June 27, 2017 | The essay, that most elegant and slippery of forms, resists being pinned down. Its strength derives from a “combination of exactitude and evasion”... more »


June 26, 2017 | The brief rise of "prince poo." How the Enlightenment's sensory awakening reached its apex (or nadir) during a French craze for garments the color of baby poop... more »


June 24, 2017 | Even Bach, musical savant and master of counterpoint, did not escape critique. For one journalist, his work contained “too much art”... more »


June 23, 2017 | After decades of literary labor, Bulgakov had published little: some short stories, part of a novel. The problem? His failure to understand what was wanted from his work... more »


June 22, 2017 | Mickey Mouse, Jack the Ripper, Proust, mutton chops, ghost stories, comics: Joachim Kalka can write interestingly about almost anything... more »


June 21, 2017 | What's the meaning of red? It's the first color. It has the most powerful poetic and aesthetic associations. It warns, prohibits, condemns... more »


June 20, 2017 | For Terry Eagleton, culture is “the opium of the intelligentsia.” To understand this, along with his other epigrams, consider his anti-philosophical stance... more »


June 18, 2017 | At least since Orwell, bad writing has been linked with bad politics. But is good writing really a panacea for social, economic, legal, and political ills?... more »


June 17, 2017 | Why we act as we do: neurons, neurotransmitters, hormones, teachers, peers, and society. Yet every “cause” of our behavior is linked to dozens of other variables... more »


June 16, 2017 | “Identity is never singular but is multiply constructed,” wrote Stuart Hall, founder of cultural studies. Do his reflections on his identity help us understand our own?... more »


June 15, 2017 | Inside Wagner's head. The composer's essence was self-dramatization wrapped in contradiction. He was, himself, an all-embracing work of art... more »


June 14, 2017 | After decades of research and dozens of excellent books, is there anything new to say about Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick? Yes, quite a lot... more »


June 13, 2017 | "Having won California, self-esteem conquered the world. So here we are, living with the first generation raised entirely on the intoxicating mantra of its own excellence"... more »


June 12, 2017 | In an 1888 diary entry, Thomas Hardy reflected on a church service. His stream-of-consciousness style was a harbinger of modernist techniques to come. We are Hardy's heirs... more »


June 10, 2017 | What it’s like to be known as the man defeated by a machine: Garry Kasparov, an early enthusiast of chess-playing computers, rethinks Deep Blue... more »


June 9, 2017 | Those mean-spirited New York Intellectuals. “Everyone around Partisan Review,” wrote Diana Trilling, “had his licensed malice.” But she could be as vicious as any of them... more »


June 8, 2017 | Why is world literature dismissed as deracinated and dull, representing what’s wrong with the culture industry? Adam Kirsch defends a maligned genre... more »


June 7, 2017 | The boredom boom. New books defend silence and solitude, pushing back against society’s endless demands to be entertained. Has the study of boredom become boring?... more »


June 6, 2017 | The flip side to Goethe's self-confidence was melancholy. Writing was an exercise — often unsuccessful — in cheering himself up... more »


June 5, 2017 | Social media is a boon to social protest. Marches grow, solidarity spreads, and movements scale quickly — too quickly to enact significant political change... more »


June 3, 2017 | Exophonic writers, who write in a language other than their native one, are an odd bunch — perhaps none more so than the Surrealist, spectral Leonora Carrington... more »


June 2, 2017 | “An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterward,” said F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was 23... more »


June 1, 2017 | Philosophers agonize over AI but largely ignore nonhuman intelligence in front of us. Consider the stupendous mental abilities of honey badgers and elephants... more »


May 31, 2017 | Armed conflict could go the way of slavery. But war won't become a rarity if we think of it in biological terms or treat it as a disease... more »


May 30, 2017 | When sports meets philosophy. Want to test ideas about mutualism and self-interest? Try succeeding inside a cycling peloton... more »


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