The Persian Pageant

Shiraz, 1971 Haile Selassie descends to the tarmac in a gabardine suit. The hot thin air of Shiraz greets the 79-year-old emperor before the line of salutes and the smiling Shah striding to… Continue reading

Family History

Marriage Certificate belonging to my great-great-grandfather and -mother, Jess O Blackwell and Maud L Cawood, married October 30, 1901 in Potter, Garfield County, Oklahoma Territory (five years before statehood).

The Power of the Past

This is a “Preamble” to my senior thesis, called “Possessing the Past: Edward H. Thompson, Maya Archaeology, and the Treasures of the Sacred Cenote.” I am Nabonidus, King of Babylon, shepherd, named by Marduk,… Continue reading

Sarajevo Rose

The call to prayer sounds more mournful in Sarajevo than in Istanbul or Beirut. Walking through the old city—a disorder of cobbled lanes and bazaars spilling over with hammered copper pots, communist kitsch,… Continue reading

In Memory of Ardeshir Mohassess

Ardeshir Mohassess September 9, 1938 – October 9, 2008 “The convict’s execution coincided with the king’s birthday ceremonies” (1978) “Paul Klee’s ‘Angel of History,’ according to Walter Benjamin’s brooding messianic sense of aesthetics,… Continue reading

Koudelka and the Stage

When Shakespeare’s Jacques offers that “All the world’s a stage/And all the men and women merely players,”[1] it is to remark on the coinciding, simultaneous variety, contrast and resemblance of every life and… Continue reading

Maps of Time and (Very) Big History

In Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, David Christian attempts to present what he calls a modern-day creation myth.  He begins the book by describing the import and value of creation… Continue reading

100% American

Ralph Linton, “One Hundred Percent American.” Published in The American Mercury, 1937. “There can be no question about the average American’s Americanism or his desire to preserve this precious heritage at all costs.… Continue reading


Etymology: “Late Old English godsibb [godfather, godmother, baptismal sponsor,] literally [a person related to one in God,] from god ‘God’ + sibb ‘a relative’ (see sib ). In Middle English the sense was… Continue reading

Russians and Resurrections: The (Un)making of Qué Viva México

Midway through Sergei Eisenstein’s Qué Viva México comes a shot of three human skulls lined up across the foreground.  Behind them a row of priests stand cloaked in cassocks, with arms folded, hands… Continue reading