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In Paris one is seldom rushed out of a restaurant or a café. People eat, drink, talk, play cards, or just stare out at the action on the street... [more]
Your mission statement is ready. Those aims and objectives are set. It's time to go for excellence in learning outcomes. Or something like that... [more]
Whatever the current plight — Soviet Union, rising crime, some jihad — our pundits always view the situation as permanent. They should recall TV anchor Kent Brockman... [more]
"The ship tore on," in Moby-Dick's climactic chase. Those words capture the spirit of Herman Melville's powerful, hurtling intellect, writes Eric Gibson... [more]
Men will praise women's poetry for delicacy, sentiment, and piety, qualities they'd despise in a man's. It's a double standard, argues Germaine Greer... [more]
Dwight Macdonald thought there was nothing really wrong with being an amateur. After all, he might have said, look where the professionals have got us... [more]
The healing power of the arts? Oh, what precious twaddle, says Christopher Knight. If you want healing, try crystals or a phone-in psychic... [more]
College speech codes are based on the idea that hurting anyone's feelings is a form of assault. The codes are now being applied in unexpected ways... [more]
Art historians read so many texts they cannot respond to paintings with raw love and tears, says James Elkins. Words, words, words: they make art safe... [more]
Bow to an all-powerful being five times a day, regard the world as evil, remain ignorant of literature, art, and historical debate, and your mind rots, argues Farrukh Dhondy... [more]. Who are the real experts on Islam?
It's not that our lives will be so much transformed by a new economy, says Peter Drucker. We're actually moving into The Next Society... [more]
"I'll rot in hell before I give that little bastard a quote for his book" is just one of the jacket blurbs for Toby Young's chronicle of failure... [more]
David Halberstam imagines that his views on U.S. foreign policy reflect a sort of universal consensus he has somehow divined... [more]
The Empire State Building towers over the midtown skyline, a rock-solid sentinel that shimmers with power and glory... [more]
Our leaders pale beside the hyperactive persona of Teddy Roosevelt. As a friend said, "Remember, the President is about six"... [more] ... [more]
Tocqueville gazed with wonder at the spectacle of an energetic America in 1830, a land blessed with natural riches, cursed by slavery... [more]
Emotions have a narrative form. Our grasp of any single emotion requires it to be part of a larger story, says Martha Nussbaum... [more]. Interview.
The public appears disposed to be amused even when they are conscious of being deceived. Master trickster P.T. Barnum was a prophet of irony... [more]
Modest soldiers, lacking all the celebrity qualities of today's culture, make it easy to forget that they are heroes, that we owe to them our freedom... [more]
Emergent systems: slime mold to ant colonies to urban plans, structure can come up from the bottom, instead of down from the top... [more] ... [more]
She is older than the rocks among which she sits; like the vampire, she has been dead many times, and learned the secrets of the grave... [more]
The TLS may have called Prufrock "uninspired" and doubted Chekhov, but it has been accurate and engaging for most of its first century... [more] ... [more]
He was London's Giuliani. Or is it the other way around? And who's writing Bush's speeches? There'll always be a Winston... [more]
The Victorians were not prissy, plodding sticks-in-the-mud. They were friskily go-ahead, slept around, and put spin into politics. Just like us... [more]
Aaron's rod, banana, joystick, baby-maker, roly-poly, thorn in the flesh, sweetmeat, tool: all are terms for a certain member with a mind of its own... [more]
Edith Piaf consorted with thugs and perhaps helped the Nazis. Far from being a fragile waif, she was a woman of massive ego and determination... [more]
Baloney detection. It's not always easy to tell real science from its phony imitators, but Michael Shermer lists some useful tools... [Part 1] ... [Part 2]
Postcolonialist Homi Bhabha, guru of hybridization and other latinate buzzwords, has moved to Harvard. Everyone's thrilled. Almost... [more]
Czeslaw Milosz has had "the ambiguous privilege of knowing and standing more reality than the rest of us." And not always a happy reality... [more]
Economists vs. poets: In their mid-19th century war of ideas, it's the economists who were viewed as the good guys, says David Levy... [more]
Linguistic collateral damage: our speech has been impacted by a war-spawned, nasal-swabbed, ramped-up newspeak, a bunker-buster of words... [more]
Clint Eastwood would just say Heidegger yes, Wittgenstein no, and maybe, if he changed his mind, go back to the library stacks... [more]
Ken Kesey, charismatic writer who built a bridge from beatniks to hippies, mixing acid trips, rock, and fiction, is dead at age 66... [NYTimes] ... [Edge], also RIP Sandy Lehmann-Haupt.
Taliban is a generic word, says Robert D. Kaplan. It's like Wal-Mart. You go into Wal-Mart and you find different products, some good, some bad... [more]
Trying to dictate into a phone at the Vanity Fair Oscar party is bad enough, but when the impatient woman in line behind you is Diana Ross... [more]
Jihad vs McWorld, the war between tribalism and global values, is Benjamin Barber's apt phrase for our current plight... [more]. Another thinker of the moment: Samuel Huntington.
Ernst Gombrich, historian and theorist who argued that artists cannot draw what they see without cultural mediation, is dead... NYTimes, London Times, Guardian, Independent, Telegraph.
Women walk out, men cheat, trucks don't start, and good people end up dead. Disaster always lurks in the dismal world of country music... [more]
Naïve Stephen Hawking thinks that philosophy is an empty analysis of language, that the universe and our account of it are one and the same... [more]
The Simpsons: sophisticated and vulgar, brainy and populist, gleeful in its assault on our pieties while affirming family and community... [more]
In 10100 years even black holes will be gone: no earth, stars, or atoms, only creeping murmur, and the poring dark. Not a jolly picture... [more] ... [more]
Who today remembers the gas chamber execution of the remarkable Caryl Chessman? His astonishing story needs retelling... [more]
For Northrop Frye, the Lord's work was thinking and writing beautiful ideas. That this was what Frye liked to do showed how wise the Lord is... [more]
Lewis Carroll's love for little girls was delicate, tortured, and elusive: a strange, terrified erotic passion, both intricate and complicated... [more]
Oprah Winfrey? Compared to the whining, spoiled, conceited snots of the high-art literary world, she's an exquisite, classy lady... Jonathan Yardley ... Alex Beam ... [more]. Chris Lehmann to the defense.
Flaubert in Egypt: he would have liked to travel on a divan, lying down, watching the land, people, cities, and ruins passing by... [more]
Eight hours a day of études only trains a violinist's left-hand fingers, bow arm, and tiny hand muscles. Taste? Well, it's either in you or it isn't... [more]
Science is not a religion. Scientific metaphors are not literal, revealed truth. It's time to rethink science, to rename it, says Mary Midgley... [more]
At its best, boxing can be a ballet with blood, geometry with guile. At its worst, it is fakery, burlesque, cruelty, injustice, exploitation, and death... [more]
So where is Darwinism going in the next 50 years? Ernst Mayr's view is that it will not have to do any going, anywhere: it's already there... [more]
Great English prose stylists of the past, Kipling or Waugh, had an absolute certainty of touch that's now gone. John Keegan mourns its passing... [more]
Ivan Turgenev cared for living, breathing human beings. He knew no coming apocalypse would end human conflict. Marx, on the other hand... [more]
The meanings of life are too rich for any simple philosophy. We want at the end to have told a good story, says Mark Kingwell, and made life worth living... [more]
After years of phony fears -- the ozone layer, lawn sprays, food additives, fluoride, microwaves, implanted silicon, vaccines -- we at last have a real worry... [more]
Don Cupitt's cosmos has no value or meaning. It is a place where shopping is the only thing to believe in, its Sea of Faith merely a puddle... [more]
In the face of all that cheapens human experience, the prescient, unnerving Don DeLillo still believes that art can give us power... [more]
Frans de Waal is intrigued by the way that large-brained mammals, like great apes and dolphins, share a sense of empathy. But what about rats?... [more]
The collapsing Twin Towers reminded us of so many disaster movies. The unthinkable is no longer a mere object of fantasy, says Slavoj Zizek... [more]
No bore like a Tocqueville bore, no easier claim than saying he saw everything before it happened. Spare us his fans... [more]
Ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers posed for a publicity photo with the American flag crumpled in weeds under his feet. Pity about his timing... [more]
Fadiman, Trilling, Barzun: men of their time, cared little for women. But for Carolyn Heilbrun, their blessed circle of intellect was life’s glory... [more]
Critic James Wood hopes the social novel and "hysterical realism" will be casualties of recent events... [more]. Hysterical realist Zadie Smith responds.
Why couldn't I open a bar in San Francisco that says, "Smokers Welcome"? Asks Christopher Hitchens, no longer a socialist... [more]
Hardt and Negri gussy up Marx with a panoply of New Age rhetoric about globalization. It goes nowhere, it means nothing, says Roger Kimball... [more] ... [more]
Baraka was an indulgent cowboy, Wright a disgruntled tourist, Fanon favored violent cleansing. All three made white folks sit up and listen... [more]
Self-indulgent, narcissistic, nonsensical, confusing: Mark Halpern on two recent articles on language usage in Harper's and The Atlantic... [more]
The "clash of civilizations" is a gimmicky thesis. Labels like Islam and the West only mislead and confuse, says Edward Said... [more]. Umberto Eco on the roots of conflict.
Biological warfare is the perfect metaphor for our vulnerability, bioterrorist the bogeyman to trump all bogeymen, writes Kenan Malik... [more] ... [more]
Is history back from vacation? Has the end of history ended? "No," insists Francis Fukuyama, and recent events make no difference... [more]. Rome vs. modern America.
She called in sick to her office in the WTC just before the first plane hit. To spend the time in bed with her new lover. Lies, fiction, and fear... [more]
A uniquely British monster. Scholar and spy Anthony Blunt shared the moral nullity of Establishment types who did what they wanted... [more]
The genius of Jack Miles is to insist that Christ is a grotesque parody of the Messiah — else we lose the meaning of his life and death... [more] ... [more]
In philosophy's minefield any misstep can lead to doom. If we doubt doubts then we do not doubt at all. Maybe... [more]
Marjorie Garber has penned a love letter to her profession: literary theory and criticism. Not a love letter to literary art, mind you... [more]
Freedom on the Internet? The Web as Hyde Park? As this medium matures, it's looking more unlikely, argues Lawrence Lessig... [more]
Secular liberals may not care for the kind of social capital that evangelicals build, but build it they do. Take home schooling... [more]
Techno-disasters: they occur at the bloody crossroads where flawed technology collides head-on with forgetfulness, laziness, or folly. ... [more]
Naomi Wolf is not part of the monastic wing of feminism; her writing shows she actually knows some men and children, writes Mary Eberstadt... [more]. How about broken-fingernail feminism?
America's mythmaker in its times of humiliation and fear, Norman Rockwell was once an avant-garde wannabe... [more]
How did Britain come to have an empire of garrisons, slaves, and forts, instead of the empire it set out to have, of traders and farmers?... [more]
Isaac Babel's stint with the Cossacks was bloody and violent beyond belief. It made his prose even more spare and unflinching... [more] ... [more]
Winston Churchill knew how science would change life, warfare, and politics. He saw terror and fanaticism... [more]
Transformed it may be today, but the relation of the Vatican to the Jews makes a sad story, more about hatred than compassion... [more]
Racism and hatred made Black writing into a realm of lament and despair. Richard Wright looked to the day the Literature of Race would vanish... [more] ... [more]
In our insatiable desire to stay young and beautiful, we have invented endless ways to make our lives miserable. Consider the corset... [more] ... [more]
Big science has big price tag. If you want to know the path of morality in modern science, you have to only follow the money... [more] ... [more]
Picasso, bohemian, painted all night, bedded whores. Einstein, bourgeois, worked all day, came home to wife and kid. How were they alike?... [more]
Laurel and Hardy's movies are as exact and precise as a clock. A cuckoo clock, yes, but one that keeps good time... [more]
In Sam Lipsyte's world, Oprah's book club would be forced at gunpoint to read Sam Lipsyte. If writing is a crime, he's driving the getaway car... [more]
The twentieth century showed the human circus at its most grotesque. Sybille Bedford had a ringside seat throughout the performance... [more]
Wearing the same raincoat in 40 films, laconic Robert Mitchum drank, doped, pissed on the floor, and sleepwalked his way to greatness... [more] ... [more]
Emma Rothschild's Adam Smith was a closet liberal, a friend to the poor. The "invisible hand" was merely a mild and ironic joke... [more]
For Fernand Braudel, history is not of kings and dynasties, but everyday lives and constraints, across the vast canvas of time... [more] ... [more]
Paris, 1900-1930 was the closest art ever came to being a criminal activity, with artists, gangsters, and brothel-keepers on intimate terms... [more]
Libertarianism needs sweet talk, a theory of persuasion. The idea of the life and work of Friedrich von Hayek is persuade and be free... [more]
Who killed classical music? Or is it as dead as some critics say? Lionel Basney looks at three books on the serious problems of serious music... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Brilliant and vicious, weak and tyrannical, visionary and petty, spiteful and pitiful, Richard Nixon is our Richard III, our Oedipus, our Lear... [more]
Kenneth Tynan was, alas, a literary gentleman who lost his passion. His diaries read like a long note before dying...[more] ... [more]
The greatest generation? The young people who escaped the Nazis are now profs and scientists, Nobel winners and secretaries of state... [more]
Art books can change the way you see a painter. A new book by David Hockney will change the way you see painting... [more] ... [more]
Serene and saintly, sweet hermit of letters H.W. Fowler wanted little else in life but to hone his grammar... [more]
Genre-jumper Cornel West raps into a world more concerned with Bentleys, bitches, and blunts than with black power... [more] ... [more]
Romania is at the bottom of the European heap: a per capita GDP below Namibia, low life expectancy, people eking out existence on $30/month... [more]
To be a critic, you have to look at what's in front of you, said Pauline Kael. And what you see, alas, is a movie industry in decay... [more] ... [more]
David Lewis, metaphysician of actual and possible worlds, teacher, and model railroad buff, is dead at the age of 60... [more]
Edward Teller must be a happy man. Old enemies are long dead. The communism he hated is gone. And the market for his favorite weapons thrives ... [more] ... [more]
The moderate Islamic state? An idea cooked up by politicians looking to get a few loans here and there, says V.S. Naipaul... [more]
Muhammad Ali could not be more purely an American. For that very reason his embrace of Islam upset his fans. It's an unease still felt today... [more]
For spinning glistening webs of Billy Wilder mythology, it's the man himself who was by far the worst and most appealing offender... [more]
Events of a thousand years ago are but faint traces in the Western mind. For Muslims, they are as emotion-packed and vivid as today's news... [more]
Polaroid, RIP. The tool used by Adams to photograph trees and mountains, Warhol to snap genitals, Wegman to shoot dogs, is fading away... [more]
Generation Y kids: rebels contra rebellion, shrewd entrepreneurs, counter-counter-culturalists. It's all William Kristol's doing... [more]
By liberating dissonance, did Arnold Schoenberg drive away the audience for 20th century music?... [more]. Janacek is the third way.
On a dazzlingly sunny day, Harvard handed over a flea market’s worth of symbolic doodads to a local boy made good... [more]
Why do most guests at a party end up in the kitchen? What do ant colonies have in common with the internet? Steven Johnson has an idea... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Life without music would be a mistake, said Nietzsche. So the Taliban, those despisers of melody and harmony, must be sorely mistaken... [more]
Nationalism doesn't feed on greed or glory, it thrives on wounded pride. It is the most dangerous force in our world, wrote Isaiah Berlin...[more]
Pigs are cleverer, far cleverer than humans at being a pig. A wood without pigs is like a ballroom without women, says James Buchan... [more]
Lionel Trilling hated modern movies, Jacques Barzun found post-1914 culture nihilistic and disgusting. They wanted a highbrow book club... [more]
Brilliant, inscrutable Stephen Hawking is a blockbuster author, a cult figure with the public. Then there are talks at the watercoolers... [more]
Adolf Hitler didn't hate gays. Killing hundreds of thousands of them was just a way to hide his own homosexuality... [more] ... [more]
G.A. Akerlof, A.M. Spence, and J.E. Stiglitz won the 2001 Nobel prize in economics... [more] . What about the philosophical edge of their theory? ... [more]
There are 3,500 prisoners on death row in America. A sobering new study says if all these sentences were carried out, 63,000 lives would be saved... [more]
Martha Nussbaum is an enigma, a mix of passion and intellect. She won't simply cry, she will ask what crying consists in. One tear, one argument... [more]
Trinidad-born British writer V.S. Naipaul won the 2001 Nobel prize for literature... press release, NY Times, Guardian, Trinidad Express, Wall Street Journal. David Brooks on Naipaul on Islam.
Southern-style speech is in as much peril as a rubber-nosed woodpecker in a petrified forest. Trouble is, most folks don't know pea turkey 'bout it... [more]
In Edward Said's post-colonial theory, says Stanley Kurtz, no Westerner can ever truly know a non-Western culture... [more]. Said is a secular Protestant.
Samuel Huntington was right: it is a clash of civilizations. What he did not address is the ways that Islam and the West wage war, says John Keegan... [more] ... [more]. Hey, where's all your Muslim support, Binny?
