March 8, 2017 | Professions colonize our imaginations. So thought Ivan Illich, who was against schools, medicine, transportation, law, psychotherapy, and the media... more »


March 7, 2017 | Selective private colleges have become religious schools. Adherents believe they possess the moral truth. This is dogma, not scholarship... more »


March 6, 2017 | In praise of “useless” knowledge. The best scientific minds — Einstein, Faraday, Planck — have been driven by curiosity and intellectual challenge, not practical applications ... more »


March 4, 2017 | There is excitement in the air. Writers are anxious but not unhappy. Political upheaval has given them a fresh sense of militancy and purpose. How galvanizing — and disturbing... more »


March 3, 2017 | Daniel Dennett thinks consciousness is an illusion. This, says Thomas Nagel, is the sort of sad contortion that materialists make to follow the narrow rules of physics... more »


March 2, 2017 | Claude Monet became synonymous with money. What sparked the 19th-century love affair between American wealth and innovative French art?... more »


March 1, 2017 | When John Berger died this year, obituaries depicted him as a Marxist rabble-rouser. And he was. But that was only one of his modes... more »


Feb. 28, 2017 | In times of historical turmoil, we gravitate to dead writers. The stories they tell — or we tell ourselves — tend to be comforting. But that doesn't mean they're convincing... more »


Feb. 27, 2017 | Inside David Gelernter's eclectic mind. The computer scientist on the recursive structure of architecture, why Schubert is the greatest composer, and the ideological narrowness of commercial magazines ... more »


Feb. 25, 2017 | When Nell Zink left college she was determined to avoid the trap of femininity. Then she read The Golden Notebook and affirmed her womanhood for the first time... more »


Feb. 24, 2017 | Francis Picabia was unpredictable, irreverent, improvisational, and not infrequently, amateurish: “A painter whose very maladroitness can leave you feeling uplifted"... more »


Feb. 23, 2017 | Life among the Jargonauts. How do smart academics become insufferable windbags? By failing to ask, “When is my jargon necessary and when am I just being an asshole?”... more »


Feb. 22, 2017 | When consensus was king. For a generation of historians, liberalism and centrism were taken for granted. Now historians no longer know what to think about America... more »


Feb. 21, 2017 | Karl Kraus's The Last Days of Mankind, a World War I epic, ran more than 600 pages and comprised 500 characters. A stage production would take 10 nights. Kraus wrote it for a theater on Mars... more »


Feb. 20, 2017 | Jerusalem is many things, a center of learning and a source of discord and derangement. But it's never been a multicultural paradise, whatever the claims of a blockbuster new exhibit... more »


Feb. 18, 2017 | Voltaire thought Shakespeare "a drunken savage”; Mencken dismissed Gatsby as a "glorified anecdote." Why great critics make terrible judgments... more »


Feb. 17, 2017 | Juan Luis Vives in Paris, Erasmus in Venice. Does the mobility of 16th-century intellectuals explain Europe’s rise in fortunes?... more »


Feb. 16, 2017 | Politics, religion, and calendar reform. In Russia, in 1918, the day after January 31 was proclaimed February 14. The new regime wanted to leap forward... more »


Feb. 15, 2017 | When a novelist like Arundhati Roy turns to nonfiction,it raises a few questions: Does literature still qualify as dissent? What writing do we need in times of social crisis?... more »


Feb. 14, 2017 | "If you are a tenured faculty member, you are both the instrument and the direct beneficiary of exploitation." The economic conditions ravaging the humanities ravage as well the work produced by humanists... more »


Feb. 13, 2017 | "Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history." Darwin dealt with human evolution in only 12 words. But that was enough... more »


Feb. 11, 2017 | Writers like Sarah Manguso, have brought the aphorism back in vogue. But the form, which started with Hippocrates, means something new in the time of Twitter... more »


Feb. 10, 2017 | "His name will endure through the ages, and so also will his work.” Thus spoke Engels at Marx's funeral, to the 10 people present... more »


Feb. 9, 2017 | "Orwell didn’t foresee Trump. But if Trump were ever to find out about Orwell, he would probably tweet. ‘Really dumb @AnimalFarm. A total loser – no clue!’"... more »


Feb. 8, 2017 | What was it like to live before and during the invention of modern sexuality? Consider Edward and Minnie Benson and their five children... more »


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