Gerard Passannante opens the fourth chapter of his new monograph, Catastrophizing, with an anecdote from the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, California. One of the permanent exhibitions on display at the museum—which, despite its name and promise to advance “public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic” (http://mjt.org/), holds no dinosaurs in sight—is a display of microminiatures by the Armenian American artist Hagop Sandaldjian, who compiled dozens of sculptures upon tiny surfaces including the eyes of needles and strands of hair. Passannante cites Sandaldjian’s depiction of Mount Ararat, “where Noah’s ark is said to have landed” (147). The artist contracts the aftermath of that biblical archetype of natural disasters, the Great Flood, on to a single grain of rice. To do so is to seek creative mastery over an unfathomably catastrophic event. Sandaldjian’s extreme attempt to manage the plummeting depths of catastrophe through the control of a...

You do not currently have access to this content.