Slavery reparations? They are in place, says John McWhorter. We call them welfare, workfare, affirmative action, special scholarships for blacks... [more]
That letter left in the suitcase at Boston airport is no more Islam than the Ku Klux Klan is Christianity. Don't give an inch to such people, says Kanan Makiya... [more]
Intelligent design is a foolish idea found not just among creationists but among evolutionists who feel the need to prettify Darwin for public consumption... [Part I] ... [Part II]
Is New York forever changed? Was Chicago after the Great Fire? London after the blitz? Cities are more resilient than we, in our heartbroken state, can see... [more]
The genome project made it clear: only an 'omic suffix makes a biologist truly hip. These days, everyone wants an 'ome of his own... [more]
Pining for the leafy quads of college's Golden Age? Get over it, says Louis Menand. The university must wise up to a new reality... [more]
Brutal cynic and earnest sap, satirist of manners Dawn Powell was a small-town girl caught up in a glittering, big city swirl... [more]
Write about the 20th century's great minds? You'll need a strong stomach. They were mostly deskbound dreamers, ready to justify and explain away brutal tyranny... [more]
Empire is to political and social criticism what pornography is to literature. But it's all the buzz, says Alan Wolfe, the next big thing for washed-out Marxists... [more]
The Chronicles of Narnia racist, sexist, imperialist? Say it isn't so! Let's give poor C.S. Lewis a break, says Gregg Easterbrook... [more]
Honest creationists. They are as rare as pterodactyl teeth, but Richard Dawkins has at last stumbled on one, teaching down in Dayton, Tennessee. Sadly... [more]
Greatest Generation kitsch: hacks have transformed WWII into a sentimenal saga of phony heroics and cheap pageantry... [more]
The Jewish lobby has long been a target for Australia's loudest Israel-basher, Helen Darville. Now her old certainties have vanished... [more]
We are eating the fruit of an ancient bitterness between the West and an enfeebled Islam, says Martin Wolf... [more]. It's a war against modernity, said Bernard Lewis in 1990. Islamic banking is one bright spot. How awful was the Italian Premier's gaffe? Attacks are a distortion of Islam.
"Flesh out Ilsa. Add a good sex scene. And change that boring title." What would today's studio execs have said about Casablanca?... [more]
Oh, the whining ingratitude of my generation, says Bryan Appleyard, its infantile loathing of a great, witty, and infinitely clever nation that has saved us from ourselves... [more]. Letters to the editor.
Enthralled by violence, obsessed with moral purity, the forces of radical Islam are fascists for our time, says Walter Laqueur... [more]. Chris Hitchens agrees, and adds, "Damn the doves!". Chomsky vs. Hitchens.
Arthur M. Schlesinger remains our most eloquent apologist for liberalism. The faith may be in eclipse, but he's not about to yield to the darkness... [more]
Life's not boring, like 1957. Our culture is more sophisticated, witty, creative. Moms, kids, dads have more options. This is good. Now the bad news... [more]
Postcolonialism, which preaches that the West is always the evil demon, imperialism its Original Sin, has a bit of a challenge on its hands at the moment... [more]
French philosophes get all the credit, but the Enlightenment also had an English accent. We just have to listen a little more closely, says Gertrude Himmelfarb... [more]
Americans should try harder to figure out why they rile folks so much. Jews should have been more sensitive to why that Mr. Hitler was so mad at them... [more]
Music and consolation. Grief, rage, and facing a world forever changed is not optional. But music can help us through our sadness... [more]
Witchcraft? Don't laugh. An expert says, "When you've got a child sexually molested by an incubus, then you know it's not imagination"... [more]
Boastful liar, said his enemies, but the Greek seafarer Pytheas was a skillful early explorer of the British Isles... [more]
Best American Poetry? If that means there is some poetry that is less than best, don't tell the poetry workforce: they get demoralized... [more]
The British Empire was a class act. Skin color? That was no matter. In Victoria's eyes, King Kalakaua was "one of us"... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Chain-smoking virgin and recluse, Fernando Pessoa spent his timid life filling a wooden trunk with strange, wondrous writings... [more]
Postmodern Pooh's academics, gay and straight, radical and conservative, share a desperate arrogance, and shout when they think nobody's paying attention... [more]
"Grandpapa," asked the child, "is it true you're the greatest man in the world?" "Yes," replied Winston Churchill, "and now bugger off"... [more]
Book buyers are eating up brisk, saucy tales of feisty heroines who ruled in days past. These gals could be ruthless... [more]
It's still a mystery how such a human horror as Adolf Hitler managed to make so many essentially decent people actually love him... [more]
Dashing from a Beatles photo shoot to a meeting with Stanley Kubrick, Terry Southern was for the 1960s the hip king of writerly cool... [more]
Why the West has won wars, and why it will win again: democracy, an open society behind its citizen soldiers, always has the edge... [more]
Jan Morris's Trieste, Italy's Nowhere, is her memento mori, a colorless city of shabby gentility and faded power... [more]. How about Venice?
V.S. Naipaul was not always the noble Sir Vidia. No child of privilege, he had to strain mightily against permanent obscurity... [more]... [more]
Sylvia Plath, middle class and insecure, had nothing in common with the slovenly Caroline Blackwood. Except a drive toward darkness... [more]
Beset by melancholy, cursed by illness, Beethoven suffered all the time. But his broken health never broke his spirit... [more]
Charles Babbage, oddball, genius, and a man far ahead of his time, saw the future, but couldn't make it work... [more]
To the passengers of Flight 564, "This is your Captain speaking"... [more]. How to devastate the world in one easy lesson.
What gives the Mona Lisa her dark allure? An unlikely femme fatale, she was in life a homely housewife, not a sulky stunner... [more]
Excessive moralism may be no help in fighting terrorism. But neither is it desirable to go all legalistic and lose our sense of moral outrage... [more]
Manic men who left snail tracks of suffering on the Arctic ice, early explorers to the North Pole were desperate characters... [more]
In middle-class America, says Laura Pappano, screens trump people, speed bests calm, and market values beat out human values... [more]
Doris Lessing has no praise for feminists or housewives, notes Elaine Showalter. Only brisk earth mothers win her approval... [more]... [more]
Ruins evoke forfeited ambition and wasted splendor. They elicit wishes, dreams, and the finest cadences of language... [more]... [more]... [still more]. Ruins of Kabul.
Audacious fabulator of her Gaelic roots, Iris Murdoch lived in England, but fancied herself a citizen of a lost, genteel Ireland of the mind... [more]... [more]
Between the facts of physicists and the fluff of the Holocaust deniers lie the borderland sciences. Michael Shermer knows the turf... [more]
The Pokémon panic of 1997: fits and nausea among children all over Japan. Was it epilepsy caused by flashing lights? Or just mass hysteria?... [more]
Tintin's creator, Hergé, was a fanatic realist who studded his capers with real life characters. Take that nutty Professor Calculus... [more]
From Estonia to Ireland, states are getting a make-over. It's all about branding. For countries, like sneakers, cool is the rule... [more]
Sylvia Plath was not the only woman in Ted Hughes's life who killed herself. There was a dark lady: glamorous, driven, doomed... [more]
That speech. With its rolling triads, it was 2,988 vivid words that galvanized the country and changed the Presidency. Who wrote it?... [more]
Lenin's problem-solving lover, Inessa Armand was once Moscow's most powerful woman. Why has she been lost to history?... [more]
The mad messiah of modern music, Karlheinz Stockhausen combines riotous noise with Teutonic order. He's as liable to offend the mind as to hurt the ears... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
For Benedict Anderson, vast, turbulent Indonesia is a passion. Haunted by its past, he seeks a reckoning. But Java's troubled ghosts don't rest easily... [more]
Art museums have now become the hot pick-up spots. Under the influence of Klimt and Botticelli, frisky gallery goers are, uh, finding new friends... [more]
Wielding her pen as deftly as she might a scalpel, Joan Didion can dissect a sentence with the precision of a surgeon... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Vladimir Bukovsky's rich history of the Soviet Union's use of Western journalists and peaceniks is so stunning that it can't find a publisher... [more] ... [backup url]
Many died on September 11th when crews acquiesced in the hope of survival. El Al pilots take a different view... [more]. U.S. planes are pushovers. Malcolm Gladwell on flight risk.
International capitalism needs to be defended now more than ever. Who'll do it? Government and business, that's who. More's the pity... [more]
Chick-Lit? Just shallow fluff, sneer the literary matrons. Lighten up, ladies. You're missing the pleasure of cracking good reads... [more]
The merry Frederick Crews used to lob water balloons at conceited academics. Now he's back with Postmodern Pooh — but this time he's angry... [more].
Worried sick about the next wave of chemical and germ warfare terrorists? Maybe this is one issue on which you can relax a little... [more] ... [more]
For Ellen Dissanayake, art cuts to the heart of our evolved nature. Want real insight into paintings, quartets, novels? Think Darwin, not Derrida... [more]
Aesthetic agitator and idolater of pleasure, Gustav Klimt evoked a swirling world of defiant, private rapture... [more]
Restless rambler, shy scholar, and elegist of devastated lives great and small, W.G. Sebald has mastered the literature of lament... [more] ... [more]
Luciano Pavarotti, the airship of the opera, has outgrown the concert hall. The fat man's new forte? Bombastic stadium spectaculars... [more]
Ray Bradbury, sci-fi master and technophobe, doesn't drive, scorns the Internet and computers, and cares little for science — or its fictions... [more]
Artists used to be truth seekers. Today scientists have stolen that mission. Many works in science are more about "art" than in art exhibitions... [more]
Isaac Stern, warmest of violin virtuosos, musical power broker, and savior of Carnegie Hall, is dead at the age of 81... NY Times, Washington Post.
Winning words won't do it: to sell a book, you need a clever cover. The best book jackets entice us with subtly erotic effects... [more]
Mae West, a "plumber's idea of Cleopatra," is still making suckers of today's puritan apostles of race, class, and gender... [more]... [more]
Opera, like operetta, rock, or jazz, may be a dying musical form. But the fans still flock... [more]. If you think you hate opera, check WRKF's Guide.
Paleontology's first family of fossil hunting, the Leakeys are still digging into humanity's distant past. It's a passion in their bones... [more]
When the story of our own times is unbearable, it helps to lose ourselves in someone else's story. Shakespeare knew this... [more]
The inspiring altruism of NYC firemen can seem a puzzle to Darwinism. But it's not only the fittest who drive evolution: the noblest do too... [more]
In 1838 the British marched on Kabul to punish Afghanistan. Over 50,000 soldiers and camp followers walked into a deadly and humiliating debacle. Only one man survived... [more]
Dotcoms and banks don't have F-16s, and Microsoft can't fend off falling concrete. Now the nation state suddenly matters, says Francis Fukuyama... [more]
Islamic fundamentalists went into a marriage of convenience with the CIA in the Cold War. What was used against the Soviets is now turned against the West... [more]... [more]
"Take out" bin Laden? There is no law that says the U.S. can't do it, if it wants. John Dean on the legal basis for retaliation against terrorists... [more]
"I love you," said over and over again. It was all that could be done in the face of inevitable death. "I love you," and then oblivion... [painful]
The eternally gullible: let us not forget them, either. It took no time for someone to claim that Nostradamus saw it all coming... [more]
Welcome to the new theater of war. The killers are inside the house. Our utensils are their weapons. Don't bother with 911... [more]
Curled up with a pack of Silk Cuts and a bottle of Jim Beam, Michel Houellebecq attacks, provokes, insults... [more]... [more]. Is he seeking a fatwa?... [more]
In the aftermath of WWII, dealer, forger, and spy Topic Mimara sent looted art works back to Croatia. But whose paintings were they?... [more]
The little rich boy who died as a bomb-toting radical, Gian Feltrinelli published Pasternak and chewed the political cud with Castro... [more]
Corey Flintoff, Korva Coleman, Bob Edwards, Terry Gross: voices of NPR. Do they look how they sound? Slate has a little quiz... [more]
On the topic of mass murder, the somber declaration "Never again!" is often heard. But when Hutus butchered Tutsis, the U.S. just shrugged... [more]
Newspaperman Conrad Black says too many journalists are ignorant, lazy, and intellectually dishonest. He has friends, but prefers having enemies... [more]
Consider honor. That hoary, quaint, pretentious, and even perverse notion speaks volumes about today's badly behaved politicians, says Harvey Mansfield... [more]
London construction workers no longer target passing women with cat-calls and whistles. Polly Vernon is relieved. And secretly a little disappointed... [more]
A Palestinian, at war with his own brother, sits in a tent next to a wrecked toy shop watching Israelis shoot at kids' kites. It's another Gaza cameo for Robert Fisk... [more]
The great memoirists win readers with a potent mix of perspective and personality. Consider George Orwell or J.R. Ackerley... [more]. But Kathryn Hughes has had a belly full of memoirs.
It is the last taboo. One straight man says nothing frightens him more. In the year 2001, why won't men talk about the gay experience?... [more]
To be called a book lover implies you are a eunuch or old maid, dreamy, poetic, mousy, repressed. None of the above, says Michael Dirda, "I'm just a hedonist"... [more]
Penmanship was once a crucial part of young person's moral and aesthetic growth. No longer. What do educators have against good handwriting?... [more]
Having some fun at the expense of your least favorite composer takes a wicked new form at Amazon reviews. Take that, Andrew Lloyd-Webber... [more]. Ed. note: Killjoy Amazon has now removed the link. Meanwhile, the NYTimes is on the case.
CEOs in golf shirts and dot-com brats in shorts nearly did in the suit. But this relic of horsedrawn times is far from dead... [more]
Win-Win Situation! Buy the terrific new Arts & Letters Daily T-shirt. We get money, you get a fabulous T-shirt. Everybody wins!... [more]
Superhero love. The sticky, morose intimacy, weird teenage moods, and far-out narrative sprawl of Marvel Comics inspires a generation of male writers... [more]
Is your child easily distracted? Often forgetful? Doesn't listen? Makes careless mistakes? Tries to get out of homework? Whoa! We're talking a serious medical disorder... [more]
Schadenfreude: the feeling you get when you see a smash-up between two Mercedes. It's a sentiment that dare not speak its name in English... [more]
So you think Asian culture places a low value on the individual? Then consider the personal, hands-on, raw sadism of Chinese executions... [more]
Literary criticism is turning into a bizarre offshoot of sci-fi, says Terry Eagleton, obsessed as it is with aliens, wolfboys, and ape-men... [more]
Holy Touchdown! From soccer to some dubious interference in ice hockey, the Son of God works for your team. In selling religious kitsch, there is no bottom... [more]
Saul Bellow's Augie March is a vitally American character, assured, street-smart, speaking to us with a brassy eloquence. His voice echoes still... [more]
Spring Break is just one big, long tease. Beneath all the flashing, stripping, and boozing, there's a rather tense little secret: nobody is actually, uh... [more]
The lie is impressive because it is a sign of craft, it requires invention, writes Edward Rothstein. Stories, alibis, distortions are the source of art... [more]. Speaking of lies...
Poetry does not get more scary than the cornucopia of torture in Dante's Hell. It's an encyclopedic catalogue of cruelty... [more]
Nota bene, Mick: rock is music for the young, and it is best played by them, not by geezers with triple chins. It's time to unplug the oldies... [more]... [more]
The compass, okay. But mauve, canned food, the Model-T, codfish? Jonathan Yardley has heard enough about stuff that's "changed the world"... [more]
Time was when Hollywood stars were expected to have a ready gift for words. But fast, smart, deft dialogue has gone out of fashion... [more]
Thumbing their noses at workaday propriety, bike messengers are sweaty, speeding shuttles for the world of the daily deal... [more]
The Anatomy of Melancholy, a book to end all books, is crammed with Robert Burton's endless learning and insane lists... [more]
Photographer of seedy Paris streets, Brassai was obsessed with denizens of the night. Pimps, hoods, tramps, and tarts were his muses... [more]
Like a scar on the face of a stern yet handsome woman, the Berlin Wall divided a nation and disfigured a city... [more]
Tallulah Bankhead's pubic hair held in a shrine and venerated: it might seem an odd idea to most folks. But Eugene Walter was not like most folks... [more]
Britain may have won the war, but it lost the battle of ideas. The twentieth century's most important thinkers spoke German... [more]
It was Fulvia who took the severed head of Cicero, opened the mouth, pulled out the tongue and stabbed it with her hairpin. Take that!... [more]
Plagued by debt and doubt in his life, now little known, father of geology William Smith was the epitome of genius... [more]
Graham Harvey's treatise on grass is in need of cutting and more than a bit of weeding out. But there's no doubting its importance ... [more]
"My mind only works with my legs," said Rousseau, who did his best thinking on foot. Ambling excites the brain... [more]
Shy, refined FDR and his brash cousin Teddy were not so different after all, say two historians. They were both trust-busting WASPs... [more]
A malaise afflicts the recent fiction of Salman Rushdie. His irony falls flat, the puns are forced, the plots clapped out... [more]
Imagine a land where you are paid to down grog and tasty roast hens fly right into your mouth. For the medieval mind, it's the perfect utopia... [more]
Sainted in life, scorned after death, one-armed adventurer and visionary geologist John Wesley Powell showed us the Grand Canyon... [more]
Can Asians think? Maybe so, says Kishore Mahbubani, but they've still got a lot of catching up to do... [more]. Japan's science gap.
Bird-watchers are obsessed. Up at dawn, they think nothing of spending all day in the bush stalking their elusive, avian quarry... [more]
C.L.R. James, Marxist scholar, cricket buff, and class warrior, guiltlessly loved great food, fine clothes, and beautiful women... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
Nymphomaniac, genius, diva, cult leader, blushing maiden, homely schoolmarm: every age has its own take on Sappho... [more]
Stamp out street chaos, and crime will fall, or so Broken Windows theory goes. Big city pols love it, but does it really work?... [more]
You're a winner! Mortgage the kids! Enlarge your whatever! So many great offers on the Web, but none beats the superb Arts & Letters Daily T-Shirt... [more]
Sometimes girls just wanna have fun. Yes, sighs chick-lit scribe Jenny Colgan, we know the difference between foie gras and hula hoops... [more]. Words from Auntie Beryl.
Prettiness is so last year. Falling hard for grit, ugliness, the fashion supremos now prefer hideousness... [more]
Stephen Wolfram works late into the night to find a simple program that will generate the Universe. Might be the greatest discovery since Newton... [more]
Bureaucratic Legalism. It's the idea, says Jonathan Rauch, that if you go through enough legal process, your outcome must turn out to be right... [more]
With their fancy-pants prose and love of obscure gibberish, today's "literary" writers are highfalutin frauds, says B.R. Myers... [more] ... [more] ... [more]. Lee Siegel to the defense.
He won't kill, but you might want theologian Stanley Hauerwas around for a bar fight. He's a pacifist who talks like a bruiser... [more] ... [more]
Astronomer Fred Hoyle, the man who named the Big Bang but didn't believe in it, has died at age 86. Obits... Telegraph, NY Times, London Times, BBC.
