Untitled (November 9, 2013 9:49AM) (detail), by Richard Misrach, 2013. Archival pigment print, 60 x 80 inches. © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York, and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles.

States of Mind

Volume XI, Number 1 | winter 2018

Miscellany

A fifteenth-century Tunisian sex manual relates that “a big beard denotes a small mind” and tells of a long-bearded man who reads a quote to this effect on the back of a book. Afraid of being seen as a fool, he tries to trim his beard by setting it on fire but burns it off entirely. He then writes on the book below the quote, “These words are entirely true. I, who am now writing this, have proved their truth.”

What is the hardest task in the world? To think.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

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

Edward Achorn

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. More