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Henry James shows that Wellesley grads who try to save the world by becoming self-righteous lawyers are a long American tradition... [more]
Anthropologist Colin Turnbull was smart and charismatic, but often cruel and distant — a scholar devoted to social justice yet blind to his own power... [more]
Aristophanes refers to the male member as a tip, neck, finger, flesh, skin, biggy, sinew, muscle, pole, ram, oar, beam, punt-pole, bolt, spit-roast, axe, club, soup-ladle... [more]
McSweeney's is like the old Partisan Review without the politics, says Michael Wolff. Or maybe it's Partisan Review meets Friends... [more]
George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde were foul-weather friends, united only by a common distaste for the philistine Englishman... [more]
Time travel to the future? That's easy, says physicist Paul Davies. It's actually been done already. Traveling to the past is the tough part... [more]
Jacques Derrida has worked out a set of ideas about faith that Christians can ignore only at their own peril, says Bruce Ellis Benson... [more]
Why does a mirror reverse left and right, but not up and down? Why does it treat its vertical and horizontal axes differently? Jim Holt wonders... [more]
Faulkner was right: those who can, do. Those who cannot, and who suffer because they cannot, learn to write about it, says Czech novelist Josef Skvorecky... [more]
Biographers have become more acute and nuanced as critics, no longer treating the relation between life and art in a simple way, says Jay Parini... [more]
Anti-Communists on the left found a noble middle ground between the violation of civil liberties and softness towards tyranny, says Ronald Radosh... [more]
Willfully unaware of the facts of her life, music fans persist in thinking that Billie Holiday felt their pain, says Francis Davis... [more]
Is philosophy a subject that judges must learn? In some crucial sense yes, and in some practical sense no, says Ronald Dworkin... [more]
Soren Kierkegaard is the man we need to listen to today, when relations are so shaky between leaders and led, press and people, corporations and consumers... [more]
George W. Bush has a bad habit of saying things that don't mean anything. So why hasn't it cost him public support? Steven Pinker explains... [more]
"Did you actually like that?" a man asked some students after a Homi Bhabha lecture. "It was great!" they replied. "Well," he challenged, "then what did he say?"... [more]
"I never liked Richard Avedon's photos of Samuel Beckett," says John Minihan. "I think they're cold. In my photos I tried to show the man"... [more]
That either Bush or Gore holds the "high moral ground" is dubious, yet their claims to this phantom venue dominate the campaign, says Joan Didion... [more]
Philosopher Peter Singer wants to be on the side of the weak and poor against the rich and mighty. It's just one of his many, uh, novel ideas... [more]
Everyone may think that utopia is an idea whose time has gone. But history has a nasty way of overtaking you just as you bid it farewell... [more]
All good science leaves open a window of doubt, and in that crack of uncertainty we cram ESP, ghosts, UFOs, cell phones that cause cancer, God... [more]
Despite the late outpouring of love for Saul Bellow, there is a hard truth to swallow: the days of the Great Jewish Novel are over... [more]
If Arthur Schlesinger Jr. were writing The Vital Center today, he would tone down the rhetoric. There is too much hortatory lushness... [more]
Living in North Africa shaped the life and work of Paul Bowles in ways that we are just starting to grasp, says Brian Edwards... [more] ... [more]
A world with no booksellers is hideous to contemplate, writes Jason Epstein... [more]. Jonathan Yardley finds the romance of the bookstore overrated.
As philosophy becomes more scientific, there's reason to celebrate artists like Milton Babbitt and John Cage, whose work preserves a sort of visionary philosophy... [more]
In today's world, Ben Franklin would be a techno enthusiast, arguing for the Internet and biotech, says David Brooks... [more]
The animal rights movement wants to elevate the status of animals. But contrary to its best intentions, it may turn out to degrade humans... [more]
Tom Wolfe was shocked when his attack on The New Yorker was treated as a crime against humanity... [more] The real problem with Wolfe is that he recycles himself, says Judith Shulevitz.
Thomas Wolfe remains a yokel despite his learning. He can't escape the ideas he brought from home, says Elizabeth Hardwick... [more]
Beauty and Justice. We love them both, but do they actually help and support each other? Elaine Scarry believes that they do... [more]
For a young country, Canada has so many novelists oddly fascinated by history. Fred Stenson is case in point... [more]
Far from being a fascist, the young Richard Wagner was in fact a utopian socialist, argues Bryan Magee... [more]
In the past two decades, we've met Soloflex man, Calvin Klein man, and WWF wrestlers on steroids. Call it the Buff Revolution... [more]
For Serbian writer Jasmina Tesanovic, keeping a diary is a political act. But she also does it because she's helpless... [more]
James Atlas wanders into the realm of ideas, but he doesn't seem to know that he's in it, or how to find his way out... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
When John Ashbery is on, he is clever and charming. When he's off, he writes oblique poems that sound like nonsense... [more]
Nothing much of great interest in the way of urban fabric or form is being proposed these days, laments Nathan Glazer... [more]
At a time when conformity to the winds of fashion is passed off as subversion, Roger Kimball is a truly radical figure... [more]
Reading Philip Roth, you can't help think of all the nice books that merely confirm the politics of right-thinking people... [more] ... [more]
Kenan Malik argues that we are more than just evolved beings. Language and culture turned our brains into minds... [more] ... [excerpt]
Frank Kermode says that the English short story is now mostly an American form. Just look at the work of Raymond Carver... [more]
Philosopher George Santayana was also an eclectic man of letters, with a gift for vivid essays, poetry, novels, literary criticism... [more]
"Men can only be happy," said George Orwell, "when they don't assume the object of life is happiness." That's how saints talk... [more]
Reading soccer star David Beckham's memoir is a bit like munching your way dutifully through yard upon yard of muslin... [more]
If you ever hope to write like Stephen King, try to become a tall Maine resident named Stephen King. Avoid getting hit by a van... [more]
Marguerite Duras has all her life sought love and affection, using the only language she had for it: the poetry of sex... [more] ... [more]
For years, Martin Gardner has trained his vision on every kind of science: the good, the bad, and the bogus... [more]
Norman Lebrecht must confess to a dirty little habit before the tabloids get wind of it and ruin him: he collects postcards... [more]
Rather like Graham Greene, Gloria Emerson captures the feel of places relegated by other journalists to the status of lost worlds... [more]
Frances Stonor Saunders knows which cultural projects got CIA money in the Cold War. But does she know if the CIA got what it paid for?... [more]
Some anthropologists did secretive work for the CIA in the 1950s. And they may still be doing so today, reports David Price... [more]
Amnesty International has reached deep into the heart of Africa, deep beyond the cities of Africa, deep into the people of Africa, reports Jonathan Power... [more]
Was Pablo Picasso a Cold Warrior for the Evil Empire? Was he a weapon in the arsenal of Stalin's culture czar, Andrei Zhdanov?... [more]
Modern medicine has made little progress since the butchery of Victorian times. Surgery and drugs are still crude. But now that the genome is mapped... [more]
Literature has hit a dull patch, so a bunch of young writers have banded together as the New Puritans and produced a manifesto... [more]
Welcome to the Slamdome: a world of smoky bars where poets are the brawlers and the crowd lusts for word blood... [more]
"I'm happy to carry people from realism to science fiction and back," says Ursula K. Le Guin. "If I'm a stepping stone, walk on me"... [more]
Nobel scandal? It seems that a member of the Swedish Academy is both translator and advisor to this year's laureate, Gao Xingjian... [more]
Philosopher Roger Scruton has long been the target of criticism and abuse from the left. But his new book has won him some unlikely allies... [more]
For fifty years, Sai Baba has been seen as India's most famous and mighty holy man. But he may just be a sex maniac on an ego trip... [more]
Someone should have informed art critic and general smart-arse Robert Hughes that it's bad form to tell volunteer firemen where to shove a tuna... [more]
Patrick Tierney's sensational claim that U.S. scientists started a genocidal epidemic in the Amazon is false, says John Tooby... [more] The New Yorker replies.
Fingerprints: everyone knows that no two are alike, but no one has ever proved it. Just how reliable is fingerprinting? ... [more]
The Holocaust has been made to seem trivial. Its horrors are an integral part of American infotainment, says Detlef Junker... [more]
The Dead Sea Scrolls continue to bring Jews and Christians closer together. It now appears that Jesus Christ styled himself after a messiah named Menahem... [more]
We all know that English is fast becoming the global language. Or do we? The spread of English won't happen the way we expect it to... [more]
More art house films are made each year than anyone could ever want to see. So why do we bemoan the decline of small-scale cinema?... [more]
Hacktivism is a term that refers to the politics of the geek world, a covert attack on the growing political power of tech CEOs... [more]
Linda Waite believes marriage is good for you, and she's got numbers to prove it. Can a social scientist succeed where moralists have failed?... [more]
Three women have won the Nobel chemistry prize, compared to 129 men. Does this give us a true view of women's abilities in science?... [more]. Cambridge University is looking at the problem.
Updike, Bellow, Roth: the mighty phallocrats of American letters were supposed to be past it, packed off to rest homes. But look, says Charles McGrath... [more]
"Am I able to write while on a book tour? Are you kidding? I can't even eat. Do you know what an author tour is?" asks Kazuo Ishiguro... [more]
Was Beethoven's anguish the simple result of lead poisoning? Scientists have found high levels of the metal in strands of the composer's hair... [more]
Cannibalism hardly raised any eyebrows, but when Jared Diamond talked of circumcision with New Guinea friends, they were horrified... [more]
The Hispanicization of U.S. society? More and more, we're hearing a strange tongue called Spanglish, a.k.a. McLengua... [more]
"Well, what do you want? To do some nudes?" asked Marilyn Monroe. A pretty good idea, he thought... [more]
So-called shock art is in fact the safest, least daring kind of art that anyone can make in today's art world, says Lynne Munson... [more]
Gore Vidal's mother's anatomy made giving birth a difficult task. He came out fairly squashed in the process... [more]
Would you settle for a lower income if in return you could be assured that others were making even less than you? "Yes" seems a spiteful answer, but... [more]. NYT Mag special on spending.
