Rock cuttings: 2077 to 2078 Drawer 2 Box 8 Shelf 7 Bay K Aisle 48 Periodical: The Houston Chronicle, 16 April 1947

Rock cuttings: 6746 to 6747 Drawer 5 Box 10 Shelf 8 Bay B Aisle 48 Periodical: The New York Times, 19 December 1937

Rock cuttings: 7389 to 7391 Drawer 9, Box 1, Shelf 6, Bay E, Aisle 48 Periodical: The New York Times, 9 March 1941


Surrey’s Black Eye Jeff Dolven

On the night of 19 January 1543, Henry Howard, the Earl of Surrey, shouldered his stone bow and went out to lay siege to the sins of London. A stone bow is built like a crossbow but, as the name suggests, it is fitted with a pouch to launch stones instead of bolts, and best suited for birds and other small game. Surrey went after the city’s windows instead.

Opposite: A portrait of the proud earl, the most painted man at court after Henry VIII himself, attributed to the court painter William Scrots. Here Surrey is depicted leaning on a broken pillar under the arms of Thomas of Brotherton, son of Edward I, and Thomas of Woodcock, son of Edward III. His use of heraldry to locate himself in the royal lineage, perhaps maneuvering to be Protector to the king’s heir, was the principal charge against him when he was brought to trial for treason and executed in 1547. The date of the portrait is uncertain: perhaps made from life, at his commission; perhaps a memorial to his ambitions, when both he and the king who had him killed were dead.


Surrey’s Black Eye


jeff dolven


Surrey’s Black Eye



As we go to press, the US has just advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup. Actually, scratch that. As we go to press, the United States has just advanced to the knockout stage of the World Cup. After fourteen years of editing the magazine, it has just been brought to our attention by one of our interns that the Chicago Manual of Style, which we purportedly follow, demands that country names never be abbreviated in running text unless they are being used adjectivally. Speaking of latedawning revelations, this is also the place to note the strange fact that a World Cup is being held during our “spring” issue production cycle, surely a first.

Getting images for a magazine like ours is often a nail-biting crapshoot. Yesterday, at around 4 pm UK time (note the abbreviated adjectival form used correctly here!), the day before we were to send the magazine to press, we wrote a panicked email to the Bodleian Library at Oxford asking if the glorious image we had ordered to accompany Katherine Hunt’s article on change ringing would in fact arrive in time, as promised. Further panicked by their initial non-response (especially puzzling since they had no soccer team to cheer on), we parlayed the time zone differential between NY and California to our advantage and called our friends at the Huntington Library in LA to see if they could photograph and send us a substitute, the only-slightly-lessglorious image reproduced here. (It is from Richard Duckworth’s 1668 book Tintinnalogia; see Hunt for more on this). The crack staff at the Huntington came through, but so did the Bodleian, just in the nick of time (their picture is on pages 22–23). We could not include both images in the layout, but we are printing the Huntington image here because: 1) it is great; 2) because a lot of time and effort was expended on our behalf to get it to us in time; and 3) because we did pay some $60 to obtain it. In the larger scheme of things, this is a very modest fee, but we are notoriously miserly and not using an image that we paid for would have pained us.

The runner-up cover depicting a stonethrowing competition in Switzerland (who will be playing Argentina in four days’ time). Most people in the office thought it was a potato, not a stone. Filed for forthcoming Potato issue.

Speaking of our printer—the excellent Die Keure in Bruges, Belgium—we have just learned that Dirk Libeer, who for many years ran the company, has sadly departed. Longtime readers of the magazine will know that in addition to executing our often idiosyncratic production requests over the years, Dirk has also been an occasional contributor to the magazine. Perhaps his most famous appearance was via his legendary “Note to the Readers of Cabinet,” which he included in issue 18 without our permission. We will miss Dirk very much, and wish his team the worst of luck when they play the US—oops, the United States—in four days’ time.



Fact-checking often involves sifting through heaps of source material; sometimes, though, all it takes is a phone call, but only if the person at the other end is someone like eminent historian of science Owen Gingerich. An emeritus professor at Harvard now in his mid-80s, Gingerich maintains an office at the university and happened to be there one afternoon when we called him out of the blue. He’d never heard of the magazine, but he proceeded to take nearly an hour of his time going up and down various bookcase ladders to pull down astronomical atlases from the late eighteenth century as he tried to help us clarify the history of two asterisms (now retired; see Julia Christensen’s Burnouts for more on this) based on William Herschel’s telescopes. Thank you, Professor Gingerich.

At Cabinet, we have always been interested in what might be called “specific knowledge,” which comes from first-hand experience of a particular institution or practice. We were therefore especially gratified that our recent “Punishment” issue was of interest to a number of incarcerated readers around the United States.

Sample Issue 53 Stones  

Spring 2014

Sample Issue 53 Stones  

Spring 2014