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How many words should a writer produce in a day? Depending on your point of view, 1000 is either pitifully idle or dangerously prolific ... [more]
Theory weary: sick of the clichés of postmodern true believers, the ALSC looks back to find the real future of the humanities ... [more]
Paul Bowles, whose name evoked dark Moroccan streets and scorching deserts, has died in Tangier at the age of 88. Obituaries: [London Times] ... [AP].
Technology, celebrity culture, pop therapies, and all that anxious mysticism: American life is even weirder than Wendy Kaminer imagined ... [more]
Had Robert Graves's female admirers and wannabe muses dared climb the hill to his house, they'd have met a surprise: his wife of 45 years ... [more]
Addicted to opium, drink, and a number of idealized and unattainable women, Coleridge was a man of extremes ... [more]
Is it the fog, the roiling sea? Those castle turrets? Why are the British so good at creating fantasy worlds like Harry Potter's? ... [more]
An embarrassed Party meeting in 1981 pronounced Chairman Mao 70% good and only 30% bad. All in all, a satisfactory report card ... [more]
While there may be deep clashes of intuition about the nature of rational inquiry, the so-called science wars are mostly just media hype ... [more]
What does she see in him? Falling in love remains a mystery, even in the harsh light of scientific analysis ... [more]
Modernism's artistic project must at last undo itself, says T.J. Clark. Still, our present is merely purgatory, not a permanent travesty of heaven ... [more]
With the economy booming and black jobless figures at historic lows, the welfare system should be in great shape. Not so, warns William Julius Wilson ... [more]
The classical nude is dead, says Linda Nochlin. She prefers newds, images that combine the idea of nude and with a sense of the lewd ... [more]
Seriously now, what would you say to a naked alien? Talk about its pretty spaceship? Ask about its mom and dad? Joel Achenbach has an idea or two ... [more]
Bad news for novelists. The fiction computers now produce is increasingly hard to tell from creations of the human mind. Matt Mirapaul explains ... [more]
Jonathan Yardley can admire Hillsdale College's refusal to be cowed by academic fashion. Too bad it hitched its wagon to a falling star ... [more]. See also Lingua Franca's classic God and Man at Hillsdale.
Some genius at Microsoft thought it logical to put the computer shutdown command under "Start." Then there's the guy who designed the Honeywell thermostat ... [more]
Jesse Jackson marched on Decatur, Illinois to fight for justice and against racism. His defeat will be a victory for America, says Alan Wolfe ... [more]
Closing in on 40, Judith Shulevitz has decided to eschew the fashion instinct toward girlishness and try to achieve the integrity of une femme d'un certain age ... [more]
Seldom has someone climbed so far so fast and collected so few enemies as David Remnick, a man who wears his ambition and erudition lightly ... [more]
Ask Oakland's tattooed punks what they think of Jerry Brown, and you'll find out that Mayor Moonbeam governs with an iron fist ... [more]
Political correctness has made taboo the very idea of beauty. Elaine Scarry wants to restore the place of the beautiful, and of trust, in the world ... [more]
Hillsdale College is a bastion of conservative tradition. But when the president's daughter-in-law loaded a .38 and blew her brains out ... [more]. Further details [here], [here], and [here]... [Further background].
Stalin liked to flick through a photo album of those marked down for arrest so he could review the NKVD's ideas for punishment ... [more]
What is the present tense of "wrought," as in the line from Judges, "What hath God wrought"? Steven Pinker has the surprising answer ... [more]
Let it be admitted that The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being Psychic at least declares its honest regard for its readership ... [more]
How thoughtful of the folks at the NY Times to have an ethicist to help us with life's moral decisions. But why is this chap giving advice at all? ... [more]
Richard Yates's elegant novels have slipped out of print. Once called the voice of his generation, he now belongs to that august, sad category: the writer's writer ... [more]
Dave Letterman isn't a jackass, he's a talented guy trapped in a jackass role, a format that is sheer self-torture. Here's some advice on an exit strategy ... [more]
James Fallows loves the free lunch of information on the Web, including an "amazing" site that dramatically shows the medium's power to surprise ... [more]
Ladies! Find happiness in dusting and sewing on buttons. Let Mrs. Mendelson help you to discover the secret pleasures of domesticity ... [more]
"Look at it this way: you're a woman and I'm a millionaire." New Yorker cartoons chart the social and sexual history of the twentieth century ... [more]
It says little for free inquiry in higher education when an anti-racist college teacher in the midst of teaching an anti-racist lesson gets fired for racism ... [more]
Of all the Disney artists to render Mickey Mouse, the best was Paul Murry, whose classic strips and comic books of the 1950s are unexcelled ... [more]
Harold Pinter's thermostat is set somewhere between a steady simmer and a rolling boil of fury. Simply mention "Margaret Bloody Thatcher" and he's off ... [more]
Mistah Eliot - he dead. That's the message the natives are sending back about the toppling of a great modern poet ... [more]
Ted Kaczynksi: both vain and cruel, he sees his role as king of the anarchists as a reward for blowing people up ... [more]
More than just pop music changed forever in the 1960s, says David Remnick. Consider sports writing and the rise of Muhammad Ali ... [more]
It was a simple story on the Unabomber. But at Talk life is complicated. You see, Disney's making a Unabomber film and owns Miramax, which owns Talk, so Tina ... [more]
Harry Keeler's mysteries give us a world that is idiotic, to be sure, but also pleasingly weird and lunatic. Here are crimes whose solutions are exquisitely unreal ... [more]
Natural childbirth purists find moral superiority in refusing pain relief. Labor is a performance, and spurning palliatives is an emblem of virtue ... [more]
The fight against poverty requires that we reject both the libertarian illusion that private charity can do all and liberal suspicion of religious social services ... [more]
We're supposed to vote with dollars, says Douglas Rushkoff. But it would be a pity if our only sense of power was the power to consume ... [more]
It's the wealth he's achived, not his mandarin bookishness, that gives Jason Epstein authority in the publishing world. This man's made real money ... [more]
Who were the first Americans? Theories being floated today would have been laughed out of the lecture hall fifty years ago ... [more]
Jazz was accepted early on as art, though its improvised nature meant criticism and scholarship were slow to develop, and to identify its masterpieces ... [more]
When Albert Camus was killed, an unfinished novel lay in the wreckage of his car. Fifty years later, his daughter decided to publish it ... [more]
With biblical prophecy and creationist geology as his guides, Hayseed Stevens is now only one well short of finding the greatest oil field on Earth ... [more]
P.D. James was only ten when she saw her first dead body, a drowned schoolboy. It crystallized in her a detached fascination with death ... [more]
The improvised signing of deaf children in Nicaragua shows that the capacity to generate language is hard-wired in the brain ... [more]
The absurd politics of postwar South Africa inspired Booker Prize winner J.M. Coetzee to create a body of work of enormous complexity ... [more]. News report, click here.
Testimony was accepted as the authentic life of Dmitri Shostakovich, dictated by himself, before scholarly opinion went against it. Now the tide is turning again ... [more]
It's the dirty little secret of the great auction houses: mega-buck art sales that go sour after the crack of the auctioneer's gavel ... [more]
The Information Revolution is at the point now where the Industrial Revolution was in 1820, says Peter Drucker. The microchip is our steam engine ... [more]
It's no use moaning about shallow, dumbed-down news. The Cold War is over and it's entirely rational to be less concerned with serious news ... [more]
A colleague was stunned but relieved when an economist revealed he was changing his sex: "I thought for a moment you were converting to socialism" ... [more]
Multitainment, face-lifts for all, Star Wars a box office hit, and Asia has a lot of potential! Ad industry gurus predict your future ... [more]
Out-of-brain experience: you are having one right now as you watch a movie in your head, currently starring Arts & Letters Daily ... [more]
A lover's quarrel with America: of all the leaders who've appealed to citizens threatened by change, Eugene Debs was easily the most decent ... [more]
V.S. Naipaul immortalized his father in his work, even if it meant cheating him in life. Not pretty, but that's literature for you ... [more]
Slouching toward the Ouija Board: a new life of Yeats proves that bad seances can make great poetry ... [more]
Jonathan Glover's history of the 20th century is a catalogue of evil and a study of the psychology and politics that can drive cultures mad ... [more]
James Hewitt, who ate from Princess Diana's cat bowl, and more, is a stunningly dim chap. He now tells their story ... [more]
Why do women spend so much time with the kids, or weeping, or looking out the window? Why don't they just accept that they're responsible for evil? ... [more]
The academics who denied the Gulag deserve the same scorn, says Robert Conquest, that we heap on anti-Semites who still deny the Holocaust ... [more]
In universities of the future, the faculty will be software icons: "Click on the professor, and let him take you to the world that he knows" ... [more]
Vaclav Havel and his fellow dissidents were not politicians, but rather philosophers, writers, and misfits: oppositionist trouble makers ... [more]
Millennialism is an abiding demon of the human mind. We search for order, and find it; expect havoc, and wreak it ... [more]
Simon Schama's massive new book on Rembrandt has sizzling special effects amid its tons of verbiage. But where precisely is the argument? ... [more]
How did the Berkeley's English Department become a campus joke? Andrew Delbanco on the decline and fall of literature ... [more]
Philosophy rejects the projects of Frege, Russell, and Davidson, and yet honors them. Imagine physicists honoring the makers of failed hypotheses ... [more]
John Naughton's history of the Internet starts in exactly the right place, with the wonder and romance of seeing vast distances conquered ... [more]
If Orwell gave us the moral justification for clear writing, it was Wm. Strunk and E.B. White who showed, in their terse and elegant way, how to do it ... [more] All that is solid melts into air. As the century comes to a close, modernism in the arts is being replaced by ... uh ... who knows what ... [more]
The sweetest gooseberries, shiny and plump, may yet be sour enough to shrivel the human soul. Theodore Dalrymple reflects on art, life, and his father ... [more]
Thomas Sowell's arguments are free of moral bullying and his tone is a model of open-minded respect. Liberals who fail to engage him do themselves a disservice ... [more]
The melting pot: it is real, it works, and it is more than ever necessary to the future health of American civil society, says Ron Unz ... [more]
Jews think any Jew who's more religious than they are is crazy, writes Philip Weiss. Give up Saturday? Pray with phylacteries, leather straps and all? ... [more]
Does American music have a heritage of greatness, or is it one of mediocrity, propped up by patriotic and moral conceits of the musical establishment? ... [more]
What do a Jesuit priest, a Canadian media theorist, and Darwin II all have in common? The meticulous Tom Wolfe constructs the answer ... [more]
Teen pregnancy is down, crime is plummeting, and jobs are plentiful. So why do we insist on being miserable? Andrew Sullivan would like to know ... [more]
The naked body, with the raw, primitive feelings it arouses, is the most difficult, unfamiliar, uncanny, and slippery of objects, writes Donald Kuspit ... [more]
George W. Bush isn't the brightest intellectual light ever to run for the White House. But are the smartest presidents always the best? ... [more]
Lingering death scenes were once common in films. Now eating and screwing abound, while thousands die quickly on screen. All we deeply care for is trivialized ... [more]
UN monitors ought to supervise American elections, which look more like a banana republic plebiscite than any true democracy, says Chris Hitchens ... [more]
It seems that Susan Faludi has gone all marshmallow on men. Is this feminist outreach, or did she just find some handsome fella to look after her? ... [more]
The real threat of the e-book is not to the paper volume. It's free access to information in the public library that's endangered, says Julian Dibbell ... [more]
Ask the public to list the greatest films of all time, and they name Star Wars first, with Titanic next. What a sorry lot the public are ... [more]
She's tiny and softspoken, and uses her unthreatening manner to deliver a radical message: why Susan Faludi should be Pat Buchanan's running mate ... [more]
Hot Air Doctorate? A grad program to train "public intellectuals" has been greeted with ridicule. But Judith Shulevitz finds it not such a bad idea ... [more]
Good politics, Hannah Arendt thought, should neither invade the fragile domain of friendship nor force into public view the shadowy recesses of the human heart ... [more]
"Why the hell should you feel anything?" she asked. "Men don't. Oh sure, I'd like to, but what's the point?" Wendy Shalit on Sex and the City ... [more]
HIV is easy to avoid. But viruses know how to find an open sore and exploit folly and the intoxicant of lust. Consider the case of Jim ... [more]
Stalin, who badly wanted the atomic bomb, ordered Beria to leave the physicists alone. "They're doing the job," he said. "We can always shoot them later" ... [more]
Philosophy won't kill theology, Albert Camus thought. Religion is best countered by a belief that one cannot, must not believe in God ... [more]
Pianist Ivo Pogorelich was booed in Philadelphia for an odd bit of Rachmaninoff. Better than being doused with Gatorade ... [more]. Earlier report, click here.
