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 »


Dec. 2, 2016 | Concern about "cultural appropriation" used to be confined to college campuses: Sushi is "disrespectful," yoga complicit in oppression. Now it's spread into the general culture... more »


Dec. 1, 2016 | The time for rococo poetry of ruffles and dessert — of champions of liberalism like Marianne Moore — has waned. What we need now is Yeats... more »


Nov. 30, 2016 | Dangerous lunatic or charming if irresponsible young man? The Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran was, at his core, a connoisseur of failure... more »


Nov. 29, 2016 | Lithographs, stereoscopes, and paintings populated Baudelaire’s Paris. But he revolted against optics, threw off the tyranny of visual omniscience, and embraced shadow... more »


Nov. 28, 2016 | The biggest boon to lexical research in the past decade has been newspaper databases. Among the revelations: Slang is a lot older than previously thought... more »


Nov. 26, 2016 | Is the human mind truly unique? To find out, gather a bunch of dogs in a laboratory. Animal cognition informs human cognition in weird ways... more »


Nov. 25, 2016 | Losing your mind is a strange kind of fetishization. Woolf, Plath, Hemingway, Wallace. How should we think about the relationship between creativity and illness?... more »


Nov. 24, 2016 | Rauschenberg’s studio cost $10 a month and lacked water and heat. Just the place, perhaps, for radically altering our ideas about art... more »


Nov. 23, 2016 | Do fish feel pain? Is it immoral to swat a mosquito? Is it possible to harm a robot? We’re approaching a big historical divide in ethics, one that may take us beyond humanism... more »


Nov. 22, 2016 | The psychology of chicanery. We are all virtuoso novelists of our own identity, and, at times, confabulators. But how to create good stories?... more »


Nov. 21, 2016 | His November election was a surprise. His followers had faith -- in him, of course, but also in the institutions they believed would contain him. Then the war started ... more »


Nov. 19, 2016 | For Norman Mailer, some Salinger stories "seem to have been written for high school girls." It wasn't true, but it was the worst insult he could think of... more »


Nov. 18, 2016 | In romance, waiting has always been the rule. And the rituals of contemporary courtship underscore a related fact: It is always women who wait... more »


Nov. 17, 2016 | There are difficult writers and then there's D.H. Lawrence, for whom callousness was an intellectual catalyst. “You have to have something vicious in you, to be a creative writer”... more »


Nov. 16, 2016 | Jonathan Swift, inveterate joker, rarely laughed late in life. Life was a farce in every sense but the most important one, in that it was tragedy... more »


Nov. 15, 2016 | Bob Dylan was described by one scholar as “the greatest living user of the English language.” But how far do words go in encapsulating his art?... more »


Nov. 14, 2016 | Book reviewing used to be blood sport. But now new titles aren't so much criticized as endorsed, as if every book deserves at least a modest thumbs-up... more »


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