When a Polish Jew spoke at an emotional seminar in the squalor of Gaza, a faulty translation of his speech nearly caused a riot... [more]
Few scientists believe that we have a "theory of everything." But modern physics is basically done, and none knows what the next step should be... [more]
It's a miracle, says the exiled Chinese writer Gao Xingjian, who has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature... [more] ... [more]
In Raymond Carver's stories nothing much ever happens at all. But somehow, something somewhere is always going on... [more]
Look Homeward, Angel was edited so as to excise 60,000 offensive words on religion, patriotism, and Southern mores. Those words are back... [more]
"Choking" sounds like a vague term, but it describes a very specific kind of failure. Panic is something else entirely, says Malcolm Gladwell... [more]
Iowa State University Press has shed its nonprofit status and merged with a commercial publishing giant, raising scholarly eyebrows... [more]
"I shouldn't lay my ethnicity on a novel when it doesn't warrant it. My sensibility as an Indian writer emerges in ways I can't see," says Vikram Seth... [more]
Anthropologists once studied people who eat each other. Now the anthropologists eat each other. They're making a meal of Napoleon Chagnon... [more, plus response]
Twenty ways the world could end: asteroid impact, giant solar flare, global war, robots run amok, you wake up and, like wow, it was all a dream... [more]
Why do the rich work so hard getting richer if it isn't making them happier and maybe even makes a few crazier? Robert Wright wonders... [more]
Thomas Bayes's work on stats has altered our notions of evidence and cause over the last ten years. Not bad for an 18th-century minister... [more]
Ethnomathematics is just math from a cultural point of view. But critics fear it means "so long to Euclid, and good-bye to Pythagoras"... [more]
Why do we grow old and die? The human life-span has shot up over the past century, despite our ignorance of the underlying biochemistry... [more]
Combine the political rage of a Seattle protester with the cultural despair of Hilton Kramer, and you have Morris Berman... [more]
Not only did George Orwell get the politics and morals of his century right, he did so unaided, says Chris Hitchens... [more] ... [still more]
Onassis and Callas: like bad opera, this story of their dark, sad fate is laborious without being exhilarating... [more]
Kazuo Ishiguro drifts between a sense that childhood is lost and a sense that childhood is something we rediscover all too often... [more]
In her latest collection of short stories, Alice Walker inserts her political views with all the subtlety of a hurled brick... [more]
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza says that human history, traced through language, matches human history, traced through genes... [more] ... [more]
Freud's therapies often left his patients' emotional lives untouched. His saving graces were humor and intelligence... [more]
Genius with a dirty mind. How could the composer of Don Giovanni or the great G minor Symphony write letters so vulgar?... [more] ... [more]
Bob Dylan saved pop music by showing that rock is capable of chronicling more than dancing, driving, and making out... [more]
Politicians, academics, and judges hold so many bad ideas about poverty, responsibility, and race. It's bad news for all of us... [more]
A cold, nervy, brittle egoist, with opinions rather than instinct, Virginia Woolf's views on war and her feminism were at best chaotic... [more]
How pretty it would be to think bribes and corruption happen only in communist countries. Ha Jin shows us life's not so simple... [more]
Bertrand Russell was all for humility, socialism, and science. But he suffered from vanity, loneliness, and a fear of madness... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
William Lloyd Garrison comes to life in one of the most realistic, authentic bios anyone has had the pleasure to read... [more]
It was fighting to the death that appealed to Hitler, not victory. The only peace that for him was the peace of the grave... [more]
Roger Scruton's view of England is an attempt to dignify dogma and prejudice with long words and circular logic... [more]. In his own words.
Just before her scheduled lobotomy, Janet Frame won her nation's highest literary award. They decided to put off the surgery... [more] ... [more]
Queen Victoria once asked a comic actor to show how he "did" her. "Very funny," she pronounced when he'd finished. "Don't ever do it again"... [more]
How did Sydney, a city not noted even in Australia for elegance or charm, manage to snare that beautiful Opera House?... [more]
The grand, sensational, and often grandiose genre that Hector Berlioz made his signature style also propped up his self-image... [more]
Because of his views on big time athletics and Bobby Knight, Murray Sperber has been vilified. But it hasn't shut him up... [more] ... [in his own words]
For Kingsley Amis, it was hard to tell the difference between making an adult stand for freedom and mere adolescent ego-indulgence... [more]
Most of the languages of the world will vanish in the next hundred years. Do we need to cultivate more biolinguistic diversity?... [more] Hubert Burda knows the cultural and business models of Germany's postwar success are obsolete. Germans are hardware people trying to make it in a software world... [more]
For an English Ph.D. at Yale, liking literature is a stage that one grows out of. The critic is far superior to those who actually enjoy reading... [more]
There will be a market for ebooks, but they'll be for gadgeteers who wear calculator watches and ride solar-powered bikes, snorts Dave Eggers... [more] ... [review]
A new era has begun in Serbia, but can those who once backed Milosevic be trusted to help lead the way? Laura Secor wonders... [more]
Retributive justice may come to seem merely quaint someday, as modern science discovers the springs of criminality in genes and chemistry... [more]
At 98, she's a little old lady with a colossal and unforgiving past. Leni Riefenstahl is both proud and ashamed... [more] Jodie Foster's plans.
"People learn from stories in a different way than they learn from generalities. When writing, I start out with jargon and then purge it," says Mary Catherine Bateson... [more]
Hardly a small band making a brave stand against patriarchal schools, many scholars in women's studies are well-situated, influential, and very busy... [more]
Is the American Midwest a rural paradise and Eden? Or a hard place of factory towns and industry? Artists are struggling to paint its proper image... [more]
The flamboyant Oscar Wilde put genius into his life and talent into his work. The reclusive P.G. Wodehouse put it all into his work... [more]
Susan Wise Bauer teaches the work of black authors. She picks up black hitchhikers. Her adopted sister is black. And yet something is adrift in her life... [more]
The period from 1900 to 1928 was a time of storm and deep stress during which Russian literature recaptured its greatest heights, wrote Isaiah Berlin... [more]
For a lone crusader, the Web once promised a return to the days of muckraking. But today's Net types ruined all that with their business models... [more]
Martin Heidegger infuses the lexicon of rap music. Hiphop stars are "within the world," never rapping or observing from a distance... [more]
Since Alain Ducasse opened his New York restaurant in June, it's been scorned by food critics. They're guilty of truculent ignorance, says Steven Shaw... [more]
Shakespeare still unsettles the best of critics. His challenges to liberalism, democracy, and equality have remained radioactive, says Adam Kirsch... [more]
Alan Cabal didn't used to think much of Nietzsche, or Jimmy Buffett. Now it all makes sense. Women are easy. He'll pack a .45 and learn French... [offense advisory]
Cartoonist Ben Katchor is in touch with the seedy world of today's underground, as well as the Jewish streets of New York in the 1910s... [more]
Author Hubert Selby, Jr. thinks of himself as a "scream looking for a mouth." He is the literary godfather of the inner demon... [more]
The fall of communism is a story that needs to be told properly. It wasn't about the free flow of capital, but rather the free flow of information... [more]
Culture warrior Lynne Cheney is also a feminist who uses popular literary genres to wrestle with serious ethical and political issues, says Elaine Showalter... [more] ... [still more]
The rock band Radiohead is now poised to be the one brand and logo that might possibly win over the anti-brand, anti-logo generation... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
How stunning that the universe, for all its complex diversity, can be described with precision and power by a small number of equations... [more]
Democrats should let the GOP groan on about rapper Eminem. Parents may be upset, but they don't believe politicians are going to do anything about it... [more]
Want equality? Then let's use a lottery to elect leaders and manage society, says Alan Ryan. The ballot box offers only the most feeble kind of equality... [more]
Why did Friedrich Hayek, who spent his life studying politics and economics, end his career with a reflection on religion and tradition?... [more]
It's easy to poke fun at Oprah's book club, but her impact on the reading habits of the English speaking world rivals that of Samuel Johnson ... [more]
Cybernetic eschatology is the label Jaron Lanier gives to our newest totalizing ideology. As with Marxism, it could cause the suffering of millions... [more]
The deepest and perhaps sole taboo that yet remains on freedom of speech in the US is any criticism of the press, says Renata Adler... [more]
Pity the poor nation-state: too small to compete in a global economy, too big to handle its domestic problems. But it's here to stay... [more]
Provincial life is dead. As we laud the end of its repressive conformity, let's not forget the passing of security, self-reliance, and rootedness... [more]
Central Europe groans under the weight, not of its history, but of its distorting national myths. The same goes for Greece... [more]
Why do memoirs about J.D. Salinger so enrage people, while other authors are remembered with impunity? Judith Shulevitz asks... [more]
Salman Rushdie has left London? Good riddance, says Yasmin Alibhai-Brown... [more] London just doesn't spur the imagination, Rushdie explains.
Trying to separate the roles played by nature and nurture is like trying to separate the roles played by length and width in shaping a rectangle... [more]
Scientists now tell us we deteriorate from birth. We fail to fulfil our embryonic potential. But some of us knew that already, from personal experience... [more]
If a novel is to have no plot, says Emily Barton, it must still carry the reader along. Mere moments of fine writing may not always cut it... [more]
David Brooks skewers the foibles of intellectual life, yet concludes that it's even better today than it was in the past... [more]
Ten books and ninety articles on Arthur Rimbaud appear yearly. A century after his death, one in five French schoolboys identifies with him... [more] ... [yet more]
Latin American sociologists write huge tomes that consist of nothing but stats showing disparities of wealth, followed by, "See?"... [more]
Leon Wieseltier is right when he says that what makes Lionel Trilling endure is his commitment to the intellect... [more] ... [yet more]
The law of Nobrow is simple: "the best that is known and thought" is long gone, and what rules is the Buzz... [more]
A spectacle of people making more than ever, at the same time being more broke than ever, is the measure of our age, says Rick Perlstein... [more]
When Kazuo Ishiguro's pitch perfect style gives way to plot, it's like the Creamsicle has fallen off and you're left holding the stick... [more] .... [still more]
Gilbert Bland is a map slasher, a man guilty of the closest thing to rape that a library can experience... [more]
When Princess Eugénie decided that mauve matched her eyes, all of Paris went mad for the new color. Then Queen Victoria wore it... [more]
As memoirist, Margaret Salinger is, quite frankly, no Salinger. Much of her hatchet job on Dad is tedious reading... [more]
New Labour, Oasis, Damien Hirst, and the Diana cult. What's common to all these irritants? Ultra-democracy, says George Walden... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Arguing the World takes us back to a vivid time when debates were essential, passions fierce, and intellects first-rate... [more]
Was Richard Nixon far worse as both man and president than we ever imagined? John Dean is made to wonder... [more]. Did Nixon have a drug problem?
David Stove's notion of reason is austere and pessimistic: the universal madness of the human race is a fact... [more]
Errol Flynn, bad actor and worse chap, laid everything, of every sex, within sight. By page 57 of this new bio, he's got VD for the third time... [more]
Truth may be strange, but fiction can be freer and more vivid, at least in the hands of a skilled writer like Stephen Harrigan... [more]
Bosie is remembered mostly as Oscar Wilde's lover, but he had a later career as an editor, litigant, jailbird, and poet... [more]
Dave Eggers has a recipe for success: scorn of elders, smug apoliticality, dismissal of race issues, messianic leanings, stylized bitterness... [more]
Clone Jesus Christ? The DNA and the technology are there, says a California outfit. So let's get this Second Coming on the road... [more]
Raped or not, Andrea Dworkin is hurting. But sympathy for her pain cannot obscure an ugly lesson behind her story... [more]
Did Jean-Paul Sartre profit from the wartime dismissal of a Jewish instructor — none other than Alfred Dreyfus's great-nephew?... [more]
James Lovelock was the man who first saw the biosphere as an organism: Gaia. Now he's back with a shocking message for the world's Greens... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Did scientists start a deadly epidemic among the Yanomami as an experiment, or is the charge merely a politically correct smear?... [more]. Prof. Chagnon's response.