Think nanotech, Albert. Nano mania is everywhere, from universities to federal politics. That's a lot of attention for something so small... [more]
Swedes? They find it pretty easy to be happy. For Japanese and Koreans it's harder. As for guilt-free Hispanics, they are having a grand time... [more]
Do the elite colleges that top the U.S. News rankings really offer the best education? The answer is far from clear... [more]. Ask Leon Botstein.
Aloha! Tourists think Maui is a paradise. But what kind of a place is it for the people who make beds, cook meals, and carry bags? ... [more]
Black history today deals in images of endless degradation and defeat. Such a history of horrors cannot inspire, says John McWhorter... [more]
Once an enfant terrible wise beyond his years, now a youthful grandee, William F. Buckley has mellowed. At heart, he's a liberal soul... [more]
For some children of Nazis, the long, baleful shadow of their parents is a tragic burden. For others, it's a darkness to be embraced... [more] ... [part II]
Jane Austen, prudish and prim, is the last writer you'd turn to for naughty bits. But under the white lace beat a bawdy heart... [more]
In defense of black celery and handmade cheese, Italy's Slow Food movement is a subtle, quirky riposte to globalization... [more]. Slow is good, but is organic best?
Water is wet. Dead people stay dead. To get a computer to think, first you have to teach it common sense, fact by ordinary fact... [more]
>From his youth on the Ganges to a performance at Woodstock, the soul of Ravi Shankar has always been torn between East and West... [more]
Is it auditory cheesecake that merely gives pointless pleasure, or did music help us to survive in the Pleistocene? For psych, it's one tough question... [more]
Once divided by a Babel of tongues, the Finns, French, and Poles alike are united by a new lingua franca: the English language... [more]
Freebooting titans of Silicon Valley have a not-so-new guru: Ayn Rand. For the ambitious high-tech exec, Atlas Shrugged is now must reading... [more]The governess counted plants, the butler boiled skeletons: When Charles Darwin put his household to work, the children weren't assistants, they were subjects... [more]
The carcinogens list grows longer by the day, and don't imagine you can save yourself by eating vitamin-rich broccoli. It causes cancer too... [more]
From Weimar to the Nazi era to the conformist apex of corporate America, architect Mies van der Rohe catered to any taste... [more]
Pornography auteurs now turn to Shakespeare for new material. You'll find more than a pound of flesh in A Midsummer Night's Cream... [more]
Every time George W. Bush opens his mouth, we should hear the sound of rushing air, says Mark Crispin Miller ... [more] ... [more]. What do Bush's gaffes show us?
Bertrand Russell called for the U.S. to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the Russians, before they got the bomb. Lord Lawson heard it himself... [more]
Weeny, weedy, weaky? Latin dies a little more each year. The eternal verities don't seem to have much of a shelf-life these days... [more]
Civilization is not just a pageant of elite dynasties, the doings of kings and generals. Consider farmers, hunters, herdsmen, traders... [more]
New York's famed, frank, and feared intellectuals had views on every issue, but couldn't be bothered with the civil rights movement... [more]
Half Chateaubriand, half Tintin, writer André Malraux managed to insert himself into almost every momentous event of the 20th century... [more] ... [more]
Philosophers don't choose their careers over that of, say, a tree-surgeon's or a barrister's, says A.C. Grayling. It's near impossible for them to do anything else... [more]
A diary, says Joseph Epstein, gives one the best of audiences, the most loyal of supporters, closest and most understanding of friends: oneself... [more]
Like Franklin and Jefferson before him, the tough-minded father of pragmatism, William James, was a cosmopolitan American patriot who could speak to the world... [more]
"Boom Town" is the bad-taste name for Hiroshima, which turned into a muesli-munching carnival on the 50th birthday of the Big Bang. Tom Bradley watched all the fun... [more]
Call it sexist, but women make the best social historians by far... [more]. Then there are all those ladies who study apes, like that tramp, Jane Goodall.
Zadie Smith spent her U.S. book tour raiding the minibar, refusing to drop in on Toni Morrison, stuttering to Lorrie Moore, and giving out free hair-care advice... [more]
Everything in America, from War and Peace to a new toolbox, is available at 2am. For one laid-back Brit, the 24/7 culture is a living hell... [more]. An American response.
Peddling their tales of idyllic beaches or "authentic" bistros, travel writers are really no more than clever con artists, with their housebound readers easy marks... [more]
Jan Vermeer painted private realms of the human soul. The haunting luster of his work defies explanation, says George Steiner... [more]
Bored with the comforts of modern life, middle-class folks have become punishment freaks who seek out dangerous, painful adventures... [more]
Victor Hugo was good at more than just epic potboilers: he also dashed off ravishing poetry, godlike in its sweep and titanic authority... [more]
Natural resources will soon run out as our population balloons, species go extinct, and pollution chokes us to death. All wrong, says a skeptical environmentalist... [more]. The doomsayers must now answer to Bjørn Lomborg.
Hollywood could do a good job in 1923 showing Moses parting the Red Sea. How far have special effects come since?... [more]. And what makes a Truly Bad Movie?
The mysterious drive and goal of life is what Charles Jencks calls beauty. Fashion may claim it, but it is artists who push it forward on its wobbly, swerving way... [more]
To join the U.S., Utah had to get rid of polygamy, but was then allowed to carpet-bomb the rest of the country with bright, young Mormon missionaries. That's pluralism... [more]
An uncanny mix of man, beast, and god, Socrates remains wild and untamed. We may fall in love with his example, but cannot domesticate him... [more]
Gossipy scandal sheets are hardly new. We've always loved ribald tales of the rich and famous brought down low, says Caitlin Flanagan... [more]
Once sublime luxuries of the cultivated mind, Latin and Greek have all but vanished from our culture. It's time to bring them back, says A.C. Grayling... [more]
Katherine Graham was the Queen Mother of the Washington Post, a cartoon figure with a lockjaw voice that sounded like money... [more]. Some would prefer to bury than to praise her... [more] ... [yet more]
Noreena Hertz found last week in Genoa that she'd become the voice of an anti-globalization movement that she does not quite agree with... [more]
Chanel No. 5. It is the glamorous smell of women, of mothers, of fur coats. It is also a philosopher's holy grail, linking the material life and free will... [more]
Bored with your job? Want to make real money? Then become a writer. Not now a writer? No problem! All you need is a handy how-to guide to hackdom... [more]
Biographers who use pet names, novels that don't make sense, factual errors, one-sentence paragraphs: an irked Robert McCrum lists his Writer's Deadly Sins... [more]
Language a living, growing thing? No, that's a stale platitude used to stifle serious discussion about the way we use words, says Mark Halpern... [more]
TV mediums are hot. Humbug, says Michael Shermer. They not only insult the dead, but cheaply exploit the humanity of the living... [more]
Samuel Beckett, wild man? For a select few, he was an Irish werewolf, his hairdo flaring as he downed whisky after whisky... [more]
Stevedores to senators, one and all Americans are equal under Oprah, born with a shared capacity to make messes of their lives... [more]
Withholding judgment can be a fine modesty, but with Frank Kermode it's now a mannerism, covering his essays like a rash... [more]
Autodidact nation. There was a time when Britain teemed with keen, self-taught Livingstones who hacked their way through jungles of the printed page... [more]
Shy lexicographer, defiant atheist, verbal polymath, H.W. Fowler was the heroic mind behind Modern English Usage... [more]
Some see piercing visions of beauty, while others recoil from his bombast and excess. Sandro Botticelli's swagger still divides viewers... [more]
"When Bruno Walter comes to something beautiful, he melts," said Toscanini. If you're used to the brisk style, it can be unsettling... [more]
The First World War began as a little spat in a fraught corner of Europe, but soon engulfed much of the known human universe... [more] ... [more]
More hardboiled than comic, the comic book began its very American history with tales of violence and derring-do... [more]
While Hemingway shrugged off the liquidations, others more clearly grasped Stalin's betrayal of the Republic in the Spanish Civil War... [more] ... [more]
In 1932, bargain hunters flocked to the first supermarket. Thus began the era of "pile it high and sell it cheap"... [more]
Far more than any history book, gazing at a mummy's face reassures us that the distant past was populated by people like us... [more]
Situationist philosopher, social theorist, and creative extremist, Guy Debord trafficked in manifestos, montages, zany pranks, and lies... [more]
With dirty nails, muddy boots, and his stubbornly masculine failure to be practical, George Orwell expressed a seedy grandeur... [more] ... [more]
A true virtuoso in the old style, a prodigious, skilled inventor, Christopher Wren dotted the map of London with his works... [more]
James Merrill's best poems dare to flaunt their artifice: they are a kind of avant-gaud, reveling in masks and costumes... [more]
Seventeenth-century man of leisure, horticulturist John Evelyn preferred literary gardening, and clean hands, to the real thing... [more]
The Nazi genocide has now become such a cheap moral resource that it's used for any cause you can name. Why, the foot and mouth crisis is... [more]
"Let them eat cake"? In point of fact, Marie Antoinette never said it. History got this most vilified aristocrat all wrong... [more]
Einstein's scientific ideas grew despite the usual human mess of his personal life. Inevitably, we weigh love story against genius... [more]
Brooding, eloquent, and dapper, chess champ Garry Kasparov is a king who has lost his crown. Now he wants it back... [more]
Philosophy has left the ivory tower and is coming soon to a tavern near you. Beer helps Kant to go down, even if you can't spell "noumena"... [more]
Nasty homosexual who preyed on young boys is how novelist V.S. Naipaul regards E.M. Forster. A Passage to India is "utter rubbish"... [more]. Sir Vidia is the scourge of liberal pieties.
A woman with dark, knowing eyes, Wislawa Szymborska writes poems that speak with the force and insistence of urgently whispered advice... [more]
A Flushing graveyard is the last place you'd expect to find the bones of Don Giovanni's librettist. But Lorenzo Da Ponte was the toast of Manhattan... [more]
The Economist, in the spirit of John Stuart Mill's libertarianism, is calling for legalized dope. An editorial is followed by a series of powerfully argued articles.
The ultimate laptop will have vast power, far beyond what we can now imagine. Small problem: building it requires that you package a nuclear explosion... [more]
Vincent Van Gogh didn't cut off his ear after all. His friend Paul Gauguin did it, drunk on absinthe... [more]. Absinthe is wretched... [more]
A German fast-food cashier has a duty in law to hand over money to save a customer held at gunpoint by a robber. In the American legal system, well... [more]
Sai Baba is God incarnate. So if he has sex with his devotees it is in truth a wonderful blessing. Who's going to call God a child molester?... [more]
Political historian and scourge of grade inflation, Harvey Mansfield likes to escape the academic grind by translating Tocqueville and Machiavelli... [more]
Relentless scholar and stern critic, Helen Vendler views lyric poetry as a private genre, an escape from the rowdy clamor of public life... [more]
Self-important, verbose, vain, moody, and maybe mad, John Adams has been written off. Now scholars are giving him some second thoughts... [more]
Mortimer Adler's was a lucid and powerful yet coarse and deeply vulgar mind. His high IQ was like a bicep useful only to beat down people... [more]
John Berger, novelist and art critic, is a Marxist intellectual who believes in God, though he hates churches... [more]. In his own words: Vincent van Gogh.
Eudora Welty, writer who loved her characters — from Clytie, who drowned herself in a rain barrel, to the feeble-minded Lily Daw, to Miss Teacake Magee — is dead... [more] ... [yet more]
Contingency, complexity, and chaos: the hobby horses of confused scientists and suckered literary critics. Frank Miele explains... [more]
In sex as in physics, Einstein felt paradise was always just around the corner. As soon as he got there, it started looking a little shabby... [more]
A clamor of ideas? Truth as the heavy hand of authority? Is progress in science real? Thomas Kuhn stirred the pot, and it has yet to settle... [more]
It's a mistake to write off neo-Luddites as sad-sack 1960s refugees, says Ronald Bailey. They're a well organized force making war on the future... [more]
Black GenXers still respect the NAACP, but are more likely than their elders to be pro-business and even Republican. "They don't know what segregation is"... [more]
Was the author of The Hound of the Baskervilles a victim of literary foul play, or even murder? This is a case for Sherlock Holmes... [more]
Arts & Letters Daily is an elite and intellectual site, so we're naturally smug about our indifference to Chandra and the Congressman. Do we have any right to be?... [more]
Mathematician Paul Erdös lived off dark espresso and caffeine tablets. He even called himself "a machine for turning coffee into theorems"... [more]
"Premature anti-fascist" was how he was described by his first department chairman. At the time, Bernard Knox did not get the man's full meaning... [more]
"Beautifully crafted sentences are really overrated." Oh are they now? Joseph Epstein, who's spent over forty years trying to write them, has a different view... [more]
A man keeps a private journal of ugly fantasies about kids, and he's arrested. So who says they can't put y' in jail for what you're thinkin'?... [more]
What's disease, hunger, or the prospect of violent death in your 20s, set against the specter of pitiless ennui? Oh, life is so cruel to the young... [more]
In a Christian romance, foreplay usually involves a church and a white dress. You want steam heat? You'll find more lust in a Gideon Bible... [more]
Charlotte Allen hates doing the bills. Driving? Forget it. Heavy lifting? Out of the question. So is she a surrendered wife, a tamed shrew, or just plain lazy?... [more]
Alan Dershowitz's normal mode is as legal muckraker, remarks Richard Posner in Slate's debate on Bush v. Gore. As for Posner, Dershowitz says... [Mon] ... [Tue] ... [Fri] ... [final Mon] ... [NYT article]
If the legal advice you're giving out sounds right, asks Michael Lewis, how can people on the Web tell if you're a wise, experienced lawyer or an unqualified teen?... [more]
Where's the dialogue? Unable to take instructions at Starbucks, harangued by the super — it's not easy for a Brit to speak English in the States... [more]
The queer, offbeat stories of the neglected Swiss writer Robert Walser chart the bizarre, or banal, daydreams of the mediocre Everyman... [more] ... [more] ... [ still more]
Intellectuals used to go to coffee bars to talk into the night about deep ideas: literature, philosophy, society. Now they go there to talk about coffee... [more]
Robin Cembalest dutifully went to see the art at Venice Biennale. Alas, not only did she fall down on the job, but her worst dental nightmare came true... [more]
"It is curious," said John Strachey, "to find in unlikely places, high and low, east and west, among law-makers and law-breakers, minds which were sparked by the Left Book Club"... [more]
The meta-Monica mythology. Be you Freudian or feminist, says Elaine Showalter, the Lewinsky affair is an interpretative scholar's dream... [more] ... [interview]
Saul Bellow and Leon Trotsky have it in common with Charlie Chaplin and Jean Cocteau as well as with G.B. Shaw and Rilke: they came into contact in the oddest way... [more]
Surviving "boarding school," as he liked to call it, required for Paul Steinberg the skills of a circus performer. Auschwitz was a tough school... [more]
Goldwater conservatives, far from being embittered losers, were suburban warriors, organized and determined... [more] ... [more]
When he first introduced him to Churchill, Stalin described Lavrenti Beria as "our Himmler." This murderer was also a reformer... [more]
Gasoline, medicine, and the comforts of modern life are in short supply in Cuba, but there's no deficit of music and dance... [more]
Organic farming. Many of its guiding ideas are about as plausible as rain dancing. For everyday use, it needs smartening up... [more]
With his seductive combo of jive and silky tongued flattery, Duke Ellington could have his way with any audience... [more]
To the end, John Diamond waged war on the sentimental claptrap of crystal healers, reflexologists, iris readers, and herbal quacks... [more] ... [more]
You might think that the worldly writers, thinkers, and actors of prewar Bucharest would resist anti-Semitism. But a mob is a mob... [more]
Huckster, poet, editor, spy, merchant, bankrupt, and jailbird, Daniel Defoe finally turned to writing novels at age 60... [more]
Imagine the excited buzz of clerks and shop girls talking about books, art, and music in Victoria's Britain. High culture was for them too... [more]
The New Grove Dictionary of Music is bigger and more eclectic than ever. Like music itself, it's both a monument and a mess... [more]
Annuities, insurance, and the odds for all kinds of gambling: it's a surprise how much the Middle Ages knew about probability... [more]
Sviatoslav Richter could send listeners into another universe, where nothing mattered but the sound of his piano... [more] ... [more]
DDT was a cheap, potent way to conquer the mosquito. To ban it places a terrible burden on the peoples of many poor nations... [more]
The American Revolution: who owns it? The event itself is a battlefield of contested memory, with everyone wanting a cut of the legacy... [more]
The legacy of C.S. Lewis is at the center of a holy war, with accusations of burned papers, forgery, lies, and insinuations of homoeroticism... [more]
If Michelangelo and Hitler had ever come together to create a hate-filled artistic masterpiece, they'd have done no better than the Bury St. Edmunds Cross... [more]
"I hate do-gooders. I loathe Ben and Jerry. I loathe all of those people," sneers the churlish Joe Queenan. "So did Molière"... [more]
Until Peter Duesberg began to question the accepted theory of the cause of AIDS, he was a darling of science. His fall from grace was swift and hard... [more]
How to be good? Behave like a social bird of the desert. That is, always keep your own best interests in mind... [more]
Lesbian pinkies and autistic thumbs? The more we look at fingers and what they may show, the more complicated it gets, says Deborah Blum... [more]
Culture snobs may go all gooey for the warm and fuzzy feel, the personal service, but Brooke Allen is over the romance of the independent bookshop... [more]
Privatization in Russia only made for more corruption. Russia can't collect taxes. Shock therapy ruined its economy. No, no, and no, argues Anders Åslund... [more]
Why do rock stars never smile for the camera? One theory: the original 1960s British groups had vast talent but bad teeth. And there are other theories... [more]
"Afrocentricity" may have a future, says black scholar Joyce Ann Joyce. But the word itself is without fervor, sincerity, or power. It's dead... [more]
Smear your fingerprints all over that CD, drip jam on it, drop and abuse it, and it still plays with miraculous clarity. So who made the miracle?... [more]
The great chefs used to cook. Now they preach. New Zealand strawberries in Boston in January? Heavens, think of the costs to the planet... [more]
Mordecai Richler, Canadian writer who shunned the literary world for the company of lawyers and plumbers, is dead. Obits: Montreal Gazette, Telegraph, NYT, National Post
With the sequenced genome firmly in hand, scientists finally hold the key to life. Wait a minute, says Richard Lewontin, it's the wrong key... [more]
Martha Stewart may not even know who Marcel Proust is. But her writing reproduces the themes and delights that he produced for his own epoch... [more]
It's odd to think of people standing politely in the parlor, says Ian Bostridge, singing Schubert songs with titles like Parricide and Corpse Fantasy... [more]
No nukes, no smoking, no kids, and please, no genetic modifications. Our culture loves to say "keep out," writes Cullen Murphy. What we need is a zone-free zone... [more]
If a mom kills her five kids in the tub it's a tragedy, but it's also a welcome chance for columnists, politicos, pundits, and "experts" to ask, Hey, what's in this for me?... [more]
Tropic of Cancer a dirty book? No way, says Carlo Gébler. Henry Miller's sex scenes are some of the most unstimulating and unerotic ever penned... [more]
Sherlock Holmes was not in truth much of a detective. But though his methods ranged between the quaint and the ludicrous, he endures as a nostalgic symbol... [more]
Costume-drama Americana has given us many jolly books full of authentic minutiae and postmod sampling, says Sean Wilentz, but devoid of genuine history... [more]
Slavery reparations? There is no adequate way to repair the evil of the distant past in a land where families of most citizens did not even arrive until after the Civil War... [more]
Being viewed as provincial is the deep fear that drives snobbery and elitism in the world of avant-garde art. How else to explain a $29,900 styrofoam cup?... [more]
Academic Country: a cosy land where the very existence of conservatives who are not straight white males incites horror and confusion. Bruce Bawer explains... [more]
Write a fine novel and then sell a million copies, and the literary pundits will be sure to damn you, says Douglas Kennedy. They can't stand success... [more]
"Universal human beings who hold universal rights" has a hollow ring to Martin Duberman. You can't link arms under a universal banner if your name isn't on it... [more]
For writers, marginality is where it's at, says Terry Eagleton. Being an outsider is so important, it's standing room only at the periphery... [more]
Where professors of verse hold sway, American poetry has fallen into the dusty shadows of academic obscurity, says Michael Lind... [more]
After thousands of reviews, can a critic still get pleasure from reading a book? Jonathan Yardley once and for all, finally and conclusively answers the question... [more]
