Oct. 14, 2017 | Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene are more readable than Henry Green. But Green is more rereadable — his opaque works reward our repeated attention... more »


Oct. 13, 2017 | When music wielded imperial might. The Chinese Music Bureau, founded around 120 BC, was led by someone whose primary career experience was training hunting dogs... more »


Oct. 12, 2017 | In its belief that what matters is information rather than insight, society has become what Wittgenstein feared. That could explain his unpopularity... more »


Oct. 11, 2017 | Orwell has become less flesh and blood than a set of moral positions. But deep in his letters and diaries and remembrances, one can glimpse the man... more »


Oct. 10, 2017 | Oxford's Very Short Introductions series taps into a very old human desire to know everything. Eight million copies have been sold to readers who yearn for mastery... more »


Oct. 9, 2017 | Some are excited, others scared. Some are cautious, others jubilant. Some are utopian, others pessimistic. Futurists: a taxonomy... more »


Oct. 7, 2017 | The eccentric life of Ignatius Donnelly. An unsuccessful land speculator and politician, he put his apocalyptic views to use by writing the story of Atlantis... more »


Oct. 6, 2017 | Philosophers have criticized luxury for a long time. But the consensus has always had its critics: the philosophers who like stuff... more »


Oct. 5, 2017 | Jeremy Bentham's head "smells like vinegar and feet and bad jerky and damp dust." Might that help to explain the roots of utilitarian desires?... more »


Oct. 4, 2017 | Max Eastman frolicked nude, thought his wife “an unslakable monster of selfishness,” and abandoned his son. Does any of this matter to his intellectual legacy?... more »


Oct. 3, 2017 | "To gaze at the world, as if you had never seen the world and have no idea what it is, and just describe it — then maybe you could see it"... more »


Oct. 2, 2017 | Bruce Chatwin was many things — traveler, art expert, connoisseur of the extraordinary. But not someone who favored intimate revelation. “I don’t believe in becoming clean"... more »


Sept. 30, 2017 | Hugh Hefner's genius was to commodify the heterosexual male gaze. "Desire became inseparable from decoration, carnality from consumerism"... more »


Sept. 29, 2017 | In John McPhee’s cosmology, all the earth’s facts touch one another. How to connect disparate things like atoms, bears, and whiskey? You just need the right structure... more »


Sept. 28, 2017 | What bound the artists Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon? A love of gambling and drinking, an interest in horses, and their belligerence and cruelty... more »


Sept. 27, 2017 | In 1930, Alexander Calder became a married man. In 1931, he became an abstract artist. These were the foundations on which he would build for the rest of his life... more »


Sept. 26, 2017 | The Italian artist Carol Rama saw the psychiatric ward as a place of vibrancy and liberty. “Madness is close to everybody,” she said... more »


Sept. 25, 2017 | In the beginning was the pissing boy. Since then, painters and sculptors have depicted the act of urination. "A river of piss runs through art history"... more »


Sept. 23, 2017 | Secrets of the stacks. The New York Public Library’s archives contain dentures, roller skates, and, as David Grann discovered, evidence of a systematic campaign of murder... more »


Sept. 22, 2017 | “The era of world literature is at hand,” proclaimed Goethe in 1827. His colleagues disagreed, and gave him a turban for his birthday. Thankfully, the debate has evolved... more »


Sept. 21, 2017 | Hemingway in LA. He was there to raise money but “came like a whirlwind,” wrote Fitzgerald, and ended up throwing a wineglass into Dorothy Parker’s fireplace... more »


Sept. 20, 2017 | Do hallucinogenic fungi have a significant place in art history? If the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald are any guide, yes indeed... more »


Sept. 19, 2017 | Amis at 70. Once young and belligerent, now a domesticated elder statesman hoping that his daughter won't opt for college in California... more »


Sept. 18, 2017 | The International Congress on Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science doesn't sound romantic. But it's where Hilary Putnam met his future wife, Ruth Anna. Pragmatism would never be the same... more »


Sept. 16, 2017 | “It is difficult to live in Brooklyn without becoming a deep thinker,” wrote Clifton Fadiman, littérateur to the masses. Was he more than a middlebrow salesman?... more »


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