Shepherds with Picnic, by Jacob Wothly and Emile Mangel du Mesnil, c. 1864. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2016.


Volume XV, Number 2 | winter 2024


In an 1850 newspaper article, Karl Marx declared that “revolutions are the locomotives of history.” Ninety years later, Walter Benjamin countered with a different analogy: “Marx says that revolutions are the locomotive of world history,” he wrote, “but perhaps it is quite otherwise. Perhaps revolutions are an attempt by the passengers on this train—namely, the human race—to activate the emergency brake.”

I imagine that one of the first forms of behavior, like one of the first signals, may be reduced to this: “Keep me warm.”

—Michel Serres, 1982

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The Colosseum, attributed to Robert Eaton, c. 1855.
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Monumental Mistakes


Fitness instructor carves his girlfriend’s name into the Colosseum.

c. 1850:

Thompson of Sunderland makes his mark on Pompey’s pillar.