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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 by her first marriage, Alexander—are eating dinner around an elegantly appointed table. The mood is tense. No one speaks. Cosima and Alexander glance nervously at one another, and every so often Claus looks up anxiously at his wife. Sunny’s blond hair is neatly coiffed. She wears an elegant blue dress,

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