A problem endemic to our democratic republic is that citizens take freedom of choice to mean complete freedom of action, writes Herbert London ... [more]
In 1887, Edward Bellamy wrote a utopian fantasy of America in the year 2000. His vision included fine music wired into homes everywhere ... [more]
We may find it convenient to make distinctions, says Muhammad Ali, but it's like counting drops in the ocean or classifying the leaves on a tree ... [more]
A deluge of criticism: there have never been more chances than now to write and read about books. And never have reviews been more erratic, says Richard B. Woodward ... [more]
Smart, sexy, stylish: the vanguard of the conservative counter-revolution deflect the challenges of liberal feminism while pretending to speak for its next generation ... [more]
All-American wimps. How can you respect a species of manhood that is so pampered, primped, and perfumed? US macho is mostly bluff, says Andrew Stephen ... [more]
Dream on, Redmond. If Gates's guys think computer screens are ever going to supplant the bound paper book, they should think again, says John Motavalli ... [more]
Brooklyn's "Sensation" show won't let children in without an adult. Arthur Danto thinks it should have been No adult will be admitted without a child ... [more]
The supermodel reading of Keats: beauty, meaning prettiness or allure, defines truth. This idea might have convinced Hamlet, but Ron Rosenbaum has doubts ... [more]
An obsession with the purely personal is the motif of our times, says Charles Krauthammer. It is trivializing politics. Consider Nixon's "anti-Semitism" ... [more]
Tomik Straussler was born in Moravia in 1937. Mother never exactly said they were Jewish, but he managed to work out how he became an Englishman named Tom Stoppard ... [more]
Wealth on a small scale: there's a species of fly, says Stephen Jay Gould, in which the male presents his lady with a gift of food wrapped in silk ... [more]
Czech intellectuals languish in poverty, while standards of public debate in the Czech Republic are set by jumped-up, semi-literate young journalists, says Jan Culik ... [more]
Teleology, the idea of purpose in nature, has been on the back foot since the 17th century. But it's not dead yet, even in physics. Jim Holt explains ... [more]
Economic impact studies, used by enthusiasts to argue for state support of the arts, are a dangerous two-edged sword, according to Tara Zahra ... [more]
Snake oil and holy water: to an honest judge, says Richard Dawkins, the marriage of religion and science is a shallow, empty, spin-doctored sham ... [more]
Piano artistry needs more than a passion for music: there's a love of the physical sense of playing, the contact with metal, wood, and ivory, says Charles Rosen ... [more]
Rudy vs The Elephant Dung: stock characters hurl abuse and feign hurt, secretly gleeful at the publicity. Jacob Weisberg meditates on a well-staged scandal ... [more]
Since the chance of an election being decided by a single vote is almost nil, why should any citizen bother to vote? Ask your nearest rational choice theorist ... [more]
Alfred Hitchcock teases his audience with suspense while assuring it, in the manner of traditional epic, of the ultimate triumph of justice ... [more]
The position of "Honorary Academic" of the Russian Academy of Science isn't cheap, but like many other post-communist honors, it is for sale ... [more]
Return to Aida, The Heart of Darkness, or Kim after reading Edward Said and you'll find them richer and stranger than ever, says A.O. Scott ... [more] For an interview with Said, click here.
Brain wave: suppose all that was thought to happen in your left lobe took place in your right instead? Would it make any difference? Jerry Fodor's been wondering ... [more]
A jerk on the line: watching, waiting, discriminating. The art of fishing, argues Robert Hughes, is a lesson in life ... [more]
Distrust of government is endemic in American thinking. It can be healthy, or it can poison the atmosphere of civic life ... [more]
For Thomas Sowell, it's the great non sequitur of our age: if something is wrong, it's up to the government to set it right ... [more]
Though there's been no big outbreak of bubonic plague in Europe since 1720, the disease still looms large in our imagination ... [more]
The writing of the young Ernest Hemingway was wonderful. But to say it now is a mere ritual, and a stick to beat what Papa later became ... [more]
When Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer had a punch-up at a gathering, the host complained. A guest told him, "Shut up, the fight is making your party" ... [more]
A. L. Rowse, a fine historian, rose from poverty to become one of Oxford's most respected dons. He was also spiteful, boasting, and self-righteous ... [more]
The fashion industry puts more creativity into marketing clothing than into the apparel itself: the victory of consumerism over couture ... [more]
Churchill couldn't with Britain alone win WWII. But his stubborn defiance of Hitler in May 1940 made him at least the man who didn't lose it ... [more]
Hitler's Pope? Chris Hitchens (further down this column) says Pius XII should be damned. Jesuit historian Peter Gumpel thinks he should be sainted ... [more] Joe Sobran also weighs in ... [yet more]
What pathetic, sad victims men are. Colorful male behavior simply masks hidden wounds. Nurse Faludi has you diagnosed, boys. Line up for your shots ... [more]
A proper utopia has great food (fruit and veggies) and no money to cause strife. Reason governs all and the sex is as fine as the weather ... [more]
Why do some fall to heart disease and others remain healthy? Fat, smoking, high blood pressure? Matt Ridley says look at the pecking order at work ... [more]
C.S. Lewis understood the idea of divine forgiveness as simple and absolute: the noonday sun which casts no shadow ... [more]
The dark rhetoric of eugenics in China today echoes other places, other times: millions of "defectives" who are "burdens" to society ... [more]
Antonio Damasio doesn't regard language as the wellspring of consciousness. For him, the source is closer to emotion, a feeling of knowing that we have feelings ... [more]
Zeppelins may fly us into the future. Not all advanced aircraft are entirely new. Here's a prewar flying technology that's coming round again ... [more]
The Rorschach Chronicles: tests for traits of personality are as dodgy as ever. But that doesn't keep naive employers from believing they work ... [more]
How dark were the Dark Ages? What did the world look like at the turn of the last millennium? What can Y2K technology tell us about Y1K life? ... [more]
David Hockney claims that artists including Caravaggio and Velazquez used lenses and that art historians don't want to know about it ... [more]
The scruffy old Russian Tea Room is now a glistening Winter Palace, a dream of etched glass, mirrors, gilded candelabras, Beluga and champagne ... [more]
Out of the whorehouse and into the concert hall: tango has classical musicians trooping to Buenos Aires as if it were a musical Lourdes ... [more]
Desmond Morris once drew an absurdist picture of human beings as sexually obsessed, vain, deceitful, and aggressive. These days, he's mellowed ... [more]
The inner idiot savant: you too could learn a dozen languages or play the complete works of Bach, if only you'd stop trying to be so clever ... [more]
Extend today's trends, and Japan's population will be down to 500 people at the next millennium bash. World population decline requires a whole new outlook ... [more]
As both revolutionary and renegade, Milovan Djilas lived long enough to see his central political insights confirmed: in the end, Communism overthrew itself ... [more]
A newly discovered 1817 quartet miniature in B minor by Beethoven, soon to be sold at Sotheby's, has received its first performance. Hear it here.
Paul Kurtz has been in foxholes under fire and he's still a happy atheist. This apostle of godless morality is now leading a revolution on campus ... [more]
Americans are supposed live in a global village, but you'd never know it from the dismal sales of foreign fiction: it's publishing's black hole ... [more]
If Mozart piped into mother's womb causes baby to kick, what's the kid trying to say? Maybe, Turn off that racket! ... [more]
Despite liberal orthodoxy, Harvard still harbors a flinty right wing: contentious, mordant, and politically incorrect on a cosmic scale ... [more]
Improving the human race with genetics is a sensitive subject in Germany. Just raise the topic and you may hear shouts of "Fascist!" ... [more]
Just how new is the "new economy"? Andrew Carnegie would be a good man to ask. He soared to fabled wealth on the technology of his day ... [more]
A rag-tag volunteer army is battling Microsoft's war machine for the heart and soul of your computer. The outcome is still in doubt, says John Naughton ... [more]
The plagiarist explained he'd "internalized" a column by Bryan Appleyard. Internalized a walk Appleyard took through Newark airport? ... [more]
Charles Saatchi makes his own art world. He snaps up young artists, creating a movement. Next, he gets the Royal Academy to show his collection. Then Christie's steps in ... [more]
As he stared into a box in the Kiev archive, Christoph Wolff knew he'd found his Holy Grail: the lost musical estate of C.P.E. Bach ... [more]
Did the sickly Chopin write pornographic letters to the Countess Delphina Potocka? The truth may be unknown, but that's never stopped a filmmaker ... [more]
Günter Grass, the novelist ìwhose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history,î has won the Nobel Prize for Literature ... [AP] ... [WP] ... [AFP]... [LT] ... [NYT]
George Steiner, polymath, critic, and prophet, may well be one of the cleverest men in the world, but he is not among the most courteous ... [more]
China's wasted years: the Communist Party's path of blood began in 1930. Neither the battle against Chiang nor the Japanese war can justify the cruelty ... [more]
Fans included Clark Gable, Hillary Clinton, and Alan Greenspan. But fans weren't enough for Ayn Rand. She longed for intellectual respectability ... [more]
Trapped in his twisted car, Robert Hughes could feel the cold proximity of death: nothing pleasant, no bright light, no angelic presence ... [more]
Postmodern opera cuts off what you hear from what you see. You hear The Marriage of Figaro, but you see a Trump Tower laundry room ... [more]
Everything you know about the Littleton killings is wrong. Blacks and Christians were not targeted. There was no Trench Coat Mafia ... [more]
Judith Rich Harris says parents have less to do with the personalities of their children than most people would like to think. Is her view extremist? ... [more]
Foucault and Kerouac are two of the authors most likely to be pilfered from bookshops. Ron Rosenbaum knows what he'd steal ... [more]
American education is in crisis! Latest test results a wake-up call! Such panics are a ritual repeated in every decade since the 1940s ... [more]
Ted Hughes's pursuit of Emma Tennant, through expensive lunches and cheap hotels, was desultory. She even had to pay their last hotel bill ... [more]
Michael Frayn's Headlong views rural England as a domestic Transylvania, where normality can't survive an uneasy night or an innocuous dinner party ... [more]
Colette's hunger for life was voracious: a gauzy whirl of fabulous parties and lovers of both sexes, soaring always toward a law written by herself for herself ... [more]
The English essay began with Bacon in the 17th century, and despite the pressures of academic jargon, it is a form that flourishes still ... [more]
Biographers may make up characters to dramatize stories, but the line between fiction and fact must be kept clear. Consider the new Reagan biography ... [more]
His was a bitter hard childhood, but Jim Clark says, "I really don't give a shit about the past." With a net worth greater than Portugal's, why should he? ... [more]
If we want to meet the challenges of the future, argues Neil Postman, we need to build a bridge back to the 18th century ... [more]
Austrian girls keep apple slices in their armpits during dances and present them at evening's end for the pleasure of their chaps. But then what? ... [more]
Shakespeare's history plays: greedy, aristocratic bullies, ruthless treachery, and beheaded corpses. Here's a guide to the carnage ... [more]
What's striking about today's intellectuals, says Wendy Kaminer, is their utter failure to criticize, much less satirize, America's romance with God ... [more]
Why is Russia so unlike the West? Richard Pipes has a simple but dramatic answer: it failed to develop the Western concept of private property ... [more]
Ted Hughes's language could reek of blood, guts, and cruelty. The odor suited him well as a translator of Aeschylus ... [more]
James Gleick overrates the speed of our lives. Our fast cars get caught in traffic. We have the Internet, but still wait for sluggish downloads ... [more]
Karl Marx once fought a duel with pistols. Had the other chap been a better shot, Europe would be a different place today ... [more]
Pompeii wasn't the Marie CÈleste of the ancient world, with boiled eggs still on the table. Most people had cleared out. Those who remained are an enigma ... [more]
Faith isn't omnipotent, writes John Horgan, nor is it always benign. Religion is a fine therapy, but also foments intolerance. As for science ... [more]
Censorship always censors the wrong things for the wrong reasons and produces, after some delay, the opposite of the intended effect, writes James Bowman ... [more]
Harry wouldn't let the Reds destroy the country he loved, and so put his life where his convictions were. He died an unknown soldier of the cold war, says John Le Carrè ... [more]
When a hundred women entered the British Parliament in 1997, Fay Weldon expected a new kind of politics. But it's just "Yes, Tony ... No, Tony ... Smile at me, Tony" ... [more]
It's not vulgarity or decay that so much affects American culture, says S.T. Karnick. It's polarization: the good is better, the evil worse ... [more]
Every period has its columnist, and ours is Maureen Dowd. She is perfectly suited to the temper of the day. Hey, is that a compliment, or what? ... [more]
When Jasmina Tesanovic visited her father in a Belgrade hospital, the young man in the next bed died. "Grab his covers," her father said, "I have none" ... [more]
Catherine Breillat has created a landmark with Romance, the first movie to give a convincing account of sex from a woman's point of view ... [more]
Sentiment is a poor basis for law, and a dangerous tool in politics. Maybe some unwinnable wars are best left unfought. Andrew Sullivan on hate crimes ... [more]
Wherein lies the truth of oral history? In the raw, fresh memory of an event, or a memory bathed in the light of wisdom that comes with distance? ... [more]
School's back, and this year it's fun! No more boring books. If students can't read Shakespeare, they'll do sonnets with macaroni letters on colored paper ... [more]
In the US you get all the justice you can afford. That's why prisons aren't overrun with business executives and corporate felons ... [more]
Just when you thought it had gone as low as it can go, TV pulls its pants down and swears at you. How else to get people's attention? ... [more]
The French gladly swallow all that hops, slithers, or crawls, so long as it does so on French soil. As for Idaho beef and Florida tomatoes ... [more]
