March 19, 2016 | The mattering instinct. Sure, figure out what matters to you, what’s meaningful in life. But resist the tendency to universalize... more »

March 18, 2016 | Does the novel provide communitarian mortar, showing us how to live together? Or — in an age of connectivity — does it teach us how to be separate?... more »

March 17, 2016 | In an academic and intellectual culture that emphasizes safe and comforting patterns of thought, what becomes of free thinking - and what happens to the clash of ideas?... more »

March 16, 2016 | Literary translation is an imperfect art; errors and omissions flourish. Finding the original is like seeing an oil painting after the discolored varnish has been removed... more »

March 15, 2016 | Art and arson. Arshile Gorky, Robert Rauschenberg, Alfred Leslie, John Baldessari: Why do artists' studios so frequently go up in flames?... more »

March 14, 2016 | What happens when a poet who writes about fame becomes famous? Eileen Myles, renegade outsider, is now an insider. Welcome to the hall of mirrors... more »

March 12, 2016 | The Jean Sibelius paradox: Why did the feted and revered composer feel neglected and misunderstood? Blame Mahler, who called him a purveyor of Scandinavian kitsch... more »

March 11, 2016 | Art and politics. Art made submissive to politics is unhealthy for both. The critic's task is to find the edge where art meets the world... more »

March 10, 2016 | Literature is where we go to identify ourselves, where we shake off attitudes and beliefs. The novel, says Arthur Krystal, is the vehicle of our discontent... more »

March 9, 2016 | "Is it possible to write criticism — or even to write critically — while at the same time refusing the critic’s authority?"... more »

March 8, 2016 | Sociology is a suspicious, even paranoid science, an attempt to suss out the reality of reality. What can it teach us about spy fiction?... more »

March 7, 2016 | Science may be impartial, but scientific culture is not. Ask a female scientist about unwanted advances, jokes that aren't funny, grabbing that isn't an accident... more »

March 5, 2016 | What happened to Annie Dillard? She seemed like a Thoreau for our time, a major voice in letters. Then came hypocrisy, spiritual snobbery, and silence... more »

March 4, 2016 | Constance Fenimore Woolson was a popular American writer beset by depression, deafness, and an inability to make a romantic connection. Then, in 1879, she went abroad... more »

March 3, 2016 | Pink teacups, crumbling frescoes, and a brown typewriter. What can one learn from a journey to James Baldwin’s house in Saint-Paul de Vence? A great deal, it turns out... more »

March 2, 2016 | What happened to breaking ranks? Thinkers have grown wary of movements. They prefer to be parties of one. Intellectual life has become atomized... more »

March 1, 2016 | The reality hunger of Henry James. Misunderstood as a literary traditionalist, he wrote autobiographies that anticipated Knausgaard... more »

Feb. 29, 2016 | Why, above other pugilists, does Muhammad Ali remain the focus of so much literary attention? His moral ambiguity makes him an ideal muse... more »

Feb. 27, 2016 | Liberal democracy has triumphed over Soviet-style communism, authoritarian capitalism, and fascism. But another threat looms: Martin Heidegger... more »

Feb. 26, 2016 | Remembering is a creative process. When we offload our memories to digital devices, do we forsake our own experiences and personal fictions?... more »

Feb. 25, 2016 | What writers and spies have in common: isolation, loss of perspective, grandiosity, alcoholism, and a willingness to lie and call it something else... more »

Feb. 24, 2016 | Habit prophecy - think Montaigne and Benjamin Franklin - was once a form of ethical inquiry. Now - think Stephen Covey - the genre has devolved into self-help... more »

Feb. 23, 2016 | The academy’s relationship to art and criticism is tenuous. The university is a source of patronage, though purchased at considerable risk... more »

Feb. 22, 2016 | Is the universe governed by cause and effect? Depends on the physics of Walther Ritz, the theorist who made Einstein look like a “lazy dog”... more »

Feb. 20, 2016 | There's bullshit and then there's bullshit in science: arguments, data, articles that have a veneer of truth and seem plausible, but aren't... more »

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