Oct. 18, 2017 | A philosophy of being at home. Consider your domestic surroundings along with Gaston Bachelard, and you will have “unlocked a door to daydreaming”... more »


Oct. 17, 2017 | Dream King, Swan King, Kitsch King: Ludwig II, Europe's most elusive bachelor, died in 1886. He still qualifies as the world's greatest opera fan... more »


Oct. 16, 2017 | “The key to writing biography is the capacity to be empathetic,” says James Atlas, who failed in that regard when writing his book on Saul Bellow... more »


Oct. 14, 2017 | Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene are more readable than Henry Green. But Green is more rereadable — his opaque works reward our repeated attention... more »


Oct. 13, 2017 | When music wielded imperial might. The Chinese Music Bureau, founded around 120 BC, was led by someone whose primary career experience was training hunting dogs... more »


Oct. 12, 2017 | In its belief that what matters is information rather than insight, society has become what Wittgenstein feared. That could explain his unpopularity... more »


Oct. 11, 2017 | Orwell has become less flesh and blood than a set of moral positions. But deep in his letters and diaries and remembrances, one can glimpse the man... more »


Oct. 10, 2017 | Oxford's Very Short Introductions series taps into a very old human desire to know everything. Eight million copies have been sold to readers who yearn for mastery... more »


Oct. 9, 2017 | Some are excited, others scared. Some are cautious, others jubilant. Some are utopian, others pessimistic. Futurists: a taxonomy... more »


Oct. 7, 2017 | The eccentric life of Ignatius Donnelly. An unsuccessful land speculator and politician, he put his apocalyptic views to use by writing the story of Atlantis... more »


Oct. 6, 2017 | Philosophers have criticized luxury for a long time. But the consensus has always had its critics: the philosophers who like stuff... more »


Oct. 5, 2017 | Jeremy Bentham's head "smells like vinegar and feet and bad jerky and damp dust." Might that help to explain the roots of utilitarian desires?... more »


Oct. 4, 2017 | Max Eastman frolicked nude, thought his wife “an unslakable monster of selfishness,” and abandoned his son. Does any of this matter to his intellectual legacy?... more »


Oct. 3, 2017 | "To gaze at the world, as if you had never seen the world and have no idea what it is, and just describe it — then maybe you could see it"... more »


Oct. 2, 2017 | Bruce Chatwin was many things — traveler, art expert, connoisseur of the extraordinary. But not someone who favored intimate revelation. “I don’t believe in becoming clean"... more »


Sept. 30, 2017 | Hugh Hefner's genius was to commodify the heterosexual male gaze. "Desire became inseparable from decoration, carnality from consumerism"... more »


Sept. 29, 2017 | In John McPhee’s cosmology, all the earth’s facts touch one another. How to connect disparate things like atoms, bears, and whiskey? You just need the right structure... more »


Sept. 28, 2017 | What bound the artists Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon? A love of gambling and drinking, an interest in horses, and their belligerence and cruelty... more »


Sept. 27, 2017 | In 1930, Alexander Calder became a married man. In 1931, he became an abstract artist. These were the foundations on which he would build for the rest of his life... more »


Sept. 26, 2017 | The Italian artist Carol Rama saw the psychiatric ward as a place of vibrancy and liberty. “Madness is close to everybody,” she said... more »


Sept. 25, 2017 | In the beginning was the pissing boy. Since then, painters and sculptors have depicted the act of urination. "A river of piss runs through art history"... more »


Sept. 23, 2017 | Secrets of the stacks. The New York Public Library’s archives contain dentures, roller skates, and, as David Grann discovered, evidence of a systematic campaign of murder... more »


Sept. 22, 2017 | “The era of world literature is at hand,” proclaimed Goethe in 1827. His colleagues disagreed, and gave him a turban for his birthday. Thankfully, the debate has evolved... more »


Sept. 21, 2017 | Hemingway in LA. He was there to raise money but “came like a whirlwind,” wrote Fitzgerald, and ended up throwing a wineglass into Dorothy Parker’s fireplace... more »


Sept. 20, 2017 | Do hallucinogenic fungi have a significant place in art history? If the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Matthias Grünewald are any guide, yes indeed... more »


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