July 13, 2016 | Wagner's The Ring Cycle is not the answer to life in a post-religious world, says Roger Scruton. But it asks real questions, and it shows us one way of confronting them... more »


July 12, 2016 | Sure, the glossy magazines are leaking prestige, power, page counts, and glamour. But the allure remains, and James Wolcott can't get too many tales from the editors' desks... more »


July 11, 2016 | We are all meritocrats now. But the meritocratic elite — multiracial, gender-neutral, but still hereditary — has hardened into a new aristocracy... more »


July 9, 2016 | Half of current jobs are in danger of being replaced by robots. What's imperiled is not only the ability to make a living but also the viability of democracy... more »


July 8, 2016 | When governments throw books on the bonfire, it's censorship. When writers burn their own words, it’s … what, exactly? An act of catharsis? Of sadism?... more »


July 7, 2016 | We know little about Dante Alighieri, just his published works and a few letters. But this much is clear: His literary ambition was tied to his anxiety about social status... more »


July 6, 2016 | Do you talk about "devouring" books? The metaphor is common but hardly benign. Consider the long, turbulent relationship between reading and eating... more »


July 5, 2016 | Majoring in English, we're now told, is good for your soul. Self-transformation has given way to self-help. Read Rilke, win friends, influence people. A little desperate, no?... more »


July 4, 2016 | We are only now coming to terms with what happens to the idea of art when images can be endlessly circulated, reproduced, and manipulated... more »


July 2, 2016 | Music: the sound of freedom and brotherhood, a force for redemption. Or is it the sound of violence, a weapon to debilitate enemies and disperse crowds?... more »


July 1, 2016 | For centuries, moral intuition and ethics were the domain of philosophers. Now evolutionary psychologists and neuroscientists think they have better moral arguments. They're wrong... more »


June 30, 2016 | Anti-vaxxing, flat-Earthism, climate-change skepticism — the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. You can try to kill zombie ideas, but they just won’t die... more »


June 29, 2016 | A humanistic discipline should range across all of human experience. So why is philosophy so homogeneous, provincial, and white... more »


June 28, 2016 | The brainy segments of society fetishize smarts, glorify intelligence, and embrace the idea that giftedness is the primary yardstick of human worth. It's not... more »


June 27, 2016 | Politics without imagination is a politics without solidarity or moral understanding. It is a narrow politics of grievance, and it is prone to authoritarianism... more »


June 25, 2016 | In the increasingly rigid confines of the undergraduate mind, disagreement is regarded as a discomfort to avoid, rather than a value to embrace... more »


June 24, 2016 | Obsessions with Truth and Beauty get in the way of art. Poetry isn’t just about Shakespeare in the park and seminars on modernism — it’s about politics... more »


June 23, 2016 | "Write write write till your fingers break!” And Anton Chekhov did: 700 novellas, short stories, plays, even autopsy reports, all crammed into 23 years ... more »


June 22, 2016 | “Wife of Oscar Wilde.” Those words appear on three tombstones in two countries. You’d have thought “poor, dear Constance" Wilde had suffered enough... more »


June 21, 2016 | A “masterpiece” once meant a singular work by a master. Nowadays, the word is used to praise collectively created work. We've lost sight of what makes a master masterly... more »


June 20, 2016 | Wallace Stevens, having failed at journalism and law, began a long career in insurance. He didn't publish his poems until he was 35. His life is not crying out to be told. And yet ... more »


June 18, 2016 | The Shelleys, Byron, and friends in Switzerland one cold and rainy summer were like a writer’s colony from hell: love triangles, sharp tempers, and the birth of Frankenstein... more »


June 17, 2016 | In the mid-1950s, when Primo Levi traveled to Germany on business as a chemist, he relished awkward chitchat with the locals. “My name is Levi. I am a Jew, and I learned your language at Auschwitz”... more »


June 16, 2016 | Wallace Stevens, Vladimir Nabokov, David Lynch — why do artists swoon over snow? From its seductive nothingness to its narcotic effects, snow manifests a state of mind... more »


June 15, 2016 | Elon Musk suggests that we may all be living in a simulation, giving an old idea fresh cachet. But why listen to Musk on such a matter?... more »


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