COLUMNS

  • Books

    Nuclear Landscapes

    Nuclear Landscapes, by Peter Goin. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991, 151 pp., 92 illustrations, $59.95, $29.95 paper.

    WHEN I WAS A CHILD growing up in the Bronx, I used to spread out a map of the five boroughs, place the needle leg of a compass at ground zero (Times Square), adjust the pencil leg for one mile, then swivel the pencil leg around, describing the circle that would define the range of blast destruction. In this way I could see if my home would still be standing after, say, a one-megaton nuclear bomb leveled everything within the radius of 40 square blocks.

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  • Top Ten

    Greil Marcus' Real Life Rock

    Greil Marcus is a contributing editor of Artforum.

    Bob Dylan’s the bootleg series, volumes 1–3 [rare & unreleased] 1961–1991 (Columbia) contains a shadow version of his entire career, embedded within 58 performances. They range from a tune taped in a Minnesota hotel room in 1961 to an outtake from the 1989 album Oh Mercy; along the way, three CDs collect concert recordings, alternate takes, rehearsals, and publishing demos, programmed roughly year by year. A lot of it is dross, a history of unfinished ideas or untranscended clichés, a book of footnotes. Other parts work as a series of interruptions—of

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  • Slant

    Moral Right

    CAN IT BE that the government of the United States, despite the likes of Jesse Helms, truly believes in the inherent value of art? The signals are mixed. Although, after very public debate, NEA funding was cut back, in late November 1990, without public ceremony, Congress enacted the “Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990” (known as “VARA”), which incorporated into existing federal copyright law a provision that deals with the moral rights of visual artists. (California, New York, and nine other states already had their own moral-rights acts. To what extent these state laws will remain vital or be

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  • Slant

    Being “Economical with the Truth”

    THE PUBLIC FACE OF the war in Britain and the United States seems, as far as one can tell from this side of the Atlantic, to have been nearly the same. The best proof of this came in an interview on BBC radio with three American foreign editors. The British interviewer expressed the general opinion among his colleagues that American military spokesmen were more forthcoming than their British counterparts; the Americans countered with their belief that the reverse was true. An unfamiliar accent produces the illusion of more information and more sense, when the product is exactly the same.

    The

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  • Slant

    Reversal of Fortune

    The effect is certain but unlocatable, it does not find its sign, its name; it is sharp and yet lands in a vague zone of myelf; it is acute yet muffled, it cries out in silence. Odd contradiction: a floating flash.

    —Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, 1981

    It is a bitterly cold night in Newport, Rhode Island, several days before Christmas 1980. The camera focuses on the lavish dining room of Clarendon Court, the palatial estate of Martha “Sunny” von Bülow and her second husband, Claus von Bülow. The attractive von Bülow family—Claus, Sunny, their teenage daughter Cosima, and Sunny’s 21-year old son

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