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Examined Life
Further Materials
Slush Pile

Essays by

Jacob Mikanowski


Climbing Kanchenjunga

Kanchenjunga is the third-tallest mountain in the world.

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An Ill Wind

Social science assumes that a pattern governs human affairs. I think all we have is a wheel of fire. I’ve started to think that all history gives us is stories, stories that accumulate meaning like springs and burst through at the appointed time.

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Camera-phone Lucida

Art changes all the time, and when it changes, so does its history. … The word “selfie” only dates back to 2002, when it was coined on an Australian internet forum (and what an antique wind already blows from that word ‘forum’) by a clumsy drunk who took a photo of himself after tripping over a staircase at a friend’s twenty-first birthday party, and it hasn’t been in widespread use for more than a few years. By 2013 it was the Oxford English Dictionary’s word-of-the-year. By now, in 2016, the selfie is as common as water, responsible for a clutch of hideous gadgets as well as several dozen fatalities: a plane crash, a boat capsizing and at least one (alleged) dolphin murder.

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Stalin’s Finger

In 1949, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia decided to honor Stalin by building a monument to him in […]

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The Art of Decay

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; and thereby hangs a tale. […]

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So this is Redzepi’s wish: to put a piece of ground in front of a diner and have him figure it out. And once you got over your dismay at being served moss on a plate, maybe you would.

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Karl Kraus was a terror. Scourge of the misplaced comma, bane of the sentimental or stupid remark, champion of linguistic purity and artistic rigor, destroyer […]

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Mad Men

Beneath its layers of vintage décor and television cliché, Mad Men is a story about history, and possibly the closest thing we have in the culture to a historical epic.

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Spot Art

No one commands higher prices than Damien Hirst, and nothing is more fashionable than to loathe him. Still, we can’t do without him. In his […]

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