June 27, 2017 | Is a tome three feet wide by two feet high a book? What about one with an embedded digital clock? Or a suitcase filled with lithographs?... more »


June 26, 2017 | Bernard-Henri Lévy can barely read Hebrew and hasn't devoted much time or energy to studying Judaism. That hasn't stopped him from writing a book of pronouncements on the topic... more »


June 24, 2017 | A passion for the mundane. A scuffed old bread knife, a glass vase, a coffee table — ordinary objects delighted, inspired, and confounded Matisse... more »


June 23, 2017 | Politics run through Shakespeare’s plays, but we know little of his own political opinions. His characters speak, they do not lecture. Yet certain themes recur... more »


June 22, 2017 | Float nude in saltwater, pee in a gold toilet, lounge in a field of phalluses. Participatory art preys on our narcissism. Is that a bad thing?... more »


June 21, 2017 | Jonathan Haidt is famous for explaining how liberals and conservatives think. Now he's wagering that social psychology can calm the campus culture war... more »


June 20, 2017 | You probably know of Charles and Ray Eames for their furniture design. But they also made more than 125 films. Why? “To get across an idea”... more »


June 18, 2017 | As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote, “The intellect is a muscle; it must be exercised.” But that exercise varies. Consider the reading habits of book critics... more »


June 17, 2017 | It’s one thing to preserve a painting, quite another to preserve art made from bologna or bubble gum. Should art be made to last?... more »


June 16, 2017 | Newark, N.J., has figured in half of Philip Roth's novels. It is an unusually expansive literary portrait of an American city, a chronicle of urban decline... more »


June 15, 2017 | Why keep a diary? Benjamin Franklin sought to log 13 virtues a day, Samuel Johnson “to methodise” his life. For Susan Sontag, private writing was a source of strength... more »


June 14, 2017 | James Baldwin's FBI file runs 1,884 pages. It's full of marginalia, including this, in 1964, from J. Edgar Hoover: “Isn’t Baldwin a Well-Known Pervert?”... more »


June 13, 2017 | Fifty years after the Congress for Cultural Freedom was outed as a CIA front, it stands as a reminder that state power can go only so far in setting the intellectual agenda... more »


June 12, 2017 | What's the relationship among genes, race, and IQ? The near-impossibility of a definitive answer has let assertion substitute for evidence... more »


June 10, 2017 | Many of the statues, reliefs, and sarcophagi of the ancient world were colorfully painted. And yet the association of beauty with pristine whiteness continues. Why?... more »


June 9, 2017 | Cyril Connolly was obsessed with his own worst traits: laziness, nostalgia, gluttony, hypochondria, frivolity. His fetish for failure was, oddly, a source of inspiration.... more »


June 8, 2017 | Newton getting bonked by an apple, Archimedes problem-solving in the bath: What eureka moments say — and don’t say — about the scientific process... more »


June 7, 2017 | How beauty happens. The purpose of a peacock's tail feathers is less utilitarian than aesthetic. Or so goes a new theory of sexual selection... more »


June 6, 2017 | The Dreyfus affair gave us the word “intellectual.” It also redefined truth, justice, and art. Look at the impact on Proust, Joyce, Kafka  ... more »


June 5, 2017 | Film as an art form is routinely dismissed in comparison to books. The attitude is so taken for granted that people assume even Martin Scorsese subscribes to it. He doesn't... more »


June 3, 2017 | Technological change can make even recent “contemporary” fiction feel dated. So writers of literary works are increasingly setting them in the future... more »


June 2, 2017 | The friendship of Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt ended over questions of good, evil, and historical responsibility. Their argument continues to be relevant... more »


June 1, 2017 | Schools of thought in philosophy and cultural theory are transient. They coalesce, evolve, break apart. So how has the Frankfurt School endured for three generations?... more »


May 31, 2017 | When Shirley Jackson arrived at the hospital and was asked her occupation, she said “writer.” The nurse responded, “I’ll just put down housewife"... more »


May 30, 2017 | It's where Confucius and Lao Tzu went to think, where Li Bai and Du Fu went to find words, where Mao demonstrated his authority. In China, everything starts with a river... more »


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