Margaret Mead, Alfred Kinsey, Bruno Bettelheim: the long-term value of Betty Friedan's Feminine Mystique is compromised by its reliance on bad authorities ... [more]
"If you write one story," Edgar Rice Burroughs said, "it may be bad. If you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor" ... [more]
She saw the implications of the Babbage computer and drew plans for flying machines: Ada Lovelace was a woman more for our time than hers ... [more]
Freeman Dyson thinks that women's freedom was set back by the advent of domestic appliances in the 1950s: no more servants to do the chores ... [more]
Bells mark out both space and time. Feelings once ran high for local village bells, symbols of rootedness, tolling life and death ... [more]
Rock & roll was born in a blinding flash in 1954, when country and western, blues, and gospel mutated in the body of a Memphis truck driver ... [more]
The Japanese were always quick to adapt. In the ruins of Nagasaki, locals joined the US military in sponsoring a Miss Atomic Bomb beauty contest ... [more]
E. M. Cioran didn't think language could get at the world's brute reticence, but he did admire the flickering beauty of the aphorism ... [more]
Poet Chris Logue's memoirs are confession, self-insult, and public nose picking: sordid stories redeemed by sly, laconic humor ... [more]
How cute! Adventures in Marxism comes with canary yellow covers, Toys 'R' Us lettering, and an adorable cartoon of Karl himself leaping with glee ... [more]
Sweeping vistas, battles packed with action, and crowds jostling for tickets: the panorama was the 19th century's movie, big and democratic ... [more]
When a scientist fakes his data, peers ought to catch him out. But in the case of the supposed link between electromagnetic fields and cancer ... [more]
If opera arose, in some measure, as the secular equivalent to the Mass, does that mean that the state shouldn't fund it either? ... [more]
Sue Leaf wanted only to build a simple, natural, solar-heated house that wouldn't harm the environment. It was a noble ideal ... [more]
A few years ago, a patrol guard's donkey slipped down a hole and revealed one of the most spectacular caches of mummies ever found in Egypt ... [more]
Margaret Drabble's tidy, hi-tech study is far from husband Michael Holroyd's book-strewn den. That way neither writer can hear the other's cries of triumph or despair ... [more]
Goethe was not just a poet, but a bureaucrat, and a rather illiberal one. He approved of police spies and the sale of prisoners to the British ... [more]
Suppose you could, for very little effort, save another's life. Would you bother? And are you certain the answer is "yes"? Peter Singer asks ... [more]
Fired in the crucible of the Civil War, Lincoln's deep and majestic Second Inaugural is work of a man at peak of his creativity ... [more]
Gender stereotypes: it turns out that we don't impose them on our children after all. They impose them on us ... [more]
Anyone who worries about having enough self-esteem is, ipso facto, a lost soul, writes Theodore Dalrymple. It's a repulsive form of egocentrism ... [more]
Nothing is more ominous in the museum world today than the announcement of a grandiose Strategic Plan in capital letters ... [more]
In the old days, says Dave Barry, we used to actually charge money for our newspapers. Ha ha! What an outdated, low-tech, non-digital concept! ... [more]
Online college courses are parodies: no real contact with faculty, no real doing, no real excitement. This won't last for long, says Roger Schank ... [more]
It's not critics who have gone soft, toothless, and uncritical, argues Norman Lebrecht, but the makers and providers of art ... [more]
For a pianist, a grand piano is an elegant black figure, a mistress or lover, flashing its teeth, saying, "Come and spend a little time with me" ... [more]
Water-stained and gnawed by rats, the record kept by the town clerk of Quercy in 1352 is a gripping account of The Hundred Years War ... [more]
If there were any logic in this world, cry the Anglo-Saxons, France ought by now to have collapsed. It does everything wrong ... [more]
Edward Albee was deeply hurt by the charge that as a gay writer he had invented "a two-sex version of the one sex experience" ... [more]
Of the more than 800 varieties of apple found in America in the mid-19th century only 30 distinct types are now being grown ... [more]
Jedediah Purdy paints an ugly picture of the ironist as a wary, shallow, and detached soul. So why does he praise Montaigne? ... [more]
Virgil's Eclogues were to be singular, elusive, and evanescent - a strange mixture of actuality and artifice, both realistic and fantastic ... [more]
Although they've a long heritage, sequels are newly popular in our post-most things age. We all want to know what happens after The End ... [more]
What drives Gore Vidal's sexual politics is a kind of haughty libertinism. Agree with him or not, he's a hard man to like ... [more]
From Susan Faludi's Stiffed to a new Frank McCourt, there's a striking feature about the upcoming fall books: they’re about men ... [more]
The difficulty that many teachers college grads have with general knowledge tests reveals their thin veneer of learning, their lack of a systematic mastery of any subject ... [more]
It was Galileo's mean and spiteful manner, his knack for enmity, that got him into trouble, and not his scientific views ... [more]
The world's most famous bank guard rescued the wartime ledgers from a Zurich shredder; angry Swiss fellow citizens have driven him abroad ... [more]
Edward Said is accused of "outright deception and of artful obfuscation" in serving up a wildly distorted account of his Palestinian childhood ... [more]
Rich countries can afford to snub GM crop technology. Small, struggling farmers in Africa can't. Take, for example, the witchweed menace ... [more]
Donna Karan's new NYC store is a living life-style infomercial and tourist theme park. Donna's taste can be your taste. If you want it ... [more]
They evacuated the city and called out the explosives experts. But surprise! The population bomb turned out to be a dud ... [more] Of the more than 800 varieties of apple found in America in the mid-19th century only 30 distinct types are now being grown ... [more]
Jedediah Purdy paints an ugly picture of the ironist as a wary, shallow, and detached soul. So why does he praise Montaigne? ... [more]
Virgil's Eclogues were to be singular, elusive, and evanescent — a strange mixture of actuality and artifice, both realistic and fantastic ... [more]
Although they've a long heritage, sequels are newly popular in our post-most things age. We all want to know what happens after The End ... [more]
What drives Gore Vidal's sexual politics is a kind of haughty libertinism. Agree with him or not, he's a hard man to like ... [more]
Edward Said is accused of "outright deception and of artful obfuscation" in serving up a wildly distorted account of his Palestinian childhood ... [more]
Rich countries can afford to snub GM crop technology. Small, struggling farmers in Africa can't. Take, for example, the witchweed menace ... [more]
They evacuated the city and called out the explosives experts. But surprise! The population bomb turned out to be a dud ... [more]
Donna Karan's new NYC store is a living life-style infomercial and tourist theme park. Donna's taste can be your taste. If you want it ... [more]
If the factory devalued the hand, and science demoted the eye, Marcel Duchamp wanted an art where they counted for nothing at all ... [more]
That they want to fight wars to save people, not property, is a charge liberals should be happy to plead guilty to, writes William Saletan ... [more]
There was once a national popular culture, says Joseph Epstein. Not a youth culture and an adult culture, but a popular culture shared by all ... [more]
Jobs in the modern world corrode character, argues Richard Sennett: all that teamwork and challenge. Oh, for the days of the assembly line ... [more]
To foreigners, the US looks a confident, even cocky, country, with its big cars and plump people. From inside, the view is different ... [more]
Astronaut Gods, faces on Mars, secret codes in the Bible: it looks like the human race has been abducted by idiots from outer space ... [more]
Bother civility! Rude remarks have exposed the vice lurking beneath the polished surface of many a politely smiling hypocrite ... [more]
The Israeli officer was about to stamp Edmund Wilson's passport, but hesitated: "I think your date for the Dead Sea scrolls is about 50 years off" ... [more]
Life as a warm and caring telephone psychic seemed fine. All that personal drama, and besides, the money was good. Then one day, Teneecia called ... [more]
Science of adjectives: the very idea of personality is like a pointillist painting. Look closely and the clarity dissolves ... [more]
How the building would look in collapse sold Sir John Soane’s design for the Bank of England. Ruins are a paradox of decay and triumph ... [more]
Acts of vengeance are common after a war, as law and authority evaporate. They're not easy either to condemn or to condone ... [more]
George Orwell was a misfit by conviction, writes John Carey. He saw that nobody with a critical intelligence could be anything else ... [more]
Culture requires creative tumult. Masterpieces arise from amid loads of violent junk. Ban the junk and lose the genius, claims Virginia Postrel ... [more]
Animals do think, solving problems, making decisions, attaining ends. The problem is to figure out how they manage it without language ... [more]
If a judge can throw a spanner into any proposed social experiment, argues Richard Posner, how will we ever find out what works and what doesn't? ... [more]
Mediterranean hedonism is a natural, organic outgrowth of climate and culture. The northern European variety is an ideology, a deliberate reaction to puritan restraint ... [more]
If artistic success is measured in ink, a sure way to draw press notice is to hang a dead horse from the ceiling ... [more]
The mandarin, repugnant E. H. Carr's books give off a dank British chill, with their technocrat's sense of being superior to mere morality ... [more]
In villages all over India, low caste Hindus are asserting themselves, with tit-for-tat murders so common the situation is near to civil war ... [more]
Despite the posters folks will hang in their bedrooms, when it comes to shopping for religion, few really want to take the road less traveled ... [more]
Spies brag — the agents they've recruited, the documents they've swiped. Not to put too fine a point on it, they make things up ... [more]
As their parents worried over their divorces, the children of the 1970s roamed the streets of Manhattan, half-feral, half-indulged ... [more]
Karl Popper argued that values come from methods: a cautious attitude induces humility, an open hypothesis, tolerance ... [more]
Only in sport can kinds of violence and verbal abuse which would be illegal on the street be wholly within the law ... [more]
Enter a contest, mail off an entry fee, then sit around and wait. It's not glamorous, but it's your best bet to get your poems published ... [more]
When smart black students fail to perform, the explanation may be stereotype threat. Claude Steele has devised some clever experiments ... [more]
Behind the angelic smiles, the dolphin lifestyle is filled with violence and sex, kidnapping is common and gang warfare rife ... [more]
Something of a Scottish Italo Calvino, Iain M. Banks likes the "twiddly bits" of novel writing, "the cunning stuff that has hidden meanings" ... [more]
The neoliberal experiment — a naive and doomed Reagan-era vision of an ungoverned world order — is a failure, says James K. Galbraith ... [more]
Americans who watch TV and drink beer don't deserve the novelists who complain they're bad material for fiction, writes Alexander Star ... [more]
For Whom the Sell Trolls: the new Ernest Hemingway home furnishings collection! The cozy breakfast nook, inspired by the passionate writings of ... [more]
Peter Suber is a skeptic who lacks anxiety for closure, unfazed by the inability of philosophers to reach agreement or produce scientific answers ... [more]
No "curse," just some bad luck. No "destiny," just ambitions. No foiled "dream," only the hopes of an American dynasty, says Andrew Sullivan ... [more]
Functionalism was a poison pill for architects, a misreading of  the design intentions of nature — which are profligately rococo ... [more]
“A middle siz’d spare man” read the WANTED poster. Daniel Defoe, inventor of the modern novel, was called a ferret, a sneak, a public menace ... [more]
Honorary survivorship — knowing one might have been among Hitler's victims — has become the most important feature of US Jewish identity ... [more]
Who but Ed Hillary would announce his ascent of earth's supreme peak with the radiant words, "Well George, we knocked the bastard off" ... [more]
If Jesse Ventura hugged a tree, he'd kill it. He probably doesn't know what tofu is.  An odd politician for the land of Lutheran guilt ... [more]
Politics isn't corrupted by spin, it is spin. And lies are soldiers of freedom in a fight against the despotic character of truth ... [more]
Was a bad review to blame for Randall Jarrell's depression and even death?  Authors have to be ready for ax-murder reviews ... [more]
In the Age of Exploration, a "new found land" was often moral or imaginary, as the fad for literary geography, poets' maps, took hold ... [more]
Douglas Adams — "Six foot five and worth the climb" — has stars in his eyes. Disney is to produce The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy ... [more]
Nicaraguans will use "poet" to greet friends, as Australians might use "mate." Despite illiteracy, or because of it, poetry thrives in that poor land ... [more]
That people are loyal to brands they can tell apart only by their packets doesn't make consumerism  a trivial thing ... [more]
The CD re-release of all those great artists of the 1950s and 60s — Callas, Cliburn, Bernstein — seemed like such a fine idea for classical music ... [more]
The myth of the book glut hides the fact that publishers serve the mass market no better than in ages past ... [more]
Indifference to politics is a great human quality. It may be okay to just scratch along, paying no heed to public affairs, writes Ronald Elving ... [more]
When there were no movies or TV and most people traveled little, places like Frederick Olmsted's public parks were a focus of deep aesthetic experience ... [more]
Sad stories of the death of kings — anything about kings and queens, actually — are the rage in filmdom. But their travails are presented as oddly private ... [more]
Scissors of fate: a life of John F. Kennedy Jr., according to Sage, Ink ... [cartoon]
Where were the "lost violent souls"? The de Sades, the Bakunins, the Nietzsches? In England, even atheists had to be respectable ... [more]
The Arts & Ideas section of the NY Times is editorially crass: art as a peg for news issues; ideas an occasion for leisure, not conflict ... [more]
"We're really happy. Our kids are healthy, we eat good food and we have a really nice home." Suburbia is such an easy place to disdain ... [more]
Eat more toast, girls! Turn aside from boozing and smoking and credit card frenzy and upwardly mobile sex. (Courtesy of the Flour Advisory Bureau) ... [more]
Foregoing university and settling down to the life of a school caretaker was fine for Robert Morrell. He could pursue his passion for Tom Paine ... [more]