Deny Darwin? You'd have to be either stupid, insane, wicked, or ignorant, says Richard Dawkins. Ignorance can be cured. What about those others?... [more]
Biographers are like saints, says Michael Holroyd. They're always thinking of other people. But woe be to their rival scribes... [more]

A religious, vegetarian, celibate ascetic, Antoni Gaudí designed wondrous buildings with a mystery and swagger all their own... [more]
Clara and Robert Schumann were said to be the perfect couple, their marriage doomed by his insanity. It's another myth to be exploded... [more]
Mention one of Gore Vidal's pet political manias, and out comes his bugle, as he charges up the stairs like the madman in Arsenic and Old Lace... [more]
While Hans Belting is at pains to deny that modern art has failed, he still views it as a search for a perfection forever out of reach... [more]
Saul Bellow doesn't just write. He also edits a literary 'zine, a sui generis bit of samizdat that gleefully flouts convention... [more]
Veritas odit what? A few old men in the Vatican still speak it with quaint fluency, and Eton boys learn it, but Latin is nearly extinct... [more]
Barbara Ehrenreich wants to expose the gulf between rich and poor, but only shows the gulf between the poor and progressives who pretend to speak for them... [more]
Richard Wagner's ugly flaws lately overshadow his creative gifts. His nauseating offspring and their revolting progeny haven't helped either... [more]
Aristocratic, passionate, and gorgeous, Caroline Blackwood, muse for a generation, had a yen for unstable men without money... [more]
Stanley Fish's new book on Milton is less a work of literary criticism than an exercise in an oddly American brand of power worship... [more] ... [more]
The pundit as poseuse. An infantile, intellectually vacuous anti-capitalism now has a fresh and attractive new face... [more]
Trendy restaurants, with snooty waiters and lavish, solemn menus, have become feeding factories. Now it's image, not food, that counts... [more]
Ye olde royalty were smelly, gouty, toothless, insomniac, illiterate. Nymphos, if women. Hiding behind flowers, if syphilitic... [more]
Rational economics may not seem to have much to say to the law, but its view of our values is fundamental to legal judgment, argues Richard Posner... [more]
Damn the Brontës. They're part of a vast literary conspiracy trying to suck up the brains and break the spirit of little girls... [more]
Inmates: make no eye contact. Never lend. Don't snitch. Learn these rules, or you may die. Such is the sickness of American prisons... [more]
Landscaped modern zoos are a sham. Older zoos at least amused animals with balls and tires. Such frivolity can no longer be tolerated... [more]
Throwing every style into the stew, postmodern architecture gleefully embraces the past. But what can follow its crazy eclecticism?... [more]
Sure, Richard Dawkins is a man of strong scientific convictions. But he's also exhilarated by the idea that he just might be wrong... [more]
Writer, physician, TV host, opera director, theater impresario, Jonathan Miller has taken up welding, adding yet another string to his formidable bow... [more]
O.J. Simpson is ill equipped to play a man tormented by tragedy: as eyebrows rise and eyelashes flutter, he produces a girlish giggle... [more] ... [update]
Where does your property end and your neighbor's begin? In the Third World, it's where your dog stops barking and his starts, says Hernando de Soto... [more]
Lowbrow and highbrow don't matter to Clive James, satirist, polyglot critic, and Fleet Street fixture. All of culture is his playground... [more]
The Jade Lie. Dreams of riches lure the naïve to Burmese mines where they are trapped in a grim cycle of inhuman work, heroin, disease, and death... [more]
Mortimer Adler, philosopher who helped promote adult education and the study of the classics of Western thought, is dead at the age of 98... [more] .. [more]
Mein Kampf was one of the top bestsellers of its time. It made Hitler a millionaire, and its royalties are still enriching secret charities... [more]
Sylvia Plath novelized it. Cal Lowell was its poet laureate. Anne Sexton was desperate to get in. McLean is the nation's most literary mental hospital... [more]
Too anarchic for prime time, but slowly yielding to the dead monotony of corporate control. Scott Rosenberg despairs for the future of the Web... [more]
Who is A.M. Monius, and why is he paying philosophers huge sums of money to read his work? James Ryerson unravels the mystery of the millionaire metaphysician ... [more]
Appreciating classical music needs real brain power, a new study shows... [more]. Classical music lovers who develop dementia also begin to like pop music... [more]
"Sensual sixty-year-old woman seeks younger man (max 40) for summer of love, tenderness and something a bit crazy." Only in France... [more] ... [more]
Steve Whitehouse is still cheating after 46 affairs. He ponders the elation, revulsion, and pride of his life as a serial philanderer... [more]
Corpulent bureaucracy, too much stress on professionalism, sports, and applied trades: the average college needs a weight loss program, says Jacques Barzun... [more]
An author intemperate enough to reply to critics, says Judith Shulevitz, should at least do so as intemperately as possible. There's some fun in that... [more]
Shrek is a fitting stink bomb hurled at the treacly fables of Disney Corp. Alas, it also subverts the ennobling and mysterious ideas of fairy tales themselves... [more]
When did it stop being true, asks Tom Stoppard, that an artist is someone who does very well what the rest of us can only do badly or not at all?... [more]
Novelists summon ghosts at their peril, says Susan Sontag. Memories bleed into the soul. They make it hard to sleep. They procreate... [more]
Slate's four-part debate on ethics and animals pits the passion of philosopher Peter Singer against the cool, lucid intellect of Judge Richard Posner... [Mon] ... [Tue] ... [Wed] ... [Thur]
Don DeLillo is in every way a bonafide Major Author: worshiped by critics, taught in colleges. So why is he culturally invisible?... [more]
A stupid man never grasps a clever man's meaning, said Bertrand Russell, adding that he'd rather be reported by a bitter enemy who understood him than by a friend who didn't... [more]
Photographs are like spouses: we can distrust them but depend on them. And like spouses they may show misery without being able to tell us why... [more]
Home-Alone America: effects of the exodus of mothers out of the home and into work are off-limits for public debate, writes Mary Eberstadt... [more]
More cant than Kant: Would we care about the philosophical views of Eichmann, who murdered the subtlest, most humane intellects of Europe? And McVeigh?... [more]
J.D. Salinger's masterwork, Franny and Zooey, remains brilliant and fresh. It is contemporary criticism of it that has badly dated, says Janet Malcolm... [more]
Hobbits are sensible, if rather small-minded Victorian villagers. In J.R.R. Tolkien's mind they were an allegory against the Industrial Revolution... [more]. Better to call it Lord of the Geeks?
Morrison, Chabon, DeLillo, Roth, Byatt: all have written brilliant novels taking on history. Yesterday hasn't been like this in years... [more]
Forged experiments, false data, fraudulent claims, ideas that are totally, extravagantly wrong. It's the dark side of science... [more]
For academics, feminists, and critics, Sylvia Plath might as well be O.J. Simpson. She's a solid gold scandal... [more]
Elaine Showalter has spurned a history of feminism for a deft series of portraits of feminists in action. She's come up with quite a pantheon... [more]
E.M. Forster was no traitor. He believed in the individual, hard work, the middle classes. The Right should find him endearing... [more]
Russia was ever a guinea pig for big ideas. A Tsar had only to pick up a book for research, and some new catastrophe was on the way... [more]
Flip-flopped hedonists at bar, beach, and bed in riotous rotation: exploits of the modern sexual tourist are exhausting... [more] ... [more]
The woman later known as Mme Tussaud made a mask of the severed head of Marie Antoinette. From fear of vandals, it was never shown... [more]
Put Peter Mayle in prison. His dumbed-down, spoon-fed tales of funny foreign people have given birth to an even more hideous legacy... [more]
She's beautiful, brainy, brave, and a bit brash: Noreena Hertz knocks smug global capitalism off its pedestal... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
The bizarre, surreal, dark, cool novels of Haruki Murakami are rational in tone, but teem with occult horrors... [more]
With her gravelly, carefully ruined voice, chanteuse Ute Lemper evokes the amused, desperate, and erotic spirit of Weimar cabaret... [more]
Connoisseur of the stylish and true, genial book man Peter Owen has published the mavericks and monsters of literature, from Anaïs Nin to Yoko Ono... [more]
Chris Tucker and Chris Rock try to shuck, jive, grin, shout, and bulge their eyes all the way back to the days of minstrelsy... [more]
Perils of Precaution: it may be that a new drug or biotech idea is opposed not because of danger, but for fear it might actually work... [more]
Popular history prof Joseph J. Ellis laced lectures with vivid tales of his Army experience in Vietnam. It was a series of lies... [more] ... [yet more] ... [update]... Apology ... Why do they lie? ... Bright, shining lie ... He's lost his course ... At war with the truth.
Our obsession with Kyoto and eco-disasters is bad news for the Third World, argues Bjørn Lomborg... [more]. A National Academy of Sciences report predicts catastrophe. Or does it? "Simply untrue," says an author of the report.
Marx isn't disconfirmed by the fall of the Soviet system, says Hayden White. The fall itself is explained by Marxist theory, proving it stronger than ever... [more]
Political correctness is not a benign, cost-free impetus to do good. It comes at a price, and an economist argues that its days are numbered... [more]
The apocalypse in Rwanda was planned in detail. The west knew it was coming. And the west is deeply to blame... [more]
Waterloo may have been a grisly defeat for Napoleon, but it was a shining victory for prosthetic dentistry. Fresh, young teeth galore... [more]
She's given away her secret for a cheap moisturizer (Crisco, $4/can), and told of her boob job at age 73. Helen Gurley Brown may run out of material... [more]
When fashion declares a locale a great place to live, artists arrive first. Next come the rich, then tourists, and finally the baseball cap people. Joseph Epstein explains... [more]
Reality TV: At the end of Orwell's great novel, Winston at last loved Big Brother. We are all Winstons now, says Salman Rushdie... [more]
Our executions must deter, but be painless too, says Garry Wills. Socrates’ painless lethal potion, however, deterred few from becoming philosophers... [more]
Recent clichés reach new shallows of piffle: closure, getting on with my life, one day at a time, issues. The judgmental Merle Rubin will just have to deal with it.
John Gray's hooked on liberal ideas in the same way that a detox patient becomes hooked on methadone. His is not the real stuff, but he still can't quite get off it... [more]
He worked at top newspapers and as a literary agent. Now he's stuffing envelopes. Most satsifying job he's ever had, says Will Leitch... [more]
Swathed in Brooks Brothers armor, Richard Yates was a true gentleman, one who spoke gently and bitingly of suburban angst... [more]
So what are you laughing at? The new hit The Producers isn't saving Broadway. Rather, it heralds the end of the musical as art form, says Daniel Mendelsohn... [more]
We once looked to fiction for truth and inspiration. Now we often find more creativity in non-fiction. The era of the great novel is over, says Andrew Marr... [more]... [more]... [still more]
Feminist philologist Olga Penavin once predicted that Socialism would lead to a society without conflict and thus without swearing. Damn! She got it wrong... [more]
Is The Sopranos art? Is Dickens? The millions who watch what's arguably our small-screen Ibsen are in search of something larger than just themselves... [more]
The glitzy crossroads where showbiz and literature meet: some writers find book festivals sheer misery, others, subtly addictive, says David Lodge... [more]
Ever hear a song called London? Probably not. It's the city of Paris that's engaged the passions of artists and composers... [more]
Is the human race facing a new era of justice or a slide into chaos and war? David Rieff wonders... [more]
Reviled revolutionary once upon a time, now an amiable icon who cannot speak: Muhammad Ali can at last be safely loved... [more] ... [more]
Pious preacher of learned, inspiring sermons and ardent chaser of skirts, John Donne embraced contradiction. The result was sublime poetry... [more]
David Lodge's Thinks... is a quietly ambitious book, a little clunky now and again, but beautifully paced and true to life's perplexities... [more]... [more]
Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, a spirited aria of rage, is the kind of song you wish the human race might grow not to need... [more]
Yesterday's realties can't just be stuffed into the mill of today's academic trends, says Alan Wolfe, who laments the decline of American historians... [more]
Why expect great writers to be great people? Shakespeare was an uncharitable, resentful, and litigious fellow... [more]
Querulous, gentle, witty, and not so much hardboiled as volubly stoical, the letters of Dashiell Hammett reveal an oft troubled soul... [more]
Condorcet and Adam Smith, both prophets of the free market, saw economic life as like good conversation: it shifts, turns, has highs and lows... [more]
Gender-bending pirates and feminine swabbies. Mirabile dictu, women also went to sea in the great age of sail... [more]
Philosopher of the bloodbath, his ideas center on the healing power of violence. Frantz Fanon was the platonic form of resentment... [more]
Love letters of kaisers and tsars reveal secret passions, political debates, and sexual oddities that are utterly modern and familiar... [more]
French philosophers need to chain smoke, have complex sex lives, and have mastered both being and nothingness. Alain Badiou fits the type, but alas... [more]
Notorious flirt, brave and outspoken intellectual, and self-styled queen bee: Marguerite Duras inspired both worship and disdain... [more]
Embarrassing themselves, their kids, their parents, and the entire country: Baby Boomers are simply appalling... [more]
Mawkish patriotism, schmaltz, vapid, cartoon-like heroes, shameless glorification of war. Pearl Harbor reminds Ian Buruma of a 1942 propaganda film... [more]
More workdays, longer hours, fewer benefits: all in the name of economic progress. White-collar workers are devouring themselves... [more]... [more]
"You are getting sleepy, so very, verrry sleepy." Not just stage fakery, hypnosis is for real, and shows great promise in palliative medicine... [more]
Kids need playgrounds just as much as classrooms. Having fun is costly and carries risks, but it builds bigger, better brains... [more]
Every new thing we learn about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle points to a far more troubled and mysterious man than was ever dreamt of by his public... [more]
The Boomers, mired as usual in soppy nostalgia, love the Beatles for the wrong reasons. Today, a smarter audience hears them in a new way... [more]
Policy wonks use stats like priests use secret symbols. Two million missing kids? Gay teens three times more likely to commit suicide? The family falling to pieces?... [more]
NY couples are gladiators. Why struggle with how you feel when instead you can fight over closet space and where to order takeout?... [more]
Hey guys: shack up with a harem of willing women, and nobody cares. But try to be their dutiful husband, and the law says, No way!... [more]
Walter Benjamin's dramatic suicide while fleeing the Nazis is central to his cult status. But was this "most peculiar Marxist ever" actually killed by Stalin's agents?... [more]
To compete with Harry Potter, there is to be a new Narnia shorn of Christian themes. Critics are in an uproar over C.S. Lewis lite... [more]
His violin technique had gone all wobbly by the time Yehudi Menuhin arrived at the love-and-peace waffle and anti-Israel sentiments of his later years... [more]
Rebirthers who dress up their vile routines in the clap-trap of New Age therapy are often viewed as harmless. One wasn't to little Candace Elmore... [more]
Mom thinks she's visiting friends near Moscow, but a plucky Russian lass has made it into the arms of her hero, Paul McCartney... [more]
Micronesians, once fit, have been turned by Spam into Macronesians. Too busy to farm and fish, they gorge on sweet, fat junk... [more]
Source of the conscious self and the fountainhead of every private universe, the brain's mysteries still baffle and elude scientist Paul Broks... [more]
Marxist, polemicist, analyst, wit, and intellectual gadfly, Antonio Negri delivers a stunning message: why the left ought to love globalization... [more]
Excrement and pickled sharks fobbed off as art? If the idea offends you, then you're a Stuckist, stuck in the past, you fuddy-duddy... [more]
Science ought to be a cool, rational affair. But when big theories and people's careers are at stake, things turn nasty. Consider mitochondrial DNA... [more]
The Face on Mars? NASA has now had a close look and even produced a hiking map. Don't forget to take plenty of water and oxygen... [more]
Slipping down Orwell's dark memory hole, the bloody, brutal events of Tiananmen Square are slowly being erased from history... [more]
Libraries are so very keen to remake themselves as "information resource centers." They clutter reading rooms with wires and modems, and actual books are squeezed out... [more]
The book world has turned into Panic City, its periodicals loudly trumpeting the death of literature. Relax, says Peder Zane, reading is here to stay... [more]
Are today's youth lonely, violent, and confused, drawn toward guns and drugs? Forget the scary anecdotes, and let's look at the real figures, says Mike Males... [more]
It looked like a shriveled penis that had spent way too long in the bath. But no, it was merely the head of Birthday Geezer Bob Dylan... [more]
Done with the poet thing and in search of cultural heat, writers are going digital. But will the results ever live up to the manifestoes?... [more]
Writers don't develop in isolation. They need mentors. Hemingway and Faulkner sat at the feet of Sherwood Anderson, and Beckett hankered after Joyce... [more]
Violence and oppression have been endemic in history, whether tribal or metropolitan. But their magnitude in our time gives despair a new warrant, says George Steiner... [more]
It's time to pick a side. Are you for Truth and Beauty, or for the dark, satanic forces of irony, cynicism, parody, sarcasm, and plain old vice?... [more]
For children, war is like it is for lunatics. Blood flows: they grin. Houses explode: how splendid! Alexander Gelman ponders his WWII boyhood... [more]
He was a defeated man, never able to empathize in the right way, to give the proper nod of support. Eric Adler was a guy marooned in Women's Studies... [more]
Critics either adore or damn the fantasies of J.R.R. Tolkien. There's no middle ground when it comes to the hobbits of Middle Earth, says Chris Mooney... [more]
Missionaries. Lionel Tiger wants to know what on earth gives some folks the right to decide their view of God is the only correct one... [more]
Mozart didn't create his lucid music merely by letting it all hang out: he was rigorously and relentlessly trained. As for today's so-called geniuses... [more]
Always historicize! seems to be the battle cry of some humanities tribes. It's brash and catchy, but it's not a philosophy, argues Mark Bauerlein... [more]
"Smoke and mirrors" is stale, but "all hat and no cattle" looks good for a few months. How about a "three-chilli item"? John Sutherland on Americanisms... [more]
Repulsive to ponder, human cloning still presents a golden moment for us to strike a blow for the human control of technology, says Leon Kass... [more]
Treacly melodies, garish costumes, overblown yet amateurish numbers for lonely pensioners and low level office workers. Why, it's the Eurovision Song Contest... [more]
The dead body has been coolly dispatched by cell-phone and credit card. Then come upmarket, emotively neutered obsequies... [more]
How would a Christ get on in the modern world? Dostoevsky wrote a novel on the theme. And now, so has Nick Hornby... [more]
Robert Louis Stevenson, pen in hand, escaped from Scottish gloom into an imagined realm of doubloons and cutlasses... [more]
Complex, combative, easy to dislike, battle-hardened, and needlessly brutal, Martha Gellhorn loved humanity more than people... [more]
William Blake talked with angels, with the dead, even with the ghost of a flea, and howled against the tyranny of convention... [more]
Fraught historical issues need to be looked at from all sides. But to join a Fair Play for David Irving Committee is only to ask for trouble... [more]
Mickey Mouse and Little Lulu they were not: Robert Crumb's cartoon characters did drugs, went on welfare, lived lives of fantasy sex... [more]
Medical freaks. We can't get enough, but not wanting to offend, we turn them into weepy stories, instead of tabloid headlines... [more]
No Christian martyrs, please, it's no longer the done thing. Recent histories leave out people killed for their faith... [more]
Marx-inspired moralist, kinky realist, entertaining poet of paralysis and genial ennui, Alberto Moravia is finally back in print... [more]
Greenwich Village in the fifties: the place to be for pretentious, self-centered phonies. Bob Dylan had to get out... [more]
Open inquiry and free speech involve learning how not to take offense. Success in argument requires a hard head but also a thick skin... [more]
Anne Tyler: a wordsmith of sublime control and immense imagination. Her little corner of the world is full of nuance and paradox... [more]
Conservatism: forty years ago no politician since the age of Hoover had uttered the word without contempt. Then along came Barry Goldwater... [more]
Cartographic crimes. Map thieves are as old as maps: Columbus's brother was one; so were Magellan and Francis Drake... [more]
Economic planners can't ever know enough to plan. That's why we need the price system of a free market, argued Friedrich Hayek... [more]... [more]
Lord Byron died for the cause of Greek freedom in a romantic but utterly farcical episode... [more]
David Irving's thousand-page hymn of hate against Winston Churchill amounts in the end to a series of silly, snide, unproven innuendoes... [more]
Philip Roth is too deep into the vast alternative universe of his oeuvre to be greatly in touch with American culture now... [more]. Our finest novelist?