True art is hard to grasp, and takes time to understand. Faux art is just coded, so art-world insiders can feel smug and superior... [more]
Americans are wildly out of sync with the opinions of their elected leaders on the drug war. Some deep-pocket libertarians are hoping to exploit this gap... [more]
When Hitler left the room, it was as if some essential element was suddenly missing: electricity, oxygen, an awareness of being alive... [more]
Julian Barnes's persnickety Oxbridge wit declares, "I am idle, well-read, and have esoteric but marvelous trivia at my fingertips"... [more]
Twice the work, half the pay, and no one can recall your name: who would ever want to a career as a piano accompanist? ... [more]
Has America's reduction in crime come at too great a cost in liberty? And how does race affect whose liberties are violated?... [more]
A new study suggests that Arts & Letters Daily readers live longer, are less likely to suffer senile dementia than hoi polloi... [more]
Preethi Nair owes heaps to her alter ego, Pru Menon, a fictitious PR exec whom she concocted to get her first novel published... [more]
When you write a biography of Gore Vidal, you get to know him well. You discover, for example, his talent for a nice literary spat. With you... [more] ... [more]
Judy Blume is the most banned author in the US. "It's about fear," she explains... [more]. Nonsense, says Kathryn Lopez: you want passages like this in a children's library?
Consider a black college prof, says John McWhorter, who sits in a trendy restaurant emoting, between forkfuls of gourmet pasta, about how oppressed he is... [more]
Evangelicals rank dead last among believers in terms of intellectual stature, says Alan Wolfe. But that's beginning to change... [more] ... Judith Shulevitz's view.
New York's latest crop of literary journals is hip, young, and stylishly packaged, with a mix of famous names and diamonds in the rough... [more]
He died in the electric chair with flames and smoke rising over his head, nodding back and forth as they switched the power on and off... [more]
Shall I compare thee to a sperm whale, sperm? Thou art more tiny and more resolute. And naught diverts thy uterine commute... [more]
The return of Proust? In one little corner of our cultural Balkans, the magus of the cork-lined room is making his presence felt... [more] ... [earlier story] ... [still more]
As literature slowly drifts from imaginative sympathy toward the cold consolation of fact, many novelists prefer to dabble in journalism... [more]
Once upon a time, Harvard stood for excellence. These days it stands for advancement: it's not a place for learning, but a club for rather more pragmatic and vulgar values... [more]
With his love for vodka and his courteous recall of strangers' names, Clement Greenberg might have made a better bartender, since few could stand his art criticism... [more]
Brenda Maddox has a few rules for her dinner table: don't pray, vomit, talk about cholesterol, your air miles, or discuss e-anything... [more]
The time has come to take video games seriously as a new and different art form to shape the aesthetics of the coming century... [more]
Every writer must decide whether to be an aesthete or a prophet. Martin Amis needs to realize that he is only an aesthete, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft... [more]
Being taken seriously by someone else is like rocket fuel for the spirit, but taking yourself too seriously is like a poison, says Hugh MacKay... [more]
The "Old Man" loves his sports and swills beer; he's inarticulate and unfeeling. The New Man? Oh, you know: more like Tony Blair... [more]
Sex is at once the most lying and truthful, most alienating and intimate, most fantastic and real thing we do, says Wendy Doniger... [more]
Frog-voiced Leonard Cohen has done it all: Prozac, psychedelia, grad school, Scientology, India, the Talmud, You Are My Sunshine... [more]
People have the ridiculous idea that if you don't like the "ideological implications" of a science, then you're free to reject it, says Helena Cronin... [more]
"What have you done for me lately?" That's the question that Americans ask today of religion and politics alike, writes Alan Wolfe... [more]
Music on the Internet isn't all pop tracks courtesy of Napster. There's Viktoria Mullova's sublime Bach Chaconne, or Anner Bylsma's dramatic Cello Suites... [more, with audio links]
Thomas Kuhn took a dazzling yet simple idea and tossed it into epistemic stew that was seasoned to almost everyone's taste... [more] ... [still more]
Boys need to be tamed and guided, to be sure, but it's in no one's interests that they be feminized, argues Christina Hoff Sommers... [more]
When weaker, less erudite minds than Edward Said's imitate his political approach to literary studies, the results are often shallow... [more]
The decline of higher ed owes much to the 1970s, that age of grade inflation, lax discipline, and King Kong replacing King Lear in the classroom... [more]
Ronald Dworkin's liberalism is rather too smooth, too slick, and too elusive for its own good, says Richard Epstein... [more]
Norman Finkelstein wants to let Holocaust victims "rest in peace." His own rage and dogma will hardly help that... [more] ... interview.
Hegel was a genius, and so much the worse for philosophy. For when it comes to writing nonsense, stupidity is no match for genius... [more]
Václav Havel drinks, smokes, is fat and conceited, and can't work a stick shift. Worst of all, he prefers whiskey to his own biographer... [more]
Joyce Johnson was 21 when she fell for Jack Kerouac. With his brilliant, erratic character, she knew loving him would be hard... [more]
The woozy subjectivity of art, the cold neutrality of science: different standards apply. Or do they? There is, we are told, a new fusion of the two... [more]
Boys are such a worry. They like action, competition, rough play. They don't talk enough about their feelings. Can't someone rescue them from masculinity?... [more]
What makes a great Warhol painting great? It's both tragic and sublime. A Jasper Johns? It changes our pictorial syntax. A Richter?... [more]
Academic historians no longer write the most widely read histories of America, nor do they produce the freshest historical theories... [more]
"What I'm doing is precisely what Shakespeare was doing in his age," explains Gore Vidal, a man never praised for his humility... [more]
Israel's future is not made safer by arm-twisting, boycotts, and unjust humiliation of European states in the pursuit of Holocaust reparations... [more]
"I am the star of French literature," slurred literary sensation Michel Houellebecq, drunk. "How would you like to be in my erotic film?"... [more]
Is the e-book a way to use the backlist to enrich publishers, or will they lose gems of content in the process? And what do authors get?... [more]
Black and white have played a big part in Derek Walcott's life, but it's the colors in between that have defined the man... [more] ... [yet more] ... John Carey's review.
The logic of capital, Karl Marx said, was to create a world market and propel science and social progress. Was he a prophet of globalization?... [more]
NewsWatch is back, and begins its new life with Trevor Butterworth's look at Renata Adler, a writer oddly immune to her own critical insights... [more]
Tunku Varadarajan recalls the vulgar, gaudy grief that swept Britain three years ago on the death of a banal and empty-headed woman... [more]. She was a tool of the elites, says George Walden.
Playful, oracular, and Gallic, French theory says language bears no fixed relation to the world. Austere, rigorous, and Teutonic, modern logic agrees... [more]
From savage distortions to the most fragile and gentle rendering of the human face, Picasso showed himself perhaps the greatest sculptor of his time... [more]
When Elizabeth Abbott researched A History of Celibacy, she was not celibate. After all, you don't need to kill to write about murder. And yet... [more]
Matthew Mirapaul's arts@large column gave the most savvy coverage of the new world of Internet art available anywhere. Why was it killed?... [more]
Armchair evil: George Bernard Shaw liked Stalin more than Hitler, or even Mussolini. Who cares if millions die, so long as the cause is worthy? ... [more]

Usually disappointed by performing arts events, Wendy Lesser was struck three times in a row by the aesthetic equivalent of lightning... [more]
Few sports have an image and a reality as far apart as fox hunting does. It's not pomp and privilege; it's an inner struggle against dashed hopes... [more]
If you look at it closely, the sequenced genome does not support the idea that there are simple recipes for people. Indeed, it erodes it... [more]
Criminologists, the New York Times, activists, and law professors all have spun a distorted history of New York's crime revolution... [more]
Whatever you made of his sex, magic, and "vile practices," Aleister Crowley had a gift for getting mentioned in other people's novels... [more]
Leo Strauss has been viewed as everything from a dogmatic theocrat to a closet Nietzschean. It's time for a correction... [more]
The profoundly human voice of F. Scott Fitzgerald's stories is a joy and a blessing -- fragments of an American sublime... [more]
When Zadie Smith is writing well, she is capable of a great deal. But she can also descend into cartoonishness... [more]
Harold Bloom was once a good literary critic. He was never right, but at least he was original, says Terry Eagleton... [more] ... [profile]
Paris is no longer cheap enough to be a movable feast. Manhattan is for the young of wealthy parents. What would the Beats do today?... [more]
Four new books, countless new recordings: is there such a thing as too much Mahler? If so, it is upon us... [more]
Cross-dressing, scandalous novels, love affairs: George Sand wrote what she lived and lived what she wrote... [more]
The House of Gucci is a nonfiction book, so you can't blame the writer for the melodramatic plot turns... [more]
Confession is a practice encouraged by police, priests, psychoanalysts, talk show hosts, and the critics of President Clinton... [more]
The Romans thought it was good to watch people being killed. Not just good as public entertainment, but that it made morally better Romans... [more]
Biographers enjoy a giddy sense of power. They hobnob with the great, joining in dinner parties they'd never have been invited to in real life... [more]
Why does Vermont have more writers per capita than any other state? Cheap overheads and a cool climate, plus an excess dose of literary myth... [more]
What might it take at last to get Robert Hughes to become a US citizen? The answer is, seven months back in Australia... [more]
Evolutionary Psychology: for many it's the way forward in the study of the mind, while others distrust it. Now they can all get together... [more]
Friedrich Nietzsche's whole point is to make you believe that you are a superior being... [more]. N is for Nietzsche, Nazis, Neuroses, Nihilism.
A well-meaning person asked Ruth Tapia very slowly, "Do you speak-ee English?" "No," she shot back, "I speak English"... [more]
How quaint, noble, and pitiful that we so yearn for the politician who can make a grand and eloquent speech, writes Michael Wolff ... [more]
A farmer gawks at rows of corn plants: not only are kernels of corn growing in the ears, but granules of plastic are sprouting in the stalks... [more]
"It was perhaps because I knew Penelope Fitzgerald as a teacher that I took as long as I did to see how very good her novels were," says AS Byatt... [more]
In his trumpet solos, Louis Armstrong asserted an Olympian identity that thrilled and galvanized his culture, and started something unstoppable... [more]
One-Dimensional Man meets 60 Minutes: TV producer Lowell Bergman, played by Al Pacino in The Insider, was Herbert Marcuse's student... [more]
The year: 2000. The place: Earth, a desolate planet, its resources depleted. Remember this? It's how the Left twenty years ago imagined the world today... [more] But remember too: Stephen Moore has goofed with his own predictions.
