May 24, 2019 | The dissents of Wendell Berry. His dislikes include weather forecasts, unsmelly bathrooms, ballroom dancing, and the moon landing... more »


May 23, 2019 | In the Western tradition, what’s the most powerful and persuasive construct of the human imagination? It’s the idea of hell... more »


May 22, 2019 | The history of psychiatry is the history of our beliefs about our own minds. Breakthrough and disappointment, dogmas and counter-dogmas... more »


May 21, 2019 | It cannot be the fate of the book to become tweetlike. The book must stand above. A case study in what happens when it doesn't... more »


May 20, 2019 | How Islam shaped Western thought. The relationship led to a flowering of political philosophy, thought experiment, and polemic... more »


May 18, 2019 | As Oliver Sacks wrote, between mania and depression lies “a narrow ridge of normality.” Despite his best efforts, he sometimes slipped off that ridge... more »


May 17, 2019 | In the last decades of the 19th century, séances abounded, and austere sects speculated about geology. Darwin’s world was awash with spiritualized science... more »


May 16, 2019 | “Tonight I have achieved a fresh perspective on myself. I now understand my sexuality." Foucault on LSD... more »


May 15, 2019 | The problem with eternity: it is undesirable and incoherent; it kills meaning and collapses value. Can this realization be liberating?... more »


May 14, 2019 | Being Einstein meant people asking your opinion even about stupid things. "Why is it that no one understands me and everyone likes me?"... more »


May 13, 2019 | "I greet you at the beginning of a great career," Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote Allen Ginsberg. "When do I get the manuscript?" Thus began the effort to publish Howl, a landmark case of attempted censorship... more »


May 11, 2019 | When political failure leads to intellectual success. “Losers,” said Eric Hobsbawm, “make the best historians.” He was an embodiment of that principle... more »


May 10, 2019 | Reading Catcher in the Rye in Moscow. For Soviet audiences, imbibing Western culture — and misinterpreting it — was an expression of a freedom... more »


May 9, 2019 | For Samuel Johnson, the value of sociability was a life lesson. "I look upon every day to be lost, in which I do not make a new acquaintance"... more »


May 8, 2019 | In 1940, thousands of Polish officers, writers, and artists were shot. The painter Józef Czapski survived to contemplate a question: Why him?... more »


May 7, 2019 | Liberty, morality, exceptionalism, xenophobia, oppression — Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen makes the case that American history is intellectual history... more »


May 6, 2019 | You may have heard that Richard Holbrooke was a monstrous egotist. "It’s true," writes his biographer. "It’s even worse than you’ve heard. He lets us ogle ambition in the nude”... more »


May 4, 2019 | The afterlives of philosophers. Nietzsche’s reputation fell almost immediately into disrepute; Kierkegaard, on the other hand, became an inspiration for “mindfulness.” Why?... more »


May 3, 2019 | In 1958 a curious academic impostor entered Hugh Trevor-Roper’s life. He found the man hilarious. Then he got fooled himself... more »


May 2, 2019 | In 1942, Ian Watt was instructed to defend Singapore Zoo from the Japanese. From the perspective of the animals, things did not go well... more »


May 1, 2019 | The tragedy of Martin Buber. He had hoped to provide European Jews with a sustaining connection to their tradition. Then most of them were killed... more »


April 30, 2019 | Shakespeare was many things, but not — inconveniently for a new book on the subject — a great classicist. As a drinking partner put it, the Bard had “small Latin and less Greek”... more »


April 29, 2019 | For Mary Norris, the comma queen, an early encounter with Greek mythology initiatied a lifelong infatuation with the magic of the ancient world... more »


April 27, 2019 | The Larkin wars. Tedious academics debate the humdrum details of the poet’s life, right down to his socks. Less examined: his genius... more »


April 26, 2019 | The business secrets of messianic socialists. From mop factories to property scams, communistic cults in America have been surprisingly entrepreneurial... more »


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