July 11, 2017 | What was prog rock? Proof that artistically ambitious and intellectually sophisticated modern music that embraces artistic tradition can have a large — if fleeting — popular following... more »


July 10, 2017 | Is Western democracy Orwellian? Neoreactionary “Dark Enlightenment” theorists think so, making their case via cybernetics, The Matrix, and H.P. Lovecraft... more »


July 8, 2017 | Mary McCarthy reserved the right to be “difficult.” What this meant in practice was that she was lacerating, supremely clever, and above all opportunistic... more »


July 7, 2017 | Is it a form of cultural appropriation to take another’s sorrow as the source of your art? Zadie Smith ponders the question... more »


July 6, 2017 | Thoreau’s philosophy was based on rivers as well as on Walden. What, then, to make of his siding with industrialists over local farmers when it came to water levels?... more »


July 5, 2017 | What laughter means. In medieval times it was a great leveler, inclusive and communal. For modern satirists it is a way of standing apart... more »


July 4, 2017 | Catching up with the Beats. Kerouac and Ginsberg are gone, but their writerly friends carry the torch. In their 80s and 90s, they haven’t exactly mellowed with age... more »


July 3, 2017 | Is it possible to convey one’s moral vision to another generation? Henry Adams, who wrote a 500-page autobiography without mentioning his wife’s suicide, was skeptical... more »


July 1, 2017 | Yes, power corrupts. It also makes us stupid by undermining the same capacities we need to gain it in the first place... more »


June 30, 2017 | Hemingway in his day exemplified American macho. Now scholars are giving him a gender-fluid remake: A little less Papa, a little more Mama  ... more »


June 29, 2017 | Is free speech under threat in the United States? Not exactly, or at least not in the ways you might think. A Commentary symposium... more »


June 28, 2017 | The life of a ghostwriter. Don't argue with clients, however repulsive. And remember, you'll probably receive no recognition — which may be a good thing... more »


June 27, 2017 | The search for ecstasy. In 1960 an estimated 20 percent of Americans said they'd had a mystical experience. Now it's 50 percent... more »


June 26, 2017 | If economists aren't questioning the effectiveness of economic theory, they should be. Simply put: Their claim to scientific expertise is no longer tenable... more »


June 24, 2017 | Fraud, lies, and the importance of the group. Via attachment theory, Arendt, and Milgram, a former cult member considers the psychology of brainwashing... more »


June 23, 2017 | Orchestras of the Third Reich. Austro-German musicians’ admiration for Hitler strains any belief that high art is ennobling to the spirit... more »


June 22, 2017 | Whose bohemia? Ida Nettleship married the painter Augustus John, had five children, competed with his 21-year-old muse, and went unmentioned in his memoir... more »


June 21, 2017 | A.E. Housman was a classicist-poet and voice of England. He was gaunt, gray, fond of isolation. For fun he wrote caustic takedowns of other scholars... more »


June 20, 2017 | Literature enriches the public sphere but speaks most powerfully in private. Andrew O’Hagan asks: What future does literature have in an age drenched in social media?... more »


June 18, 2017 | Neuroscientists working on the “hard problem” of consciousness may be doomed to fail. But there is meaning — even pleasure — in the Sisyphean task... more »


June 17, 2017 | In 1965 a young New Yorker writer’s story ideas were rejected, one after another by the editor. Finally he said, “Oranges.” “That’s very good,” replied William Shawn... more »


June 16, 2017 | Virginia Woolf's diary includes her thoughts on other people’s diaries. She read lots of them, seeing them as a valuable literary genre... more »


June 15, 2017 | Eric Hobsbawm became, perhaps, the world’s most-read historian. Still, he was puzzled over: How did a scholar so perceptive fail the test of anticommunism?... more »


June 14, 2017 | Futurists dismiss religion but anoint “evangelists” of technology and “oracles” of artificial intelligence. Are futurists really as atheistic as they think?... more »


June 13, 2017 | Austro-Hungarian modernists like Wittgenstein, Karl Kraus, and Joseph Roth were anti-utopian and anti-ideological. What were they for? Irony... more »


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