Poor Darwin: frail, sensitive soul, he was too much of a softie to see the harsh world as it really is... [more] ... [more]
A forgotten titan of Cold War intellectual life, Raymond Aron spoke for that rarest form of idealism: common sense... [more]
The queen of cultural studies, Marjorie Garber revels in incoherence, trotting out syllogisms so slippery they'd make Socrates blush... [more]
Writers write about themselves, whether they want to or not: diction, grammar, tone, imagery are all deeply autobiographical, says Leonard Michaels... [more]
Thriving, fertile cultures need to have a balance between rules and chaos. The Internet is flat and Anglocentric. It needs linguistic turmoil... [more]
Physicians now tell us Samson was a sociopath, Brahms's snoring was unhealthy, Van Gogh was epileptic. Winnie the Pooh needs a check-up... [more]
William Shakespeare: a new found face? A Canadian says he owns a portrait. Globe and Mail story here. Compare with other images, full size here, plus the New York Times.
Skim it and weep. They know how to read, but aliterates just don't want to. Reading is passé or impractical or, like, so totally unnecessary... [more]
Time travel is possible — in theory: it's just not practical. But with a little help from Einstein, there just may be a way to bring it off... [more]
The ultimate laws of nature must be self-consistent, says Steven Weinberg, but rich enough to allow for planets and the physicists who walk on them... [more]
Wild, obsessed, and deeply silly, manifestos of modernism show the splendor and stupidities of a period when art mattered enough to hate... [more]
For Carlos Fuentes, Balzac of Latin American letters, every book is an exorcism, and an outlet for his great obsession, Mexico... [more]
Pornographer Veronica Hart makes films for women. "Many women love the fantasy of being taken — but how do you portray it without sending a wrong message?"... [more]
Whistling is a relic from a far distant age. Front-porch culture, a loner's art, it floated around the school janitor as he pushed his broom down empty halls... [more]
Everybody's a critic. From the NYRB to C-SPAN, Oprah and a certain indispensable website, the world's awash with book reviews. James Atlas catches a few... [more]
"Psychic" Helen Duncan got away with her séances for years, till the state finally silenced her. She thus became the St. Joan of Spiritualism... [more]
Joseph Greenberg, gifted linguist whose theories on the spread of language have found support in population genetics, has died... [more]
Marie Darrieussecq has the body of Lolita, the intellect of Sartre, and a mind as filthy as the Marquis de Sade's. Fame has come easy... [more]
The Tsar's photographer used an advanced color process to record far-flung corners of the Russian Empire c.1910. Slow loads but... [stunning images]
Douglas Adams, author of the sci-fi satire, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, has died of a heart attack... BBC ... NYT ... Sunday Times ... Telegraph ... tributes ... Helen Stringer ... Richard Dawkins ... Adams quotes ... He wrote his great work out of poverty and despair.
R.K. Narayan, greatest writer of India, whose wryly humorous fiction was set in the village of Malgudi, is dead... Guardian ... Times of India ... NYT ... London Times ... Telegraph ... Malgudi.
Biographers and academics: two warring camps, held apart by a tangle of envy, suspicion, and defensive superiority. It's time for a truce... [more]
Memo to music critics: don't confuse cause with effect. You may have stopped listening, says Kevin Dettmar, but that doesn't mean rock is dead... [more]
Within the welfare system, the races are locked in a wild folie à deux: blacks fear whites are racist, whites fear blacks will accuse them of racism... [more]
Sen. Trent Lott uses the term suck without bothering to form a picture in his mind. It's laziness, and a bad habit of all who rely on clichés... [more]
We're all familiar with the queer Oscar Wilde. But he was also a closet Catholic, a fact fundamental to a grasp of his personal character... [more]
Meghan Austin's friends don't seek a feminist utopia. "I want to play the piano like Mozart," says one. "My hair will fling around, my collar unbutton and fly off. Then I can die"... [more]
Disneyfication is not enough. Our museums are now to be outposts of the E! channel or Cosmo. Jed Perl on the Met's latest dress show... [more]. Meanwhile, at the British Museum...
Joseph Epstein's rosy-cheeked irony and eye for mischief shows itself in the faint smile his bow tie casts toward poor stiffs who can't see its subtle wit... [more]
Cervantes, Shakespeare, Dante, and Tolstoy tell us of our essential humanity and keep us from the stupidity of prejudice and racism, writes Mario Vargas Llosa... [more]
Girl bibles: little pink guidebooks with the skinny on how to be a "bad girl" or a "swell girl." Carina Chocano can't stop reading them... [more]
Salman Rushdie is pro-choice. But what about women, he asks, who use power over their own bodies to abort their female fetuses?... [more]
Nicholson Baker has it wrong: the books he laments were dead long before librarians finished their scan and dump... [more]
Protected by the pure white blanket of victimhood, a Swiss author has become the Baron Munchausen of Holocaust memory... [more]
Henry James had a yen for him, and Edith Wharton fell deeply in love with him: the suave, hollow, plausible, bisexual cad, Morton Fullerton... [more] ... [more]
Labor historians had high hopes for a reborn Marxist class of insurgent workers. Now all they have are bleary hangovers, says Jim Sleeper... [more]
Prickly, arrogant, and prone to feuds, W.E.B. Du Bois died a pariah. But his reputation is on the rise, says David Greenberg... [more]
Swashbuckling pundit and gadfly historian, A.J.P. Taylor cut to the quick in his writing and cut the powerful down to size... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
We are now made witness to the McDonaldization of the world, with corporate control of our wealth, psyches, children, and lipid levels... [more]... [more]
Designer tribalism: the idea that the repression of women, permanent poverty and disease, and religious fanaticism are a deeper, better way of life... [more]

Wax sentimental over the lives of the Marx Brothers and you miss the point. These robust, scrappy chaps don't need sympathy... [more]
Skeptics, beware. Criticize the bilge pumped out by Deepak Chopra and you merely invite patronizing smiles from his true believers... [more]
Next time you walk the halls, make eye contact with the janitors and cleaners, or just say "Hi." You might learn a thing or two... [more]
Offer up your flesh for feeding. In the quest for a safe man-made mosquito, nothing is too good for the little bloodsuckers... [more]
Scientists working under a NIH grant have published a new study that reveals a clear divide between male orgasm and female orgasm... [more]
Science has prestige and power, but enjoys little public understanding, says Michael Frayn. It's time for fiction to come to its aid... [more]
George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" told that jargon, euphemism, and verbal fog are essential tools of oppression... [more]. Read the essay here.
Exorcism! If Satan himself can speak through the body of a possessed teenager, why must he choose the medium of school kid's pig Latin?... [more]
Zaire with permafrost. Russia is a huge land whose natural riches are exploited by a brutal elite while its citizens sink into poverty, disease, and despair... [more]
"The boy has a sense of justice," says Gore Vidal of Timothy McVeigh. "That's what attracted me to him." Vidal will watch his execution... [more]. Ed. note: Vidal changed his mind and did not attend.
Admired by many but loved by few, Paul Theroux travels for a living, but he has never lost his heart to a foreign land... [more]
Odd, fat-rich links between the the brain's nerve cells gave mankind splendid creative abilities, and cursed us with schizophrenia... [more]
In cardigan and spectacles, James Ellroy looks about as dangerous as a history prof. Beware: white-hot prose bullets shoot from his pen... [more]
Society needs balanced folks who work less and spend time with the family. Perhaps, says Daniel Akst, but it also needs crazy, manic, obsessed geniuses... [more]
"Not to be born is best of all," says the chorus in Oedipus at Colonus. Jim Holt wonders how many of us end up being so lucky... [more]
Do you think cutting down on fat in your diet will make you live longer? Sorry, says anthropologist Lionel Tiger, it's time to think again... [more]
Are vegetarians right? Should we consign carnivory to our barbarous past? No, says Colin Tudge. Animal husbandry is both good and necessary... [more]
McSweeney's is so bratty it borders on sniggering. Dadaist hyperbole, fake credulity, irony to inoculate against hype — it's no longer cute, says Judith Shulevitz... [more]
Clichés of business English. Help stop the rot: next time someone touches base with you or moves your goal posts, punch him in the face... [more]
From dreary to deadly to dopey, why are book jacket blurbs so stupid? Charles Taylor explains all in "an epic article of stunning intensity"... [more]
Framed in Polish, narrated in German, and penned in English, Angry Harvest was written not to entertain readers but to save the souls of its authors... [more]
The Third World buzzes with hard work: shoes and "Cartier" watches ingeniously made, old cars kept going, healthy food prepared. So why the poverty?... [more]
To treat the vast crimes of the Nazis as unspeakable is a strong prescription. But watch out, says Peter Manseau: even a bitter pill can be a placebo... [more]
Nine out of ten poets agree: death, desire, ecstasy, jealousy, despair, fear, and loneliness are natural topoi for lyric. But happiness?... [more]
Henry Kissinger often says that even paranoiacs have real enemies. It's doubtful that he could have imagined a foe like Christopher Hitchens... [more]. Is he really a criminal?
Most kids dream of being film stars or astronauts when they grow up. A.S. Byatt's characters want to be librarians... [more]... [more]
Psychotherapist Adam Phillips climbs into Houdini's Box to find out whence we all must escape, and why... [more]... [more]... [more]... [yet more]
Hannah Arendt's letters to her husband snipe at fans and colleagues, and leave the reader wishing for more generosity of spirit... [more]
Stalin embraced cruelty in name of duty, says Slavoj Zizek. Awful, yet Stalinism might still be redeemed... [more]. Central casting's idea of the East European Intellectual.
Gabriel Josipovici's memoir of his mother, a capable, infinitely patient woman, goes against the grain of our ghastly modern solipsisms... [more]
Barbara Ehrenreich conducts a sort of experiment in insanity: she's embarked on a course of willed downward mobility... [more]
Le Corbusier was mad. Yes, a genius too, but quite bonkers. It's a miracle he was ever asked to design anything at all... [more]
Globalization. We hear the word incessantly, but what does it actually mean? Foreign Policy has tried to sift hard fact out of mere hearsay... [more]
Women want security, men want sex. It's a fact, claim scientists, and Pleistocene ladies were the first to catch on... [more]. Chris Hitchens: Yeah, if you're a porcupine. Jonah Goldberg's grandma always knew it.
Some statistics are born bad, the spawn of dubious data. Others mutate, or are simply mangled. But they're not all damned lies... [more] ... [more] ... [more]
Small, local anarchist groups suffer and die as big multinational anti-capitalist groups take over the global market in anarchism... [more]
H.G. Wells was a spoiled brat and cad, an appalling man quite lacking in grace. Okay, but was he also a plagiarist?... [more]
Computer scientists who have a way to foil a copy protection scheme have been kept from publishing their work by the recording industry... [more]. It's a Grade-A scandal, says John Naughton
Kurt Gödel starved himself to death in Princeton, certain he was being poisoned. An odd, illogical end for the greatest logician of his time... [more]
From the Hobbesian horror show of Mogadishu there's emerging a system to warm Ayn Rand's heart: enterprise with no bureaucracy, no regulation... [more]
When Michael Elliot returned to his native England, he found an aggressive and boorish people. He laments the triumph of Rude Britannia... [more]
Philip Larkin laid waste to the poetic landscape with his critical scorched earth policy. For him, everything good is either dying or doomed... [more]
We know almost nothing about Johannes Vermeer, and how refreshing it is: at least his art can't be submerged in tittle-tattle... [more] ... [more]
Linguistic ability is like sexual prowess: more boasted of than displayed. So says John Derbyshire, a failure at foreign tongues and proud of it... [more]
Advice to writers. If you have writer's block, take a break. Keep it under ten years. Avoid clichés like the plague. For sex scenes... [more]
Are the Great Books really so great, or not? This is a TV question, one that Kathie Lee would have asked Regis or Oprah might put to her adoring, wide-eyed audience... [more]
Roget's is a pocket calculator for the lexically lazy. Overuse causes brain shrinkage, says Simon Winchester ... [more]. Why do we so insist on synonyms?

Kant never traveled, never saw a mountain or a great painting, never made love to a woman or heard a decent orchestra. But his work ... ah, his work... [more]
Racist profiling? Good police work often plays on probabilities. Profiling hysteria threatens years of crime-fighting success, says Heather Mac Donald... [more]
"Dyspeptic, misanthropic crank, filled with seething resentment" is one way to describe the acid-tongued cultural coroner James Wolcott... [more]
Global warming as science has been hijacked by politics and ideology, says Melanie Phillips. It's a big green lie... [more]. Phillips pro and con. Global warming pro and con.