The sad saga of the Cherokee Indians shows that judicial decisions alone are not enough to bring about the rule of law, says Justice Stephen Breyer... [more]
"There isn't too much originality there beyond the books I translated," says Gregory Rabassa about the later work of Gabriel García Márquez... [more]
Norman Mailer fails to see how stupid and wrong he was to confuse the terrifically good time he had in the sixties with universal sexual progress... [more]
American Psycho is a satirical reflection on the art of the monologue, yet few of its original critics saw it as other than a deadpan slasher novel... [more]
Jeffrey Rosen argues that privacy in America is under grave threat, but his case rests entirely on anecdotes and solemn pronouncements... [more]
"Why does she have to be so god damned snooty?" asked one of Mary McCarthy's friends. "Is she God or something?"... [more]
Steven Pinker says that his theory of language is not "a sappy attempt to get everyone to make nice and play together"... [more]
Given two things that look alike, one of them art and the other a plain object, what's the difference? This is Arthur Danto's obsession... [more]
Everything distinctive about the US made socialism a hard sell. Not to mention the pigheadedness of the American Socialists... [more]
The pressure to be a happy member of Disney's town of Celebration is enormous. Residents watch each other like hawks... [more]
The many eminent graduates of Yale's American Studies program have spent the last half-century turning Old West "traditions" inside out... [more]
Strung out on a rich stew of dope and overwork, Anthony Bourdain and his sous-chefs re-enact the opening scene of Apocalypse Now... [more]
Greenwich Village bohemians were easy to parody: tin pot revolutionaries, H.L. Mencken called them. Still, at their best... [more]
To consider black culture as an entity apart from a so-called mainstream is self-defeating and illogical, argued Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray... [more]
It was a bright new era that welcomed student thugs, academic hucksters, and sheer narcissism: Roger Kimball on the impact of the 1960s... [more]
Shopping can be a bribe, a pastime, a way to trawl for lovers, an entertainment, a form of education or even worship... [more]
The appalling Liberace, that deadly, winking, sniggering, fruit-flavored, chrome-plated, giggling, ice-covered heap of mother love... [more]
Babies are tyrants. They're designed by evolution to be irresistible, and their mothers love them: but only up to a point... [more]
Dave Eggers pastes together a family tragedy, a bachelor-pad comedy, and a magazine-office morality play, and hopes it all sticks... [more]
"Kiss the girl" is a popular game in Kyrgyzstan: a man chases a woman on horseback, trying to catch and kiss her. If he fails, she horsewhips him... [more]
For Slobodan Milosevic, it's scarier than NATO: Otpor, a student movement that favors anarchic street theater and mock soccer matches... [more]
As a boy, Darius Brubeck sat at the feet of jazz greats like Armstrong, Ellington, and Davis. As an adult, he brought American jazz to South Africa... [more]
Guru Rick Haskins offers easy self-help advice: think of yourself as a product to be branded. Some people regard him as a personal savior... [more]
The great British literary editor Diana Athill has at last recorded her lifetime of involvement with lovers, writers, and writers who were lovers... [more] Several apostate urban theorists feel that Los Angeles is less an anomaly than an archetype. In fact, they argue, it's the future of urbanism... [more]
Ventriloquism is vaudeville's last living art form, and it dearly needs to escape the image of a guy with a puppet telling woodpecker jokes... [more]
Every marginalized human group has fought for its liberation. So why not animals? Science, philosophy, and law are all asking that question... [more]
Polish literary critic Jan Kott dreamed of writing a great novel that would register the horror of the human condition in the twentieth century... [more]
Cyber-guru Jaron Lanier predicts computers will soon be asking all the questions that have vexed Western philosophy... [more]
When Mark Twain and U.S. Grant first met, they sat in silence. "Mr. President," Twain said at last, "I seem to be a little embarrassed. Are you?"... [more]
It's clearly unethical to probe, prod, or palpate human research subjects without proper oversight. But what if you just want to talk with them?... [more]
Literary darling Dave Eggers is launching a book publishing effort under the title McSweeney's Books. It could mean a lot to young writers... [more]
Hugh Hefner's support for liberal causes in the sixties brought him into the world of politics. So why is he now being attacked by the left?... [more]
If Al Gore wins the election, will Martin Peretz sell The New Republic? Will Peretz want to keep a magazine that will have to criticize his dear friend?... [more]
Harlequin is the McDonald's of popular publishing. Its romances are cheap, quick, fatty. Billions and billions are served... [more]
Long before Metallica vs Napster, there was Gilbert and Sullivan vs the sheet music pirates. If anything, back then it was harder for musicians... [more]
Jane Campion's film The Piano won her an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. But did she swipe her ideas from an obscure New Zealand novel?... [more]
Chasing a mouse into the depths of his wife's closet, Woody Hochswender discovered her darkest secret: a collection of shoes... [more]
The world's oldest man credits tears, pasta, lamb shank, red wine, and quiet. You see, chaps, we could be happy if they'd just let us alone... [more]
Psychiatry after Freud is like Russia after Marx, writes Paul McHugh. Trying to rehabilitate Freud is as pointless as trying to revive to communism... [more] ... giving up on therapy.
There was a time when any decent magazine editor would protect his star writers from making fools of themselves. Now, to sell a few more copies, Harper's is willing... [more]
The rhetoric of cultural genocide treats the survival of small cultures as an absolute good. Is it? What about people, and their life choices?... [more]
Thomas Babington Macaulay saw liberty as built up over long agonies like a mass of scar tissue, abuse by abuse and resistance by resistance, says Walter Olson... [more]
When a nation replaces the rule of law with rule by lawyers, the only ones who really win are the lawyers. Consider Erin Brockovich... [more] ... earlier story.
The ancients thought the good life started with the material life. And right they were: Things 'R' Us is a slogan for freedom and democracy... [more]
When a poet determines to write coherently and fails, the result is an accident. When the poem is meaningless on purpose, you know you're reading a Language Poet... [more]
William T. Vollmann is cheerfully pro-death. He's for capital punishment, suicide, and voluntary euthanasia. Photos of vivisected frogs don't bother him... [more]
Condemned forever to feeling inadequate and under-read, the modern book-lover visits a large bookshop as much in despair as exhilaration... [more]
Two photographers took a decade in Africa to record a world soon to be lost. Some book reviews need words; here, pictures are enough... [more]
Nymphomania is a term in need of a euphemism — maybe "love addict." But what's addiction? And how much love is too much?... [more]
While many on the left can only whine or accuse, John B. Judis resists the bitterness to defend intellectual elites in a robust democracy... [more]
Jeffersonian, rather than Pavlovian, democracy might result if television could stir itself to give us broader, deeper political coverage... [more]
Early restaurant menus were made incomprehensible on purpose. Pigeon à la crapaudine? A delicious kind of sheep disease... [more]
Behavioral economics is making a big impact because it gives us a more vivid and complicated sense of what people want... [more]
President Vaclav Havel was a chubby and awkward child, nicknamed chrobak after a type of cumbersome beetle... [more]
Tall, dark, and beautiful, with a name that a press agent might have invented, Susan Sontag could have been famous even without her brains... [more]
William Randolph Hearst may be called an exuberant juvenile, but that would be a coherent explanation, and for him there was no such thing... [more]
The irascible David Stove was a genius of modern philosophy who combined horse sense with the most nimble reasoning this side of Hume... [more]
Raymond Carver called it "gravy" — to spend his last ten years "alive, sober, working, loving and being loved by a good woman"... [more]
Sir Alec Guinness, the best and most subtle actor the Brits ever gave to the movies, has died at the age of 86... Obits: Guardian ... Times ... NYTimes ... Telegraph memoir
Nijinsky's last dance was for rich doctors, bankers, and their ladies: "Now I will dance you the war," he said, "the war which you did not prevent"... [more]
Purdy and Eggers, Kiefer and Koons, Gore and Dubya. One of these prophets wants us to please get serious; the other says, Lighten up, dude... [more]
The visions, fainting, and frenzy of the St. Vitus dance was an early version of what seems a uniquely modern activity: the rave... [more]
When Touretter Amy Wilensky first noticed her ticcing, "It felt familiar, like my head and neck had practiced the move without telling the rest of me"... [more]
A falsified teaching dossier, death threats, and a hunger strike. Relax, it's just another university tenure review... [more]
American academics look to France for an intellectual high, the rush of radical ideas. Which means they miss today's most interesting French scholars... [more]
While the New Yorker never gave up charm and wit, its later engagement with morality and politics made it shiny, fat, serious, and complacent... [more]
With conscientious workers and a wired governor, Utah shows that Mormons and the Internet go together like vanilla ice cream and hot apple pie... [more]
Chimps regularly use leaves and stems as tools, but can't be taught to flake a flint. There's only one primate that ever achieved that feat... [more]
Seymour Martin Lipset tells us Marx may have been right: the coming of an advanced society follows a logic. But the U.S. shows the logic doesn't lead to socialism... [more]
Dress it in veneers or stuff it with microchips, the piano remains the perfect embodiment of an idea that can't be improved... [more]
Stephen King has excited reader interest in electronic books, but that's only a start... [more]. Random House dips a cautious toe in the e-book pond next year, while a another new e-book publisher is heading straight upmarket.
The world's electricity comes from big, dirty power plants. But Thomas Edison's different vision of power generation is about to change that... [more]
Who, Joseph Epstein wonders, invented the sandwich of bacon, lettuce, and tomato, slathered in mayo? "That person brought much more happiness into the world than any modern poet"... [more]
If you're an Amy, Freya, or Tiffanie, publishers snap you up. If you've the unfortunate name of Nicholas and you're on the wrong side of 70, they become rather cool... [more]
For efficient newspaper reading the first rule is: never waste time on stories headlined with may, vow, threat, urge, undertake, or bid... [more]
What's wrong with men? Never enough for the men-in-crisis industry, which wants to transform men into sniveling victims, just like women, children, and pets... [more] ... [yet more] ... [still more]
When people hear their own religion advocated by someone who crudely and literally believes it, they become uneasy, says Christopher Hitchens... [more]
The global-warming debate is by nature a question of science, and yet the combatants tend to be polarized along clear political lines... [more]
Walter Benjamin's genius lay in his ability to balance the mystical and the Marxist in an open philosophy of the future, writes Declan Kiberd... [more]
September 10, 2000 is the day Julian West awakes from his long nap in Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. It's well worth revisiting the book today... [more]
News flash: A jury has ordered Hershey's to pay obese Americans $135 billion. "Verdict sends a clear message to Big Chocolate." Company knowingly added nuts... [more]
Scholarly publishing has hit a new low with a professor's naïve, confused advocacy of psychic hokum... [more]
Julian Barnes wears his brilliant, throwaway cleverness out in the open, like a vibrant rose on his lapel... [more] ... [still more]... [third view] ... [profile].
