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As old as cave paintings, the<strong> umbrella</strong> &mdash; mundane yet magical &mdash; is a reminder of the elements of nature we have still not mastered

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 19:30
As old as cave paintings, the umbrella — mundane yet magical — is a reminder of the elements of nature we have still not mastered

Family life wants consistency, repetition, routine, clear things. Eroticism is a different story. Can Esther Perel solve the <strong>predicament of contemporary sexuality</strong>?

Sun, 12/31/2017 - 19:30
Family life wants consistency, repetition, routine, clear things. Eroticism is a different story. Can Esther Perel solve the predicament of contemporary sexuality?

Prophecies of paperless offices notwithstanding, business, ideas, and thought still get <strong>written down.</strong> Humans are, after all, material. You can&rsquo;t blow your nose into an email

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 16:24
Prophecies of paperless offices notwithstanding, business, ideas, and thought still get written down. Humans are, after all, material. You can’t blow your nose into an email

<strong>Mailer at his height.</strong> Consider his Pentagon protest epic, now grievously out of fashion. At the time it was the longest article ever to appear in an American magazine

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 16:24
Mailer at his height. Consider his Pentagon protest epic, now grievously out of fashion. At the time it was the longest article ever to appear in an American magazine

What, exactly, <em>are</em> <strong>thought experiments</strong>? Glimpses into Plato&rsquo;s heavenly realm? Simple, ordinary argumentation? They may be something else entirely: mental modeling

Fri, 12/29/2017 - 16:24
What, exactly, are thought experiments? Glimpses into Plato’s heavenly realm? Simple, ordinary argumentation? They may be something else entirely: mental modeling

&ldquo;Factuality&rdquo; in fiction. For <strong>Mary McCarthy,</strong> novels had to do one thing above all else: communicate the truth, unpopular as it may be

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 22:03
“Factuality” in fiction. For Mary McCarthy, novels had to do one thing above all else: communicate the truth, unpopular as it may be

Every scale, spike, and tentacle. <strong>Ernst Haeckel&rsquo;s</strong> detailed documentation of marine creatures shaped the way modern science developed &mdash; but not always for the best

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 22:03
Every scale, spike, and tentacle. Ernst Haeckel’s detailed documentation of marine creatures shaped the way modern science developed — but not always for the best

Ecclesiastical control of universities, the Galileo affair, the Inquisition &mdash; what happens when <strong>science and religion</strong> clash? Dialogue is impossible; conflict, inevitable

Thu, 12/28/2017 - 22:03
Ecclesiastical control of universities, the Galileo affair, the Inquisition — what happens when science and religion clash? Dialogue is impossible; conflict, inevitable

Consider <strong>silent thinking</strong>: language amounting to a kind of behavior. But if words are mental objects, what characteristics do they have

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 17:13
Consider silent thinking: language amounting to a kind of behavior. But if words are mental objects, what characteristics do they have

The <strong>bookishness of Bolsheviks</strong>. Their acceptance of apocalyptic violence wasn&rsquo;t suppressed by the literary fraternity of their upper echelon

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 17:13
The bookishness of Bolsheviks. Their acceptance of apocalyptic violence wasn’t suppressed by the literary fraternity of their upper echelon

<strong>Knausgaard</strong> writes about doing housework, making tea, buttering sandwiches, the ordinariness of his daily existence. What makes his writing so compelling?

Wed, 12/27/2017 - 17:13
Knausgaard writes about doing housework, making tea, buttering sandwiches, the ordinariness of his daily existence. What makes his writing so compelling?

You have six hairy legs, five eyes, a tongue, but no taste buds. Red looks like black, and you see in pixels: <strong>You are a bee</strong>. What does that feel like?

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 20:50
You have six hairy legs, five eyes, a tongue, but no taste buds. Red looks like black, and you see in pixels: You are a bee. What does that feel like?

By itself, travel does produce epiphanies. But it also makes clear that the <strong>language of location</strong> is relative &mdash; everywhere is to the east of something and to the west of something else

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 20:50
By itself, travel does produce epiphanies. But it also makes clear that the language of location is relative — everywhere is to the east of something and to the west of something else

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 <strong>fabulist and fraud</strong>

Tue, 12/26/2017 - 20:50
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

Derided by the public, attacked by politicians, a scapegoat and strawman for left and right alike, <strong>the humanities</strong> will nonetheless endure &mdash; even if there is no case to defend them

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 18:37
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

Philosophers, savants, sages, and intellectuals have always been attracted to power. But what are the delusional propensities that led so many to <strong>embrace dictators</strong>?

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 17:34
Philosophers, savants, sages, and intellectuals have always been attracted to power. But what are the delusional propensities that led so many to embrace dictators?

Africa did not live up to Michel Leiris&rsquo;s expectations. The Nile seemed a &ldquo;common canal&rdquo;; the insects were awful. His conclusion? &ldquo;<strong>Writing a travel book</strong> is an absurd undertaking&rdquo;

Mon, 12/25/2017 - 17:34
Africa did not live up to Michel Leiris’s expectations. The Nile seemed a “common canal”; the insects were awful. His conclusion? “Writing a travel book is an absurd undertaking”

<strong>Mark Lilla</strong> tried to save liberalism from itself. Instead he became a punching bag, the Harry Potter-style, glasses-wearing personification of smug bourgeois centrism

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 15:30
Mark Lilla tried to save liberalism from itself. Instead he became a punching bag, the Harry Potter-style, glasses-wearing personification of smug bourgeois centrism

<strong>Christian Wiman</strong> has written about the correlation between the quality of a poem and a poet&rsquo;s capacity for suffering. But does he understand joy?

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 15:30
Christian Wiman has written about the correlation between the quality of a poem and a poet’s capacity for suffering. But does he understand joy?

<strong>Sexual liberation in fiction</strong>. Edith Wharton&rsquo;s writing on sex was informed by Whitman, Nietzsche, and Wilde, and an affair with a journalist

Sun, 12/24/2017 - 15:30
Sexual liberation in fiction. Edith Wharton’s writing on sex was informed by Whitman, Nietzsche, and Wilde, and an affair with a journalist