Aliteracy: the ability to read without the desire to do so. In a nation of aliterates the task of writing pales against the agony of promoting ... [more]
Stewart Gore-Browne, an opera-loving English aristocrat, fetched up in the middle of Africa by chance, and built a fantastical private kingdom ... [more]
"Goths" are silly, Gothic wasn't. The pursuit of the sublime, where awe and terror mingle, has given way to the baser desire to shock ... [more]
For Alastair MacIntyre, the moral stance of the Stalinist turned liberal is hardly any different from that of the unrepentant Stalinist ... [more]
Male sadness and suicide — and all because of feminism, or men's collusion in it. What should we do about these pitiful victims? Laugh? ... [more]
Only in America could you find an Armenian refugee who never set foot in France becoming the last great exponent of School of Paris painting ... [more]
What are the real 60s — 1963 to 1974? And is the 20th century in fact 1914 to 1991? The coherent span of history isn't by the calendar, says Garry Wills ... [more]
Like present day Americans, native or not, Indians were ecologists when it suited their needs and despoilers when it did not ... [more]
Charles Doughty's pedantic foes thought him a wayward chap, in the grip of an incurable rectitudinous fever ... [more]
When Helmut Kohl was unable to sleep in the wee hours, it wasn't that he was worrying about history: he just wanted to raid the fridge ... [more]
Hip young fogeys: writers today go for the historical, mistaking mimicry for mimesis. Take Nathan Englander, Yiddishkeit sensation ... [more]
What did Socrates and Aristotle eat? Here's a restaurant to show you. Cynics call it McPlato's, but cynics were Greek philosophers too ... [more]
Why bother to read it? If a student's essay uses most of the right words in the right order, a machine can tell you it's an A+ ... [more]
The latest in UK witch-hunts: the police look for a crime where none has yet been reported, then finger some hapless sod as the perpetrator ... [more]
What's your problem? This season's hot new diagnosis is social phobia. Read about it and you'll be convinced you've got it too ... [more]
What is worthwhile about us as individuals, groups, or societies is the inefficient part, says Edward Luttwak. "Inefficiency is where human life exists" ... [more]
Chatter! Banter! Emotion! Cold Fusion, Solipsism, and Krispie Kremes! Books for the stylish semi-literate! Viagra, movies, celebrities! It's Tina Brown's Talk ... [parody]  For more on this site [click here]
Melancholy Abe Lincoln had no use for astrology and ghostly lore. But he tolerated the seances his wife found so comforting — and a legend grew ... [more]
Reagan's Star Wars defense shield was born of science fiction. It enfeebled the Soviets, but it also vastly weakened America's manned space efforts ... [more]
Rembrandt's self-portraits show a total lack of vanity. Whatever the scars of age and misfortune, he is a homely, earthy presence to the very end ... [more]
One of the most endearing traits of baby boomers, says Jonathan Rauch, is that their ideas on child rearing, like their politics, are infallible ... [more]
In a world of increasing chronic illness, good nurses are far more than doctors' eyes and ears. They are often doctors' brains ... [more]
Universities exist in strife. We must not collapse this fact, blur it, pretend it isn't there, or decorate it with alibis like "creative restructuring" ... [more]
It was the seductive promises of the camera that led Fame - once an august old fellow - into the trashy arms of Celebrity ... [more]
Poor Eudora Welty! As a cuddly dear on the one hand, and a writer's writer enamored of indirection on the other, unjust oblivion looms ... [more]
Among Theodore Dalrymple's patients are many who admit "a problem with authority." They confess it coyly, as if it were a sign of spiritual election ... [more]
The issue is whether the first person, singular or plural, lies hidden at the bottom of everything we say or think, argues Thomas Nagel ... [more]
Women can't just get on with it, because motherhood is more than a childcare issue. Susan Maushart’s new book will be a feminist classic ... [more]
Before our "nonfiction" novels, there were shockers like Confessions of a Thug, a graphic account of India. It was all the buzz in 1839 ... [more]
Bullets didn't worry the young Winston Churchill: "I do not believe the Gods would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending" ... [more]
"What a sorry and dreary figure he is." Siegfried Sassoon's clear-eyed war poetry stung; his later work was marred oddly by nostalgia ... [more]
"When friendships were the noblest things in the world, charity was little," wrote Jeremy Taylor. The Early Church had a revolutionary effect on intimacy ... [more]
Alan Moorhead's tales of desert fighting in North Africa in WWII are harrowing and make accounts by today's war journos seem paltry ... [more]
A culture of pessimism is not only a dead end, it is patently false. People are not stupid, nor are they lemmings, says Herbert London ... [more]
The mechanized thumps of the Pet Shop Boys aren't rhythm, Roger Scruton says. They're its last sad skeleton, stripped bare of human life ... [more]
If "intellectual" were a title like "baron" that could be inherited, few people would have a stronger claim to it than David Rieff ... [more]
In capitalist countries, people gain power because they're rich; in socialist countries, they get rich because they're powerful. Chimps are socialists, claims Matt Ridley ... [more]
Have you ever noticed, Picasso asked Brassaï, that bones are always modeled, never carved? Marked with the fingerprints of the God who made them ... [more]
The Nazis just didn't get the hang of television. The fascist aesthetic called for heroic figures gliding across the silver screen. In a small, hazy box ... [more]
Fashion entertains a wide range of vain pretensions, not the least of them a desire to be considered Art of the highest order ... [more]
Hollywood makes films that cruelly mock physical deformity while paying soppy tribute to the idea of "disability," writes Charles Krauthammer ... [more]
Genetics/ethics: please spare us the hysteria, says Peter Singer. We need to look soberly at gene research and not throw up our hands in horror ... [more]
Even more irritating than the respect given serial killer “experts” is the special wisdom granted their subjects. Take Son of Sam, Christian video star ... [more]
Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain is an unsavory book. It makes abdication from living acceptable, even charming, and sees creativity as a disease ... [more]
Goya is a paradox: a sunny 18th century artist sandbagged by French romanticism, a courtier and bleak satirist, a priest hater and religious painter ... [more]
Geoffrey Wheatcroft finds it curious that exactly a century after "the white man's burden" entered the language, it should again seem so apposite ... [more]
The Odyssey records the joyful creed of a Bronze Age aristocracy which loved life with a manic fierceness, for both its brevity and its perils ... [more]
Pain tends to arrive late and fuss around, often doing nothing useful. It's not an alarm signal, a smoke detector, a messenger ... [more]
Fiction according to The Rules: dizzy women coming up for 30 who can't hook husbands are apparently where it's at in publishing ... [more]
Sven Birkerts thinks it's the world that's gotten old. We've lost our privacy, our leisure, our silence, even our boredom ... [more]
The first European woman to reach Lhasa was given sage advice: to make a magic dagger, first take a corpse, bite off its tongue, and ... [more]
It's tragic that utopia has acquired such a bad name. Russell Jacoby bemoans those who've forgotten that life can be better than this ... [more]
Gun ownership was rare in the first half of America’s history. Firearms were costly, hard to fix, in all too much bother ... [more]
Heinrich Schliemann, the man who found Troy, was not above a little funny business, a few too convenient "discoveries." Even the Mask of Agamemnon ... [more]
American opera was long ignored by the major houses. Forced to abandon the grand idiom, it chose a more modest route ... [more]
Beauty ensnares hearts and captures minds. Asked why people desire it, Aristotle said, "No one who is not blind could ask that question" ... [more]
Dogs belong to that select group of con artists at the very top of their craft, the ones who pick you clean and leave you smiling ... [more]
What will you be calling that nasty little nerd 15 years from now? "Boss." Emotional IQ is a sweet idea, but nice guys don't finish first ... [more]
July 4th, 1862. A boat trip from Folly Bridge to Godstow. Tea in the shade. Rev. Duckworth, the Liddell sisters, and Mr. Dodgson ... [more]
Some writers tell you new things. Joseph Epstein tells you what you already know, but gives you a new way to think about it ... [more]
How ought we to regard liars? Not those who fool us, but those who delude themselves, believe in their own invented suffering ... [more]
"Be Jases, before ye inter me / I'll show ye all up! / I'll write one terrible book!" Irish verse and fiction is often incandescent with rage ... [more]
Celestial choirs and haloes all 'round. Henry Kissinger is made sick by the oozing self-love and moralism of the US and Britain in the Balkans ... [more]
We've sunk into a moral Stone Age. Maybe the Holocaust wasn't real, one student blithely remarked. Still, "it's a perfectly reasonable conceptual hallucination" ... [more]
Edward and Sophie, who chill out with the People, would have befuddled Oliver Cromwell. What's the point of a royal family if it isn't regal? ... [more]
Today's BBC regards its viewers as pudding-faced, dirty-minded morons who stare vacantly at the TV screen, sucking their raspberry licorice ... [more]
Much of the fun of going to Europe used to be the Herald Tribune. Savored with coffee and croissants, it gave the relaxed, long view ... [more]
Beauty, integrity, and genius are art's essential values, says pianist Charles Rosen. Great art sweeps all else aside and sets the terms of public taste ... [more]
For Marcel Proust the real world is like a bad novel. Fiction has things to teach life, but it offers no final core of truth ... [more]
The Salon.com IPO hit the ground — with a thud. But if only one in three of editor David Talbot's ideas work, that's not a bad average ... [more]
Phantom Menace roles are marked by class: Jedi knights sound crisply British, white slaves innocently American, while galactic bureaucrats talk like Charlie Chan ... [more]
That modern Maecenas, the CIA, financed a culture that was worth selling, Malcolm Bradbury writes. It caught the uneasy corruption of the age ... [more]
E-mail has transformed the written word into a strange new medium of meaning, something that lies between a telegram and a spell ... [more]
Cities too have bursts of genius. Like love affairs doomed to burn out quickly, creative epochs erupt and then die away ... [more]
Probability theory bends the mind around truths that go dead against common sense. For instance, the end of the world is closer than you thought ... [more]
Now and again a gifted author makes an old subject strange and new. Garry Wills has done it with Saint Augustine ... [more]
A.J. Ayer once saw Mike Tyson harassing a woman and stepped in. Tyson yelled, "Do you know who the f*** I am?" Ayer calmly replied ... [more]
Intellectuals fret about the European shadow on American music, when the real threat is the US spoiling European musical taste ... [more]
Ceasefire! Making men into the pillaging Huns and women into the forbearing nuns gets us nowhere, argues Cathy Young ... [more]
Freedom fighters of Tibet, backed by the CIA against too strong a foe, were in the end orphans of the Cold War ... [more]
Annie Proulx's punchy, elegiac style is laced with a wry, laconic humor. It rather suggests she might make an agreeable drunk ... [more]
Some of his best friends were Jews. Adolf Hitler's Vienna years saw him living with Jewish associates, often taking their help ... [more]
Freeman Dyson predicts that one day you'll turn up with your spaceship on the back of a pick-up, pay at the counter, and be blasted off ... [more]
Oceans of cash to cure baldness, impotence, wrinkles, and toe fungus in the rich countries, while TB, fatal gastric disease, and sleeping sickness rage elsewhere ... [more]
If nature wants kids to be little replicas of their parents, why do children speak in the accents of their peers? Judith Rich Harris asks ... [more]
The angry young man that was: these days, David Frost is an Establishment poodle — a bit soft, a shade too chummy ... [more]
South Africa's elections saw the rout of F.W. de Klerk's old party and the rise of a liberal one — liberal about everything except race ... [more]
Sound-bite science: poorly informed media crusades that target the comfortable on behalf of the afflicted can in the end be bad news ... [more]
Poverty is also crippling. It's not that Special Ed is too expensive, rather that it's being used to help all the wrong peopleÊ ... [more]
Steven Pinker views the mind not as a mysterious mess, but as a coherent system, a place where order and function rule ... [more]
Who are the maestros who'll carry the baton into concert halls next century? Simon Rattle is off to Berlin; other podiums are up for grabs ... [more]
What do gentlemen prefer? Why do blondes like tall chaps with V-shaped torsos? It's not just what culture tells us, says Nancy Etcoff ... [more]
So what's your favorite lobe? Don't ask your cerebral cortex for an answer till you've read the Feed issue on the new science of the brain ... [more]
The design argument says you need God to create life in an inhospitable universe. The anthropic principle says the universe is peculiarly suited to life. Come again? ... [more]
When men had it all their way, says feminist Rosalind Coward, gender was central to women's experience. Take off the specs. It isn't like that any more ... [more]
So much bad music has been called good in the 20th century, says Terry Teachout. It's astonishing, a cultural tragedy of the first order ... [more]
Leonardo's realism — uncanny, superhuman — changed the course of art. His paintings, which made other artists "tremble and lose confidence," still draw crowds ... [more]
White, bourgeois, Protestant Florence Nightingale wasn't a "very bad" person, just a fairly bad one. Not a suitable icon for a rebranded Britain ... [more]
Guessing the identity of Deep Throat is such an amusing game that perhaps by now no one actually wants to find out ... [more]
An economy scaled to human beings rather than giant profits is the way to go, argues David Morris. Small is efficient, dynamic, democratic, and cost effective ... [more]
The life of Henry James was a long non-event: no lovers, overt passions, or exciting escapades. What he had was a life in letters ... [more]
Killing in wartime can give feelings of pleasure and even induce creativity. In war there are willing executioners all over the landscape ... [more]
Vegetarianism, as George Orwell saw, is easily made elitist. The working class has no business to be mixed up with "food cranks" ... [more]
Carr the biscuit baron, Borwick the baking powder king, Ashton the emperor of linoleum: they may be English, but nouveaux riches is French ... [more]
