Painting of thirty-five expressive heads.

Thirty-Five Expressive Heads, by Louis-Léopold Boilly, c. 1825. Musee des Beaux-Arts, Tourcoing, France.

Comedy

Volume VII, Number 1 | winter 2014

Miscellany

According to his biographer Aelius Lampridius, the Roman emperor Elagabalus would amuse himself at dinner by seating his guests on “air pillows instead of cushions and let the air out while they were dining, so that often the diners were suddenly found under the tables.”

Jests and scoffs do lessen majesty and greatness and should be far from great personages and men of wisdom.

—Henry Peacham, 1622

Lapham’sDaily

A telescopic image of the formalhault solar system. A bright dot is surrounded by a cloud of smaller red dots. An inset shows a close-up of what looks like a planet, labeled Formalhault b.

DÉjÀ Vu

Space Oddities

2020:

Exoplanet revealed to be nothing but a large cloud of dust.

1903:

Supposed irrigation canals on Mars are merely optical illusions.

More

The World in Time

Peter Fritzsche

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Hitler’s First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich. More