Joshua Freeman writes in the new labor history style. From the dry world of trade unions, he opens onto a richly layered urban milieu... [more]
Richard Powers has a basic mistrust of technology, but his worries never overcome his genuine curiosity about it... [more]
Do assassinations make much of a difference in history? For Gandhi, Malcolm X, Yitzhak Rabin: no. But for Caesar, Lincoln, and MLK, Jr... [more]
Logos, brands, marketing: tools of mind control? Hardly. It's the almighty consumer who turns brands into superstars or casts them into the gutter... [more]
A global free market is good for rich people everywhere, good for poor people in poor countries, but bad for poor people in rich ones... [more]
Preserving perfect English is a lost cause. So what? What truly noble quest is not a lost cause?... [more]
There's much to be said for drinking songs. Songsters who drink are quite another matter. Take Modest Mussorgsky... [more]
The history of restaurants can make delicious reading, but not if it's served up in the empty, jargonized manner of cultural studies, says John Carey... [more]
Pale imitators and feeble sequel writers won't leave Jane Austen alone. They should. She's not a mouthpiece for today's sexual politics... [more]
The Telegraph calls it the most intellectually nutritious search engine yet devised, while Brill's Best of the Web has named it the Most Highbrow Site on the Internet. Naturally, it's...
Aline Baehler's scholarship made her an unusual choice for Vanderbilt, but she was also hired without the consent of her department's leading light... [more]
At a time when most young pianists worked on bloodless technique, Van Cliburn was an instinctive, honest, ardent musician... [more]
"The Impact of Television on the Conduct of the Presidency: 1947 to 1969" was the title of Al Gore's undergrad thesis. Could be all too prophetic... [more]
Casanova's dictum may be old advice, but it seldom fails: "Praise the beautiful for their intelligence and the intelligent for their beauty"... [more]
The OED is looking for a few good slang words. For the first time in its austere history, it's combing through Marvel Comics, Seinfeld, and South Park... [more]
Fearsome critic, teacher, and linguist, the late poet A.D. Hope was a ringing voice in the creation of post-war Australian culture... [more]
Suspicions about hundreds of van Gogh fakes have spawned a cottage industry of van Gogh experts. Few of them agree on very much... [more]
Arthur Miller is a great writer, but as a political thinker he is confused and as an historian plainly can't get his facts right, says Ronald Radosh... [more]
Larry King leans toward his guest, Adolf Hitler, and asks, "Why did you do it?" "Whooo boy!" exclaims the media-savvy Führer. "The $64,000 question!"... [more]
George W. Bush would be the first president with an MBA. Not a bright bulb, but we like him 'cause he's the guy who brings beer to the party, says Michael Wolff... [more]
Like ripples on a deep and turbulent pool, calculation and other feats of thought are possible only when the chaos is quelled, says Hans Moravec... [more]
Will print culture values fade into the past? Hardly. The Web is a neat new delivery device, but it leaves facts and credibility as important as ever to journalism... [more]
Curse of the Chinese menu: our lives as consumers are beset with a numbing variety of choices. Except that not to choose would be far worse... [more]
Does Jhumpa Lahiri have a tunnel vision of India, as her critics charge? Maybe, she replies, but only because her life in India was tunnel-like... [more]
Are you a British subject with a theatrical background? If so, you may qualify to play Hollywood's next sneering, urbane Euro-villain... [more]
Geoff Dyer has reader's block. Call it the Mir Syndrome, after the cosmonaut who gave up reading in order to gaze out of the window... [more]
What's known to all is scarcely worth knowing: salacious gossip, like all luxuries, is valuable only if it's exclusive, says gossip lover Susannah Herbert... [more]
The Human Stain betrays the hopes of Roth's own American Pastoral more than Bellow's Ravelstein betrays Alan Bloom, says Norman Podhoretz... [more]
If Norman Rockwell falls short of the art's highest reach, his realism and wit are enough to allow comparison with Winslow Homer and Honoré Daumier... [more]
Things are getting ominous when a guy can't have a good time by simply popping a Bud and watching his neighbor mow his lawn... [more]
Kant's ethics insists that we treat every person as an end, not a means. Does this place prostitution beyond the pale for a Kantian? Maybe not... [more]
Has Dave Eggers sold out? Has he squandered his cred in his pursuit of ever newer projects and plans, no matter how corny or stupid?... [more]
Advertising is a kind of secular religion, our chief maker of meaning today. So does that mean it's destroying society, or holding it together?... [more]
Barbara Kruger's sarcasm is cheap, her slogans smug and sophomoric, her politics shallow, provincial, and suffused with know-it-all-itis, writes Judith Shulevitz... [more]
Descartes walks into a bar. "Bonjour Réné, how about a beer?" The philosopher replies, "I think not," and promptly disappears... [more]
Chanteuse and literary butterfly Marie Corelli brought out the first of her immensely popular romances when she was 31 — or 17, if you believe her account... [more]
Hegel's Phenomenology is a work whose energy and originality compare with the summits of 19th century literature and music... [more]
The Birth of Shylock and the Death of Zero Mostel is the kind of rich and multilayered book that opens doors on the world... [more]
Is Das Kapital merely a vast Gothic shaggy-dog story, a utopian satire? Is Marx nothing but a Victorian melodramatist?... [more]
In her Disneyfied memoir of the 1960s, Sheila Rowbotham tries to redeem the dream from a scornful world that's lost its capacity to dream... [more]
Denis Johnson has created yet another narrator in a state of weary stupor. Only this time it's not an addict, it's a professor... [more]
If Hilary Putnam wants to attack cognitive science he should show that its so-called truths are spurious. But that would be hard work... [more]
"This is an amazing book. The reader can't help but offer up a prayerful Thank you, God, that human beings still have the audacity to write like this"... [more]
Woody Allen's Alvy Singer may be a whiny jerk in Manhattan, but he's a veritable philosophe on the Champs-Elysées... [more]
Shakespeare was a mortal writer, says Frank Kermode, prey to flats and sharps. Whole plays can be tedious or unconvincing... [more]
Forced to take speech lessons for his lisp, David Sedaris bought a pocket Thesaurus and memorized an s-free vocabulary... [more]
Steinbeck, Wallis, Brinkley, and others found inspiration on Route 66, that long stretch of asphalt once called the Main Street of America... [more]
Yes, Harry Potter promotes Satan and molds young killers, but he's not all evil. He's also against welfare programs and for Ayn Rand... [more]
Historian Robert Darnton has been drinking the Kool-Aid: he's now a true believer in the Web's power to transform academic publishing... [more]
Judy Garland relished her gay fans and had visions of them singing Over the Rainbow at her funeral. Too bad she kept falling in love with gay men... [more]
Karl Kraus was the Platonic ideal of the Jewish journalist in German literary culture. Today there's but one man to fill the vacuum he left... [more]
Romeo and Juliet are supposed to kiss. But in Iran, Romeo has to settle for brushing his cheek gently with the back of Juliet's fingers... [more]
Dance perfectly suited the innate rhythmic thrust of Stravinsky's musical temper, just as the cultural climate of prewar Paris suited his antiromantic streak... [more]
Most ecologists stridently oppose introducing "non-native" species into ecosystems. But can ecology really tell us which landscapes are "better" than others?... [more]
How many dollars per bar? A sombre reading of Brahms' 4th may become even more sobering when you realize that the conductor's fee was $100,000... [more]
Physicist Julian Barbour thinks time does not exist. Nor does motion. It's a feeling you may know if you sat through Eyes Wide Shut... [more]
Paul Virilio ponders Larry Flynt, mainstream pornographer: can the world of the night be dragged into the light and still be itself?... [more]
If Germany were to erect its own Statue of Liberty, it might read: "Give me your smart, your under-30s, your qualified masses yearning for a high income"... [more]
South Africa's Truth Commission has been chided for "trading truth for justice." But to demand justice only because it heals or deters is to misunderstand it... [more]
How does one compute the odds of an intellectual breakthrough? Faber and Faber, after all, has made a bet against the solution of Goldbach's conjecture... [more]
We look at paintings hoping to find some secret, says John Berger. A secret not about art, but about life, a secret words cannot locate... [more]
Be whole. Be true. Learn to trust yourself. Oprah Winfrey's magazine is a warm spit bath of affirmation, says Marjorie Williams... [more]
The Unplinthable Bede. Who'll occupy that vacant space for one more statue in Trafalgar Square? Surely not a Christian exponent of rational history... [more]
A psychiatrist was once asked about Thomas Szasz. "Oh, he's crazy!" he said, thus proving Szasz's point that we use "mental illness" to stigmatize our enemies... [more]
Religion is selfish, blinkered, and immoral, says A.C. Grayling. Consider the real acts and values of the vast Judaeo-Christian moral tradition... [more]
Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe feels that there has never been a humanism in Japan. In France and America, there have been periods of it... [more]
Yes, Americans do lack a sense of irony, says Michael Kelly. French intellectuals, the British upper classes, they're ironic. So where's it gotten them?... [more]
Frank Schirrmacher argues that technophobic Europe should try to be more than just a source for the software of ego crisis, identity loss, despair, and melancholy... [more]
We should allow a little space for paranoia in our lives, says Oliver Stone. Paranoia is healthy precisely because, after all, conspiracy never sleeps... [more]
That Claus von Bulow once had a small (unpaid) role in the movie industry is for him yet another reason for living in London... [scroll down]
Critics claim Southern women writers have two feet planted on the front porch. But are they overlooking a lush literary tradition of bravura and grotesquerie?... [more]
The Dianafication of politics: Tony Blair's trembling lip and breaking voice mask the deep emptiness of a talented actor, says Melanie Phillips... [more]
Has irony clogged the arteries of mature debate by forging an easy alliance with ignorance? Or is it an elegant means for the impotent to flatter themselves?... [more]
Today's magazines of ideas are funded like 18th century string quartets, says Lewis Lapham. Instead of Esterházy, though, it's Murdoch or Newhouse... [more]
It's My Party confronts a question that has baffled mankind down through the ages: why are some people loyal Republicans?... [more]
The Holocaust Industry? A maverick academic who has clashed fiercely with his fellow Jews is set to ignite a huge row... [more]. Norman Finkelstein in his own words, and still more from a Holocaust survivor. Also: Jan Karski obituary. The Telegraph calls Finkelstein's book exploitation and says the Guardian should be ashamed of itself. A further review.