Senator McCarthy was a bully and a crook; he said there were Soviet spies about; ergo, there were no Soviet spies. The fallacy of a generation ... [more]
A man of manners and taste, Hannibal Lecter preferred, when it was feasible, to eat the rude. "Free-range rude," he called them ... [more]
What is art and when is it money? There's the aesthetic value of art, the market value, and now at last, the face value ... [more]
What does film critic Pauline Kael say to people who claim she's obsessed by sex and violence? "That's what movies are about" ... [more]
Choco Krispies or Coco Pops? A million Britons voted to settle this vexed question. But when it came to voting for the European Parliament, well ... [more]
For people with skills and a fondness for risk, says Lester Thurow, there has never been a better time to venture into new business ... [more]
Marx admired Darwin, but so would Jefferson and Madison, had they known his science. There's no conflict between Darwinism and the moral claims of liberalism ... [more]
"A voice from heaven should be ignored if it is not on the side of justice." For Kant, it's a given, but for Jewish thinkers, it's a deep problem ... [more]
Did Primo Levi kill himself? It's been said that when he died, Auschwitz claimed yet another victim. That idea is now less clear ... [more]
Pushing stiff fabric past the moving needle of an old sewing machine is hard work. But when it's the only job in town, you push ... [more]
Seek truth at all costs? Maybe this moral demand, Robert Solomon writes, is just one more ethnocentric oddity, a dangerously unsociable conception ... [more]
Political wives, writes Katha Pollitt, must spend decades smiling in the shadows of the egomaniacs they married when they were too young to know better ... [more]
Deep, dark, lying mirrors: your reflection is a mere slave, an imitating jape. It gives you little idea of how you look to others ... [more]
Jared Diamond looks at human societies globally — what makes one civilization rich, another poor. The lessons can be applied to business as well ... [more]
Velázquez doesn't judge his creations. He lets them be, leaves them with their inborn grace. Trade a glance with Don Sebastian de Morra, the dwarf ... [more]
Michael Korda knew back in the 1960s that the real money was not in writing and publishing books, but in buying and selling publishers ... [more]
Bad news about Ireland: no leprechauns, decaying landscape, too much traffic, steep income tax, no work, and nobody says begorrah ... [more]
Gloomy Victorians: why did a loss of faith pitch 19th century Britons into a dark night of the soul? A.N. Wilson considers the question ... [more]
Ralph Ellison agonized over Juneteenth, but it still barely exists as a novel: too homiletic and rhetorical, a false sunset, says James Wood ... [more]
Lord Byron led a life of glamour and scandal. The toast of a new era of mass readership, he was also its first and greatest victim ... [more]
The colorful memoirs of Josie Earp have been called the Dead Sea Scrolls of the Old West. Maybe that should be the Hitler Diaries ... [more]
In 1994-95, the drop in New York City crime accounted for more than half the crime decline of the entire US. How did it happen? ... [more]
The hideous idea of the snuff film was fine ammo in the war on porn. Just like those tales of satanic rituals in the crusade against sex abuse ... [more]
Christina Foyle, the iron lady of London's dowdiest bookshop, is dead. Her style was not so much autocratic as deeply feudal ... [more]
Language, Truth, and Lovers: "Even logical positivists are capable of love," said the British empiricist A.J. Ayer, whose private romantic life proved it ... [more]
Writing a history of the present may seem an odd business, says Timothy Garton Ash, but it preserves what couldn't be known at the time ... [more]
A John Updike book review upholds a genteel tradition of disdain for homosexuals present at the New Yorker since the days of E.B. White and James Thurber ... [more]
Annie Proulx's need to know takes her from coal mines to fire towers, to agate-studded hills, a beached whale skeleton, or the sunny side of an iceberg ... [more]
Rainer Fassbinder viewed sex as something brutal, nasty, colder than death. Phillip Lopate found his movies perfect for a date ... [more]
Years of the therapy that passes as pedagogy have created a generation of students whose deep ignorance is coupled with shining self-esteem, writes Mark Goldblatt ... [more]
Ezra Pound will always intrigue cultists seduced by the allure of a master cryptographer. But next to his great contemporaries, he is a minor poet ... [more]
The Safire Conditional — used in invoking possibilities that one badly wishes to happen — is located just to the right of the factual ... [more]
Oscar Wilde sold the exclusive rights to his last play, Constance, a half dozen times. Once thought lost, it now awaits its world premiere ... [more]
In 1945, a young, aspiring cartoonist named John Updike so loved a cartoon by Saul Steinberg that he wrote the artist to ask him for the original ... [more]
We should listen to great scientific minds because they are great. When they tell us they really have no minds at all, we can safely ignore them ... [more]
Gottfried Wagner travels the world, obsessed by his family's past and the Wagnerian myth. The only reason people pay attention is his name ... [more]
How rare genuine criticism is: it reveals and enlivens the sense of a text, rather than ploughing it under a clay of theory ... [more]
Eton was once for the sons of gentlemen, later for the fathers of gentlemen. These days, don't even admit you went there ... [more]
Sooner or later, you too will be eaten by a massive black hole lurking in the galactic dust. It's not Hollywood, it's astrophysics ... [more]
Tina Brown needed an elegant hatchet man to edit the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town." The blimpish chap she got knew nothing of New York ... [more]
Argentina may or may not be a sad land, but it deserves better than clichés about colonels in cafes or cockroaches on the bedspread ... [more]
Common wisdom regards typical Americans as trapped between the tyranny of the rich and the high cost of living. Nonsense. They're spoiled rotten ... [more]
It's fitting that Edna O'Brien, who's often ruffled Irish feathers, should write a life of the flamboyant, self-doomed James Joyce ... [more]
Slate and Salon are hailed as harbingers of a new media order. They're gaining readers but losing money and no one's ready to follow them ... [more]
As Jack Kerouac heard all the "likes" and "wow crazy" and "a real gas," he was gripped by nausea at his own creation ... [more]
Art investors are often advised to put their money in works they personally enjoy. They may be stuck with their investments for a long time ... [more]
If John Rawls's philosophy is out of fashion, it may be because it is so coolly radical. Too many people have too much to lose ... [more]
Some Catholics view Dante as the voice of the medieval Church. Atheists regard him as a voice of suffering and hope. Each reads his own Dante ... [more]
Rembrandt as soldier, beggar, courtier, saint, artist in the studio, oriental potentate: a new show of self-portraits reveals an old master of disguise ... [more]
Codes of silence: thanks to the efforts of a few gutsy academics like Lester Hunt, the University of Wisconsin is no longer niggardly about free speech ... [more]
Very few Americans have a sustained interest in news anymore, says John Hockenberry. It's dip in, dip out. Real news is a fringe interest ... [more]
Men are nothing but horn-dogs and women only want their money. We're all bloodthirsty apes, deluded puppets of our genetic code. Or are we? ... [more]
Re-regulate the financial markets? Paul Krugman warns us either to heed the lessons of Depression economics, or relearn them the hard way ... [more]
What does etiquette require if your host's pet pig enters your bedroom and tries to eat your aspirin? Julian Barnes found Emily Post no help at all ... [more]
Properly pursued, culture seeks to do away with class, said Matthew Arnold. Inequality "materialises our upper class, vulgarises our middle class, brutalises our lower" ... [more]
In the culture wars, both sides must share blame for having tossed historical scholarship onto a darkling plain, where ignorant armies clash by night ... [more]
The invisible hands of networks and the market are weaving the Web into a single fabric, writes Philippe Quéau. Those hands are American ... [more]
As long as the average black high school senior reads at an 8th-grade level, efforts to engineer parity in college are doomed to failure ... [more]
We want violence without risk or tears, says Roger Scruton. But courage is greater than safety and a life without risk diminishes the gift of freedom ... [more]
Asked why he writes, Tom Wolfe was put in mind of the question, "Why did God create heaven and earth?" The answer: for his own glory ... [more]
Francis Fukuyama's popular Theories of Everything have the faint ring of manic grandeur, as though first scribbled out on napkins on a park bench ... [more]
So you thought high modernist classics like Ulysses or The Waste Land had serious things to say about life in this century? Forget it ... [more]
Charles Portis is "our least known great novelist," says Ron Rosenbaum. The Dog of the South shows him to be an American Gogol ... [more]
The sublime indifference of the universe to us and our yearnings gives us the freedom to thrive or fail in our own ways, writes Stephen Jay Gould ... [more]
Consciousness is so very odd it inclines theorists of mind to turn a blind eye to what gives them a sense of sight in the first place ... [more]
If you must decide between disorder and injustice, choose injustice. Invent plots. Arrest your friends. It made the Ivory Coast a haven of peace ... [more]
The most unhappy fact about market democracy, says Noam Chomsky, is its conversion of people from participants in public life to spectators ... [more]
It's amazing how childish and gullible humans are, says Arthur C. Clarke. All those different religions, each claiming exclusive knowledge of superior truth ... [more]
When the shoe retailer, Just for Feet, got its big chance for a Super Bowl TV spot, it was delighted. But Saatchi & Saatchi created the ad from hell ... [more]
Fast and frugal: is it best to sift through all the facts before you make a decision? Maybe not. A little ignorance can actually be an asset ... [more]
All you used to need to shop at Harrod's was a posh accent and a "good" address. Today, it seems, they want your money. Very vulgah ... [more]
London fog: as ever more unearned plaudits are heaped on The Economist and as its circulation climbs and ad pages mount, the duller and dumber it becomes ... [more]
The South Sea Bubble. Overpriced shares in a frenzied market. Skeptics issue dire warnings of doom. It's not Wall Street 1999, it's London 1720 ... [more]
Teachers colleges attract students of average or below average intellect and then train them toward ideals of social justice and equity rather than academic achievement ... [more]
A mother clutches a baby close to her breast, a lit cigarette dangling over the infant's head. Who could relish so horrid a sight? Only an editor of Reason ... [more]
Why is watching other people's acts of incest and murder, with an intermission of gin and tonic, considered to be an evening well-spent? Aristotle knew the answer ... [more]
"I have joyously shut myself up in the solitary domain where the mask holds sway, wholly made up of violence, light and brilliance." — James Ensor ... [more]
Our literati analyze texts ad nauseam — techniques, motifs, oxymorons, metonyms, allegories, allusions. The only thing they ignore is the pleasure of literature, says Amos Oz ... [more]
Simulated combat has always been part of children's play, as violence is integral to war stories, the western, spy thrillers, and murder mysteries ... [more]
Just when we thought sexual liberation was at hand, things have gotten very chilly, writes Jennie Bristow. It's "anything goes" meets Victorian sensibilities ... [more]
Culture Wars — The Movie: Politics has become showbiz for ugly people, a nasty barter of shame for fame, writes Katha Pollitt ... [more]
Britain's new Poet Laureate, says A.N. Wilson, must be the dullest, least memorable, published poet alive. How did he come to be appointed? ... [more]
"Loud, vulgar, manipulative, careless and pretentious." Robert Hughes's review of the latest Star Wars flick was so scathing that Time actually refused to print it ... [more]
Bees are altruistic, good citizens, one and all. Vampire bats will share a tasty meal of blood. But, oh, those cheating monkeys ... [more]
Neurasthenia was once an exciting, new diagnosis. Every mental disease has its day. Some flourish for a time, while others languish, or waste away ... [more]
Thugocracies galore: outlaw states, failed states, murderous states — name the psychosis and somewhere on the globe it is raging ... [more]
Why does anybody today need to write a book proving that animals are conscious? Does anyone doubt it? The answer is yes ... [more]
Globalization is not about ideals, but about things to buy and sell. At the end of the tunnel are the headlights of a Lexus ... [more]
That people suffer at the end of life justifies doctor assisted suicide. We should relieve that problem, not fixate on an imperfect solution ... [more]
Henry Kissinger was a declinist. He had little faith in America's political system, its social cohesion, its role in the world ... [more]
Female Misogynist: Germaine Greer is no friend to women, justifying their forced mutilation. Her latest is an ugly and loveless book ... [more]
Clinton's a liberal who acts like Chris Hitchens's parody of a conservative. And liberals applaud! No wonder Hitchens's book is elegant sputter ... [more]
Edward Mendelson heard that you could look W.H. Auden up in the Manhattan phone book and invite yourself over for a chat. And so he did ... [more]
"We aren't a people," the Danes like to say, "we're a tribe." They've a queen who smokes, an Elvis museum, and an odd brand of socialism ... [more]
It takes a pound of coal to store and move two megabytes of data. The Internet saves bricks and mortar, but it's burning tons of fossil fuel ... [more]
Veronica Geng was a funny but difficult woman. At her funeral, friends compared when she'd stopped speaking to them. "It was kind of like a club" ... [more]
No one is above the muck. Most rock critics should pack it in. So should most other cult-crit types. Such abysmal standards and such high pretensions ... [more]
A lie will go half way around the world in the time it takes the truth to put on its shoes.Ê Consider the case of Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld ... [more]
C. Wright Mills foresaw a future without innovation, a politics without divisiveness, a permanent war economy.Ê Everyone would conform, except himself ... [more]
The swimming pool's origins lie in late eighteenth century Europe. Military officers used them for aquatic maneuvers. Ludwig II had the first private pool ... [more]
Slavoj Zizek explores a ticklish subject — the idea that we can be the authors of even a page of our own lives. We can choose — something ... [more]
Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquietude is a monumental treatise on dejection. It fulfills its author's ambition of writing the saddest book in Portugal ... [more]