Psychotherapy. Studies shows that it works best on people who don't need it in the first place. Advice to therapists: choose your patients well... [more]
Ship of slaves: "It's the scourge of Africa," says a Unicef director in Abidjan. Given African history, endemic slavery is the "final humiliation"... [more]
Kenneth Burke's maverick writings often puzzled his contemporaries. But critics now find in them early traces of trendy cultural studies, says Scott McLemee... [more]
Sure, books are durable, but books are not wired, a fact that offends the very soul of the geek, like kludgy code or a slow processor, writes D.T. Max... [more]
Rembrandt's canvases, adorned with detail like genre paintings run amok, offer a dazzling cornucopia of textures, implements, exotica, gadgets... [more]
A new, improved creationism? A sophisticated design argument for "intellectuals"? Darwin's demise finally at hand? Hardly!, snorts Robert Wright... [more]
If we'd waited for women to invent civilization, we'd still be in grass huts. Hang on, says Kenneth Minogue, if men chose how we live, we'd wallow in pigsties... [more]
For the Romantics, the moon was what the whale is in Moby-Dick: a mute, white, floating presence that can mean just about anything to anybody... [more]
Do poets burn out just like corporate CEOs? Do they become as lazy as their rich, bourgeois friends? Is there a Poetic Peter Principle? Yes, says Joan Houlihan... [more]
From Dale Carnegie to Dr. Spock to Ellen Fein, self-help and how-to books have become America's most pervasive and dubious contribution to letters... [more]
Compared to other art forms of our day, dance is a tragic, consumptive beauty, argue Jack Miles and Doug McLennan. Looks like she'll be dead before the final curtain... [more]
We may retell history badly or well. We may embellish it or get it wrong. But we should not do so blithely, says Carlin Romano... [more]
Robert Putnam longs for a vibrant public square. But he won't deal with the political conflicts that drive people in and out of that square... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Monster who coldly left the Jews to their fate, or honest man of God who did his best in an impossible circumstance? Judith Shulevitz on Pius XII... [more]
Analytic philosophers would read passages by Plato as though they'd come out in Mind last month, says Bernard Williams. This destroyed the point of reading Plato at all... [more]
Dalton Conley never lived in the protected middle class, but instead in the cracks between comfort and poverty. He's now NYU's social science wunderkind... [more]

The natural history museum is a dimly lit stage for scientific dreams. In its cabinet of wonders, the mysteries of nature are laid bare... [more]
Bertrand Russell's voice often shocked nice people. His cultivated tactlessness made him loathed, revered and very, very famous... [more]... [more]
The Buddha's teachings are deeply against glorified biography. An enlightened life for him would be a kind of anti-biography... [more]... [more]
The British Raj opted always for tradition over modernity, hierarchy over democracy. It was more concerned with class than with race... [more]
It seems John Updike can more easily these days stifle a yawn than refrain from writing a book, says James Wood... [more]
At a time when "gay" still meant "cheerful," no academic openly admitted to certain passions. Ivy-league prof Newton Arvin, for example... [more]
The ribald court jester is a universal creature, as happy near the throne of a Chinese emperor as in Renaissance England... [more] ... [interview]
Equality and liberty are never truly at odds: to be equal, we must be free, argues Ronald Dworkin... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
Ludwig Wittgenstein taught that intolerance, rage, and rudeness were the duties of genius. Karl Popper didn't need teaching... [more] ... [more]
A resolute anti-absolutism tied to a cheerful pragmatism lies at the heart of moral thinking of Americans, says Alan Wolfe... [more] ... [more]
Edgar Allan Poe's macabre tale of Madeline Usher, placed in her tomb alive, still resonates. Is Poe's nightmare rooted in fact?... [more] ... [more]
Think of markets as rock, paper, and scissors. If I know you'll play scissors, I'll be rock. But once you know that, you'll play paper. But if I know that you know I know... [more]
Viruses reproduce and evolve, but unlike bacteria, they don't breathe, eat, or excrete. In a sense, they aren't even alive... [more]
The barbarians aren't at the gates of our libraries. They're inside, destroying precious books, as they pad about in sensible shoes and tweed... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
Ayn Rand was deeply, madly, and forever in love with the sound of her own voice: an egomaniac of superhuman intensity... [more]
Besides her bad habits, poor judgment, and rotten luck, all Carson McCullers had was a mad desire to write... [more] ... [more]
Occultist John Dee was viewed by later ages as a crank, but he had the 16th century intellectual world at his feet... [more] ... [more]
Never quite a gentleman, Daniel Defoe's coarse, rough-hewn prose and slangy rhythms betray his unpolished origins... [more]
You'll find grace, class, and subtlety, along with an intuitive sense of who you really are, in the new Dodge Caravan Owner's Manual... [more]
Magnificent Berlin is the most feared and resented of all capital cities. Jan Morris wonders if it can escape its dark past... [more]
As the new economy sinks below the horizon, portents are everywhere that America's latest Gilded Age is coming to an end... [more]
Next time you find a battered book filled with anonymous scribbles, stop for a close look. Those scribbles may contain riches... [more]
Don't tell Gore Vidal he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does about duel etiquette. Novelists don't need fact checkers... [more]
It's a tiresome formula. You take a modest object, like a mirror, then you narrate, analyze, and culturally locate the hell out of it... [more]

Imagine Verdi's Traviata without the messenger who arrives holding the fateful letter. Instead, a little beep tells Alfredo he has email... [more]
Does alternative medicine even exist? Like alternative physics? Medicine is either clinically effective, or it isn't. As for placebos, they always work... [more]
Rock stars overdose on drugs, but great conductors just topple off the podium. In fact, the work fatality rate for maestros is astounding... [more]. Sinopoli obit.
Canny prophet of virtual reality, Philip K. Dick had many academic champions. How did he return the favor? By denouncing them to the FBI... [more]
Dostoevsky could "touch God" during seizures. Are our deepest religious feelings just affects of the limbic brain bubbling up into consciousness?... [more]
A flash Ferrari, easy money, and a blonde once marked the playboy. The image now seems so passé, thanks to Hugh Hefner, the 1960s, and democracy... [more]
Forget the map: Robert Kaplan, footloose master of geo-gloom, is not your ordinary travel writer. He journeys in order to prove his idée fixe... [more]
J.L. Austin’s verbal nit-picking may not fit the romantic view of the philosopher-king, but for Jonathan Miller it was a revelation for life... [more]
Well-fed hysterics drone and whine their predictable meters and tired narratives. Is it any wonder that nobody cares about poetry?... [more]. Then there's fridge magnet poetry.
Dorothy Rabinowitz, lucid writer, passionate champion of the falsely accused in modern witch hunts, has won a Pulitzer Prize: Amirault case, part 2, part 3 ... [more] ... [yet more]
Martin Amis, bad-boy rock star of British fiction, struts and flaunts his rolling metaphors before an enthralled literary crowd... [more]
Louis de Bernières shrugs off detached metropolitan writing and the obsessive cult of youth – and has gained a huge and eager following... [more] ... [more]
Hannibal Lecter mailed him, Jim Morrison quoted him, Daniel Boorstin made him into cover art. William Blake is everywhere... [more] ... [more]
Despite a century of fevered research and fine tuning, concert hall design remains a high-profile crapshoot. Can Leo Beranek beat the odds?... [more]
Paint-by-the-numbers. It's the next collectors' craze, with prices for 1950s classics of the genre rocketing. Better check out the attic... [more]
Built to last, Hitler's bunker is the Wile E. Coyote of historic objects. Despite all the TNT and steamrollers, it keeps coming back... [more]
Newton saw a falling apple. Darwin mused on finches. Biologist Paul W. Ewald has been inspired by diarrhea... [more]
African-American culture, let's face it, does tend to acquit misbehavin' men. No wonder Bill Clinton trekked up to Harlem seeking redemption ... [more]
Eric Hebborn's artistic crimes hang in the best museums in the world. And what curator would admit to having been suckered by his fakes?... [more]. Hebborn's 1996 obituary.
Publishing's golden age is over and gone, it's often said. But look at old Knopf readers' reports and you wonder if it ever existed... [more]
Buckaroo culture may be just about dead, but cowboy poetry is enjoying a revival. So who'll be the next Shakespeare of the Purple Sage?... [more].
Is the Harry/Larry Potter flap plagiarism? Coincidence? Writer's pride? Delusion? You decide... [more]. Some poor wannabe usually pops up, says Robert McCrum. These are the real Muggles?
African herbalists claim their potions cure AIDS. Is it all humbug, or might these elixirs really work? Matt Steinglass reports... [more]
Diana Athill's impeccably formed vowels remind us of a time when a certain accent ruled the BBC and a certain caste ran British publishing... [more]
Mrs. Grundy's cold hand fell upon the old OED's view of bawdy in Shakespeare... [more]. Censors now have new worries. Take a look at the World's Worst Editing Guide.
Most pretentious journal in the history of film, or maybe the history of the human species, Cahiers du Cinéma had to be read even when it sank to absurdity... [more]
The Japanese live several clicks down the time line, says William Gibson. Japan is the global imagination's default setting for the future... [more]
Feminism is an exploded ideology. Pieces of it are everywhere, but they're tiny and far away from their mothering body... [more
There are moves afoot to class up comic books. Good grief. Let's hope talented comic creators don't turn away from mutant vigilantes... [more]. Asterix redivivus.
Flimsy administration denials that grade inflation even exists only indicate how serious the epidemic is, argues Harvard academic Harvey C. Mansfield... [more]
Does bestiality get a free pass, as Peter Singer says, thanks to the sexual revolution?... [more]. And might it not trample on the rights of animals?... [more]
Rap feeds off the idea of the violent Bad Nigger: women are "bitches" and "ho's" and it's cool to swagger, affecting immunity to human feeling, writes Shelby Steele... [more]
Read the menu closely. Is and reduced to 'n'? Are desserts yummy or to die for? Is any food item drenched or tempting or oozing? If so, flee immediately... [more]
Museums were once stately temples of art, places of dignity and seriousness. That was then, says Roger Kimball. Now is now... [more]. Jed Perl on the Tate Modern.
For a major writer, Doris Lessing has an astonishingly narrow emotional register. Don't look for warmth and humanity, let alone sentiment... [more]
With minor exceptions, and in sharp contrast to the history of blacks, America has kept its promise to the Jews... [more]
Before she became a magazine, Mother Jones was a woman: foul-mouthed, white-haired, fiery, in spectacles and a black frock... [more]
Read any good pictures lately? Alberto Manguel is a gentle and deeply persuasive guide though a maze of images... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more].
Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Scriabin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Kandinsky, Hockney: for all, smell, taste, and color make the oddest jumble... [more]
A great sea dog of the age of Elizabeth, Martin Frobisher roamed the globe in pursuit of swag-sack booty and plundered gold... [more]
The ancients feared the void, but the status of nothing is rising. Some physicists think nothing is the foundation of everything... [more]
The world's number one drug of choice? Caffeine. Uniquely discreet, it hides in plain sight, and the result is global domination... [more]
Pharaoh Akhenaten lurked in obscurity until the 20th century, when he was reclaimed as a tortured genius and visionary artist... [more]
Liberal notions of autonomy well apply to the able-bodied. But for the disabled they can undermine and destroy basic rights... [more]
Loutish poet, messiah, ascetic, and sadomasochist gay, Arthur Rimbaud seemed to live by his famous dictum, I is somebody else... [more]
Madness and pain are linked with the great works of our culture. Take poetry, the art that most attracts moody, depressed souls... [more]
Newton vs Leibniz, Lavoisier vs Priestley, Edison vs Tesla. Are personal rivalries the real fuel of science?... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
Thelonious Monk was called the mad genius of jazz, a mystic, a charlatan. No one had seen his like before... [more]
Upbraider of emperors and favorite of Popes, 12th century nun Hildegard of Bingen healed the sick and terrorised her detractors... [more]
Perhaps the most profound legal mind alive, Richard Posner annoys both left and right with his cold-blooded economic approach to human behavior... [more]
The future is uncertain, but rich beyond imagining, tragic and glorious, says Rick Perlstein. So to hell with pundits who predict... [more]
George W. Bush says that aside from the Bible, the book that's influenced him the most is Myron Magnet's The Dream and the Nightmare. Myron who?... [more]
Mean and feral children feature in her new novel, but Pat Barker refuses to take the easy line that bad parenting equals psychotic child... [more]
His mind like a searchlight, the soft-spoken economist Amartya Sen works at Mozartian speed, fighting poverty with analysis, not activism... [more]
Information – words, DNA, the most elementary particles – explains a lot; but does it explain everything? David Berlinski is doubtful... [more] ... [more]
Julian Barnes prefers not to inflict baggy 800-page monsters on his readers in this, the Age of the Short Attention Span... [more]
It's now a central problem of 20th-century philosophy: on October 25, 1946, did Ludwig Wittgenstein threaten Karl Popper with a red-hot poker?... [more]
"Each time I step out, I hear the snicker-snack of knives being sharpened," says Arundhati Roy, novelist and fierce critic of upper-caste India... [more]
People may be fundamentally alike, but human migration has left distinct genetic trails all over the globe, as traced by Luigi Cavelli-Sforza... [more]
Corpulent tax lawyers will now insist on triple-oxygen facials. Diet-obsessed TV-sports celebs coo over their manicures. It's the new era of male grooming... [more]
Binjamin Wilkomirski's memoir of a Holocaust childhood seemed an awesome testament till it was revealed that he'd been to Auschwitz only as a tourist... [more]
We know what Victorians read and wore, what their houses looked like, and what they ate. But what about their everyday sexual lives?... [more]
Violinists need access to the 700 surviving Strads, just as these old fiddles need playing to stay alive. Alas, prices are zooming out of reach... [more]
The idea that fantasy violence incites hostile acts in the real world is a grotesque lie. But it's a lie endlessly retold by TV panic-mongers... [more]
At Arts & Letters Daily we hear sometimes from disgruntled readers. But we've met no one like a self-appointed critic of Brill's All-Star Newspaper... [more]
One day the Web will offer books in all the world's libraries at any time of day or night, on any computer... [more]. Y' say you want an e-book revolution?
A laptop in every child's school satchel? Even parents at Bill Gates's alma mater are not sure it's a brilliant idea... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more].
Calculation does to the brain what sex does to the genitals: blood flows to the most active parts. Okay, so what's 99 raised to the 5th power?... [more]
We gaze at celebrities rather as at animals in a zoo. But while we look down on animals, we look up to homo celebritus... [more]
Marriage embraces passion, beauty, betrayal, and death. Our flat sexual culture can no longer grasp the depth and power of this primordial human bond... [more]
Actor, playwright, and scourge of US power, Harold Pinter's work is lyrical, hard-nosed, and rhythmically dead-on... [more]
When Steve Martin emcees the Oscars, the audience will gaze upon a rare sight: a literary novelist playing host to Hollywood's navel baring navel gazers... [more]
In his dusty home, with his stutter and his charmingly eccentric manner, critic John Bayley sometimes seems like a favorite shuffling uncle... [more]
What happens when a group of friends tackles Joyce's most forbidding work? Massive frustration, and for one reader, a trip to family court... [more]
Norman Mailer rarely gives interviews. But when he does, brace yourself: he drives a conversation like a wild ride on a bone-rattling roller coaster... [more]
Vanity presses are an ancient idea, born the day after the first rejection slip, and prove that anyone can write a book. Usually a bad one... [more]
He has been called one of the most creative forces in the intellectual life of our time. So just who is Yi-Fu Tuan?... [more]
Rick Moody and the other New White Guys are swimming in postmodernism's backwash, not sure how to make their own way... [more]
Edward Hoagland once wrote "to see is to live." He might have added, for him, to see is to earn a living... [more]
English poetry began with runes and riddles and an angel telling a shepherd to make a song in praise of God... [more]
Right-wingers embracing Darwin, while left-wingers try furiously to contain him? We've come a long way from the Scopes monkey trial... [more]
A mind-boggling mixture of the frail and the ferocious, expatriate crime writer Chester Himes was often the odd man out... [more]
Turning base metal into gold was not only an obsession of the medieval world. Alchemy is alive and well today... [more]
To most, he was a con man who loved the scam. But P.T. Barnum was a pioneer of business ethics... [more]
As a ruling class, parents have been brought down. They are cringing creatures who walk the streets like prisoners on parole... [more]
Terry Southern was not a man to be harnessed. He wrote exquisitely unfilmable screenplays, all filled with unthinkable and unsayable ideas... [more]
Claudio Magris takes the found objects of history and uses his intellect to play with them, massage them, pry loose their secrets... [more]
George Steiner is grandly erudite, deadly serious, and thrilled by crisis. His new book reads like a Decline and Fall of the Human Empire... [more]
They don't call him Bad News Chomsky for nothing. All he does is tell us that America is bad, wicked, evil... [more]
Like the comically unlucky hero of his famous novel, Laurence Sterne was never entirely glad that he'd been born... [more]
In its probing scrutiny of telling details, Marjorie Macgoye's prose is as considered and precise as an autopsy report... [more]
Time was when literary criticism was a redoubt of the talent elite. No longer, laments Martin Amis: all opinions are equal now, and every one of us is a book critic... [more]
Sexist and condescending The Rules may be. But it's tucked between The Brothers Karamazov and Zadie Smith on many an intelligent woman's bookshelf... [more]
Has the right finally won the culture wars? Michael Bérubé doesn't think so... [more] Are the wars over? Yes, says Andrew Sullivan, no, answers Natasha Berger.
Music, says Daniel Barenboim, can be the best school for life, and at the same time the most effective way to escape from it... [more]
Query for genetic determinists: since fruit flies have half our number of genes, does it follow they are twice as free as us? Kenan Malik doesn't think so... [more]
Cinema is fundamentally at its core a conservative art form, tilting toward emotion over reason, and needing always to glorify heroes... [more]
Rap's obsessive need to prove itself "authentic" has made for a kind of slow rot, leaving the music vague, troubled, and stagnant, says Alex Abramovich ... [more]
We rely on his integrity and his charm, but Primo Levi never wanted to be a writer, an intellectual, a victim, or even a witness, argues John Leonard... [more]
Air controllers must know English, opera stars have to be able to sing in Italian, and chefs must be fluent in Kitchen French, says David Fromkin... [more]
Don't-call-me-Theo Dalrymple's hospital is full of aged Bills, Freds, and Marges — or so they are always addressed by the young nurses. Contempt does breed familiarity... [more]
The Sopranos condemns society's moral relativism, say some pundits. And you thought it was just a pretty good family drama with imaginative executions... [more] ... [yet more]
Youthful idealists once worshipped Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Today they pray to Fast Company... [more]. David Brooks on the Organization Kid.
