July 28, 2017 | Nazism and the supernatural. Of all the Third Reich’s bizarre experiments with the occult, none was embraced as effusively as World Ice Theory. Hitler thought it would replace Christianity... more »


July 27, 2017 | It happened gradually. The surges, surprising transitions, turns of phrases came less often. Then hardly at all. For Sven Birkerts, writing became a lot more difficult... more »


July 26, 2017 | The life and death of John Keats. His talent drew attention, as did his penchant for fighting. When death neared, he longed for it with frightening urgency... more »


July 25, 2017 | What do we get from poems and songs? The effects are probably as much a product of what you bring as what you take... more »


July 25, 2017 | What do we get from poems and songs? The effects are probably as much a product of what you bring as what you take... more »


July 24, 2017 | How Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the supremely rational Sherlock Holmes, came to proselytize for spiritualism, participate in séances, and believe we can speak to the dead... more »


July 22, 2017 | In 1967, Timothy Leary told Allen Ginsberg to drop out. "What can I drop out of?" Ginsberg asked. "Your teaching at Cal," Leary said. Ginsberg chuckled. "But I need the money"... more »


July 21, 2017 | The Cold War lasted until 1991, but Cold War philosophy is still with us. Consider the strange and enduring career of rational choice theory... more »


July 20, 2017 | Biology and its discontents. Techno-optimists come in all stripes — scientists, seekers, grifters, con artists. They share a zeal for augmenting their bodies... more »


July 19, 2017 | Alcohol dissolves the barrier between aspiration and judgment. Come morning, the barrier is rebuilt. You mourn for the feeling you had last night. Metaphysics of the hangover... more »


July 18, 2017 | Charles Fourier thought men would grow tails. John Humphrey Noyes had a penchant for awkward sexual metaphors. Meet the founders of America’s utopian experiments... more »


July 17, 2017 | A Chinese writer sets a novel during the Holocaust? A Jewish boy writes about a black man in 1810? It’s the result that matters, not the creator... more »


July 15, 2017 | Artistic fashion comes and goes. What remains is the experience of culture — its beauty, its reach, its strangeness, its ability to transform an ordinary life... more »


July 14, 2017 | Truman Capote's excesses would, in his final years, seal his fate as an outcast of the "in" crowd. Now that Capote the personality has faded, it's easier to assess Capote the artist... more »


July 13, 2017 | The emphasis on smarts, combined with black people’s grievous history in America, suggests an approach to the issue of race and IQ: Stop talking about it. John McWhorter explains... more »


July 12, 2017 | Flaubert, who sometimes took days to compose a single sentence and then tossed it out, has been called a martyr of literary style. Now critics are chipping away at his reputation... more »


July 11, 2017 | What was prog rock? Proof that artistically ambitious and intellectually sophisticated modern music that embraces artistic tradition can have a large — if fleeting — popular following... more »


July 10, 2017 | Is Western democracy Orwellian? Neoreactionary “Dark Enlightenment” theorists think so, making their case via cybernetics, The Matrix, and H.P. Lovecraft... more »


July 8, 2017 | Mary McCarthy reserved the right to be “difficult.” What this meant in practice was that she was lacerating, supremely clever, and above all opportunistic... more »


July 7, 2017 | Is it a form of cultural appropriation to take another’s sorrow as the source of your art? Zadie Smith ponders the question... more »


July 6, 2017 | Thoreau’s philosophy was based on rivers as well as on Walden. What, then, to make of his siding with industrialists over local farmers when it came to water levels?... more »


July 5, 2017 | What laughter means. In medieval times it was a great leveler, inclusive and communal. For modern satirists it is a way of standing apart... more »


July 4, 2017 | Catching up with the Beats. Kerouac and Ginsberg are gone, but their writerly friends carry the torch. In their 80s and 90s, they haven’t exactly mellowed with age... more »


July 3, 2017 | Is it possible to convey one’s moral vision to another generation? Henry Adams, who wrote a 500-page autobiography without mentioning his wife’s suicide, was skeptical... more »


July 1, 2017 | Yes, power corrupts. It also makes us stupid by undermining the same capacities we need to gain it in the first place... more »


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