Jan. 18, 2019 | How do we judge abstract art? Do narratives make us more empathetic? These aesthetic riddles are suddenly the domain of experimental psychology... more »

Jan. 17, 2019 | The re-fructifying of Saul Bellow. After he recovered from a coma incurred in the Caribbean, his 80s may constitute the best final act in American letters... more »

Jan. 16, 2019 | How wide is the circle of ideas not worthy of discussion? Which beliefs should be judged as “out of bounds” — and who gets to be the referee?... more »

Jan. 15, 2019 | Death of the author? Barthes’s 1967 declaration made sense at the time, but authorship has been hard to do away with... more »

Jan. 14, 2019 | The philosopher’s penchant for argument is grounded in a conception of the good life and the duties of good citizenship. It also inevitably makes him come off as an arsehole... more »

Jan. 12, 2019 | A viciously critical review, with finely honed mockery and acid-tipped one-liners, is born of righteous fury. But it can become pure joy... more »

Jan. 11, 2019 | Victor Klemperer’s diaries, which recorded the creeping Nazification of German society, are masterful; his earlier reports are less so... more »

Jan. 10, 2019 | An American philosopher in Paris must contend with the noisome beast known as "French theory." And marvel at how Derrida was able to tantalize the Anglophone world... more »

Jan. 9, 2019 | Essays and essayists. The form requires a combination of exactitude and evasion, and — on writers’ part — sensitivity, tenderness, and slyness... more »

Jan. 8, 2019 | What did Homer mean when he described the sea as "wine-dark": red, white, or rosé? Such debates keep the classical language alive — and Mary Norris enthralled... more »

Jan. 7, 2019 | How do you judge fiction? How do you say one story is better than another? Doing so is hard to distinguish from deep prejudice. Or you can use a softer word, like taste... more »

Jan. 5, 2019 | We're years into an unprecedented social experiment: the moneyballing of human existence. The early results are in, and they're not encouraging. We now think algorithmically, subjectively... more »

Jan. 4, 2019 | The search engine, initially an attempt to map human meaning, now defines human meaning. It controls, rather than simply catalogs or indexes, human thought... more »

Jan. 3, 2019 | At 29, Percy Bysshe Shelley still looked like a child. He continued sailing paper boats into adulthood. Was his poetry similarly immature?... more »

Jan. 2, 2019 | Writing in 1956, Erich Fromm predicted the "disintegration of love in Western culture.” His words were prescient. We are falling out of love with love... more »

Jan. 1, 2019 | 2018 featured memorable essays on our historical moment, on the viciousness of online life, and, weirdly, on tigers. David Brooks gives out his Sidney Awards... more » ...... more »

Dec. 31, 2018 | The ugly truth about Alice Walker. For years she has expressed odious views about Judaism. For years she was given a pass. Perhaps that's changing... more »

Dec. 29, 2018 | In old age, everything droops, wrinkles, falls out, detumesces, or dries up. But, as Susan Gubar explains, literary life continues... more »

Dec. 28, 2018 | Gerard Manley Hopkins died in 1889. He’d published only a few poems, and there was no great clamor for more — before a beguiling 1918 edition was released... more »

Dec. 27, 2018 | Although he played up his eccentricities in public, Edward Gorey was a shy, private man who took perverse pride in the dullness of his own existence... more »

Dec. 26, 2018 | Einstein's "God Letter" is by reputation a definitive statement from a renowned genius. It isn't. It's an artful declaration of a conventional belief... more »

Dec. 25, 2018 | The fifth-century British writer Pelagius was trounced in his debate with Augustine, dismissed as a “huge, bloated Alpine dog, weighed down with Scottish oats.” Still, Pelagius had the last laugh... more »

Dec. 24, 2018 | Lionel Trilling is an anachronism, though one with much to say about the present moment. He is salient for all the ways he did not think and act like us... more »

Dec. 22, 2018 | What is an aphorism? A record of fleeting, sometimes contradictory, moments of certainty. They don’t cohere, which is part of the fun... more »

Dec. 21, 2018 | Your new iPal is a humanoid robot designed to provide companionship. You face with a new version of an old question: Can a computer have inner subjective experiences?... more »

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