Design for a Machine, French, eighteenth century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Elisha Whittelsey Collection, Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1962.


Volume XIV, Number 1 | winter 2021


Euripidean drama requires “the sudden jolt of the machine” to clarify the characters’ “peculiar sense of the political,” writes classicist John Snyder. “The deus ex machina breaks in because that is what history does…outside forces, irrational, nonhuman in origin and agency, yet utterly human at the same time, make people do what they do.”

Machines do not run in order to enable men to live, but we resign ourselves to feeding men in order that they may serve the machines.

—Simone Weil, 1934