In 1991, two scientists created the first web camera to find out without walking downstairs if their coffee pot was empty... [more]
Ulysses S. Grant "had no gait, no station, no manner." But from Belmont to Appomattox, what he did was nothing less than phenomenal... [more]
Evolutionary Psychology's latest crime, claim its enemies, straining hard: it's helped with the tragic dismantling of the welfare state... [more]
An algorithm is the ultimate abstraction. Its use is purely rote, calling for no intelligence or insight, yet what it does is meaningful... [more]
The three great philosophers of German history are Hegel, Schlegel, and Bagel. Alas, no one understands Hegel, no one reads Schlegel, and as for Bagel... [more]
Poet Mark Levine has passed through the postmodern maze. We are wounded, partial, always already guilty machines, he says, but we still need art... [more]
Like Greek tragedy, Mafia lore is a "family based" genre with a high body count, where betrayal and revenge are elevated to high art... [more]
Once upon a time there was an independent gay movement in the US. Then along came the marketeers, the corporates and their ad agencies... [more]
The endless conceptual ramparts that defend Ronald Dworkin's fortress of theory may exhaust even his most sympathetic readers... [more]
Lionel Trilling was a critic and teacher who refused to cultivate disciples, a sorcerer who took no apprentices... [more]
Norman Podhoretz should open his door to an America beyond ideology and egoism, and stop giving patriotism such a small, sad name, says Jim Sleeper... [more]
Salvador Dalí could be such a genial host: "I am going to my room to masturbate before a light lunch, if you would like to come and watch"... [more]
Kerouac and Ginsberg: their picaresque battles with psychic monsters were laced with Blakean delusions of grandeur... [more]
Move over, Bridget Jones. Dude Lit is here, gelded by the girlified rituals of dating and relating, sapped by the can-do spirit of the boom economy... [more] ... [still more]
Christopher Hitchens and Ronald Radosh square off on the Spanish Civil War, which began 64 years ago... [more] Plus: profile of Radosh and original 1936 article on the Franco uprising in the New York Times.
Richard Rorty says religion kills debate, for you can't argue with the pious when God steps into the picture. Just like secular philosophy... [more]
An imaginatively linked Web site should have the beauty of a collage or an art gallery, says Jenny Lyn Bader. Its links should resonate like literary allusions... [more]
Postmodern Nursing. Power, gender, and class may explain its social aspects, but nursing still must be rooted in biological reality... [more]
Lech Walesa, meet Shane. Film posters of Poland have long been one of that country's most politically vivid art forms... [more]
From biting nuns, to Salem witches, to UFOs and the vanishing genitalia of Nigeria, what a scary millennium it's been... [more]
Betrayal of feminism? For a woman corporate battler, weary from the slog up the career ladder, a life of finger painting is infinitely appealing... [more]
Sticky-fingered food writers. It's not the first time that a major cookbook's "old family recipes" have turned out to be, uh, borrowed... [more]
When architect Rem Koolhaas speaks in his vague, jargony way, you wonder what, if anything, he means. Luckily, we can look at his designs... [more]
National Geographic hailed a suspect fossil as the missing link between birds and dinosaurs. Now its editors have dinosaur egg on their faces... [more]
Would you like to be anointed a MacArthur Genius? Some simple rules: be a professor, live in Manhattan, promote a leftoid doomsday theory, avoid libertarians... [more]
Some sugar for your maple syrup? The paintings of Thomas Kinkade have made him very rich. They ought to carry an advisory for diabetics... [more]
Sherman Alexie freely admits he has played the Indian Author angle for all it's worth. "What makes me original is that I'm a rez boy"... [more]
Reliable photo? If it opens when you try, here's an unreliable link to a photo AFP claims is Edward Said throwing stones at Israeli soldiers.
The new economy has spawned a new poetics of labor, where the worker is not despised à la Marx as a commodity, but becomes rather a wretched advertisement... [more]
Child prodigies are common in math and chess. But can we imagine a child prodigy historian or sociologist? Hardly... [more]. Then there are the teenage computer gurus.
"We've got a business plan built around helping people find things they're not looking for." Now, what kind of web site would say a thing like that?... [more]
Behind the Fringe: Alan Bennett, Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller, and Dudley Moore walked onto a stage in 1960, and Britain was never the same again... [more]
In 1975, film promised one day to become the greatest of all narrative arts, beyond theater, fiction, or painting. In 2000, it's just one more data stream... [more]
Robert Putnam's trendy Bowling Alone theory is rife with errors. Why has it been so praised? asks Garry Wills... [more]. Andrew Sullivan says the theory just gives communitarians another excuse to boss us around.
18th-century London swarmed with whores and pickpockets. Pleasures included street fights, cheap gin, bawdy houses (straight and gay), and public hangings... [more]
The New York Times does not care what anyone says. It will run its stupefying series How Race Is Lived in America every day till it gets a Pulitzer... [parody]
Violent media is good for kids. Fear, greed, rage, hunger for power: these are better experienced through the stories of others... [more]
New York Jewishness was revered in Will Self's family. "Sure, I grew up in north London, but culturally we went to Woody Allen movies"... [more]
Letters of recommendation: sure, they're padded with accolades and peppered with code, but we can get underneath the rhetoric. Alison Schneider shows how... [more]
To forswear marital fidelity is to open yourself up to other ideas about what love is, what desire is, what happiness is, says Jane Smiley... [more]
Do actresses prefer doing nude scenes as blonds? Do directors like blond hair on naked actresses? Such questions make Ray Sawhill's head spin. He's happy... [more]
The Olive Garden restaurant does not present you with food from an actual mom 'n' pop joint. It's rather our idea of their food, if mom and pop had ever perfected it... [more]
Would Marilyn Monroe consent to have her photo taken with HUAC's chairman? If so, they'd likely be willing to cancel Arthur Miller's hearing... [more]
There are huge imbalances, says Martin Amis, in the memory of the West. We joke about the Russian experience in ways we'd never about the Holocaust... [more]
America is littered with the bones of failed utopias, but the Oneida Community stands out for its long life... [more]
Christopher Isherwood's Lost Years is a sad effort, full of intimate anatomical detail and boastful lists of sexual conquests... [more] and yet [more]
Bridget Jones led the charge of sassy, young, urbanite heroines beset with love and diets. But the Chick Lit formula has gone stale... [more]
Biographer Francis Wheen is far too keen on Karl Marx's alcoholic high jinks, his flatulence, and his boil-ridden penis... [more]
Show me a man's tattoo, and I will show you his soul c or at least his criminal record, says Theodore Dalrymple... [more]
Marjorie Garber has written a book so silly, so untroubled by any whiff of a serious idea, as to invite a kind of awe... [more]
James Dickey told tall tales of a debauched life, yarns that made Hemingway look like a florist from the Midwest... [more]
You may disagree with Peter Singer. You may hate him. But you never have any doubt about where he stands, says Ian Hacking... [more]
Patricia Highsmith is a not a writer who criticizes our mores for the sake of a higher morality. She goes after morality itself... [more]
During their brief reign, Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti were the John and Jackie Kennedy of the ancient world... [more]
Do serious writers really live in California? Do they frolic on its white beaches and drive down Pacific Coast Highway?... [more]
Today's pioneers of science are edgy, flashy mavericks, media savvy leaders refusing to be squelched by lack of funds or precedent... [more]
Moralistic critics of urban sprawl need to recognize that suburbia exists because it happily serves some people's needs... [more]
The short story is a minor art form that, in the hands of a very few writers, becomes major art, says Joyce Carol Oates... [more]
The Uninvited tells the amazing tale of William Osunde, who survived hardship by chewing leaves, sucking water from sandy mud, and drinking his own urine... [more]
Trimalchio was the first version of The Great Gatsby. The fit is poor, but its rumpled look can't disguise the muscle of a masterpiece... [more]
Does the Kansas Board of Ed now need to take a vote on teaching Einstein? Members of the radical anti-relativity underground think so... [more]
Oxford University has lost control of its name. It creates overseas students who think they study at Oxford, when it's providing no oversight... [more]
George Price first explained the evolution of altruism. This wasn't just an intellectual puzzle for him, it was the central challenge of his life... [more]
The French Revolution made idols of both Voltaire and Rousseau, champions of freedom against the ancien régime. They loathed each other... [more]
Today's magazine editors can polish blurbs and make cute pop culture references. But they can't edit a long story. Some may have never even read one... [more]
The Bishop of Winchester swings by for dinner. The son of a viscount drops in as well. What is proper etiquette for seating them — and do you really care?... [more]
Fat divas are losing opera roles to slim, inferior singers. Critics worry: "If you want to launch a rocket, you need a big booster"... [more]
The Mullah was asked if any good comes out of America. He thought for a moment. "Candy," he answered finally. "Candy comes from America"... [more]
Call it post-fascism. It finds its niche easily in the new world of global capitalism, but it does so sans Führer, sans one-party rule, sans SA or SS... [more]
Many physicists are upset to see Richard Feynman, brilliant as he was, elevated to the status of Einstein. But no one finds the hype more annoying than Murray Gell-Mann... [more]
Oprah Winfrey has achieved a kind of perfection, slinging truths, half-truths, and outright nonsense to flatter America with its favorite fallacies... [more]
To link literature and science is the main task of the 21st century, argues E.O. Wilson. Truth and artifice must merge their reciprocal powers... [more]
R. Eirik Ott dressed in black, listened to The Cure, smoked clove cigarettes. After years of being taunted, he penned the Wussy Boy Manifesto... [more]
Amartya Sen's economics goes beyond the realm of private consumption out into the real world, where families and friends have claims on us... [more]
Richard Gold teaches juvenile offenders to write poetry. They often prefer to rap, but that's just blowing smoke. He wants to get to the cinders... [more]
It's hard to pin down the precise alchemy by which a bookstore turns good business sense into a valuable civic presence, but Square Books has it... [more]
Plans to publish Ha Jin's Waiting in China have been stymied by the Beijing media, which consider the book part of a U.S. plot to demonize China... [more]
Universities may have been imitating Harvard for too long, trying to excel at everything. Will the thriving schools in the coming century be de-Harvardized?... [more]
David Horowitz once embraced the Black Panthers and socialist revolution. His leftism is gone, but he still sees things in black and white... [more] Plus: Horowitz replies.
The Rosenbach manuscript is a snapshot of Ulysses at an earlier stage of its evolution, a rare glimpse of James Joyce's incredible creativity... [more]
What can you know about a stranger after talking with him for an hour? Perhaps even less than you think, reports Malcolm Gladwell... [more]
Writer Anchee Min grew up in a world turned upside down by ideological enthusiasm, a carnival of terror presided over by Mao Zedong and his wife... [more]
Andrea Dworkin was drugged and raped. "I felt overwhelming grief as if I had died. I felt grief for this sick world. I started hating every day"... [more] Her graphic account of being raped does her -- and us -- no favors, says Catherine Bennett.