Early in the Middle Ages, ghosts were ghosts — pagan leftovers. But when clerics realized how very didactic ghosts are, whole troops appeared ... [more]
Disenfranchising black men is both the Jim Crow intent and the actual effect of laws denying felons the right to vote, writes Nadine Strossen ... [more]
The BBC's report on the arrival of the Buddha's tooth made Matthew Parris pull the pillow over his head. Poor chap, he could still hear it ... [more]
>From hunting to agriculture, industry to the information age, people have adapted to changes greater than those recently faced by the West, argues Francis Fukuyama ... [more]
Hereditary privilege is on the rise — not among bulbous-eyed Berties, but for the sons and daughters of the late nineties nobility: MPs, lawyers, journalists ... [more]
Henry Adams gave a moving account of the death of his sister, Louisa, from tetanus. But he wrote it from the bacillus's point of view ... [more]
Asking if violence on screen foments violence in life is like wondering whether drinking liquids leads to car accidents, Jacob Weisberg writes ... [more]
Think of Marcel Proust's A la recherche as a how-to book: how to stop wasting time and begin appreciating life ... [more]
For 2000 years the archetype of the villainous ruler has been the Roman Emperor Nero. Yet he seems to inspire a kind of perverse affection ... [more]
Traditionally, political thinking began, not ended, with the recognition of power. Now the fact of power appears as a dazzling insight ... [more]
It's not peace rallies or pamphlets, but bungling generals that give wars bad reputations. Pacificists are sometimes right about a war, wrong about the enemy ... [more]
Children of royalty are born in the purple. Vaudevillians are born in a trunk. But how are children born into the rag trade? ... [more]
"I don't think I will go to hell," says Edward Teller. "I think I will go to Purgatory, but I don't think I will spend a lot of time there" ... [more]
As Anthony Blunt once put it, "if medieval art was the Bible of the Illiterate, Diego Rivera's frescoes are the Kapital of the Illiterate" ... [more]
If Britain is so skeptical of Europe, why not join the US? It would add five states with ten senators — but it's not a great idea, says Linda Colley ... [more]
Surrealism may have been sublime, but it was not art or poetry. It was a theory, and, like all good theories, led nowhere at all ... [more]
Postcolonial posturing: the vogue in guilt-ridden US academia is to point to the bad faith of your own position, says Terry Eagleton ... [more]
God has become rather wan lately:Êtoo remote or too woolly. Theologians should draw their ideas of him from literature ... [more]
All that weird, sullen softwareÊ is — guess what? — produced by weird, sullen people. Their user-hostility is at best unproductive, at worst, fatal ... [more]
To the Nazis, smoking meant jazz and degeneracy. They banned driving under its influence and may even have discovered its link to cancer ... [more]
Solzhenitsyn's November 1916 offers a vast, imploding panorama whose key image is a windmill set on fire, its burning arms turning like a catherine wheel ... [more]
Human beings have been so successful in reaching their current state of evolution, that evolution itself is no longer possible. We're stuck with ourselves ... [more]
It was Hitler's dream that Mickey Mouse would help him exterminate the Jews, so he set Goebbels the task of producing cartoon propaganda ... [more]
It's not theories, but motives and methods that tie the creationists and fringe psychologists of this century to the flat earthers and spiritualists of the last ... [more]
Thank your dentist. The only way to be really well informed is not to read that news magazine until it's aged at least a month ... [more]
Hold the women down: as local elites fall to the global financial ruling class, nationalist and fundamentalist reactions to feminist progress are flourishing ... [more]
Merciless logic? No, the detective novel has always thrived on absurd tales drawn from an earlier, more chivalrous age, writes Nigel Williams ... [more]
The semicolon is as ugly as a tick on a dog's belly. It neither firmly joins together, nor sets apart. It's the perfect punctuation ... [more]
The BBC Reith Lectures have become a scrapyard for spent ideas, says Ferdinand Mount. Any old theory with a bent chassis and bald tires ... [more]
Short brush strokes, says R.B. Kitaj, are a force of nature in van Gogh's painting, glowing with his delirious sense of the hot southern sun ... [more]
Poetry's aim isn't magic, but truth, wrote W. H. Auden: it should disenchant. But his puncturing irony often worked against him, says Roger Kimball ... [more]
In switching from Marx to Freud, the main enemy for believers was still the bourgeoisie. On the couch, class war was transformed into conflict with parents ... [more]
Harold Evans finds that Americans are ingenious, brave, flexible, pragmatic, avaricious, hubristic, full of chutzpah, with a stubborn faith in the future ... [more]
Just published: Wilkie Collins wrote Ioláni; Or, Tahiti As It Was, while still a clerk. He drew from missionary accounts, and his own imagination ... [more]
Stephen Jay Gould thinks of human beings as congealed stardust, by-products of random biochemical accidents, ultimately just so much meat ... [more]
Artists are often thought mad, but the fog normally lifts as people learn new ways of reading or looking. In Mallarmé's case, however ... [more]
Though computers and people now peacefully coexist, they may one day part company, just as humans and dolphins did millennia ago ... [more]
The very idea of the Nature Company is absurd. It sells not nature, but the romantic notion that nature is a pristine place apart ... [more]
In many cultures love and marriage are at odds. Seneca wrote, "To love one's wife with an ardent passion is to commit adultery" ... [more]
During the last period of global warming crops were plentiful, death rates diminished, trade and industry expanded, while art and architecture flourished ... [more]
The mainstreaming of media tabloid culture, with a lurid new scandal breaking every week, is having an unexpected effect: TV soap operas are dying ... [more]
The young Darwin ate everything: armadillo, rhea eggs, breadfruit, maté, and cocoa liquor. Later in life, most of his day was taken up with retching ... [more]
Electronic publishing ought to be utopian: access is instant, paper is optional, and the selection is potentially vast. So where are all the books? ... [more]
Jeffrey Archer is vain, lacks judgment and owns "a gift for inaccurate précis." He's also vulgar. His whole manner is phony. And yet ... [more]
People's reactions to big news stories are strongly colored by past events that seem similar, but may not be, says John Allen Paulos ... [more]
Conservatives scrap their principles when the government in question is state or local — the NYPD rather than the FBI, says Robert George ... [more]
Although Niall Ferguson is young, clever, and ironic, there is nothing cool or dispassionate about his view of the Great War ... [more]
Must a teenager gun down the children of studio executives in a Bel Air school before the Hollywood violence industry stops glamorizing murder? ... [more]
The ambition to be an English gentleman is not always such a bad idea. Ian Buruma reaches into his past to revive an old stereotype ... [more]
Riddle: What does almost anything to survive, even tricks you into believing that you exist? Susan Blackmore outlines a controversial idea ... [more]
Some get it, others don't: America has become a bilingual country. But the two languages aren't English and Spanish; they're irony and literalism ... [more]
Gustav Mahler is best when you're 18, when love and death are still heroic and music can sweep you down to hell or up to heaven ... [more]
It now seems too simple to use Aristotle as fodder for feminist critiques that should properly be directed at his successors ... [more]
Forgeries and pirated books, riots of saucy verse and seditious pamphlets: modern science may have been invented to control the printed word ... [more]
The Vienna through which Hitler wandered in his youth was a melting pot of decadent turmoil and a research lab for world destruction ... [more]
Lucretia Stewart's life was about sex and men: brilliant ones, creeps, privileged young things, hippies, sincere sorts, slime balls, men, men, men ... [more]
Ivan Klima's work is always accessible, if not lofty. His is the realm of the vivid storyteller, the prober into human foibles ... [more]
In the war on welfare, America has turned its back on working people who deserve the support of an affluent society ... [more]
Stella Adler fought her whole life against the erosion of talent and the death of hope. It was a quixotic, doomed struggle ... [more]
SimCity is like a real city, where unpredictable events emerge out of countless low-level actions, as with ant colonies, neural networks, or the Latin Quarter ... [more]
If Brendel and Ozawa can't sell Mozart, maybe Garrison Keillor and Harold Bloom can. Enter Penguin's new "literary" CD notes ... [more]
In contrast to the Disney version of nature, a simple swamp or desert valley is a flaccid, lifeless thing, less interesting than a shopping mall or airport ... [more]
It's a rare moment when a scholar has the courage on the basis of evidence to abandon a favored theory. Brian Boyd on Vladimir Nabokov ... [more]
The eradication of smallpox is a supreme blessing of medical science. But the disease may return to haunt us — as a weapon of war ... [more]
Richard Holmes has made a career of slipping quietly into the shoes of dead writers — he sips their coffee, and even sees their ghosts ... [more]
The twisted art of Seattle's finest: crime scene sketches may well be the next big thing for an art world hungry for something different ... [more]
A famous writer is being feted. He is sitting on the dais. See him smile. What is he thinking?Ê Tim Parks knows the ghastly truth ... [more]
Why, asks Herbert Stein, haven't the organizers of Pay Equity Day fussed about the fact that they are paid more than his housekeeper? ... [more]
Genetic engineering scares us, Ronald Dworkin writes, because it blurs the boundary between choice and chance that tells us what wrong is ... [more]
The death of avant-garde atonality requires that we rethink the whole history of music in the 20th century, argues Terry Teachout ... [more]
Modernist writer Mary Butts was "strong meat for anyone" with her penchant for messy friendships, wild parties, strong drink, and serious prose ... [more]
Painting today, says Julian Bell, lacks the coherence of the past. It's less like a tree and more like a bramble patch ... [more]
Let's create a society in which all citizens feel they've a stake: give everyone $80,000 on his or her 21st birthday ... [more]
Mall of America: after ten days of intense semiotic analysis and "participant observation" (i.e., shopping), the professor is ready to answer your questions ... [more]
Nazi chic: from Kosovo to Columbine, the dead hand of Adolf Hitler reaches from beyond his unknown grave, writes Niall Ferguson ... [more]
Learning from history is at best a slow, painful process. It's even harder for "experts" who refuse to admit they were ever wrong ... [more]
Chateau Margaux streams down the glass like crushed violets, its rich fruits exploding on the palate. Chemists may soon grasp the essence of great wine ... [more]
Holocaustology: it tries to come to grips with unimaginable horror, says John Podhoretz, but is finally captured by the banality of academic life ... [more]
The intimate relation between the conservation of matter and the symmetries of physical law is "a most profound and beautiful thing" ... [more]
Evangelicals may still believe that we're near the end of the world, but their view of non-believers has changed over the years, says Adam Davidson ... [more]
Where are my Muslim brethren? Ziauddin Sardar fears a "new crusades" in the Balkans, but it seems that the Islamic states couldn't care less ... [more]
In Wyoming, there are a few bigots who don't like gays. In the media, there are a lot more bigots who don't like Wyoming ... [more]
Good ideas, what Richard Dawkins calls memes, invade our minds today just as ancient bacteria invaded our ancestors' cells and became mitochondria ... [more]
On the flat, windy plains of American opinion pages, Maureen Dowd stands out for her sharp one-liners and brisk aperçus ... [more]
Incompetent fools in fancy uniforms, vengeful peasants: the West's view of the Balkans is drawn from fiction and fears, writes Misha Glenny ... [more]
Who'd dare put a mediocre computer in a pretty blue box and charge $200 more than it's worth? The Apple soap opera continues ... [more]
Communism was really an aesthetic affair. All those noble paintings, films, and novels to remind citizens of their ideal, sacrificing selves ... [more]
Michael Korda's memoirs of life in publishing are an elevated work of gossip, Robert Gottlieb writes -- the kind of book we all like to read ... [more]
Alexander Hamilton, like so many West Indians after him, used words to escape from a vicious, insular, dull society ... [more]
Bruce Chatwin wrote not only travel books that were fiction and novels that were diaries; he also invented their author, "Bruce Chatwin" ... [more]
Is science killing the soul? The London debate between Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker sold out weeks in advance, but can now be read in its entirety ... [more]
In poverty and ignored in England, the great German modernist, Kurt Schwitters, at least had the satisfaction of 1st prize at the 1947 Ambleside Flower Show ... [more]
Learn facts says the right, gain "empowerment" shouts the left. Debates on education are woefully ignorant of what science has to say about how children learn ... [more]
Why do we dream? To clear memory overload from the neural system? To express our deep wishes? Maybe for no reason at all ... [more]
Yeats said poetry reached deep "to the foul rag and bone shop of the heart." Even in the dot-com era, some hear its call ... [more
Agitator and mischief maker, Chris Hitchens says that boredom gives him "a physical sensation of terror." His isn't a life for the faint of heart ... [more]
It's a story with sex, death, treachery, magic, humor, warmth, wit, surprise, and the cleverest heroine in world literature, writes A.S. Byatt ... [more]
Perhaps the slogan should now read, "Equal space for equal work!" Ellen Goodman looks at MIT's new feminists — they're armed with tape measures ... [more]
The only people Charlie Chaplin brought together with The Great Dictator were Stalinists and the DAR.  Ron Rosenbaum despises the arrogance of clowns ... [more].
As a prisoner, Pramoedya Ananta Toer produced  Buru Quartet by telling tales to fellow inmates. Free from Suharto's tyranny, his vision is murkier ... [more]
After the witch hunt: Mary Karr used to be sure that sexual harassment suits were a fine way to right the wrongs of patriarchy ... [more]
Hit the road, Jack!  It was nice while it lasted, but David Gates finds it's time for him to move beyond the Beats ... [more]
No one begrudges physics its jargon: it's just trying to simplify what's complex, writes Michael Skube. Literary theory, on the other hand ... [more]
By destroying the social fabric that supports the individual's security and confidence, market ideology weakens personal freedom, says Pierre Bourdieu ... [more].
