July 28, 2015 | Somewhere in the fragile space between imaginary and real, mind and world, lie the musical instruments that never were. What does a cat piano sound like?... more »

July 27, 2015 | Picasso, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy had them, as did Leonardo da Vinci, Lenin, and Henry Luce. What did they have? Big brows... more »

July 25, 2015 | From pimp to pulp. Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck, known for his velour suits, alligator loafers, and best-selling memoir, is a cornerstone of contemporary culture... more »

July 24, 2015 | "The arts are a great little laboratory," says Peter Schjeldahl, "of absolutely free play of ideas and emotions which normal social space can’t cope with"... more »

July 23, 2015 | In praise of boredom. Society worships multitasking, purposefulness, and returns on investment. Why bother with art or literature? Claire Messud explains... more »

July 22, 2015 | The belief system of Silicon Valley can't account for a plateau of progress. But expectations have outrun reality, says John Markoff. 2045 is going to look a lot like today... more »

July 21, 2015 | What is a book cover? A skin, a membrane, a safeguard, a translation from text to image, an anxious effort to corral the boundless contents inside... more »

July 20, 2015 | More data have been created and stored in the past 15 years than in the previous history of humanity. To handle the information glut, read avant-garde poetry... more »

July 18, 2015 | Handwriting is by no means obsolete in a digital age. Consider the useful alchemy in which language, the body, and our sense of identity intertwine... more »

July 17, 2015 | Joseph Mitchells journalism didn’t stand out. Then he met the anthropologist Franz Boas. Mitchell’s reporting absorbed the ethnographic insights of social science... more »

July 16, 2015 | Laughter, forgetting, and French. Milan Kundera’s shoddy memory, his run-ins with history, his abandoning Czech – what did it all mean?... more »

July 15, 2015 | What good is the study of ethics if it doesn't make us more ethical? It breaks down strictures and transports us to wild, unpredictable places... more »

July 14, 2015 | When your book gets a bad review, you want to lash back. It won’t turn out well. J.C. Hallman knows – but still... more »

July 13, 2015 | “There is no reading,” said Nabokov, “only rereading.” Is it only on a second (or fifth) pass that a text fully opens? Tim Parks investigates... more »

July 11, 2015 | Anxiety was the defining quality of postwar life. Ours is the age of creepiness and the creepy critic: fastidious, erudite, tendentious... more »

July 10, 2015 | Hannah Arendt, pariah. Her life, ideas, and writings isolated her from the intellectuals of her day. They also made her uniquely cosmopolitan... more »

July 9, 2015 | You gaze at length upon your bookshelves, fussing over bent pages and scuffed spines. Is your obsession a mark of culture or vain superficiality?... more »

July 8, 2015 | Robert Louis Stevenson was a surpassingly odd man of charm and charisma. He was also maddeningly self-involved. Ego fueled his imagination... more »

July 7, 2015 | Where morality meets rationalism. Is Peter Singer’s “effective altruism” the apotheosis of ethics, or an unempathetic, politically naive, elitist doctrine?... more »

July 6, 2015 | ISIS is sadistic, but it taps an ancient fantasy: the return of a ruler who can transcend dreary, piecemeal politics and make a world without compromise... more »

July 4, 2015 | The great kvetch of the English department: Enrollments are down because students care only about money. But is the problem students or their professors?... more »

July 3, 2015 | Was the ancient world a hotbed of esotericism, in which philosophers self-censored, smuggling subversive ideas between the lines? Not exactly ... more »

July 2, 2015 | Forget the gossip and trivia factoids — what did Susan Sontag stand for? Seriousness of purpose, patience of intellect, education of the heart... more »

July 1, 2015 | To feel born too late, and to find that an ennobling failure, are very Czech emotions. And they permeate the work of a very Czech writer, Bohumil Hrabal... more »

June 30, 2015 | “The love song, whether from Shakespeare or his lessers, is to the currency of our feelings what the dollar bill is to our economy, the dining-room table to our family life – the necessary, inevitable thing.”... more »

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