Liposuction is the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in America. But it is also more likely to kill you than a traffic accident... [more]
Cuban sculptor Kcho's 1996 show was picketed by angry exiles who said that any support for a Cuban artist helped the Castro regime... [more]
Alice Neel's provocative, sometimes nude portraits of art world stars like Andy Warhol and Allen Ginsberg made her a true artist's artist... [more]
If Tina Brown had to assign a piece on herself, how would she do it? "Oh, as a target. As a moving target," she says. "As a major takedown"... [more]
Mayday was not the end of modern protest. Not even the beginning of the end. But it was the sad end of the beginning, mourns Jay Griffiths... [more]
Eadweard Muybridge made his name taking pictures of animals in motion, showing artists a new world of truth... [more]
Yugoslavs are exposed to a volatile mix of pop culture, nationalism, and deliberate sensory overload, a combo that can be called "Balkan Hardcore"... [more]
Intellectual property rights are very much needed, but you don't have to be a communist to worry about fetishizing them, explains Lawrence Lessig... [more]
"Dearest Britney, I hear you've been jousting with the tabs over your alleged breast enhancement. I endured a similar row when I had my teeth straightened. Love, Martin"... [more]
Six of his novels sold three million copies in just twelve years. He once graced the covers of national magazines. It's about time we revived, uh, John Marquand?... [more]
Aleksandar Hemon has been compared to Nabokov and Conrad. "It's absurd," says the first-time author. "It makes no sense for me to be compared to them"... [more]
In England, Benjamin Britten played a role in the nation's musical life that was very similar to the one Aaron Copland played in America... [more]
Everything is up for grabs. The grand sweep of intellectual landscape lies before us, argues David Gelernter, and profound changes are afoot... [more]
"The truck was going so fast, like, I just went, like: Slow down, jerk?" George Saunders says we use "like" because we need it. It's meaningful... [more]
These days, it's extremely hard to be a man at all connected to a brain. The pathetic state of men's magazines is only the half of it, says Andrew Sullivan... [more]
Neurology and neuroscience have taken over the world of novels, shaping literary form and content in the way that Freud's ideas once did... [more]
The TV show Friends is an entree into the comic world of Shakespeare. Jerry Springer? He brings you closer to Euripides and Greek tragedy... [more]
Is Susan Sontag a plagiarist? Her new book borrows heavily from other sources, yet buries its citations in unusual, furtive places, notes Judith Shulevitz... [more]
Linnaeus hoped to feed the poor of Sweden, and so he tried to grow bananas, coffee, and other tropical imports in frigid Uppsala... [more]
Sam Lipsyte's wry, stripped-down prose captures the addled humanity of his characters -- and smashes a window into their hopelessness... [more]
G.H. Hardy used to boast that his work in math would never be useful. Today, he must be turning in his grave... [more]
Just as white lies are vital to healthy social dealings, flattery moves life along in an efficient and painless way... [more]
Orestes Brownson was a curious 19th century New England weathercock who never wavered in his search for truth... [more]
The Married Man is the latest episode in Edmund White's series of "auto fictions"... [more] Plus: White's nephew has written an ode to his uncle.
Loan sharks, drug dealers, crime lords, kick boxers, and jaded journalists populate Robert Bingham's posthumous debut novel... [more] ... [eulogy]
Thomas Kuhn's famous book was the ideal '60s product. And since he managed to publish it in 1962, his success was assured... [more]
We are merely guests on this planet, living at the indulgence of the maggots, flies, beetles, and cockroaches who will outlive us... [more]
Robert Fogel says we have good public health and a strong economy, but we lack "equity" of "spiritual assets." Whatever could that mean?... [more]
Elizabeth Hardwick's stellar mini bio of Melville is the classiest Cliffs Notes you'll ever find on Moby-Dick and Billy Budd... [more]
The stories in Gig add up to a reproach of the New Economy that Studs Terkel would admire, says Susan Faludi... [more]
The social construction of reality, truth, knowledge, and everything else. Is this a cliché that's run its course? Ian Hacking wonders... [more]
Thirty-eight years after his birth in the murky waters of Dr. No, the celluloid James Bond has become the ageless hero of modern global culture... [more]
Jane Smiley has written ten works of fiction and her latest, Horse Heaven, finally mines her obsession with horses to tell a complex story... [more]
We're all alone out there. We don't meet people like we used to. We don't know our neighbors. We bowl by ourselves... [more]
Liberace capsized gender with little hot pants, flamingo feather capes, and make-up that put him in some strange third sex: "He, She, and It"... [more]
On becoming right-wing scum: one day you begin to think affirmative action isn't fair, and before you know it you've joined the NRA... [more]
They are only too happy to classify themselves as archaic. Günter Grass and Pierre Bourdieu agree they are dinosaurs... [more]
Liberals and conservatives agree that "Third Way" is an empty, abused phrase. But discussion of it is still alive and well, provided you don't call it by name... [more]
Detroit is where the wheels came off the wagon of civilization. It has a derelict beauty that recalls the ruins of antiquity, writes Geoff Dyer... [more]
The Bertelsmann empire hopes that the sleepy little town of Gütersloh will one day be the site of the world's top online media company... [more]
Elijah Muhammad was a "squeaky little man teaching hate." Yet for all his foibles and failures, he did alter the course of black culture and politics... [more]
Betty Friedan's estranged husband has accused her of "a streak of lunacy in her personality" for what he says are false charges of wife abuse... [more]
What do you call a genre of art that has little history and few antecedents? Web artist Miltos Manetas wants to call it "Neen." Neen?... [more]
The discovery of mirror neurons in the brains of monkeys will do for psychology what DNA has done for biology, predicts V.S. Ramachandran... [more]
C. Wright Mills's daughter was only six years old when her father died. But the time she's spent collecting his letters has deepened their relationship... [more]
Carjackers made him strip his clothes. One kicked him in the face. Another shoved a pistol in his mouth. Visiting Kenya isn't what it used to be... [more]
In person, Norman Mailer is a much smaller, cut-price version of the Brooklyn roustabout, the Goliath of sexism, the Beelzebub of vanity we expect... [more]
Was poetry being held hostage, or did the New York Times, Random House, and "America's most popular poet" gang up to bully a small university press?... [more] Update: Bruce Weber replies.
Kurt Weill's model was Mahler, minus nostalgia and bombast. To Mahler's irony and tragic sense Weill added a sharp, bitter aftertaste... [more]
A woman in academia has about 1/50th of a man's chances of getting tenure. The solution? Shove a sock in your pants, says Laurie Essig... [more]
John Leonard says he's like a tribal warrior in the Ramayana, throwing dice, juiced on soma. He wants to tell some stories and brood out loud... [more]
Novelists have always tried to give their work authority by means of whatever tactic seems appropriate to their time, explains E.L. Doctorow... [more]
If poets wrote poems whose titles were anagrams of their names: Toilets by T.S. Eliot; Skinny Domicile by Emily Dickinson; Hen Gonads by... [more and more]
A bill passing quietly through the House of Lords may mean that Brits are now guilty until proven innocent. So why don't they care more?, asks John Naughton... [more]
It's life in the fast lane for a movie critic at Cannes: 16 movies in 5 days. And then into the slow lane for one meal in 5 hours. Roger Ebert explains... [more]
The Best American Poetry of 1999 has set out to eradicate what little remains of the old, valuable distinction between prose and poetry, says Joan Houlihan... [more]
Jacques Barzun's history of Western civilization is bound to go down as a classic — if one day there's still a history for it to go down in... [more]
It's the pampered comfort of our lives that is making us miserable, argues James Dellingpole. That's why we invent illusory threats and dangers for ourselves... [more]
Can nudists wear clothes and still remain nudists? This vexed question divides Europe's largest nudist movement... [more]
Sad news: one of the media sites we've admired the most here at Arts & Letters Daily has gone bust. NewsWatch is no more... [more]
All those dot-com layoffs are a sign of health in the economy, says former Labor Secretary, Robert Reich... [more]. "Robert Reich?", asks Jeremy Lott. What kind of a Left is this?
Will we ever get the full story of T.S. Eliot, the man and the work, as long as his widow controls his estate? Ian Hamilton wonders... [more]
Bob Dylan has made a career out of dropping hints that no one picks up. Just consider the esoterica of "Desolation Row," says Greil Marcus... [more]
A TV talk show calls you just before air time. You're not really sure where Zimbabwe is but, what the hell, you grab the Times and an atlas, and start to cram... [more]
Ten years ago, the idea of a re-born Jewish Forward did not excite Irving Howe. Indeed, it seemed to repel him, recalls Jonathan Rosen... [more]
Scandinavian writers are enjoying a success not known in those chilly, wind swept lands since the days of Henrik Ibsen and Hans Christian Andersen... [more]
Stephen Sondheim is right to scoff at the state of theater today. But he's wrong to think our "recycled" culture is any more recycled than before... [more]
Greek lyric poet Sappho is both a rich mine and a black hole, a space for filling the gaps, connecting the dots... [more]
P.G. Wodehouse, the master of literary sweets, is about to get his just deserts: his entire output in eighty volumes... [more]
Virginia Woolf said a book that needs an introduction is like a table that needs a beer mat jammed under one leg to level it... [more]
Poet James Dickey has been ill served by his son, his literary executor, and his biographer. They simply cannot grasp his genius... [more]
The Surrealists were famous for playing jokes on the public. What a shame that they had no sense of humor about themselves... [more]
Brit Zadie Smith's novel is not an African slave saga. It's about the African as willing migrant to a nation of bad weather and bad food... [more]
The word "Elizabethan" evokes a bewigged, ruffed, and white-faced monster of a queen. But that image may be mere flummery... [more]
Virtual reality is such old news. So why did super savvy Richard Powers make it the theme of his newest novel?... [more]
V.S. Naipaul can visit a country and make the most outlandish, racist, unscholarly, and inaccurate statements -- and still be taken seriously... [more]
Trigger Happy views video games as part of an aesthetic continuum, from ancient art forms to today's cinema and television... [more]
After 150 years, Harper's is still an official organ of the American ruling class, offering it flattery, stimulation, and guilt in equal measure... [more]
Kissing a high-caste Hindu could pose a problem, as J.R. Ackerley found out: "Not on the mouth! You eat meat! You eat meat!"... [more]
"Martin Amis," both narrator and hero of Experience, is easily the most likeable main character so far to have shown up in the Amis canon... [more]
William Randolph Hearst liked to go to costume parties. He was more than a passable yodeler. His favorite dish was rare duck... [more]
The Enlightenment is known for having been rational and reformist, skeptical and secular, French and philosophe. But J.G.A. Pocock has another view... [more]
It's true, ladies: men are slime. But did you ever notice the charming novels, poetry, music, and art they create? Mother Nature wants you to notice... [more]
You might think that Jane Jacobs has at least a minimal grasp of economics, since it is the subject of her newest book. Sadly, she doesn't... [more]
Relativism even in math? Imre Lakatos acted as though he thought so. But then his dishonesty had already been proved in the revolution in Hungary... [more]
Sure, Ravelstein is a roman à clef. But that says nothing about Saul Bellow's artistry, the glad coatings he gives to a terrible world... [more]
The Web is at once a steamy swamp of smut and debauchery, a new Library at Alexandria, and all else in between, says Jonah Goldberg... [more]
You can eat it, drink it, snuff out a blaze with it or dance in it -- perhaps even build a spacecraft with it. Interesting stuff, this foam... [more]
