Eiffel Tower

Vicente Huidobro, translated by Eliot Weinberger

Guitare du ciel
Guitar of the sky

                              Attracting words
                              to your telegraphy
                              like a rosebush its bees

Brassaï’s Cloak of Night

Luc Sante

Youths of my generation learned about Brassaï from his eye-opening Secret Paris of the 30s (1976). There were pictures of thugs, bums, prostitutes, brothels, drag balls, lesbian bars, interracial dances—who knew such things even existed forty years earlier? But then our fascinated naïvety was rewarded by further contemplation of the photographs, which were humane, sympathetic, endlessly inquisitive, beautifully composed, and drew every possible bit of poetry from the enveloping cloak of night—not more than half a dozen pictures were taken in daylight. Brassaï: Paris Nocturne is the first major book on the photographer since then.

Maps and Monsters

Marina Warner

If animals are not only bons à manger but also bons à penser (good to eat, good to think with), according to the celebrated dictum of Claude Lévi-Strauss, then monsters, while perhaps less inviting to the palate, make even better food for thought. Themselves the direct and fanciful products of attempts to understand phenomena, they appear in a wonderful variety of forms on the maps drawn up by medieval and Renaissance cartographers, as Joseph Nigg and Chet van Duzer show in two resplendently illustrated and thoughtful recent studies. Scylla and Charybdis, sea serpents and pristers offer a range of explanations for natural phenomena, such as whirlpools and reefs; indeed the abundant stories that Homer and Ovid tell draw up a wonderful narrative geography as much as a mythical history.

The Stunned Days of Sandy

Michael Greenberg

In February 2013, the Museum of the City of New York sent out a broad invitation, to both amateurs and professionals, to submit images of Hurricane Sandy——photographs snapped on cell phones, film, digital cameras or whatever else happened to be at hand. Culled from these submissions is the exhibition “”Rising Waters,”” and it confirms an impression I had in the days and weeks after the storm: that still photographs and written language, both imbibed in silence, convey the spirit of the catastrophe more truthfully than moving images.