Nov. 24, 2017 | Among the New York Intellectuals, Elizabeth Hardwick was considered a gentile sophisticate. She was, in fact, a master of articulate contempt... more »


Nov. 23, 2017 | The Orwell cult. His lionization as a moral giant and a prophet is overdone. But one thing really grates: the idea that he's a monument to human decency... more »


Nov. 22, 2017 | Narrative-puncturing was a way of life for Joan Didion. Even the reputation of her great-great-great-grandfather, supposedly a snake-slaying pioneer, wasn’t safe... more »


Nov. 21, 2017 | About 95 million images are uploaded to Instagram every day. This behavior seems new. But it was prefigured by an earlier aesthetic movement: the picturesque... more »


Nov. 20, 2017 | What does it mean to be a jerk? It is to be ignorant of the value of others and the merit of their ideas. Maybe you know one. Maybe you are one... more »


Nov. 18, 2017 | We knowingly assert that civilization “collapsed” on Easter Island. The truth is more complicated. After all, history isn’t about conveying neat moral lessons... more »


Nov. 17, 2017 | From hippie fun to shell of its former self: Rolling Stone is a mirror of the baby-boom generation. The reflection isn't pretty... more »


Nov. 16, 2017 | What’s it like to be from “an abstract nowhere”? Midwesterners have a regional identity built on the idea of unqualified normality. But that isn’t as simple as it sounds... more »


Nov. 15, 2017 | How do we engage with the past? Archaeology, art, coins, legal documents, living witnesses. For Thomas Carlyle, however, literary works were unsurpassable... more »


Nov. 14, 2017 | The fortunes of free speech and the fate of universities are intertwined. Expedient attempts to appease students will further weaken the academy's intellectual prestige... more »


Nov. 13, 2017 | Economics, for all its pretensions, envies the hard sciences, while the humanities is just plain embarrassed. In reality, they need each other... more »


Nov. 11, 2017 | We tend to valorize paying attention, but should we? As Diderot had it, distraction allows ideas to strike against or reawaken one another... more »


Nov. 10, 2017 | Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is brilliant, readable, and short. It's also bad history, bad economics, and bad theology... more »


Nov. 9, 2017 | Readers of biography, beware. You lean too heavily on anecdotes, and you construct false visions of the past. When you study the dead, tread lightly... more »


Nov. 8, 2017 | The fake machismo, the boozing, the braggadocio -- Hemingway kept up the facade of the hairy-chested artist for as long as he was able. But who was he really?... more »


Nov. 7, 2017 | Stendhal compared Rossini’s reach to Napoleon’s, but life went bad for the composer. He lost his pension, his protégé died, his gonorrhea worsened... more »


Nov. 6, 2017 | "Writing or reading an essay isn’t the only way to stop and ask yourself who you really are and what your life might mean," says Jonathan Franzen. "But it is one good way"... more »


Nov. 4, 2017 | The job of the critic is changing, says Lionel Shriver. It's not to assess a book’s storytelling, but to castigate writers guilty of any crimes of the imagination... more »


Nov. 3, 2017 | Does the pursuit of knowledge trump the pursuit of ethical behavior? That question fueled Foucault's turn from madness and sexuality to politics... more »


Nov. 2, 2017 | Kant thought entire civilizations incapable of philosophy. Derrida said China had no philosophy, only thought. Why did Western philosophy turn its back on the world?... more »


Nov. 1, 2017 | “Alexander Calder wanted to be clear and unfussy, to get straight to the point. At the same time, he liked to linger over life’s oddities and obscurities”... more »


Oct. 31, 2017 | In the era of the quantified self, does the old-fashioned chronicling of passing thoughts and daily minutiae still serve a purpose? Dear Diary…... more »


Oct. 30, 2017 | If Allan Bloom’s surname had been Smith, would The Closing of the American Mind have been written? Probably not, says Jonathan Kay, who reads a lot into Bloom's biography... more »


Oct. 28, 2017 | "Public conversation is overpoliticized and undermoralized,” says David Brooks. "Relationships and mercy and how to be a friend — these are the big subjects of life, and we don’t talk about them enough"... more »


Oct. 27, 2017 | Peer review is essential. That’s obvious. What isn't obvious is that it should be organized as it is — or even that it should be organized at all... more »


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