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January 2014, vol 9, no 4

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Jim Kacian

The gesture

he makes—a slight thing, barely noticeable unless you’re looking for it—has been repeated just so, or nearly so, for millennia. It is to be found in innumerable rap videos, suggested in portraits of the Renaissance learned (though never in kings or churchmen), alluded to in refined Latin poems from authors as disparate as Callimachus and Horace, limned on Greek black-figure amphorae. But its original, its first instance—if there ever was one—has never been identified, a product of its replication as much as a source. Exactly what it means, then or now, is not a subject open to conversation, and he who has so casually divulged the sign—to no one, to the universe, and to what purpose?—has already moved on.

the lineament
of lightning once
it’s gone