Dec. 29, 2017 | “Factuality” in fiction. For Mary McCarthy, novels had to do one thing above all else: communicate the truth, unpopular as it may be... more »

Dec. 28, 2017 | Knausgaard writes about doing housework, making tea, buttering sandwiches, the ordinariness of his daily existence. What makes his writing so compelling?... more »

Dec. 27, 2017 | Romain Gary was a clown prince of French literary life. Little of what he said was true, though he was essentially honest. He personifies the distinction between fabulist and fraud... more »

Dec. 26, 2017 | Derided by the public, attacked by politicians, a scapegoat and strawman for left and right alike, the humanities will nonetheless endure — even if there is no case to defend them... more »

Dec. 25, 2017 | Sexual liberation in fiction. Edith Wharton’s writing on sex was informed by Whitman, Nietzsche, and Wilde, and an affair with a journalist... more »

Dec. 23, 2017 | What does biology teach us about human nature? That there is no such thing as human nature. We have to make it up as we go... more »

Dec. 22, 2017 | A good education provides tools for understanding the world. Indoctrination offers just one lens. On many college campuses, that lens is power and privilege... more »

Dec. 20, 2017 | Even friends of Mary McCarthy could muster only backhanded praise for her work. What put them off? Her perverse honesty, for one thing... more »

Dec. 19, 2017 | The art of conducting. While you can demonstrate stick technique, you cannot teach a budding young conductor how to cultivate a magnetic personality... more »

Dec. 18, 2017 | It does not take long to sense something false in Andrew Wyeth. His art was his artifice, and his compelling images carry the stamp of inauthenticity. James Panero explains... more »

Dec. 16, 2017 | “I am almost sickened by my basic honesty,” wrote Clarice Lispector, who broke with superficial truths to expose deeper ones. She had a complex relationship with veracity... more »

Dec. 15, 2017 | Writers are told to fan out across genres, to expose themselves to everything. Bad advice. Don't read widely. Most work is middling and should be ignored... more »

Dec. 14, 2017 | As we rush to impose moral clarity on human desire, remember: Sex is not a solvable problem. Let's minimize the number of its victims... more »

Dec. 13, 2017 | Jerry Fodor was a skeptic, including in his own ideas about how cognition works. He was treated as a crank — a beloved crank... more »

Dec. 12, 2017 | Pseudoscience, by definition, should not appear in scientific publications. But peer review is a porous gatekeeper, and “predatory publishers” are shameless... more »

Dec. 11, 2017 | Freud’s theories don’t mesh well with modern science. Yet he represents something important for neuroscientists: the possibility that laws govern mental life... more »

Dec. 9, 2017 | Campaigns against "cultural appropriation" are bad for politics and bad for art. To put identity over aesthetics is to render art meaningless... more »

Dec. 8, 2017 | Writing and thinking are intimate activities. Does that suggest brilliant men pay an intellectual price for mistreating women? It's comforting — and certainly false — to think so... more »

Dec. 7, 2017 | “A writer must refuse to let himself be turned into an institution,” wrote Sartre, turning down the Nobel. Thus began the Sartre Prize for Prize Refusal... more »

Dec. 6, 2017 | Equality is a modern idea. Its detractors have included Plato and Aristotle; indeed, for most Western thinkers, humanity was marked by chasms of distinction... more »

Dec. 5, 2017 | What is painting? With its increasing complexity, definitions are futile. At heart, though, painting is a means to find transcendence... more »

Dec. 4, 2017 | With Rousseau, it's never quite clear where clever contrarianism ends and brash delusion begins. His intellectual style has found new adherents on the left... more »

Dec. 2, 2017 | The speed of philosophy. Philippa Foot, a “dreadfully slow thinker,” wrote little. The challenge of the field, as she saw it, was to be slow enough... more »

Dec. 1, 2017 | Who was the audience for Mein Kampf? Scribblers and middlemen. Indeed, the disregard of academic readers was essential to Nazism from its inception... more »

Nov. 30, 2017 | To be French is to argue about what it means to be French. At the least, it means a fondness for adversarial politics and abstract notions... more »

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