Architecture and art are allied, or at odds, in ways that create the final success or failure of a museum ... [more]
Call it the best novel of the decade or a new incentive to read ads on the subway. Salman Rushdie's latest has them buzzing ... [more]
Not only was the Regency period full of mad gamblers, lewd lords, and sly courtesans, but they were all letter-writing gossips who kept diaries... [more]
Boy creates company, boy loses company, and through luck and pluck, boy wins company back. Silicon Valley fiction replaces sex with work ... [more]
No one who writes a history of the U.S. in the 20th century wants to be reviewed by J.K. Galbraith: he was there ... [more]
"Had an interesting morning with Dr. Rolleston, who dissected a brain for me."  Terry Eagleton reviews George Eliot's diary ... [more]
If a lion could talk, he might tell us of the canned hunts, baiting, high-tech safaris, and other loutish and cowardly things people do ... [more]
The dark side of literacy:  once upon a time, the balance between women and men was revered.  But then came the alphabet ... [more]
Globality is not the loveliest of words, but then neither is the 24-hour, hyperactive, email fueled, buzzing, sleepless world it describes ... [more]
Bad, bad men! It's uncanny, says Cathy Young, how the sexual politics of the right begins to look like a mirror image of radical feminism ... [more]
"People only use 10% of their brains." To believe that old chestnut you'd have to be running at closer to 5% ... [more]
Grade inflation makes it hard to tell talent from mediocrity. Enter the personal essay as "the new college entrance criterion" ... [more]
Is the class of all classes a member of itself? Think hard and you realize it's a rather nifty question. It's Russell's Paradox ... [more]
The U.S. is the world's science superpower. Yet the smell of ethnic food and the sound of foreign tongues fill the air in American labs ... [more]
>From altar paintings to doodles, directional arrows to emergency exit signs, Sir Ernst Gombrich is still considering The Uses of Images ... [more]
Alger Hiss may have been guilty as sin, but red scare revisionism goes too far.  Cold-war liberals were right, too ... [more]
Two traditions: English analytic philosophers muster dry little arguments, while cloudy Germans mutter gnomically.  That's how it's commonly told, at least ... [more]
"Bayarrea" means endless blah-blah about the delights of living in San Francisco. It's one of Joseph Epstein's more useful coinages ... [more]
James Heartfield argues that opponents of genetically modified foods paint pictures of a rural idyll that never was, and never can be ... [more
The evolution from amoeba to philosopher, as the joke goes, is called progress by the philosopher, but not by the amoeba ... [more]
How could the Dome possibly hold out against these armies of highly motivated pseuds?  They persuaded the London Zoo to appoint a resident poet ... [more]
Judging by a new anthology, self-pity and a sense of divine election inspire most fiction writers. Phillip Lopate complains ... [more]
When slave girls rebel:  the literary revenge of a female underling on a female superior can be messy business ... [more]
Venture out we must.  Despite the havoc wreaked by modern tourism, Lucy Lippard believes it's as central to our culture as the creative process ... [more]
If, for some reason, you consider yourself a New York intellectual, Harold Brodkey's essays  may encourage you to secede from the tribe ... [more]
Art isn't chess, writes Jed Perl.  There's more to Matisse and Picasso than a story of two jealous guys trying to top each other ... [more]
Curious about your future? Your health and wealth? Your relationships? If you really want to see a psychic, read this first ... [more]
If the global economy undermines the power of the state but the state insures equality, what lies ahead?  Beware the return of the empire ... [more]
Torvald never told Nora he was sorry.  Leontes is let off lightly. Elaine Showalter looks at male writers and cheap forgiveness ... [more
The bomb's eye view:  television can deliver riveting pictures of war and famine and horror.  It has no effect on policy.  It's only entertainment ... [more]
Since  Fire in the Lake, journalists have been in the grip of powerful fantasies about Vietnam.  Arnett, Sheehan, and Halberstam have all succumbed ...  [more]
Neither good sport nor bad loser, IBM's Deep Blue gave Garry Kasparov an eerie sensation: the computer was empty, but relentless ... [more]
For Maimonides, to search for truth is to search for God. He inspires us to believe God has put us here for nothing less ... [more]
Larry Mungin, like thousands before him, discovered an inner self he hadn't known once he embraced a struggle he couldn't avoid ... [more]
Wimpy Rebel Angels:  the vaunted strictures of the New Formalist poets are like rules in a houseful of tots — often reiterated, rarely observed ... [more]
Kant said that the "moral perfection of others cannot be our business; their happiness can and should be." Clearly the words of a childless man ... [more]
The  Voynich manuscript may be an encoded lost work of early science or the nasty practical joke of an esoteric alchemist.  It's defeated everyone ... [more]
Tacitus described the whitened bones of slain soldiers,  scattered in patterns that told a battle's story.  History, Simon Schama argues, should visualize the past ... [more]
The on-line university could destroy education as we know it.  What can professors teach that computers can't teach better?  Wisdom, perhaps ... [more
Son of Bad Writing Contest: Lingua Franca wants to find out if it's only postmod academics who are spewing forth all the gobbledygook ... [more]
"Down came the fine masses of Pentelican marble, scattering their white fragments with thundering noise among the ruins."  Jeff Jacoby on the Elgin Marbles .... [more]
When Jane Goodall began her study of wild chimpanzees in 1960 it was not permitted among ethologists to talk about an animal's mind or personality ... [more]
Will classical music make you smarter?  help you lose weight? stop smoking?  What is the Mozart Effect anyway? ... [more]
Scientists often complain that movies and TV don't understand them, says Michael Crichton. Of course, it's exactly the other way around ... [more]
Free Trade did it: the world is generating more wealth more rapidly than ever before. That's more jobs, more education, more heath, more comfort ... [more]
It's easy to see Rudolph Giuliani as an ironic case, a Mafia-buster turned Godfather.  Too easy, in fact, writes John Podhoretz ... [more]
Apart from lucky-number psychics, political pundits have the worst record for predicting the future. The media should stick to explanations, says James Fallows ... [more]
Even the most ordinary traffic between men and women contains a vast potential for havoc. It's a truth that feminists must face ... [more]
To Sue Grafton, his work showed that the crime novel could be as challenging, as astute, and as rarefied as the sonnet.  ... [more].
How do discoveries happen in science and medicine? They very likely emerge from a dark path of chaos, claims M.L. Podolsky ... [more]
The romanticism of 18th century Germany provided a literary culture unprepared for Heinrich von Kleist's savage poetic imagination ... [more]
Emily Dickinson's poetry has for a century been entangled by her editors with human passions, sex, and blind partiality ... [more]
What does craft offer that a machine can't? It's the direct impulse from the maker to the work made, as distinct as a fingerprint ... [more]
Richard Dawkins doesn't argue that scientists should try to write like poets. Simple clarity is enough: "The poetry is in the science" ... [more]
Is there a Marx-Ayn Rand connection?  Was Ayn Rand a feminist? A once despised figure now catches the serious attention of scholars ... [more]
A young man was asked, "Who in the Bible was eaten by a whale?" The confident answer: "Pinocchio." It's a problem, says Christina Hoff Sommers ... [more]
Imagine walking right into a Van Gogh painting. Wouldn't that be better than just looking at one? Matt Mirapaul isn't so sure ... [more]
The last gringo:  Glenn Garvin  is the only American daily journalist in Managua.  It's what happens when the fickle winds of media interest change ... [more]
We realize that there's only one past, and see the future as open. But the future is what will actually happen. There's only one of 'em, says Dan Dennett ... [more]
Confucianism:  the epitome of Chinese philosophy or a Christianized distortion?  Did Confucius even exist?  Was he occidental myth or oriental reality? ... [more]
The joy of work and the joy of doing absolutely nothing are not mutually exclusive, but they do need to live apart, argues Steven Lagerfeld ... [more]
Today's culture boom recalls 17th century Britain, where literacy and mass printing saw the Church of England lose its monopoly on the limits of debate ... [more]
There are no taxes on Mars, no anti-smoking or zoning laws. Red it may be, but it's still the perfect planet for libertarians ... [more]
Tripp, Theroux, Hitchens: abuse the trust of friends and you shred honor, plunging civilization into the war of all against all, says Todd Gitlin ... [more]
NPR's Andrei Codrescu likes to tell heart-warming stories about quaint customs of faraway European tribes. Of course, he makes them up ... [more]
Tragedy is dead because God's shadow no longer falls on us, George Steiner once wrote. But are we really beyond the tragic? Alex Abramovich wonders ... [more]
Dishonorable things have been written about V.S. Naipaul, says Jason Cowley, but his recent essay on the novel (below) shows a man of great moral seriousness ... [more]
"My writing imagination," says V.S. Naipaul, "was like a chalk-scrawled blackboard, wiped clean in stages, and at the end blank again, tabula rasa" ... [more]
Maureen Dowd once ran into Monica Lewinsky in D.C. "Do you mind if I ask you something?" Lewinsky said, poised and icy ... [more]
Jane Austen and Chekhov "updated," Christ as Che Guevara, and Paul McCartney for the new Poet Laureate: welcome to Britain today ... [more]
Elvis Presley blissed out on Kahlil Gibran, bombed out on Dexamyl, and was half-convinced of his own divinity ... [more]
Fashion, cosmetics, diet: our obsession with personal beauty, scientists are finding out, is more in the genes than in the jeans ... [more]
In public debate, most philosophers sound like space aliens who deposit some podlike idea before climbing back in their saucer and flying away ... [more]
Compassion fatigue may not be admirable, but it is deeply human. The shame is that it often springs from hearing lies ... [more]
Norman Podhoretz never forgave the New York intellectuals for rejecting him. Here's his account of the "American Bloomsbury" ... [more]
"You're as old as you feel" applies even to the Galapagos tortoise, who reaches the age of 110, says John Bayley ... [more]
At Iranian universities and airports there are separate entrances for women where they are searched for lipstick and other weapons of mass destruction ... [more]
Who paid Amazon to tell you that new book is "destined for greatness"? Better think twice before you believe it ... [more]
Faced with a veering, crazy-making, fragmenting world on the edge of the 21st century, a new breed of fiction writer is emerging ... [more]
Serb policemen and soldiers use a strategy of terror that now passes for law enforcement in Kosovo. Their rage is a law unto itself ... [more]
Who would choose to build an authentic late-1940s modern style kitchen? It's a question only people over fifty would ever ask ... [more]
Why do anti-landmine activists embody civil society, but not members of the National Rifle Association? David Rieff considers the question ... [more]
Tom Paine never received honor in his native England, argues Neal Ascherson, because he was an implacable foe of irrational authority ... [more]
The old elitism has been replaced by a patronizing new snobbery that views anything truly challenging as beyond the capacity of "ordinary people" ... [more]
Scientifically, Al Gore may be dumber than a box of rocks, but scientists will be the last to tell him. He's got the money ... [more]
Evil is cool. It's fashionable for academics to love sin, which they now call "transgression," implying aesthetic or moral greatness. Roger Shattuck argues that Plato knew better ... [more]
For meat-pie Australians, olive oil was once strictly a pharmacy item and spaghetti was served from cans. Oz has come a long way, says David Malouf ... [more]
College-trained elites — judges and lawgivers — often don't hesitate to impose unpopular policies on an unwilling public, says Michael Schudson ... [more]
>From the jaundiced vantage point of century's end, Lewis Mumford's lively force and originality make his caustic writings worth our attention ... [more]
Andrea Dworkin isn't happy these days: "My prayer for the women of the next millennium: have hard hearts and learn how to kill" ... [more]
It's a book to hate: an extremely erudite idiot savant's history of Modernism that parodies Karl Kraus and Flaubert ... [more]
Like all good critics, James Wood is a storyteller of the act of reading, recreating the experience on the page for us ... [more]
Math phobic? John Allen Paulos has written a book that uses stories to let the reader examine mathematical ideas in comfort ... [more]
How do you find a cure for the common cold when lab animals are unfazed by it? Colds are an oddly human affliction ... [more]
The Dilbert Doctrines: Scott Adams thinks that mission statements are pretty well useless, but that doesn't mean he's a man without a mission ... [more]
Shakespeare in Love shows its hero sharpening his quill and scribbling mightily — only to practice his signature. A nice Tom Stoppard touch ... [more]
American audiences are easily suckered by uplifting films and plays that congratulate them for their humanity and intelligence, says Frank Rich ... [more]
For appreciating Monet, it's those froggy lilies that pose the biggest problem. They're too obviously gorgeous, drowning us in huge pools of color ... [more]
Feminism wasn't prepared for Bill Clinton. Turning on him would have been disastrous for feminist politics, says Peter Beinart. But not turning on him ... [more]
Sexual McCarthyism: does it mean no sex with Communists? If so, it's a largely superfluous cause. The phrase would have interested George Orwell ... [more]
He's a physicist who acts, packs Columbia University lecture halls, and may be the deepest mind in science since Stephen Hawking. He's also cute ... [more]
British historians write in a splendidly readable style. And well they should, lest they be caught out by the jury of an educated public ... [more]
What's the right portal for you? There's My Yahoo! and My Look, and — My word! — there's even a quieter, more intelligent voice ... [more]
Global warming scam: there may be far less evidence for climate change than the media would have us believe. The National Anxiety Center reports ... [more]
Ivan Klíma's superb fictions make a strong case for reading literature in translation. It's a universal truth: people are alike ... [more]
The Enlightenment has given undreamt health, freedom, comfort, and prosperity to the human race. Isn't it time to get rid of it? ... [more]
Egalitarianism is in trouble. People want fairness, but they've seen too many welfarist programs that didn't work ... [more]
Mother loved Orwell's 1984 and joked about the novel's Ministry of Truth. Baba Ruzya, once a Soviet censor, asked, "And what do you think I did at Glavlit?" ... [more]
Frederick Crews's stunning debunking of the Freud legend has marked a sea change in our intellectual culture ... [more]
Anthropology is closely tied to racism in American history. But its scientific messages cut two ways ... [more]
Shangri-La-La: Tibet is subject to more silly twaddle than any other place on earth. Here's a book to set things straight ... [more]
California, like the U.S. itself, is a place defined not for immigrants, but by them. Its dream of a new life is still alive ... [more]
Bossy women, cattle pestilence, and, worst of all, no shops: Life wasn't easy for the Anglo-Saxons ... [more]
Was WWI caused by railway timetables? Could we ever know it as objective fact? And do facts make any difference to history? ... [more]
Muhammad Ali: he could trade blow for blow and metaphysic for metaphysic. So what was Sonny Liston's metaphysic? ... [more]
Milan Kundera's powerful new novel, the happiest event in his writing career since The Unbearable Lightness of Being ... [more]
Ludovic Kennedy sits in the departure lounge of life. He doesn't think there's going to be another flight ... [more]
Charles Lindbergh took only five sandwiches: "If I get to Paris I won't need any more, and if I don't, I won't need any more, either" ... [more]
