Jan. 26, 2018 | Daniel Bell did not foresee the smartphone, but he glimpsed the appeal of its antecedents. And he understood how a culture can undermine itself... more »


Jan. 25, 2018 | Charles I acquired works by Caravaggio, Bruegel, and Raphael. He learned early on that a prestigious art collection was a prerequisite of dynastic power... more »


Jan. 24, 2018 | Obscurity is a common fate for writers. What’s curious about William Melvin Kelley is that, after the early acclaim passed, he kept at it, every day, never doubting himself... more »


Jan. 23, 2018 | Maestro sex. As conductors go where their agents point them, they hop from one hotel bed to the next. Mostly the sex is consensual. Sometimes it's not... more »


Jan. 22, 2018 | Pioneering researchers of the fourth dimension: a German physicist perplexed by optical illusions and a charismatic American who swindled the bereaved... more »


Jan. 20, 2018 | Babies are like aliens. Parental manuals promise to make that alien less daunting and more manageable. It's a diabolically genius conceit... more »


Jan. 19, 2018 | Only 700 publications existed in 1865. More than 4,400 existed by 1890, letting readers make tangible connections to other lonely readers... more »


Jan. 18, 2018 | Until recently, Jordan Peterson was a little-known psychology professor who wrote a book almost no one read. Now he leads a growing flock of die-hard disciples... more »


Jan. 17, 2018 | This should be the golden age of free speech. And it is, if you can believe your lying eyes. Zeynep Tufekci explains... more »


Jan. 16, 2018 | “Literature has only done harm to art,” thought Degas. When looking at a painting, he advised, don’t read the label or the critics. Simply let the art itself speak... more »


Jan. 15, 2018 | Why did the French publisher Gallimard seek to republish some of Louis-Ferdinand Céline's notoriously anti-Semitic writings? To make a quick buck, of course... more »


Jan. 13, 2018 | A writer’s private preoccupations emerge in his writing. Take D.H. Lawrence and posteriors. They are “like hillocks of sand.” They are “globes.” They “thrust"... more »


Jan. 12, 2018 | Our perception of color cannot be reduced to physics or to psychology. It’s neither external or internal, but somehow in between... more »


Jan. 11, 2018 | Most literature and film is mediocre or worse. Yet reviewers spout effusive praise. Why aren’t critics critical enough? Ben Yagoda has a few thoughts... more »


Jan. 10, 2018 | Before Locke and Newton was Zera Yacob. The Ethiopian philosopher hid from persecution in a cave, where he created some of the highest ideals of the Enlightenment... more »


Jan. 9, 2018 | William James saw himself as a popularizer, not an originator. He was harsh about his own work: “No one could be more disgusted than I at the sight of the book”... more »


Jan. 8, 2018 | People and apes. Their story is one of intimacy, estrangement, betrayal, and attempted reconciliation. It's also about what it means to be a person... more »


Jan. 6, 2018 | Aharon Appelfeld, who died this week, didn't speak during the Holocaust. His accent would have given him away as a Jew. So he built a language all his own... more »


Jan. 5, 2018 | W.S. Graham was a poet's poet. Everything he did was as an artist. Confronting his own death, he wrote a poem, finally allowing his frailty to be seen... more »


Jan. 4, 2018 | Descartes tended to brush aside critics of his ideas. But when in 1643 a young woman wrote to raise some questions, Descartes listened... more »


Jan. 3, 2018 | The house Lolita built. Walter Minton was introduced to Nabokov's book by an exotic dancer. Other publishers wouldn't touch it. He saw a marketer’s dream... more »


Jan. 2, 2018 | Foucault is best known as a philosopher of power. Yet he did not offer a philosophy of power, refusing to develop an overarching theory. How is this possible?... more »


Jan. 1, 2018 | Cass Sunstein on his time in Washington: "It’s my job to put ideas out there. If that comes with the risk that someone is gonna do something horrible with it, well, that’s life”... more »


Dec. 30, 2017 | Prophecies of paperless offices notwithstanding, business, ideas, and thought still get written down. Humans are, after all, material. You can’t blow your nose into an email... more »


Dec. 29, 2017 | Every scale, spike, and tentacle. Ernst Haeckel’s detailed documentation of marine creatures shaped the way modern science developed — but not always for the best... more »


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