Stanley Fish is the attack dog of academe. In the best canine tradition, he is bent on biting as many hands as possible... [more]
For David Markson, writing is a senseless act, an activity in which honest men and women can no longer participate... [more]
The best minds of his age destroyed by the Nasdaq? As millions go up in smoke, Jesse Oxfeld heralds the collapse of the stock market... [more]
For access to contrary points of view, we live in a media Golden Age, says Denis Dutton. Consider online publishing, or... [guess what]
A St. Patrick's Day parade in Ireland has a gratuitous element about it. The floats and acts flaunt their paganism, throwbacks to the Celtic past... [more]
After Florida, the moral pretensions of modern American conservatism lie in tatters, like so many discarded chads on the floor, says Win McCormack... [more]
You don't read Philip Roth. He reads you. He tears up your map of the normal, replacing it with one compassed by that rude honorific, reality... [more]
Do Black TV shows endlessly recycle a passel of injurious images, or are critics just playing the Can You Find the Stereotype?... [more]
Lucian Freud's nudes are far from erotic. They shun ecstasy in favor of indifference, grace and harmony in favor of the ugly and the obscene... [more]
In fashionista nation, says David Brooks, we'll all change scarves and looks and personalities every six months, desperately competing for attention and cool... [more]
A swashbuckling verbal genius, Hart Crane pillaged the language of Elizabethan England, like a buccaneer let loose in a royal treasure chamber... [more]
The gay moment is over. Gay people have moved into the larger world, not just as comic relief, but as power brokers and opinion makers... [more]
Was Felix Mendelssohn one of the elect, asks Terry Teachout, or a charming minor master who occasionally touched the superlative?... [more]
The power of cash is real, but it does not determine our fate. That is why history cannot be reduced to an economic equation, says Niall Ferguson... [more]
It's not the giant conglomerate or a celebrity hungry culture that threatens publishers. The problem is keeping reading alive as a passion... [more]
Like motherhood, democracy is a good that is always praised, never questioned. Eric Hobsbawm wonders what all the fuss is about... [more]
Oscar Wilde knew life was one pose after another, and that your pose may be what you actually are, but don't want to admit. Eric Bentley explains... [more]
Friedrich Schiller was a strange hybrid of poet, dramatist, and idealist philosopher: a Teutonic Shelley with less money and fussier morals... [more]
The "confirmation" of Einstein's general theory of relativity may have been a plot to bring British and German scientists together, says Jim Holt... [more]
Foes of Darwinism are taking their best shot with a new weapon: "intelligent design" theory. But Larry Arnhart isn't convinced... [more]
More guns may mean less crime, says John Lott. Is he a tool of the gun lobby or a gutsy anti-PC crusader?... [more]
John Carey allies himself with the ordinary, the plain-spoken, the unlettered. For him, the masses can do no wrong... [more]
Cannibalism has taken place through history, on every continent. Indeed, eating people is so very multicultural... [more]
Marriage on the outs? Hardly. Even Gloria Steinem has succumbed to the ancient promise of connubial bliss... [more]
In hailing the genius of Darwin, we forget that an earlier book on the origins and evolution of man also had a massive impact... [more]
A romantic and a believer in the power of literature, Christopher Hitchens is also a master in the art of offending people... [more] ... [more] ... [still more] ... [yet more]
We're all on close terms with our pets. But is it possible to be, uh, too intimate with an animal? Peter Singer looks at a bestial issue... [more]. Then there is the unkindest cut.
Famines killed millions at the turn of the last century, not just because of crop failures, but also of the inept imperial powers ... [more] ... [still more]
Amos Oz bar settlers, Sharon, Palestinians, Arafat from his thought in the evening. After 8pm, it's literature, some art, some music ... [more] ... [more]. Is he misunderstood?
Buddhism is big with baby boomers, who have adopted a version that is small and self-absorbed, a soothing therapy... [more]
Josephine Baker's dancing left little to the imagination, and her notorious horizontal jiggles propelled her to the top of the world... [more]
Raymond Chandler took a cheap, shoddy, and utterly lost kind of writing, and turned it into something intellectuals claw each other about... [more]
Is it any surprise that today's campus novel teems with predators and poseurs? Elaine Showalter on the state of academic fiction... [more]
With stark realism, Dante still speaks to us about love and loss, hope and injustice, in verse at once high and low... [more]
An eccentric thinking man of the Elizabethan age, Simon Forman was an amateur physician, astrologer, and brewer of exotic potions... [more]
Spinoza isn't Cinderella at the Enlightenment Ball. His ideas sent seismic shocks through Europe in the 17th century... [more]
Being a wife always seemed to suggest a job unto itself: homemaker, hostess, chauffeur, cheerleader. A boring gig?... [more]
Sex-addict, pornographer, and spanking aficionado, Victorian Henry Ashbee was a real life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... [more]
Modern male novelists prize riffs, tricksiness, exuberance, flights of fancy and fireworks. The effects make you jump, but that's all they do, says Ferdinand Mount... [more]
Gregory Chaitin turned the math world upside down with a single number called Omega, a number that is infinitely long and utterly incalculable... [more]
Books, movies, newspapers, Clinton's grand jury testimony: Justin Kaplan leaves no stone unturned in his update of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations... [more]
"Being a boy is not a disorder. It's not something you need to recover from." Christina Hoff Sommers stands up for male culture... [more]
They're paid to read, but some of them haven't even gotten around to War and Peace yet. Book critics reveal their gravest literary omissions... [more]
A director of movies about highfalutin subjects like God and Godlessness, Werner Herzog excels at implying most of the world is beneath him... [more]
Sure the dot-com bubble has burst. But make no mistake, the economic impact of the internet and the new economy is far reaching, writes Robert Litan... [more]
Raphael Lemkin knew what the Nazis did to the Jews was a new form of abomination, and he coined the word to describe it: genocide... [more]
Messianic in his zeal for scientific fact, William Masters' gleefully mechanical sex research set us on the path to the Viagrification of sexual relations... [more]
In a country teeming with exotica for the jaded Westerner, little can beat the shaven headed, Nippon-loving patriots of Japan's far right for weirdness... [more]
Often judged too prim for detective fiction, P.D. James has dragged the genre kicking and screaming into the 21st century... [more]
For many authors whose books have been panned, the bad review is never the mere work of a lone gunman. There must be a plot. A web of evil... [more]
Otis Ferguson knew the pride, suffering, rage, and joy that forged the art of jazz. His work remains worth reading, says Jeremy McCarter... [more]
Intellectual comrades and liberal apostates, Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom are the fearless first couple of affirmative reaction... [more]
If he often seems out of place, that's because Amin Maalouf lives more in his dreams and in his stories than in reality... [more]
Traces of hallucinogenics, cocaine, and cannabis have been found near the Bard's home. Was he a dope-head? ... [more]
Gay Jewish painter, Brooklyn native, jungle traveler, and one-time cannibal, Tobias Schneebaum has finally sold the rights to his life story... [more]
Americans are told that they live in the Land of Opportunity.Is it why they always have a soft spot for con artists? ... [more]
Shanghai's former mayor is a poet, and Beijing book readings draw hundreds. At the same time, China's best writers are bullied, executed, silenced... [more]
In science, if it's never been done, and you do it once, it's a mistake. Twice, and it's a mirage. The third time it's truth. Enter: the Z Machine... [more]
Holy Homophobia! Who's afraid of the gay Batman? DC Comics, that's who. And they're not about to let the caped crusader out of the closet... [more]
Elusive Greek bard or impostor? Poems of Andreas Karavis had Canada's literati squabbling for months. Ben Downing blows the lid off a hoax... [more]
Oxbridge dial-a-don, thinking woman's crumpet. Niall Ferguson's hefty advances have fellow historians gnashing their teeth... [more] ... [more]
Most public champions of science sadly misrepresent it, says Colin Tudge, what it is, what it's like, and what it can explain ... [more]
Guys, can we all calm down? The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is terminally tame and genteel, and utterly degrading to men, says Andrew Stuttaford... [more]
Though he caught on with the sex and drugs generation of the sixties, Jorge Luis Borges, a Victorian to the core, was the least bohemian of men... [more]
Black attitudes are the real drag on black aspirations, argues John McWhorter. It's time to stop blaming every black failure on white racism... [more]
The latest Indian fiction leaves Kai Friese cold. If you simply must read about India, try the Lonely Planet guide instead, he says... [more]
For access to contrary points of view, we live in a media Golden Age, says Denis Dutton. Consider online publishing, or... [guess what]
When Osama bin Laden hid coded messages for his global operatives on porn Web sites, he was merely practicing the ancient art of "covered writing"... [more]
There may be room at the inn for conservatives of color, but under the bromides about upward mobility, the message is: don't be like "the blacks"... [more]
Winston Churchill had it right about the peace of Versailles: "The war is over. Now we are all fighting each other again."... [more]
David Lodge yokes together two old warhorses, the campus novel and the novel of adultery, to tell the truth about life... [more] ... [more]
Indoctrinology: it is now the turn of medicine to be set upon by postmodern politics and New Age pseudo-science, says Sally Satel... [more]
Everyone wanted to know, how does he do it? H.G. Wells wrote a book a year and seduced a woman a week... [more]
Poets and artists who like to think of themselves as strong arouse James Fenton's suspicion. He admires the creator who is weak, faint of heart... [more]
Once a beacon of reason and insight, history as a profession is dominated by a cult of untruth and willful amnesia, says Stephen Schwartz... [more]
LSD has lost its edge. You now see weirder things in TV ad breaks than any love-beaded acid freak ever saw watching Fantasia... [more]
Wyndham Lewis cultivated a kind of anti-pathos: a strategy to avoid sentiment, to favor abstract art, satire, and invective... [more]
Southern aristocrat in bearing, Allen Tate loved poetry, Modernism, drinking, smoking, and talking late into the night about Ol' Dixie... [more]
The Tartar Steppe throws down the gauntlet to reason, daring the reader to take seriously the idea of enchantment... [more]
Once a California beach boy, Craig Venter was at least a readable specimen. Since cracking the genome, he's become as hard to read as his code... [more]
After years of promises, robots are ready to start serving us in our homes. Still, you'll have to wait a while for a bow-tied butlerbot... [more]
Medievals named our blood pump as the seat of passion, and launched a thousand clichés: broken heart, stolen heart, and Valentine's Day... [more]
Fifth-period study hall was like little Wall Street. The librarian told the kids the computers were for study only. But teachers took their stock tips and didn't care... [more]
Even grad students find him hard, but Jürgen Habermas, the philosopher king of the social democrats, has become a German institution... [more]
Obituaries are arguments. They build the case for why we should care about someone's life. Consider Dale Evans, or Anne Morrow Lindbergh... [more]
Vampires: universal phantoms, they still haunt every culture. No matter how often their obituary is pronounced, they keep rising from the grave... [more]
We all do it. Sleep, that is. Yet the world of sleep is a strange and secret place, where unimagined depths remain unfathomed... [more]
Buy a great university the way that George Steinbrenner buys a great baseball team? And just where will that star-studded faculty get you?... [more]
Maybe the world's most famous initials, BBC has for years stood for highbrow quality. Is its reputation but a shadow of former glories?... [more]
Having a serial killer on a cross might seem ungodly, but in his own way, Hannibal is making a religious statement, says Peter Manseau... [more]
History is full of women who were more manly than men. Want to raze a village? Boadicea, a can-do gal, would get the job done in a jiffy... [more]
What happens when a country sacrifices criticism and intellectual life on the altar of the market? Thomas Frank goes to Singapore to find out... [more]
For the Florida mantra, "Let every vote be counted," Marjorie Perloff wants to substitute a bit of oddly postmodern advice: "Don't recount. Rethink"... [more]
To stand before the assembled great and good of Hollywood and denounce ... racism! sexism! bigotry! Hey, that takes real courage. Joseph Epstein explains... [more]
Cuban fiction is crazily real, a little off kilter and absurdist perhaps, but still anchored in the tangible world says Achy Obejas... [more]
Materialism need not be a bleak view of reality, if it's tempered by a love of science, beauty, and the narrative of life on earth. E.O. Wilson proves the point... [more]
Bill Clinton was not the first to worry about what the meaning of the word "is" is. There was Parmenides, Kant, Hegel, and now Lee Smolin... [more]. Debate with John Maddox on Theories of Everything.
Beliefs and habits of pre-war Jews of Eastern Europe may seem simple to urbane city-folk. To Joseph Roth they were timeless and beautiful... [more].
Bruce Springsteen may be the last curious icon of earnest social realism, says Jefferson Cowie, a throwback in today's world of smirking irony... [more]
In defending academic writing, Marjorie Garber claims that jargon "marks the place where thinking has been." Er, like a dog?... [more]. Why jargon?
Arthur C. Clarke hails from that tony neighborhood in Outer Space where even the aliens have posh accents and elegant manners... [more]
We assume that care given to the disabled will be free, "done out of love." This places enormous, unfair burdens on women, says Eva Kittay... [more]
In its falling and rising, Verdi's reputation is like Dickens's: both were called melodramatic and crude. Now they're called geniuses... [more]
James Nachtwey's photos can ruin your day. Starving, rag-covered Sudanese, bloated corpses, sore-encrusted orphans, kids with limbs blown off... [more] ... [yet more]
There was something just a bit enigmatic, lonely, oddly hidden about A.J. Ayer: he seemed in ways a don's version of James Dean... [more]
Fatally attracted to the idea of anonymity, Henry Green's love affair with the nobodies of society lies at the heart of his best writing... [more]
Bulgaria was an Axis ally, and yet Bulgarians saved their Jews from the Holocaust. The reason why is as complex as the nation's fraught history...[more]
She uses books for therapy, and the audience can't get enough. Is Oprah Winfrey carpet bombing the American mind with hollow, feel good pap?... [more]
Fritz Lang, murderer? Maybe now we know why his films are so full of guilt, false witness, unsolved crimes, atonement, suicide, and homicide... [more]
You'd mow your own lawn to save paying someone $10. So why won't you mow your neighbor's to make an extra $10? Ask an economist... [more] ... [more]
Wynton Marsalis doesn't do all night gigs. With his suit, tie, and scholarly specs, he's a denizen of hushed and hallowed concert halls... [more]
How late to breast-feed? Nature does not provide a cut-off point. So culture steps in, taking a five-year-old away from his still-nursing Illinois mother... [more]
Evangelical in his passion for jazz, Gary Giddins writes as the truest of true believers, never hesitating to do battle for the faith... [more]
Can anyone hear the Bard over the visual and aural noise of postmodern film? As cell phones bleep, Debra Rienstra listens for the poetry... [more]
The gay, innocent Schubert of times past has morphed into a different man: gay in a newer sense, he drinks too much with his Bohemian friends... [more]
Eco-doomsayer Paul Ehrlich hopes people will one day stop talking about human nature. Fat chance of that, says Francis Fukuyama... [more]
Rampaging across Europe, Asia, and Africa, a wannabe novelist called Napoleon dragged his library with him everywhere... [more] ... [yet more]. A Napoleon for today?
Ludwig Wittgenstein's quest for hermetic isolation led him to Ireland, long home to the kind of metaphysical play that feeds on solitude... [more] ... [more]
Comedian Victor Borge was not merely wonderful, he was twoderful, which is twice as good... [giggle]. A talk with Leonid Hambro.
The sociological writing of Richard Sennett can read like a subtle novel, an absorbing biography, or cracking good journalism... [more] ... [still more]
Havana's revolutionary art and culture are deceptively quaint, says Robin Cembalest. The Socialist Realist style is so retro, you forget it's packaged with repression... [more]
Science is starting to catch up with an obscure 18th-century clergyman with a knack for statistics: the brilliant Thomas Bayes... [more]. Using Bayes in medical reseach.
It's 10 a.m. Do you know where your professors are? Faculty at Boston University fume over a plan that requires them to show up for work... [more]
To his countless enemies, he is a self-hating Jew and Holocaust denier. Norman Finkelstein takes on what he calls "hoaxers and hucksters"... [more] ... [BBC Radio interview]
Logos, posters, album covers, book jackets, typefaces, malls, and a theme park: the question isn't what Milton Glaser has designed. It's what he hasn't... [more] ... [yet more]
A writer's personal jottings may look haphazard, but on close scrutiny can reveal a mind feverishly planning future works... [more]
With its idiosyncratic voice and grand sweep, Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honor trilogy is a maverick history of WW II and the 1940s in Britain... [more]
Sure Vladimir Nabokov has fans, but the wrong sort: aesthetes, punsters, besandaled acolytes of reading-as-wanking and literature as play... [more]. Nabokov on translation.
Barefoot anthropologists do more than just science, says Paul R. Gross: they also practice exorcism... [more]. Napoleon Chagnon talks to Scientific American.