Red Diaper Rash: A childhood spent in the shadow of Stalin and the Party could be harrowing. Some recollections ... [more]
Call it Mallspeak, teenbonics, or just verbal garbage. Some colleges have, like, decided to declare war on the dumbing down of spoken English ... [whatever]
David Talbot wants to take Salon out of tweedom and make it into a full-service scandal sheet for the global-village culture wars ... [more]
The Amish are famous for shunning technology. But their secret passion for the cell phone is causing an uproar, reports Howard Rhiengold ... [more]
Science was born in a matrix of Christian theism, argues philosopher Alvin Plantinga. The Darwinian view of mind stands against science itself ... [more]
Controlled schizophrenia is how atom spy Klaus Fuchs described the mind of a spy. It's a kind of life Allen Weinstein knows well ... [more]
Electronic books: they may be the wave of the future, but the paper industry doesn't have much to worry about yet ... [more]
Why do we get heavier as we approach the speed of light? Einstein knew the answer, and it's time you did too ... [more]
They're cute and furry, and they die for us. People in white coats kill animals in the name of science. Are they Dr. Frankensteins? ... [more]
Argentina to Laos, for better and for worse, global economics means adopting one nation's culture: We are all Americans now ... [more]
Adam Dalgliesh is a bit of a mystery, says P.D. James. Though his love life is his business, she does at times feel, "I must get that man married" ... [more]
The mysterious spiral stairs at the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe: legend has it they were built by St. Joseph himself ... [more]
Kafka in Utah: When scientist John Lighton took up a new academic post, he felt he was on the way to a successful career ... [more]
Britain's Sunday Observer says this was the year the Net came of age and it names its choice of the Ten Best Sites of 1998. Guess who heads the list? ... [more]
Misunderstanding Dolly: a child dies, and its grieving parents turn to genetics. Can cloning give them their child back? ... [more]
We don't judge Clinton as a man, says David Gelernter. Problem is, we barely recall what ''a man'' is supposed to mean. The word slips away ... [more]
Students fed on Cap'n Crunch and Coke, teams outfitted by Nike, with lectures by the Distinguished Taco Bell Professor: it's Academia Inc. ... [more]
They used to be called the "me" generation. But as the baby boomers retire, Theodore Roszak predicts they'll become the "we" generation ... [more]
"Information" is all the buzz, book budgets go into computers, borrowing is down and costs are up. Will libraries survive? ... [more]
Progress is happening faster, and we'll be bombarded in the future with more inventions as ingenuity and imagination figure ways to make a buck ... [more]
What's more bourgeois than being afraid to look bourgeois? As for today's so-called underground, it's just another marketing niche, writes James Ryerson ... [more]
The Mirror shows all that we could see without it, except for one thing, Jonathan Miller reminds us: our own faces ... [more]
Thomas Keneally has created a grand tapestry in which all the colors of Irish history glow with brilliant intensity ... [more]
John Bayley's book about his senile wife, Iris Murdoch, is a sickbed memoir, redolent of diapers and dementia ... [more]
China's One Child program has worked, says P.J. O'Rourke, though whether at greater social cost than America's One Parent program, he's not sure ... [more]
He's Al Gore's smartest cousin: gossip, essayist, novelist, and filmland's most nearly omniscient being: Gore Vidal ... [more]
Why are some nations rich and powerful, others poor and backward? The question requires hard thinking, not pious sentimentality ... [more]
Jorge Luis Borges's "The Rose of Paracelsus" was in the Antioch Review in 1986, despite Penguin's claim to be printing it for the first time in English ... [more]
Name-dropping, empty jargon, pseudoscience: they're the usual tools of the postmodern theorist. Here's a book to pop a few inflated egos ... [more]
The Tulip: from Turkish turbans to hysteria in 17th-century Holland to the modern city park, the history of an exquisite flower ... [more]
Realism to surrealism, mod to postmod, the Marquis de Sade has inspired nearly every aspect of the French avant-garde ... [more]
A century of New York Times book reviews makes a sorry array, showing the ultimate nullity of the review as a form, says James Wood ... [more]
Ungrateful peasants got rid of the Sandinistas at their first chance, but for the left, bad journalism is just the continuation of war by other means ... [more]
Sviatoslav Richter: remote and unhappy, he used a technique of hardened steel to create sublime musical visions ... [more]
Many academics don't care if Rigoberta Menchu's work contains much that is dishonest. What if Anne Frank's diary turned out to be by her father? ... [more]
Sexual conflict, sibling rivalry, family strife. It's soap opera in your back garden, the ruthless side of plants ... [more]
It may be light on news, but it's got horoscopes, cooking tips, fashion, Dear Abby, and a daily page-one prayer. It's the Worst Newspaper in America ... [more]
Hey, painting is back! But better whisper it. It's the way of the art world: "The minute you proclaim painting is back, it's over" ... [more]
The Buddha looks out from the paintings of Odilon Redon, speaks in the pages of Jack Kerouac, sits next to that bottle of perfume ... [more]
Other artists — Hölderlin, Schumann, Van Gogh — went mad, but none left such a vivid record of the entry into psychosis as the diary of Nijinsky ... [more]
FDR adored it, Khrushchev thought it America's most lethal weapon, and Jimmy Carter condemned it: the Martini ... [more]
Genes may be selfish, says Richard Dawkins, but that's no excuse for you to be. Darwin explains altruism too ... [more]
At Arts & Letters Daily, we prefer the helpful, personal service of Powell's. Meanwhile, Fasolt and Fafner slug it out ... [more]
The poverty of India strikes at the hearts of tourists, whose coins help keep begging alive. Here's a more hard-headed local view ... [more]
Less a portal for the masses than a porthole for intellectuals. The New York Times says Arts & Letters Daily is a new kind of portal site ... [more]
Welcome to the MLA! Applications to graduate school in English should come with a career health warning: This occupation is a black hole ... [more]
The acid test for any machine translation program. Try it on Groucho's line: "We took some pictures of the native girls but they're not developed yet" ... [more]
The Jewish Bible created our linear sense of history. Other religions saw cycles and repetition; for the Jews, every historic event was unique ... [more]
The Wrong Stuff: whether it's the South Pole or outer space, doughty explorers need more than skill and luck. Humor and humility help too ... [more]
Orson Welles's War of the Worlds caused radio listeners to "feel" the Martians' heat rays and "choke" on their poison gas. What have we learned about mass panic? ... [more]
All that we think about reality, art, greatness, and pleasure is reoriented by the invention of the movies, argues Harvard's Stanley Cavell ... [more]
Fiction and philosophy, sex and suicide. Laurie Stieber was Jerzy Kosinski's intellectual Lolita, he her erotic knight ... [more]
For better or for worse, education is linked to human faces, voices, and personalities -- insufferable and endearing. The computer will never replace that ... [more]
"The man who fears no truths has nothing to fear from lies," wrote Jefferson, who denied his affair with Sally Hemings. No audiotapes, no special prosecutor ... [more]
Africa has a past, but not a history. Here's an elegant and humane new book to overturn that quaint historian's view ... [more]
Conspicuous failure has an oddly American face. Fitzgerald once told Hemingway, "You write with the authority of success; I with the authority of failure" ... [more]
The decline in U.S. welfare recipients is so stunning, it's produced a $4.8 billion surplus of unspent funds. Where have all those people gone? ... [more]
The major event of his life, said Jorge Luis Borges, was his father's library. "Sometimes I think I've never strayed outside that library" ... [more]
Great composers steal, the minor ones borrow. Only those without talent -- like Andrew Lloyd-Webber -- fret about being original, argues Peter Conrad ... [more]
Do teachers need teacher education? The chief inspector of British schools argues that university education departments and teachers colleges might as well be shut down ... [more]
García Lorca was a salon man par excellence, fantasist and dissembler, a romantic egotist with more ambition than talent ... [more]
Kristallnacht: until that moment the mixed signals were hard to read and Jews couldn't be sure whether they should leave Germany ... [more]
Science, Star Trek, and astrology can each induce a tingle in the spine, says Richard Dawkins. But some tingles are better than others ... [more]
Russia is too vast, its contradictions too extreme. Easier to put on blinkers, see only part of the truth, romanticize or demonize it ... [more]
Do cults brainwash recruits? Yes, say some academics. Others insist that despite "love-bombing" and guilt trips, most cults are not good at keeping members ... [more]
"Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Ben Franklin believed it, but is it true? Medical science now knows ... [more]
Helmut Kohl was a good European, ready to resolve EU problems with his wallet full of D-Marks. Someday Germans would begin saying no ... [more]
MIT economist Paul Krugman says cyberspace is getting ugly. It's goodbye to geeks in garages, and hello to the new railroad barons ... [more]
She guided "my now throbbing Titanic into her icebergs." Auberon Waugh says it's been a vintage year for the Bad Sex Award ... [more]
Plato Rules, OK? Alain de Botton argues that in our self-help age the ancient thinkers will inevitably be more popular than Derrida & Co. ... [more]
Huck Finn cannot be banned from schools, since a necessary part of education is "learning to think critically about offensive ideas," says a federal judge ... [more]
An outsider himself, Albert Camus wanted to go beyond atheism, religion, imperialism and communism -- beyond everything ... [more]
Racial optimism: America is becoming more meritocratic and less racist, while the test-score gap between blacks and whites is narrowing ... [more]
What gave Athens its intellect, made Hollywood the power-center for film, did for ships in Glasgow what it's done for computers in Palo Alto? ... [more]
In Knut Hamsun's novels the self invents itself, while a lie is just an ordinary day in truth's working week, says James Wood ... [more]
This book on blasphemy is pure melodrama, pitting personal courage against legal persecution, free speech against a stifling religion, satire against respectability ... [more]
Horrors! Crime's down, the economy's booming and Americans live better than ever. It spoils the doomsday scripts of both left-wing and conservative intellectuals ... [more]
Call it pathology. The key to the drug war isn't antidrug messages, nor just saying no: it's finding out why some people so crave drugs ... [more]
If the Bible can't be trusted on the origin and purpose of the universe, how can it be a reliable basis for ethics? ... [more]
>From the jet's window, Arthur Danto saw a natural Mark Rothko, with heavy purple at the bottom, blue, and bands of rose and orange ... [more]
L.A. will be consumed in flames! So cries Mike Davis, Marxist prophet of the apocalypse theme park beneath the smog. While we're waiting, here are a few facts ... [more]
Harold Bloom's is a defiantly self-impressed mind, one not to be changed on the subject of Shakespeare, writes William Kerrigan ... [more]
"I've always been a tinkerer," says Herbie Hancock, the jazz genius who's lately been tinkering with the Ravel G major piano concerto ... [more]
Artist John Alexander, "a Texan swamp hog raised by madness," in the words of Robert Hughes, doesn't care who he offends ... [more]
Clitoridectomy is liberation! Why loopy Lacanian feminists are alienated not only from the political left, but from human reality itself ... [more]
To make NATO the focal point of European unity will revive all the disturbing ghosts of modern history, says George Kennan ... [more]
Mother's little helper: a new study sheds light on "the impact of small appliances in the home" ... [more]
Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full is a supersize swig of literary testosterone, a manifesto of masculinity at the millennium, says Elaine Showalter ... [more]
The small-world effect: chances are, you know someone who met a woman who was once acquainted with a man who had shaken the hand of ... [more]
Anne Fadiman opened her mailbox to find two poems by John Updike. It was as if "the books on my shelf had come to life" ... [more]
Most of us harbor a lively fear of death, but that's not logically equivalent to a craving for immortality ... [more]
Margaret Thatcher was hobbled by no inner doubts -- a highly effective mind set in a politician, says Peter Clarke ... [more]
Scientists behaving badly: following the David Baltimore case has been like watching a slow-motion pileup of cars on a foggy freeway ... [more]
As Constance Woolson filled Henry James's imagination, she fed into his heroines, Daisy Miller, Bessie Alden, Isabel Archer, Milly Theale ... [more]
Farming crisis? It used to mean bad harvests and the prospect of world starvation. Now it means oceans of food ... [more]
Robert Pinsky, the nation's poet-in-charge, wants people to trust their instincts about voice and sound: poetry is above all musical experience ... [more]
The dwindling club who still believe in Sigmund Freud begin to sound like flat-earthers. Still, the Freud machine creaks on ... [more]
There are no longer any major news stories in which the media do not play an essential role -- in too many cases creating the story itself ... [more]
The headline, Jeff Jacoby says, would gladden the heart of an anti-Semite: "Jewish groups fight for spoils of Swiss case" ... [more]
Sister Wendy or Socrates? Philosopher Dominic Lopes looks at the future of computer-aided college teaching ... [more]
Science has values, even if people don't think so: a rigorous regard for truth, whether pleasant or not. Not a bad place to start ... [more]
Books are our favorite furniture: a handsome library shows not only that you have income to dispose of, but that you deserve it ... [more]
Here's a breezy, gossipy, bitchy glimpse into the world of opera, with sublime music and singers "nutty enough to feed a forest of squirrels" ... [more]
Charles Darwin's most accessible book presents closely observed pets, anecdotes from missionaries and pigeon fanciers, photos of frenzied Victorian ladies ... [more]
Oxford University Press is dropping its poetry list. Must attend to "core business," says an OUP director. Others call it a decision without rhyme or reason ... [more]
Woody Allen speaks with a sure voice about the tabloid hurricane around him. "I'm going to do my private life exactly as I want" ... [more]
With allusions to Mozart's Figaro, the New Deal, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, and the UPS strike, Studs Terkel talks about his life ... [more]
Among the watchful victims of the Holocaust, Victor Klemperer stands alone: unsentimental, unsparing in shocking detail, he allows no tears but breaks our hearts instead ... [more]
Blunders: scientists commit them all the time, but science also knows how to exploit error. A colorful new book fails to grasp this ... [more]
History is the nutrient for thought as food is for the body -- the danger is that historical thinking can be too cheaply satisfied ... [more]
The mind is an iceberg, says Wm. Calvin, with consciousness merely its exposed tip. A vast amount of our thinking goes on beneath the surface ... [more]
As the authority of parents wanes, preteens fall under the sway of peers and marketers. The disturbing result: "hip" and "sexy" ten-year-olds ... [more]
Artificial American landscapes can be as rich, satisfying, and deeply natural as classic landscapes of Tuscany, the Cotswolds, and the Loire, argues Frederick Turner ... [more]
A world that hounded Clinton but turned a blind eye to Pinochet would be a world turned upside-down, says Salman Rushdie ... [more]
Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things is vastly overrated. In publishing there are no bricks without straw, and this book is stuffed with straw ... [more]
From a priori and Abelard to Xenophanes and Zeno, Routledge has the world of philosophy in ten volumes -- and on a CD-ROM ... [more]

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