April 21, 2018 | The field of complexity science tackles questions like: Why are there 10,000 species of birds on Earth, but only 5,000 species of mammals? A key insight: Scale matters... more »


April 20, 2018 | “Poetry makes nothing happen,” thought Auden. But properly understood, books are a type of magic: “To write is to sell a ticket to escape, not from the truth but into it.”... more »


April 19, 2018 | 43 years ago, Laura Mulvey coined the term “male gaze.” Is it still artistically justifiable for a man to paint a naked woman?... more »


April 18, 2018 | We express our emotions physically, but now we mediate them digitally as well. As Don DeLillo put it, “Nobody knows how to feel and they’re checking around for hints”... more »


April 17, 2018 | "We won. ... But having won, we have no sense of balance or modesty or graciousness," Jaron Lanier says about those who built the internet. "So we kind of turned into assholes"... more »


April 16, 2018 | Did Orwell really did shoot an elephant in Burma? Did Sontag accurately represent a get-together? The vagaries of memory pose a special threat for writers... more »


April 14, 2018 | The true story is always the oppositional story. Or so goes the logic of both literature professors and the right-wing media. What have the radical politics of humanities professors wrought?... more »


April 13, 2018 | How to be an intellectual. Find three uninterrupted hours per day; overcome boredom; mind the distinction between intellectuals and academics... more »


April 12, 2018 | John Gray takes a dim view of reason. Indeed, he takes a dim view of humanity. He is a "card-carrying misanthrope for whom human life has no unique importance"... more »


April 11, 2018 | While science advances, philosophy stays the same, asking the Big Questions again and again. The field is still immature... more »


April 10, 2018 | The cult of Tocqueville: How did a Frenchman who hasn’t been in the United States in over 185 years become the man everyone loves to quote?... more »


April 9, 2018 | The death of Seamus Heaney lets us mourn not only an artist of rare verbal gifts but also the loss of a language that long mapped a way of living... more »


April 7, 2018 | Samuel Beckett's relationship with his mother was long, tempestuous, and, he realized, formative. “I am what her savage loving has made me”... more »


April 6, 2018 | What makes scientific theories true? Falsifiability or observability work in some cases, but the madcap ideas that push the borders of knowledge require a different approach... more »


April 5, 2018 | The writerly imperialism of Dave Eggers. His work is a combination of twee visual details, Muslim characters, and a well-meaning American exceptionalism... more »


April 4, 2018 | Beware the grammar bullies! Morality and language are linked, argued Ursula K. Le Guin. But morality and correctness are not the same thing... more »


April 3, 2018 | James Baldwin in Hollywood. He was there to make a movie about Malcolm X. It didn't go well. “I would rather be horsewhipped ... than repeat the adventure”... more »


April 2, 2018 | "Populism" is a label often used but little understood. It's incoherent an ideology yet not to be dismissed as deranged or imaginary. Populism is a disease in the body politic... more »


March 31, 2018 | The poet Joan Murray died at 24. Her manuscripts, sent to be preserved, apparently fell off the back of a truck. Is it fair, then, to call her a minor poet?... more »


March 30, 2018 | When fiction fuels the future. Sun-powered screens, electric weather, telepathy via battery — by picturing what’s to come, does science fiction help us invent it?... more »


March 29, 2018 | Hyper-liberalism is the academy's legitimating ideology, says John Gray. "The result is a richly entertaining mixture of bourgeois careerism with virtue-signaling self-righteousness"... more »


March 28, 2018 | Our old photos follow us online, and it’s become increasingly difficult to achieve distance from the past. That’s changed our politics and, perhaps, our thinking... more »


March 27, 2018 | For James Wood, the novel is “the slayer of religions.” Rationalist writers like Ian McEwan agree — they want their craft to be more scientific, less spiritual. Is it?... more »


March 26, 2018 | In Shakespeare's time, there were no directors. Plays were performed without scenery, on open stages. It's still something of a mystery what directors do... more »


March 24, 2018 | When did the sum total of a college’s intellectual value become reducible to its willingness to host controversial speakers?... more »


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