Aug. 29, 2017 | The author of a novel is not always well placed to interpret it. Ask Orhan Pamuk, who has spent a decade reflecting on the pitfalls of teaching his own books... more »


Aug. 28, 2017 | Emotions are seen as something to be tamed by cool reason. This seductive view of intelligence reflects a bogus view of the brain... more »


Aug. 26, 2017 | The e-book of The Godfather amounts to a million bytes. A picture of Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone: 35,000 bytes. We know this thanks to Claude Shannon... more »


Aug. 25, 2017 | If the pleasures of reading are not too far removed from the pleasures of life, becoming a good reader is akin to learning to live well... more »


Aug. 24, 2017 | An accent in “élite,” a diaeresis in “reëmerge.” The New Yorker style, arbitrary and peculiar, somehow overshadows the substance of the writing ... more »


Aug. 23, 2017 | Sex is nice but fleeting. The joys of syntax, on the other hand, are everlasting. For a good time, diagram a sentence or dive into Coleridge’s poetics... more »


Aug. 22, 2017 | Delmore Schwartz worried that he would be remembered as nasty, gauche, awkward — an overeager clown. The weight of his concerns, and his loneliness, hangs over his biographer... more »


Aug. 21, 2017 | The politics of identity is nothing new, especially on the right. Now the obsession with identity is strangling liberalism, and campus politics bears much of the blame... more »


Aug. 19, 2017 | Thoreau was a critic of triviality, gossip, and distraction. He preferred communing with dead authors to chatting with his neighbors. What would he have made of Twitter?... more »


Aug. 18, 2017 | Mr. Electrico, a magician, shouted “Live forever!” and electrified 12-year-old Ray Bradbury. The sci-fi writer is gone, but his work will last... more »


Aug. 17, 2017 | Intellectuals are unreliable students of populism, finding it too prone to ignorance and demagogy. Beware anyone who claims to speak for "the people," but listen... more »


Aug. 16, 2017 | A dream of Utopia, an Eden of innocence, and then the Fall: The Summer of Love was about the pursuit of pleasure. But there was a puritan streak, too... more »


Aug. 15, 2017 | Communists are unlikely entrepreneurs. But beginning in the 1930s, they set up bookstores across America. Turns out that even anticapitalists can't ignore the bottom line... more »


Aug. 14, 2017 | Art enriches life and helps engage us with mortality. And so Robert McCrum, after a stroke and a fall, began to catalog his inventory of dissolution... more »


Aug. 12, 2017 | Liberal democracy was meant to depoliticize society, to turn issues of public morality into private concerns. By that measure, it's been a failure ... more »


Aug. 11, 2017 | Freud the philosopher. Before psychoanalysis, he was primarily concerned with destroying what was then an intellectual orthodoxy: mind-body dualism... more »


Aug. 10, 2017 | The conventional story of philosophy treats Indian, Buddhist, Chinese, and Islamic thought as isolated from the Western tradition. Time for an integrated approach... more »


Aug. 9, 2017 | Journalism may never have been as public-spirited as some ink-stained nostalgics like to think. But the myth mattered, and now it's in tatters... more »


Aug. 8, 2017 | “There are no facts, only art,” wrote David Shields in 2010. It's a prescient description of our myopic and self-absorbed journalistic era... more »


Aug. 7, 2017 | Wherever there is anger and agony, there is Guernica. What is it about Picasso's mural that answers our need for an epitome of death – and for life in the face of it?... more »


Aug. 5, 2017 | Meet the New Optimists. This stubbornly cheerful lot rejects doom-mongering. But is the world really getting better?... more »


Aug. 4, 2017 | When did disagreeing with someone become akin to oppression? When we conflated our opinions and our identities... more »


Aug. 3, 2017 | Diogenes wanted his body, upon his death, to be thrown over a wall for the dogs — a rational and ecological approach. Why has no society followed suit?... more »


Aug. 2, 2017 | First the yuppie, then the hipster, now the “aspirational class.” These people consume conscientiously — and have no intention of relinquishing their status... more »


Aug. 1, 2017 | The ancient Greeks had color words for “pansy-like” and “wine-like,” but never sea or sky blue. Can we understand their descriptions if we can’t see as they did?... more »


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