REVIEW: MacGuffin

  • 2 min read

MacGuffin is a magazine about ‘the life of things,’ celebrating ubiquitous objects we see and use everyday. Issues so far have included the chain, the bottle, the ball and the window.

As the title suggests, the object of each issue is a trigger, a jumping-off point to discuss the world around us. What follows is a maze of rabbit holes, taking you to unexpected places, full of fascinating facts, ideas and perspectives that will shape how you think about the world and teach you about parts of history, tradition and ritual that are almost forgotten.

I’ve always wanted to be present in the brainstorming meetings for this magazine. Take an object and think of every association – personal, global, cultural. It’s a lot of fun seeing where they’ll take it. And they do not disappoint! From industrial practices to matchsticks, prison etchings to Twin Peaks’ ‘Log Lady,’ this mag is positively fizzing with ideas.

There’s a recurring theme of traditions almost lost. We learn about the Jamaican practice of making fabric from the lacebark tree, and one of the few people keeping the knowledge alive. We loved the fascinating section about log driving in Norway. Hans Hamid Rasmussen’s incredible photos and Per Petterson’s account of watching the workers driving the logs down the river bring this dramatic and dangerous work to life.

There is of course plenty of discussion about ‘the politics of wood.’ We had never heard of Henry Ford’s megalomaniacal and total failure of an experimental civilization in the Brazilian rainforest which unfortunately created the blueprint for selling off chunks of the Amazon for industry, but what a story. Plus, we absolutely loved the piece on wood-boring insects. This is a fantastic piece of writing, entering the topic through the bizarre practices of a morally questionable mansion maker in the 20s and leading to an exploration of the integral part these creatures play in healthy forests, the bad reputation they’ve earned as tree killers and how human intervention is actually the problem (of course). 

Longer features are punctuated with more playful interpretations on the theme, the photo series ‘sticks, picks and party tricks’ weirdly filled us with nostalgia for Friday night fish and chips and the Catalonian ‘poop log’ Christmas tradition falls into the category of ‘things you didn’t know you needed to know.’

Another fantastic issue of MacGuffin. Can’t recommend it enough.

Get your copy here!

If you like this one, we’ve got copies of The Bottle and The Chain in the shop too.


Leave a comment (all fields required)