Arts and Letters Daily
<strong>Frederick Wiseman's documentaries</strong> — 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?
Paris’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
<strong>Freud has been debunked</strong>, yet the apparatus that defends him persists. Why do his ideas endure? Because we want to believe them
<strong>The Enlightenment</strong> 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
Ira Lightman ferrets out <strong>poets who pilfer</strong> lines, and then he shames them. Does that make him a hero or a bully?
Over three years, <strong>Mozart</strong> composed eight piano concertos, three symphonies, and <em>The Marriage of Figaro</em>. 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>
“What the hell have I taken on?” That was Ian Buruma's second reaction to being named <strong>editor of the NYRB</strong>. 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
<strong>Poet-critics</strong> 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
Does <strong>what you eat </strong> reveal the content of your character? "While extraordinary circumstances produce extraordinary women, food makes them recognizable"
He couldn’t sing and didn’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?
Has the <strong>Voynich manuscript</strong> 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
If we were to take a lesson from the <em>Iliad,</em> it would be to resist the seductions of rage. But beware of authors touting <strong>lessons from ancient Greeks</strong>
<strong>Philip Levine</strong> was the poet of the left wing of the left wing of the past, the bard of workaday exhaustion and routine. Paul Berman has come to praise him
<p>The Quran is an allusive text. Precisely that difficult and poetic style, says <strong>Sari Nusseibeh</strong>, is what makes it a "progenitor of reason"</p>
The Quran is an allusive text. Precisely that difficult and poetic style, says Sari Nusseibeh, is what makes it a "progenitor of reason"
<p>"The term <strong>'resilience'</strong> was coined in the 1970s," says Edgar Jones. Before that, "everyone was assumed to be tough, so there wasn’t really a word for it"</p>
"The term 'resilience' was coined in the 1970s," says Edgar Jones. Before that, "everyone was assumed to be tough, so there wasn’t really a word for it"