April 6, 2017 | The writing of John Berger can seem kitschy, deluded, masculinist, creepy. But in his strangeness were kindness and sincerity. He sought above all to help us see more clearly... more »


April 5, 2017 | How to think like a philosopher: Consider contrary cases, test grandiose claims with extreme examples, accept that it’s rare to prove anything conclusively... more »


April 4, 2017 | Freud envisioned civilization’s advances bringing not happiness but unassuaged guilt. That's one explanation for the prestige of victims in the contemporary world... more »


April 3, 2017 | Granta asks, Is travel writing dead? Silly question, says Geoff Dyer. Dickens, Dickinson, and Dillard can all be placed in the genre. What writing isn’t travel writing?... more »


April 1, 2017 | Darwin worked a few hours a day. Trollope wrote only between 5 to 8 a.m. — and published 47 novels. They weren't accomplished despite their leisurely schedules; they were accomplished because of them... more »


March 31, 2017 | Picture your ideal cultural critics. Can they weigh in on poetry, film, literature? Speak multiple languages? Write with wit and a political edge? Didn’t think so... more »


March 30, 2017 | Pick a topic, say traveling while being frugal and worshipful. There's a podcast about that; it's called "Hobo for Christ." Podcasts tend to be specialized. That's the problem... more »


March 29, 2017 | Long before he encountered Marx, Lenin was radicalized by literature. He read Shakespeare, Goethe, and Pushkin aloud. He was hostile to the avant-garde... more »


March 28, 2017 | Writers have long been envious of the visual language of painters. Yet “We don’t read Maupassant for the colors, or Zola for the lighting,” says Julian Barnes... more »


March 27, 2017 | The End of History is among the best known and least understood books of the past 25 years. Far from disproven, Francis Fukuyama deserves credit for his clairvoyance... more »


March 25, 2017 | The difficulty of Cy Twombly’s literariness. His work is about sentiment, not ideas -- and yet Romantic poetry and classical texts often populate his work... more »


March 24, 2017 | "The desire to cleanse the campus of dissident voices has become something of a mission," says Robert Boyers. Shaming, scapegoating, and periodic ritual exorcisms are prime features of academic life... more »


March 23, 2017 | "Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power, too." Michelle Dean on why paying attention is a moral obligation... more »


March 22, 2017 | A libertine, but so much more. Casanova was an actor, an outcast, a priest, a gambler, and a common man passing as (and sleeping with) the aristocracy... more »


March 21, 2017 | Deconstruction: a detective story. A new play about Paul de Man shows how something monstrous can begin as a cavalier disregard for truth ... more »


March 20, 2017 | Where do novelists go when reality overtakes their absurdist visions? They escape into the past, into mythology. But the past can't adequately account for the present... more »


March 18, 2017 | When Barthes’s mother died, he fixated on a photo of her as a young girl. Why are mundane objects — a photo, a grocery list — so often central to grief?... more »


March 17, 2017 | Unlike some name-brand atheists, Nietzsche didn’t waste time on easy targets like miracles or relics. He laughed at God. And nothing restores a sense of proportion like a sense of humor... more »


March 16, 2017 | Hypocrisy is a limited measure of moral failing. It doesn't test for goodness, badness, efficacy, or intention. If the goal is less to be consistent than to be better, we need a more exacting metric... more »


March 15, 2017 | A democracy with an exceptionalist heritage is unprepared to respond wisely when arrogance takes over. That's the lesson of Athens and Plato: Greatness has to be earned again and again... more »


March 14, 2017 | Survival of the buzziest. In our clickbait culture, critics are dying off. But popularity is not a substitute for value, or so we keep telling ourselves... more »


March 13, 2017 | Two cultures, then and now. When C.P. Snow lamented the gulf between the literati and scientists, in 1959, he posed a problem that can never be fully solved. But it could be better understood ... more »


March 11, 2017 | To be cultured is to know how much you want to know, and what you don't want to know. Think Jacques Barzun: formidable without being stuffy, he was an authority on French prosody, baseball, and detective fiction... more »


March 10, 2017 | In his lifetime, Georg Lukács was attacked from both right and left. He was too philosophical, “bourgeois,” a “deviationist.” His political troubles hardly ended when he died... more »


March 9, 2017 | Of ice and art. From Burke’s sublime to Freud’s unconscious to Hemingway’s theory of artistic ingenuity, the iceberg has come to represent the creative process. Why?... more »


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