Dec. 31, 2016 | We think of Beethoven as socially inept: fiercely individualistic, careless about hygiene, occasionally rude and abrupt. Yet he longed for companionship... more »


Dec. 30, 2016 | The Argentine novelist Antonio Di Benedetto was imprisoned and tortured by the military government in 1976. His coping mechanism: therapeutic forgetting... more »


Dec. 29, 2016 | The power of “yuck!” and “ew!”. Disgust, which comes from our evolutionary fear of germs, goes a surprisingly long way toward explaining our manners, morals, and religion... more »


Dec. 28, 2016 | Fielding vs. Richardson, McCarthy vs. Hellman, Nabokov vs. Wilson. Literary feuds, which once raged over serious intellectual disagreements, have been ruined by tweets and TV... more »


Dec. 27, 2016 | John Stuart Mill believed that nobody can be a good economist who is just an economist. Yet most study nothing but economics. "Economists are the idiot savants of our time"... more »


Dec. 26, 2016 | At college, things should get more complicated, not less. But students today are told not to think through complex issues themselves — that's been done for them... more »


Dec. 24, 2016 | The pursuit of productivity seems to exacerbate the anxieties it's meant to allay. What if the idea of efficiency is what makes us feel inefficient?... more »


Dec. 23, 2016 | Modern sounds in classical music. Innovation used to take place within the confines of the traditional musical grammar. Now there's a radical break in symphonic sound... more »


Dec. 22, 2016 | Patrick Modiano: novelist, Nobel laureate, compulsive fabricator. Consider the sinister prank calls, swindling of booksellers, and lies about his age. Are these aesthetic deceptions?... more »


Dec. 21, 2016 | The world’s great minds have argued about the essence of time and the feeling of inhabiting it. To consider time, Augustine argued, is to glimpse the soul... more »


Dec. 20, 2016 | “Modern poetry is supposed to be difficult," said T.S. Eliot. It’s an influential view, with disastrous consequences. Christian Wiman is an antidote... more »


Dec. 19, 2016 | You are not necessarily a more intelligent reader at 65 than 25, but you are more subtle. Rereading -- a pleasure and necessity of age -- sometimes means changing your mind... more »


Dec. 17, 2016 | Evelyn Waugh was cruel and ornery through a misunderstanding. He thought his vocation was to instruct a godless world. But his true calling was as a humorist... more »


Dec. 16, 2016 | Twilight of the English major. Enrollment is down, career prospects dim, the financial outlook grim. But marginalization has its advantages... more »


Dec. 15, 2016 | What does it mean to “know” the future? The question has perplexed Aristotle, Newton, Laplace, Thomas Nagel, and quantum theorists alike. Is an answer possible?... more »


Dec. 14, 2016 | In 1990, Mario Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru. His novel about the experience, a tale of political ambition and moral decay, is art imitating life imitating art... more »


Dec. 13, 2016 | In terms of sex, we've become more permissive. But in terms of infidelity, we've become more intolerant. Esther Perel is out to change that... more »


Dec. 12, 2016 | John D'Agata is a self-appointed expert on the essay. But he doesn't know what an essay is or what it does. And he's no essayist. He's a liar... more »


Dec. 10, 2016 | Our search for rational explanations for our current political disorder is futile. To understand what's going on, we must turn to the ideas of an earlier era of volatility ... more »


Dec. 9, 2016 | The Rasputin problem. Hypnotist, rapist, cultist, charlatan, seer: What was the mad monk's actual role in the downfall of the the Romanovs? ... more »


Dec. 8, 2016 | The left's war on research. By denying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, it has done real harm to the reputation of science... more »


Dec. 7, 2016 | Artificial intelligence meets Balzac. Computers can now detect sentiment, irony, and character type. How much longer until they're producing literature?... more »


Dec. 6, 2016 | Besides furniture (Shaker) and flatware (Oneida), what have American utopian communities passed down through history? Prescient ideas, for one thing... more »


Dec. 5, 2016 | The museum of the past was one of objects, focused on its permanent collection. The museum of the future is a cafe with "art on the side"... more »


Dec. 3, 2016 | Thoreau comes down to us as an earnest man committed to worthy causes. We do him a disservice when we fail to get his jokes... more »


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