Dec. 23, 2016 | Modern sounds in classical music. Innovation used to take place within the confines of the traditional musical grammar. Now there's a radical break in symphonic sound... more »


Dec. 22, 2016 | Patrick Modiano: novelist, Nobel laureate, compulsive fabricator. Consider the sinister prank calls, swindling of booksellers, and lies about his age. Are these aesthetic deceptions?... more »


Dec. 21, 2016 | The world’s great minds have argued about the essence of time and the feeling of inhabiting it. To consider time, Augustine argued, is to glimpse the soul... more »


Dec. 20, 2016 | “Modern poetry is supposed to be difficult," said T.S. Eliot. It’s an influential view, with disastrous consequences. Christian Wiman is an antidote... more »


Dec. 19, 2016 | You are not necessarily a more intelligent reader at 65 than 25, but you are more subtle. Rereading -- a pleasure and necessity of age -- sometimes means changing your mind... more »


Dec. 17, 2016 | Evelyn Waugh was cruel and ornery through a misunderstanding. He thought his vocation was to instruct a godless world. But his true calling was as a humorist... more »


Dec. 16, 2016 | Twilight of the English major. Enrollment is down, career prospects dim, the financial outlook grim. But marginalization has its advantages... more »


Dec. 15, 2016 | What does it mean to “know” the future? The question has perplexed Aristotle, Newton, Laplace, Thomas Nagel, and quantum theorists alike. Is an answer possible?... more »


Dec. 14, 2016 | In 1990, Mario Vargas Llosa ran for president of Peru. His novel about the experience, a tale of political ambition and moral decay, is art imitating life imitating art... more »


Dec. 13, 2016 | In terms of sex, we've become more permissive. But in terms of infidelity, we've become more intolerant. Esther Perel is out to change that... more »


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 »


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