May 7, 2018 | Much of the work we do has no social value, and we hate doing it. Then there’s higher education, where the problem is acute. David Graeber on the bullshitization of academic life... more »


May 5, 2018 | The Nobel Prize for Literature is beset by scandal. But this has nothing to do with sex. The scandal is that the prize ever had any credibility at all... more »


May 4, 2018 | Who doesn't love to beat up on literary theory? It's justified, but it's not the reason undergraduates aren't getting the education they deserve... more »


May 3, 2018 | The Kuhn cult. Admiration for the philosopher is misplaced, says Errol Morris. Kuhn's thinking is unoriginal. Worse, it's an assault on truth... more »


May 2, 2018 | Poems that hide in plain sight. Famous works, anthologized, widely read, become so encrusted with criticism it’s hard to see them anew... more »


May 1, 2018 | Pity the poor pun. Reviled for its smirking stupidity, its ubiquity in advertising and talk-show banter, the wordplay deserves better... more »


April 30, 2018 | Wallace Thurman: editor, novelist, playwright. “A strangely brilliant Black boy who had read everything," said Langston Hughes, "and whose critical mind could find something wrong with everything he read”... more »


April 28, 2018 | What Frida Kahlo is to Mexico, Julia de Burgos is to Puerto Rico. Except that de Burgos isn't well known to the rest of the world. Why not?... more »


April 27, 2018 | How blank are our slates? Hobbes and Rousseau believed in the existence of human nature, but today’s philosophers are skeptical. Biology suggests an answer... more »


April 26, 2018 | Before the sum total of human knowledge exploded, it was possible to know everything. The last man to do so was Sabine Baring-Gould... more »


April 25, 2018 | At 30, Elizabeth Jennings was a celebrated poet. At 40, she lived in poverty, a shabby eccentric haunting Oxford cafes. What went wrong?... more »


April 24, 2018 | Eros in the academy. Intellectual magnetism often shades into erotic attraction. That's always been true of students and professors... more »


April 23, 2018 | Death and the meaning of life. Have you thought about being composted or cremated? Perhaps donating your body to science? Why we distract ourselves from the fact that we are physical beings... more »


April 21, 2018 | The field of complexity science tackles questions like: Why are there 10,000 species of birds, 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 »


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