Final Curtain: a chain of theme park cemeteries, with holiday tours, galleries, neon death notices, and the "Dante's Grill" cafe. Is this for real?... [more]
Literary acknowledgments used to be simple: an editor, colleague, assistant, and spouse. Now there's a need to name-drop, to flatter oneself, to self-flagellate... [more]
At 16, Theodore Kaczynski was duped into taking a series of brutal psychological tests. They may have shaped his belief in the evil of science... [more]
Did Ed Daily murder women and children at No Gun Ri? His sensational Korean War atrocity story appears to be a tissue of errors and lies... [more]
Of course it's racist to think that a single intellectual could tell The Truth About Blacks. It'd take at least, say, two or three. Conveniently, they're all at Harvard... [more]
Did Aids originate in the 1950s when a live polio vaccine was introduced to Africa? This often ridiculed theory may just be right, reports Matt Ridley... [more]
Over the course of a year, drivers in America's largest cities spend a week stuck in traffic. The land of car lovers is getting fed up... [more]
Compulsive shopping disorder is a serious disease that strikes millions of women. What luck the drug companies have finally found a cure for it... [more]
Today's lawyers see pro bono services as penance that they pay for serving capitalism. Elite corporate firms thus oblige the left's "entitlements revolution"... [more]
You see them in every coffee shop: nomad writers with laptops. Who are they? What are they typing? Don't they have jobs?... [more]
Big Brother is the hottest TV show in Holland. But when German officials saw it, they declared it a massive violation of their constitution... [more] ... [still more]
The "dark continent" of the soul was Freud's asinine description of female sexuality. Inspired by the success of Viagra, modern science can do better... [more]
Professor Overton was a private man, valued for his quiet, unfaltering loyalty. "But now that he is dead," his closest friend said, "I can speak the truth"... [more]
Prize poet Ruth Stone feels that there is no bad poetry. "There is corny verse, but sentimental slush may mean a lot to some people"... [more]
Look at India if you want to see the danger in using privacy "rights" to advance the cause of women's equality, says Martha Nussbaum... [more]
The traditional French lover who asserts his dominance is gone, castrated by feminism, says Veronique Jullien. So she's founded a school... [more]
Call it literary destiny: the faith that great writing will survive because it has value. But in art as in life, chance is a key factor... [more]
For the Global Soul, who scarfs Big Macs in Bangkok, risotto in Reykjavik, and pho in Philadelphia, home and abroad have become the same, says Pico Iyer... [more]
Libertarians? They are nothing more than conservatives without morals, says a moralistic conservative. Maybe that's a problem, and maybe not... [more]
The life of C. Wright Mills was cut cruelly short, but his restless, engaged, brilliant, and bracing mind still challenges us today, says Todd Gitlin... [more]
Kathryn Hughes got through the 1980s pleased with herself for not using "Zeitgeist" or "creative." Was she caught in a linguistic time warp?... [more]
Socialism is what occurs when French rationalism meets German sentimentality, says Balint Vazsonyi. As for multiculturalism, well... [more]
Edward Said says his single, forlorn meeting with Sartre was a minor episode in a grand life, only worth recalling for its ironies and poignancy... [more]
Great philosophers are obsolete, and it's Max Weber's fault. His vision of rational and valueless social science has taken their place -- for now... [more]
Art stars have ruined the art world. The Cindy Shermans and Julian Schnabels don't make art -- they just offer canny responses to market pressures... [more]
Alfred Russel Wallace, that most unlucky of naturalists, was once thought to be one of the two most important figures in the 19th century... [more]
Mansfield Park's Fanny Price hears faint, distant wailing from a passing slave ship. Hello? What's a slave ship doing in the English Channel?... [more]
Groucho Marx gave up his dream of being a doctor in order to please his Jewish mother. No wonder he developed a sense of humor... [more]
For Deirdre McCloskey, the gush of sympathy is a one-way street. She's transsexual, so it's owed to her. As for her former wife of thirty years... [more]
It's politically quixotic to try to rid human beings of features that are universal among cultures, argues Peter Singer... [more]
Christopher Hitchens grew up with the Amis family. He's read Martin's new memoir and Kingsley's candid letters. Oh, he's been tempted to chime in... [more]
Harold Bloom's practical advice on how to access poetry's "self-help" value is comically lame: "read aloud," "read slowly," "read closely"... [more]
Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project threatens to burst the confines of two covers, to become a three-ring circus of the mind... [more]
If the English, said Samuel Beckett, title a book The Camel, the French will call it The Camel and Love. The Germans? The Absolute Camel... [more]
Actor John Gielgud has died at the age of 96: obit. Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal is dead at the age of 78: obit.
Vladimir Nabokov simply did not like homosexuals. His own gay brother was a source of shame, confusion, and regret -- as well as literary inspiration... [more]
Publishing? "A bullshit industry, with a bunch of phonies in it," snaps literary agent John Brockman. His authors love him, but the industry... [more]. Visit Brockman's Edge.
Einstein versus Bohr: their passionate debate about the fundamental meaning of quantum physics is one of the greatest stories in all of intellectual history... [lucid!]
Unemployed philosophers are often loath to seek jobs outside of academe. But is critical thought really found only in the ivory tower?... [more]
Human beings share 98 percent of their genes with chimps. So what? For a skydiver who's fallen only two percent of his way to the earth, there's no turning back... [more]
The new Martin Amis memoir presents us with a chap who's been name dropping since he first said "Daddy": profile and appraisals from peers, view of the stepmother part 1 and part 2, Oedipal issues (and more), plus John Carey on Kingsley and Geoffrey Wheatcroft on the man who stole his wife.
Eton offers superb training for today's rioters. Etonions are big and fit. They love smashing things. And they don't mind wearing silly clothes... [more]
The world regarded Theodor Herzl as a crank, but in the end Jews got their own country. Andrea Dworkin now wants women to have their own country... [more]
Too many media critics? Not really. Given the huge number of media outlets, it still comes in at about the ratio of chickens to poultry inspectors... [more]
"Organically grown carrots" sound so wholesome. Would as many people eat them if they were properly labelled as "grown in excrement"? David Cooper asks... [more]. Prince Charles has doubts about genetic engineering. Richard Dawkins has doubts about Prince Charles.
Proust can change your life -- if you're 19. By the time you're middle aged, no novel or poem is going to alter your worldview, sighs Michael Dirda... [more]
Psychologist Adrian Raine argues that for a small minority, violence is not a matter of choice. So is it right to judge them by our moral standards?... [more]
Barbara Ehrenreich pitched her story idea to the editor of a glossy magazine. "Okay, do your thing on poverty," he said, rolling his eyes, "only make it upscale"... [more]
Robert Frost was a boor, Evelyn Waugh a bigot, von Karajan a Nazi, Hammett a deadbeat dad, Brecht a crook. Picasso? "Don't get me started," says Robert Fulford... [more]
When Freeman Dyson looks at the glory of stars, galaxies, forests, and flowers, he's sure of only one thing: God loves diversity... [more]
It ain't over till the fat lady, Janet Reno, and the warbling dolphins sing. Gripping, heart-warming, and mildly nauseating, John Leo presents Elian: The Opera... [more]
The clearing of its own skirts lends to the Vatican's apologies a kind of self-praise that does not comport with true remorse, says Garry Wills... [more]
Postmodern fiction doesn't exist. It pains Michael Bérubé to have to admit this because he teaches a college course on the subject... [more]
The popular success of Earth Day hasn't been matched by equal success in the predictions of the green prophets who helped create it, says Ronald Bailey... [more]
John Travolta's Scientology sci-fi movie, a kind of Planet of the Oafs, makes Ed Wood's efforts look dignified... [bad ... awful ... worse ... still worse]. Dumb movie, but what a smart producer. Update: Church of Scientology demands we run a correction.
Suspense is delay. It is the lovely agony of waiting for something to happen. During moments of suspense, nothing happens. Nothing. At all. Happens... [more]
What did Simone de Beauvoir see in that "boring old fart"? For years, Jean-Paul Sartre's reputation has been in decline. Now there's the hint of a comeback... [more]
Jacques Derrida says he cannot listen in earnest to anyone talking in a southern French dialect. Do serious thinkers really need to axe the accent?... [more]
Bourgeois bohemians: rich, tolerant, easy-going, and spoiled rotten. This is what the Boomers have become, says David Brooks... [more ... second opinion ... interview ... excerpt]
If Gloria Steinem was stern and aloof - the Virgin Mary in a bad mood - Betty Friedan was raucous, party-loving, and affectionate to men... [more ... interview]
The Maths Gene argues that the same features of the brain which enable us to use language also make for our talent with numbers... [more]
The author of Fat Man On The Left is a nephew of Yehudi Menuhin, who cut him out of a family will for having "no class"... [more]
Kathryn Harrison's pet topics are child sex abuse, incest, rape, bulimia, and breast cancer. And now: foot binding... [more]
Why did the human brain evolve beyond its pleistocene needs into a weeping, Wagner-loving, high art idolater? Geoffrey Miller has an answer... [more ... interview]
For centuries, dust was prized as the divide between visible and invisible. But the rise of the microscope swept it to the margins... [more]
Scottish nationalism is just a game played at the end of history, according to Francis Fukuyama. It creates a fuss, but little will change... [more]
Was it Tim Leary, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the SDS, Lyndon Johnson and Tonkin Gulf? Something happened in America in 1964... [more]
With his guts and verve and genius, novelist Paul Beatty is already being hailed as the new Ralph Ellison... [more]
Egypt is trapped in the fire of its own kind of Salman Rushdie affair. A new novel has ignited a violent student protest... [more]
There's a large market in the US for a brand of fictive Irishness. If the Irish can't supply it, the Americans will do it for themselves... [more]
America's most unpredictable legal thinker is perhaps its most brilliant judge. Richard Posner rules for nude dancing, in favor of wealth, and against moralizing academics... [more]
Multiculturalism and Great Books do not need to conflict in practice, reports a professor who learned firsthand -- teaching political thought in Singapore... [more]
Heisenberg's ideas are often used incorrectly in popular writing to convey the mundane point that the presence of an observer can influence the observed... [more]
"I'd rather take a hot stick in the eye than deal with your bureaucratic nonsense." Chris Brown's master's thesis was a tad hostile to its readers... [more]
Update: Charges against Robert Hughes have been dismissed, but the trial has had an odd aftermath. Earlier: the men that Hughes crashed into, one of them a convicted bank robber, have been charged with extortion... [more]
J.K. Rowling's fourth book in the Harry Potter series is due out this July, and it's already topping the charts -- on advance orders alone... [more]
School discipline is dead, killed off by court decisions and do-gooder federal laws that have reduced principals to psycho-babbling bureaucrats... [more]
A fake Emily Dickinson poem was forged with no success by a huckster in the 1980s -- until it was sold by Sotheby's in 1997... [more]
Essayist and jazz critic Stanley Crouch is most happy when he's jamming his finger in the electric socket of controversy... [more]
Herbert von Karajan steps into a taxi. "Where to, sir?" he's asked. "It doesn't matter," the great conductor replies. "They want me everywhere"... [more]
Shakespeare is not well cared for, says Frank Kermode. People visit Stratford and buy souvenir mugs, but few of them preserve the Bard's poetry... [more]
Holocaust fatigue. Edith's Story, an Anne Frank-like memoir, nearly didn't find a publisher in the US, where readers have reached a saturation point... [more]
With their long necks and big breasts, John Currin's warped female nudes suggest both Old Master madonnas and Playboy pinups... [more]