The Precision of Luck, by Joel Rea, 2015. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 inches. © Joel Rea, courtesy the artist and Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York City. 


Volume IX, Number 3 | summer 2016


In Serbian oral tradition, fate often appears written on foreheads. A typical story tells of a man on the run from a plague personified as a woman. “It is not fated that I should kill you,” she says on catching him and seeing his forehead’s inscription. “You’ll be killed by a turtle.” Later, the man mows a field. His scythe hits a turtle, ricochets off its shell, and slices his leg. He dies soon after from blood poisoning.

There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it, and when he can.

- Mark Twain, 1897


LQ Podcast

#05 Ian Mortimer

Lewis Lapham talks with Ian Mortimer about the past millennium of human innovation. More