Aug. 22, 2019 | Where books matter. Americans usually assume that literature exists to depict life, while Russians often speak as if life exists to provide material for literature... more »


Aug. 21, 2019 | No, Sally Rooney is not the “great millennial novelist.” This generation is too diverse for that — its books seek specific audiences, not universal ones... more »


Aug. 20, 2019 | Alcoholic writers are mythologized — but consider their pain. “Heavy drinking is a substitute for companionship,” Bukowski said, “and it’s a substitute for suicide”... more »


Aug. 19, 2019 | Charles Sanders Peirce was an intellectual titan, an American Aristotle. His obscurity stems from the abstruseness of his ideas and the machinations of his rivals... more »


Aug. 17, 2019 | The doomsayers rant that English is in decline, that we're speaking a degraded, faltering tongue. They've been saying so since the 14th century... more »


Aug. 16, 2019 | “Wake up, stay woke!” How a famously liberal liberal-arts college came to act like a small-minded, vindictive corporation... more »


Aug. 15, 2019 | When Umberto Eco died, obituarists struggled to explain his project. It was to explode the line dividing high and popular culture... more »


Aug. 14, 2019 | Democracy is in crisis! Or so warns a gaggle of alarmist books — all of which seem to poorly grasp how democracy actually works... more »


Aug. 13, 2019 | Efficiency for what? We talk of “optimizing” our diets, exercise, and appearance, but rarely of optimizing child care or political representation... more »


Aug. 12, 2019 | Being David Foster Wallace’s pen pal meant, at least for Susan Barnett, quips, dog discussions, and tolerating endless come-ons... more »


Aug. 10, 2019 | For Claude Lévi-Strauss, studying man is like studying a mollusk: One must find the geometric beauty of the task... more »


Aug. 9, 2019 | Despite a plethora of aesthetic points of view, there is still a line between respecting bad taste and being complicit in it... more »


Aug. 8, 2019 | "I write this because I’m dying as a poet," says Bob Hicok. "I’m a straight white guy, and the face of poetry is finally changing"... more »


Aug. 7, 2019 | H. G. Wells, diviner of the future. The art of prediction is difficult, he determined, and thus warrants an academic solution: “Professors of Foresight”... more »


Aug. 6, 2019 | John Ruskin’s literary reputation is in tatters, but he offered some wisdom. For example: “The most beautiful things in the world are the most useless”... more »


Aug. 5, 2019 | “We are sick of you and your weird diseases, go home!” A tour of the red-light district of Amsterdam with Oliver Sacks... more »


Aug. 3, 2019 | “You sit in a plaza and it occurs to you that other people have been in your situation, whatever it is, and this knowledge is at the heart of civility”... more »


Aug. 2, 2019 | Science has a data problem — its reliance on “statistical significance” has thrown it into disarray. An alternative standard beckons... more »


Aug. 1, 2019 | To celebrate a work, Jackson Pollock got drunk, arrived naked at a party, and urinated in the fireplace. Or so said Peggy Guggenheim... more »


July 31, 2019 | How to rebuild Notre-Dame? Make it modern, some say, with a spire of glass or even crystal. Witold Rybczynski dissents... more »


July 30, 2019 | A cache of Saul Bellow letters is discovered in the attic of a private residence — more evidence that the man was incapable of writing a boring sentence... more »


July 29, 2019 | Nineteenth-century Paris was not a good place for female artists, as Berthe Morisot and her sister discovered. As Manet put it, “It’s annoying they’re not men”... more »


July 27, 2019 | Against mindfulness. Sold as a remedy for all occasions, it oversimplifies the difficult business of understanding oneself... more »


July 26, 2019 | When Max Weber began his talk "Politics as a Vocation," he did so with ambivalence. "This lecture," he said, "will necessarily disappoint you"... more »


July 25, 2019 | There are many casualties in trying to quantify student learning. Is the link between metaphor and imagination one of them?... more »


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