Design for a House for a Cosmopolite, by Antoine-Laurent-Thomas Vaudoyer, 1783. Private Collection / Archives Charmet / Bridgeman Images.

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Volume X, Number 1 | winter 2017

Preamble

Castles in Air

By Lewis H. Lapham

The American democracy and dream are the building of castles in air. Whither goeth the one so goeth the other, these days up in smoke and the spout.

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Map

Home Loans

A history of seven homes—now for rent on Airbnb.

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Miscellany

Roman architect Vitruvius hated the first-century-bc design trend of walls painted with fantastic images. “On the stucco are monsters,” he wrote of a house whose walls also showed plant stalks and candelabra painted to mimic structural supports. “Such things neither are, nor can be, nor have been,” he complained. “The new fashions compel bad judges to condemn good craftsmanship for dullness.” 

In the matter of furnishing, I find a certain absence of ugliness far worse than ugliness.

—Colette, 1944

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.

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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