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Updated: 26 min 12 sec ago

HBO, TED, podcasts, documentaries: Those cultural totems of the educated elite are entirely consistent with the lazy nature of <strong>elite intellectual activity</strong>

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 18:35
HBO, TED, podcasts, documentaries: Those cultural totems of the educated elite are entirely consistent with the lazy nature of elite intellectual activity

NASA&rsquo;s leaders had an early revelation: Discovery means little if the public can't see it. The agency has commissioned <strong>outer-space art</strong> ever since

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 18:03
NASA’s leaders had an early revelation: Discovery means little if the public can't see it. The agency has commissioned outer-space art ever since

Five and a half years. That's how long <strong>Otis Redding's career</strong> lasted. Given where he came from, it's astonishing that his career happened at all

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 18:03
Five and a half years. That's how long Otis Redding's career lasted. Given where he came from, it's astonishing that his career happened at all

French was &ldquo;the pinnacle of logic&rdquo;; Flemish was the true first language. Behold the folly of early linguistics, a field <strong>full of crackpots</strong>

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 18:03
French was “the pinnacle of logic”; Flemish was the true first language. Behold the folly of early linguistics, a field full of crackpots

<strong>Frederick Wiseman's documentaries</strong> &mdash; which lack voice-over narration, soundtrack, titles, and interviews &mdash; add up to a comprehensive exploration of the American condition

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 18:24
Frederick Wiseman's documentaries — which lack voice-over narration, soundtrack, titles, and interviews — add up to a comprehensive exploration of the American condition

<strong>John McPhee</strong> is the maestro of 40,000-word nonfiction articles. He spent weeks staring at the sky thinking about how to begin. Can anyone still afford to write like that?

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 18:24
John McPhee is the maestro of 40,000-word nonfiction articles. He spent weeks staring at the sky thinking about how to begin. Can anyone still afford to write like that?

Paris&rsquo;s <strong>Bureau of Found Objects</strong> includes a wedding dress and a human skull. People who come to claim a lost possession often lose another in the process

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 18:24
Paris’s Bureau of Found Objects includes a wedding dress and a human skull. People who come to claim a lost possession often lose another in the process

<strong>Freud has been debunked</strong>, yet the apparatus that defends him persists. Why do his ideas endure? Because we want to believe them

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 03:54
Freud has been debunked, yet the apparatus that defends him persists. Why do his ideas endure? Because we want to believe them

<strong>The Enlightenment</strong>&nbsp;emerged from a 150-year &ldquo;staccato burst&rdquo; of European philosophy. Why did these thinkers &mdash; Hobbes, Descarte, Voltaire, Rousseau &mdash; write as they did?&nbsp;

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 03:54
The Enlightenment emerged from a 150-year “staccato burst” of European philosophy. Why did these thinkers — Hobbes, Descarte, Voltaire, Rousseau — write as they did? 

Every generation discovers its own <strong>Edgar Allan Poe</strong>. Now gig-economy writers hasve a kindred spirit: Poe, too, was a broke-ass freelancer

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 03:54
Every generation discovers its own Edgar Allan Poe. Now gig-economy writers hasve a kindred spirit: Poe, too, was a broke-ass freelancer

Ira Lightman ferrets out <strong>poets who pilfer</strong>&nbsp;lines, and then he shames them. Does that make him a hero or a bully?

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 18:14
Ira Lightman ferrets out poets who pilfer lines, and then he shames them. Does that make him a hero or a bully?

Over three years, <strong>Mozart</strong>&nbsp;composed eight piano concertos, three symphonies, and <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em>. He also bought a pet starling. Coincidence?

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 18:14
Over three years, Mozart composed eight piano concertos, three symphonies, and The Marriage of Figaro. He also bought a pet starling. Coincidence?

For a time, the personal essay colonized the internet. Now the boom is over. Sadly, nobody told <strong>Joyce Maynard</strong>

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 18:14
For a time, the personal essay colonized the internet. Now the boom is over. Sadly, nobody told Joyce Maynard

&ldquo;What the hell have I taken on?&rdquo; That was Ian Buruma's second reaction to being named <strong>editor of the NYRB</strong>. His first reaction: "a sense of euphoria"

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 19:50
“What the hell have I taken on?” That was Ian Buruma's second reaction to being named editor of the NYRB. His first reaction: "a sense of euphoria"

What happened to the <strong>public intellectual</strong>? She became a partisan. Hannah Arendt warned about translating philosophical insight into political commitment&nbsp;

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 19:50
What happened to the public intellectual? She became a partisan. Hannah Arendt warned about translating philosophical insight into political commitment 

<strong>Poet-critics</strong>&nbsp;long ago traded the patronage of aristocrats for that of the government, foundation, or university administrator. That system is now partially in ruins

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 19:50
Poet-critics long ago traded the patronage of aristocrats for that of the government, foundation, or university administrator. That system is now partially in ruins

Silicon Valley's latest "body hack": <strong>microdosing LSD</strong>. It's supposed to make you more creative. The real allure: It makes you more productive

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:30
Silicon Valley's latest "body hack": microdosing LSD. It's supposed to make you more creative. The real allure: It makes you more productive

Does <strong>what you eat </strong> reveal the content of your character? "While extraordinary circumstances produce extraordinary women, food makes them recognizable"

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:30
Does what you eat reveal the content of your character? "While extraordinary circumstances produce extraordinary women, food makes them recognizable"

He couldn&rsquo;t sing and didn&rsquo;t know anything about the music, yet <strong>James Baldwin</strong> called himself a blues singer. What does it mean for a writer to be a blues singer?

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:30
He couldn’t sing and didn’t know anything about the music, yet James Baldwin called himself a blues singer. What does it mean for a writer to be a blues singer?

Has the <strong>Voynich manuscript</strong> been deciphered at last? According to a new theory, it&rsquo;s a health manual for well-to-do women. Or maybe it&rsquo;s just plain nonsense

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 19:43
Has the Voynich manuscript been deciphered at last? According to a new theory, it’s a health manual for well-to-do women. Or maybe it’s just plain nonsense