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 »

June 29, 2015 | Wealth, trade, technological development, the emergence of cities, more comfort and consumption: For it all, we have war to thank... more »

June 27, 2015 | Once the shocks no longer shock, and the taboos are shattered, what will be left of high culture is sentimental nihilism. Popular culture is a necessary corrective.... more »

June 26, 2015 | We live in technological times. Everything is optimized. It’s time to revive a humanistic tradition of robust criticism. Time to revive Arnold Toynbee... more »

June 25, 2015 | John Berryman: In his youth, a splendid dancer; later, a nervous, erratic man; finally, a broken alcoholic – and brilliant poet... more »

June 24, 2015 | Is a Catholic novelist, by definition, a failed novelist? Consider dogma in the fiction of Walker Percy, Flannery O’Connor, and Graham Greene... more »

June 23, 2015 | Days of rage. What is the inner logic that leads idealistic souls of various ideological stripes to embrace violence for political ends?... more »

June 22, 2015 | George Orwell had many dislikes. Among them: bearded fruit-juice drinkers, young social-literary climbers, sex maniacs, Quakers, pistachio-colored shirts... more »

June 20, 2015 | Historians are fond of epochs. The Enlightenment, for instance: an arbitrary idea that long ago outlived its usefulness... more »

June 19, 2015 | The Pickwick craze. More than a serial novel, it was a Victorian phenomenon: merchandise (hats, soaps), spinoffs (bootleg editions, joke books). It was the birth of modern mass culture... more »

June 18, 2015 |  “I’m after me,” explained Edward Hopper. He hoped to find himself in what he painted, which explains the mystery of his art... more »

June 17, 2015 | Of God and gold. In the fifth century, when St. Augustine wanted to revolutionize philanthropy, he turned to the countercultural strategies of the ancients... more »

June 16, 2015 | We adore the poet who makes nature intelligible, “and by so doing a part of our creative power,” said W.B. Yeats. But is that a reason to adore Yeats?... more »

June 15, 2015 | France invented the word “intellectual,” but French thought is in the doldrums, brought low by a technocratic, complacent, bunker mentality.... more »

June 13, 2015 | Educated people used to know the difference between French Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. No more. We no longer care about fine art... more »

June 12, 2015 | The realism of Anna Karenina. Tolstoy’s novel seems like reportage, and his technique casts a dream spell on readers. Janet Malcolm explains... more »

June 11, 2015 | The logic of hating new poems. They’re impenetrable, elitist, and fail to measure up to those of the past. But this contempt reveals just how badly we need them... more »

June 10, 2015 | “I am an equal-opportunity feminist,” says Camille Paglia. “All barriers to women’s advancement must be removed. However, I don’t feel that gender is sufficient to explain all of human life. This gender myopia has become a disease"... more »

June 9, 2015 | Ignorance comes in at least two varieties – simple and willful. Ours is an age imperiled by willful ignorance, an attack on truth that began in the academy... more »

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