PRINT January 1988


HISTORY IS FASCINATING, it beguiles with endless possibilities of meaning. So much can be read into the patterning of its ebb and flow, of its gyrations and stillnesses, that dreamers and speculators of all kinds seek to read their fortune there. And since everyone wants the security of certain interpretation (or the security of its denial), phantasms of stability are built up or torn down with astonishing regularity. These illusions of stopped time feed on a desire for completion. Here, instead, is a roundabout story, a story with neither end nor beginning.

Today, a visit to either of the two surviving cycloramas in the United States, in Gettysburg and Atlanta, is a family affair. Both are housed in specially constructed buildings in public parks with a mission, the Gettysburg National Military Park solemnly educational, Grant Park less somber, but equally favored as a good place for

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