June 13, 2016 | Nina Simone was fierce, apocalyptic, "the patron saint of rebellion." That tyrannical will helped forge her art but ruined her life... more »

June 11, 2016 | The technologies of writing and printing allowed for new conceptions of moral and intellectual life. What kinds of illuminations does the internet offer?... more »

June 10, 2016 | The political clout of parasites. A fear of germs does more than change people's behavior. It changes their most deeply held convictions... more »

June 9, 2016 | Paris is "the world capital of contradictions," says Luc Sante. It’s a city of lovers and muggers, writers, thieves, painters, drunks, and revolutionaries... more »

June 8, 2016 | For Carlyle, some minds were like ducks. Melville likened critics to asses. Blake wrote about “reptiles of the mind.” Why animal metaphors describe how we think... more »

June 7, 2016 | Used to be that any self-respecting member of the literati tried to sound English, not American. Then, in only 15 months, Yankee diction conquered the world... more »

June 6, 2016 | For most of human history, ideas and arguments were spoken and not written. We've lost touch with these aural forms of thought and knowledge... more »

June 4, 2016 | Hitler’s rise was not inevitable, and he didn't will himself to power. He was put into office by supercilious idiots who assumed they could manage this vulgarian... more »

June 3, 2016 | Dear Yale English majors: You're right, the canon is sexist, racist, colonialist, ableist, and transphobic. You must read it anyway... more »

June 2, 2016 | “Better a good venereal disease than a moribund peace and quiet.” Henry Miller would be 125 this year. His age is showing... more »

June 1, 2016 | "What propels people from 100 countries to come to this place to blow themselves up?" asks Scott Atran. To find out, the anthropologist  talks with ISIS... more »

May 31, 2016 | Picasso’s Fall of Icarus was done in 1958 for Unesco headquarters. It is a portrait of intellectual disappointment... more »

May 30, 2016 | Dante was an egomaniac and intellectual in the modern sense: He was endlessly self-reflective... more »

May 28, 2016 | The English poet Stevie Smith has been dismissed as an amateur, an oddball, an ingénue. It’s time to take her seriously... more »

May 27, 2016 | The problem with Wikipedia. This is not about factual reliability, but about monopolistic ubiquity. We run the risk of living in an information monoculture... more »

May 26, 2016 | "We don’t learn much of anything from the past," says David Rieff. The crimes of then provide no prophylactic against those of now... more »

May 25, 2016 | Esperanto enthusiasts tend to be optimistic, forward-looking idealists. Except when the topic turns to the global dominance of English... more »

May 24, 2016 | Emily Dickinson was known in her own time as a naturalist and botanist. Her gardens provided her with tropes, narratives, and imagery... more »

May 23, 2016 | Many scholars seek a solemn, serious life, like monks determined to eradicate frivolity. Benedict Anderson favored jokes, digressions, and sarcasm... more »

May 21, 2016 | If moral responsibility and the social institutions that enforce it depend on belief in our own agency, what happens when we lose faith in free will?... more »

May 20, 2016 | Kant declared fashion "foolish." To Kierkegaard, outer garments kept us from ascertaining inner truth. But clothes are a form of thought, freighted with meaning... more »

May 19, 2016 | Inside the thrilling, heretical world of Albert Murray. He celebrated the jazzman and black equality. He was also a genuine elitist... more »

May 18, 2016 | Reproductive systems are not much like clocks. So why the persistent idea of women’s biological clock? It's a story of science and sexism... more »

May 17, 2016 | Do wealth and status turn decent people into incorrigible brutes? An inquiry into the moral conduct of powerful people... more »

May 16, 2016 | Hazel Elizabeth Hester was a file clerk, an Air Force veteran, and a hoarder. She was also a pen pal of Flannery O’Connor and Iris Murdoch... more »

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