After eons of burying their obscure findings in the dark corners of learned journals, historians are at last reaching for a wider public, says Richard J. Evans... [more]
The flinty understatement that marks the style of Raymond Carver, his simple, laconic reserve, has had its day, writes Sven Birkerts... [more]
We declare cannibalism to be worse than murder. But we might prefer not to digest the fact that we actually have a bit of a taste for our own flesh... [more]
Grandma disliked Jews but loved her Jewish friends. So the modern reactionary says, "Hi, Bob, you old nigger/faggot/Yid! How 'bout lunch?" He means it well... [more]
Clinton could tout the sonnets of his defense secretary, but George W. Bush can fill entire shelves with the oeuvres of his underlings, says Franklin Foer... [more]
He calls himself a flâneur, but Edmund White too often retreats from the streets, proper realm of the strolling dandy, says Peter Conrad... [more]
Just a few years ago girls were the victimized sex in schools. Now the sympathy pendulum swings to boys. Can't we find a middle ground? asks Cathy Young... [more]
High-flying US academics who were born overseas suffer a fragmented identity and sense of loss and exile. How romantic to be an outcast, if you're in six figures... [more]
Theodore Dalrymple, prison doctor, does not always make the most agreeable lunch companion for his well-fed, complacent, bourgeois, establishment friends... [more]
No need to panic over the fate of freedom in the digital universe, says Slavoj Zizek. We're about to confront the abyss of freedom at its purest... [more]
Nonfiction needs structure as much as fiction, says Erica Wagner. A writer must form narrative: without this, a story's but a jumble of tedious anecdotes... [more]
The worst anti-Semites didn't hate docile shtetl Jews as much as they hated skeptical, secular, intellectual Jews, says Christopher Hitchens, part Jew and proud of it... [more]
In an age of brave new families, flattened hierarchies, and creative destruction, dads are mounting a quiet comeback, says Chris Lehmann... [more]
The true revolution in the future of publishing will belong to the one who figures out that e-text is not about imitating paper, says Noah Richler... [more]
Even as they decry slavery and its bitter legacy, some Americans remain in the spell of the Confederate flag and all it stood for: treason, and a race state... [more]
Human beings are hardwired to create beliefs, says Lewis Wolpert, and worry about truth or falsity later on. The alternative may be paralyzed uncertainty... [more]
Michael Jordan got more money for his Nike endorsement than the company's 30,000 workers in Indonesia earn in a year. Where's Marx's theory of value when you need it?... [more]
Why does capitalism triumph in the West but so often bog down elsewhere? It's not culture or religion, argues Hernando de Soto, but the absence of asset rights... [more] ... [more] ... [more] ... [still more]
Blockbuster art exhibitions are now bread and jam for the modern museum. But are they good for art? Martin Gayford thinks not... [more]
Bon vivant, war hero, and sublime travel writer, Patrick Leigh Fermor creates prose that leaps off the page, flouting the proprieties of "good writing"... [more]
The stool of conservatism has been knocked from under him, and Jonah Goldberg lies on the floor, stunned and bewildered. What now for the Right?... [more]
Ventriloquism: once a key part of the oracle's daily bag of tricks, the "migrant voice" emerged into the music hall... [more] ... [yet more]
"My work is my life, and I have no real interest outside it," said John Gielgud. "I'm just a silly emotional gubbins"... [more]
Like one of those dragons in a Chinese parade, Don DeLillo's new novel has a spectacular head followed by a less impressive tail... [more]
Stephen Jay Gould's new plan for détente between science and religion will plunge to the ocean floor straight from its launching ramp... [more]
The human mind evolved in the Pleistocene as a gaudy, high wattage home entertainment system, featuring romance, action, porn, and art... [more]
There's been no shortage of ideas on laughter. Plato thought jollity a danger to the state, and Hobbes found it vulgar... [more] ... [yet more]
The intellectual odyssey of W.E.B. Du Bois took him from humble origins to cultivated citizen of the world, and from pragmatism to dogmatism... [more]
Great travelers are curious, contented, self-sufficient people unafraid of the past. They aren't hiding in travel; they are seeking, says Paul Theroux... [more]
When it comes to photos, we are all deconstructionists now. Every half-wit who's read Derrida for Dumbos knows that pictures lie... [more] ... [still more]
Publishing was once a happy union of mammon and intellect. Now things are on the rocks. Can this marriage be saved?... [more]
If both are starving, who gets your extra food, your neighbor or your pet rabbit? Roger Scruton wants to ask Peter Singer... [more]
He looked down on no one and up to no one. Bing Crosby was cool and capable, a mellow, all American go-getter... [more] ... [yet more]
Known as a liar and a lecher, Lord Rochester, whoremaster and poet, has been ill-served by his biographers, says Germaine Greer... [more] ... [yet more]
"The Littleton boys are the tip of the iceberg. And the iceberg is all boys." Nonsense, says a new book on what's right about today's youth... [more]
Is there a peculiar link between violence and American life? Witness football, a profoundly American game with mayhem at its core... [more]
She was ruthless and cunning: Mme de Pompadour charmed her way to the top of the ancien régime with décolletage and rouge... [more]
Our architectural heritage must be saved, including — early strip malls? Tract homes? Drive-in theaters? White Castle burger stands?... [more]
Public intellectuals were once free minds who wrote for small magazines. Then they became professors, and the game changed... [more]
You can't have a rational, fully scientific view of the world without a grasp of the basic laws of nature. But what exactly are they?... [more]
Like James Joyce, Martin Amis has dire effects on countless minor talents, his style groan-makingly emulated in dozens of faddish novels... [more]
Odd as it sounds, mind reading is an ability that all healthy humans possess. Now, two scientists have found a neuron to prove it... [more]
Gene Weingarten checked into AOL's hot Britney Spears chatroom, trolling for views on the new president. What you're missing on the Internet... [more]
Religious prejudice is wrong! Slavery is wrong! Poverty is bad! So flash the neon-bright, deadly earnest messages of Newbery Medal winners... [more]
Employing a liberal dose of hokum and his own brand of special effects, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is writing his life story. Is it his last work?... [more]
Amazing what happens when a society of educated people has money to burn. Francis Fukuyama considers the Clinton years... [more]. So does Christopher Hitchens.
Peter Carey has written about con men and shady characters, and now Australia's greatest outlaw... [more] ... [Ned Kelly]. Digging into the Kelly myth.
Once they were both tribunes of the free market. Now John Gray and Edward Luttwak damn global capitalism for its sins... [more]
A new film about a chapter of Ingmar Bergman's life, made by his former muse, is the closest most intellectuals come to a tabloid exposé... [more] ... [still more]
Reactionary fogey, says Polly Toynbee. Her anti-obituary has a drawing of Auberon Waugh being flushed down the toilet... [more]. In response, Alexander Waugh assures Britain that his father's corpse will be disposed of hygienically. Polly "dances on Bron's grave." Lynn Barber's view.
Ever try counting to a million? A housewife in Waterloo, Iowa did, and it took her five years. Jim Holt on really, really big numbers... [more]
From Mutt and Jeff to yin and yang, cultures include images quite inseparable but utterly different. Consider science and religion, says Stephen Jay Gould... [more]
The Victorian era was not an age of stifling conservatism and cant, but a time of socialist ingenuity and artistic innovation, argues Tristram Hunt ... [more]
Hardly a week goes by without Christopher Hitchens's sneering English charm and silky prose oozing out of one periodical or another... [more]
Communist, eminent historian, and still a bit of a 1950s bohemian, Eric Hobsbawm's mind remains in edgy overdrive at age 83... [more]
Shelby Foote wrote The Civil War over 20 years, an ink-dipped pen in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Comes to 150,000 cigarettes... [more]
Theodor Adorno may have decried it, and Roland Barthes clearly foretold it: we inhabit, and even enjoy, a world where the real thing does not matter... [more]
Churchill would have bought drinks till dawn. FDR would have let you play with his wheelchair. Clinton? He just went home to check the polls, says P.J. O'Rourke... [more]
"Social justice" sounds all well and good. But the minute someone defines it, writes Michael Novak, it becomes a tool for social coercion... [more]
Once the province of pimply teens, the comic book has matured in content and outlook just as the art world has tended to regress toward the infantile... [more]
Goddess of bulimia, anorexia, and all the wrong values for girls — or an emblem of freedom and choice? It's Barbie, the world's most perplexing doll... [more]
For Ken Burns, jazz is America. But there is too much celebration in Jazz, and too much fear of the pain in the music, says Leon Wieseltier... [more]
Religion and belief in god may be innate, says Natalie Angier, but so too is skepticism. The human race lives in one great Show Me state... [more]. Another atheist.
"Our Soviet doctors are some of the best, but they are paid so little they don't care if patients live or die. If you pay them, they care"... [more]
Cultures need no care and feeding by bureaucrats or commissars to remain vital, but rather an endless, free jousting with other cultures, says Mario Vargas Llosa... [more]
Fixated on rockets and robots, 20th century science fiction writers failed to anticipate not only the Internet, but the way markets would dominate our lives... [more]
As Robert Matthews explains, it is the Quadratic Law of Resentment: combine N people, and you get N(N-1)/2 possible ways for arguments to break out... [more]
John Brockman's Edge puts a new, provocative question to a crew of thinkers every year. For 2001, it's "What questions have disappeared, and why?"... [more]
Like a finely tuned sax playing to both laughter and tears, the ironic voice of poet Sterling Brown fuses whimsy with hard truth... [more]
"Medicine is my lawful wedded wife and literature my mistress," wrote Anton Chekhov. "When one gets on my nerves, I spend the night with the other"... [more]
Feminist intellectuals can at last feel good about feeding their fashion mania. Shopping is "research" and a massive wardrobe is an "archive," says Elaine Showalter... [more]
Maudlin public apologies and cant about collective healing, rather than real benefits, are at the heart of the slave reparations debate, says Adolph Reed Jr... [more]
For anyone who has lived the nightmare of a false charge and long imprisonment, freedom is a complicated affair, writes Dorothy Rabinowitz... [more]
Armed only with a laptop and chamomile tea, Anna Quindlen peddles herself, in all its banal, twinkling splendor: savior as seeker... [more]
The best science books, unlike recent pop blockbusters, adhere to scientific principles... [more]. Science can be pathological.
Offensive to lesbians, blacks, and scholars who do Celebrity Studies, James Hynes's novel of tenure and terror is very funny and very mean... [more]. Call it Wanton Deconstruction.
Ché Guevara of the Algerian war, Frantz Fanon was a prophet of the "cleansing and liberating" effect of violent revolution... [more]
Taking up her father's causes and feuds after his death, Eleanor Marx's own life ran aground on the shoals of betrayal and infidelity... [more]
Ireland's best writers duck out of every obligation to comply with official literary tradition. They're most lively when they subvert and break convention... [more]
Asking questions is easy. It's the harder job of philosophy, says Anthony Gottlieb, to push rational inquiry obstinately to its limits... [more] ... [more]
Even in the garish neon age of Sony and Nintendo, the West is still captivated by the sensuous world of the geisha... [more]
The new economy has ushered in the age of the terrific deal. Now Robert Reich orders his bespoke suits on the Internet... [more] ... [yet more]
When it comes to dogs, people can be too sentimental. It doesn't follow that canine pals are best viewed as unfeeling automata... [more] ... [more dogs] ... [more]
Reflexology, astrology, Bible codes, bent spoons: Martin Gardner is the deadly enemy of bogus science and New Age poppycock... [more]
Swooning biopics and Brontë sisters jam: the kitsch offerings of the literary heritage racket obscure the truth of Charlotte and Emily... [more]
When Hans von Bülow first heard himself playing a Chopin mazurka on an Edison cylinder, he is said to have fainted... [more]
Honey-tongued, to be sure, but also beery-mouthed, Dylan Thomas is most people's idea of a modern poet. His work still divides the critics... [more]
Unbridled enthusiast: critic Frank Rich thinks theatre can compete with the peepshow ravishments and sexy cachet of the movies... [more]
The crime passionelle lives on in the black writerly heart of Javier Marias. His themes are sex, jealousy, betrayal, and death... [more]
Lionel Trilling would not get very far pursuing a career in today's academic cultural studies. He was too smart, too deep, too independent.... [more] ... [more] ... [yet more]
As Albert Schweitzer and Albert Einstein watched the Indians battle, Einstein asked, "Do you see that Apache on the black mustang?"... [more]
Hunter Thompson may well have thought his wild rock 'n' roll destiny was death at age 27, but 30 years later he still checks his spelling... [more] ... [ yet more]
Just as marriage civilizes lust, so capitalism civilizes greed, argues Dinesh D'Souza. But is his confidence in the power of markets misplaced?... [more]
Macaroni and cheese, turkey on Wonder Bread, Jell-O with canned fruit salad, meatloaf 'n' ketchup: who's to blame?... [more]. How about Cherry Coke Jell-O?
From the Annals of Ketchup we learn that tomatoes were once made into a salsa with chillies to spice up conquistadors about to be eaten... [more]
Juan Goytisolo is Spain's great living writer. For the past half century, he has also been its most scabrous and zealous critic... [more]
Absolute evil: a man batters his wife to death, watches a video with his kids then shoots them, has lunch with his parents before killing them too. Why?... [more]
Charming, savage, comic genius Auberon Waugh, who ran for Parliament under the banner of the Dog-Lovers Party, is dead at 61. Obits: Telegraph (8 pieces), London Times, NYT, Evening Standard, A.N. Wilson, The Speccie, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Wilson again, Independent, Christopher Hudson, Ferdinand Mount.
When a library burns, books perish first, but the clay cuneiform tablets of Uruk not only survived fire, they were baked hard for posterity... [more]
Miss Anscombe, student and friend of Wittgenstein, herself a free-spirited philosopher, is dead. Obits: Guardian, NYT, Telegraph, London Times.
Ernst Jünger did not drive and hated technology, but his novels presage the Internet and the rootless, networked culture of Silicon Valley... [more]
He was a rabble-rouser, his name a byword for demagogic slander. Now, a new generation of apologists are defending Joe McCarthy... [more]
If the accordion were food, it would be canned spaghetti. Still, John Donatich loves his stomach Steinway, bellowing Lady of Spain... [more]
Ordinateur is what the French now insist on for computer. It's medieval theology's deus ordinator, divine authority... [more]. Plato turns in his grave.
"I'm a throwback, but I'm happy to be a throwback," says thriller writer Alan Furst, whose novels evoke the bleak twilight mood of Eric Ambler... [more] ... [review]
Eco-pornography? That's what one Canadian environmentalist calls scare stories about the death of North Pacific fauna. Enter Dr. David Suzuki... [more]
Australia's lusty colonists needed seed, cattle, bricks — and women. So a shipload of "breeding stock" became a floating brothel... [excerpts] ... [review]
The BBC and other media have been cleverly fooled about the struggle over Czech TV, says Andrew Stroehlein... [more]. Jan Culík's view.
Synesthetes were thought to be closer to God, vibrating in all their parts and fibers "like good, much played violins"... [more]
A literary Sherlock Holmes: English prof Donald Foster has unmasked Anonymous, scrutinized Shakespeare, and probed Pynchon... [more]
Seeing a market opportunity in all that parental anxiety, geeks have gotten rich with Internet porn filters. Now your local hospital's website is off limits... [more]
Breathtaking, exquisite: the only way to describe the glass flowers and insects made by German artists for Harvard's Botanical Museum... [more]
From goofy little gift books to pæans to Kathie Lee Gifford, haiku is everywhere. For the poetry snobs, this is not good news... [more]
Rome at A.D. 1. Trade and tribute poured in, the city's rich grew fat and lazy, and the poor were kept amused with grisly free spectacles... [more]
Onetia Murray's son is teased by friends because he enjoys reading the many books in their home. "I heard one of his buddies saying that we're trying to be white"... [more]
Official painter for the French motorcycle police, Saudi Arabia, and Interpol: Andrew Vicari is the most successful artist you never heard of... [more]
Wagner's Tristan und Isolde is a rather dated tale of love, death, and the evil of adultery. Why not revive it as an opera about masturbation?... [more]
Status, money, and education seal your fate in life, argues the rich, famous Pierre Bourdieu. Son of poor, uneducated parents, he's a glaring exception... [more]
Jean Baudrillard is the perfect picture of a postmodernist intellectual, says Scott McLemee, a thinker for whom "reality TV" is a redundant phrase... [more]
Did Werner Heisenberg keep from his Nazi masters knowledge of how to build the atomic bomb? Michael Frayn gives the question new life... [more] ... [yet more]
American politics is a power struggle between two tribal coalitions. Ethnography, not ideology, best explains the baffling US electoral map, says Michael Lind... [more]
Secular poetry is often bad, but bad religious poetry is spectacularly awful, filled with clichés, abstraction, relentless rhythms, and predictable rhymes... [more]
Sure, on the Web we'll have access to any text, but a text is not a book, and readers are mighty picky about books, says Larry McMurtry... [more]
Willa Cather has been hijacked by feminist academics. It can't be easy for them that she was a full-bore raving misogynist... [more]
In a thousand years will we be the same human creatures we are today? "In some ways," says Arthur C. Clarke, "I certainly hope not"... [more]. How close is HAL? Kubrick's film in new release.
The French eat all the butter, cream, foie gras, pastry, and cheese their hearts desire, with fewer heart attacks than Americans. Why?... [more]
The Veg-O-Matic made fine French fries. It was also the perfect marriage of medium (TV) and message (gadget), says Malcolm Gladwell... [more]
Was Walter Benjamin a critic, an historian, a philosopher, or a mere writer? He was unclassifiable, says J.M. Coetzee, a man whose work fits no clear category... [more]
What makes a masterpiece? Is the whole idea just an elitist cultural myth? Edward Rothstein meditates on genius, form, and meaning in art... [more]
Genetically modified peas, altered rhubarb, allergy-free potatoes, vitamin enriched rice: maybe they're not so bad for you after all. Ask Dr. Strangelunch... [more]
Dinner parties that center around a huge roasted animal pose a small problem for vegetarian guests. Give them a break... [more]
Can parents halt the evil menace of Eminem? It's not worth the bother. He's a Gerard Manley Hopkins in his sick, puerile, vulgar, endearing way... [more]
Where have all the critical ideas of the Left Wing gone? They're in the air, says Marshall Berman — we just have to learn to inhale... [more]
With its deeply personal slices of life, it's the memoir, not the novel, that offers the best glimpse into the way we live now... [more]
Wittgenstein's Tractatus made for an easy diagnosis, once Freud had perused the book: "Well, the man's clearly an anal-obsessive"... [more]
From the electric fan and kettle (1890s) to the Hoover (1908) to the fridge (1930s), the American Century unfolded with a buzz of consumption... [more]
The music was still fresh, but by the time the Beatles felt obliged to exhort that "all you need is love" it was already time to bail out... [more]
From vomiting pop stars to naked mole rats, laughing fish to immortal hummingbirds, Eliot Weinberger's prose charts a universe... [more]
William Hazlitt was a giant who had no interest in careerism, preferring to hurl poison darts of disdain at the worthies of his day... [more]
Pathetic, relentless cries of despair and crass, sickening glorification: letters from Stalin's Soviet Union make unhappy reading... [more]
The simile recurs again and again in Craig Raine's poems. It's as predictable and irritating as a TV ad break... [more]
With florid talk of "radiant strands of silica," techno-guru George Gilder invests his predictions with an odd moral passion... [more]
Inventor and KGB spy Leon Theremin created an instrument whose spooky sounds led the way toward electronic music... [more]
Anne Roiphe has made a literary valentine for fictional men who "served as my friends, my counterspies in the gender wars, my distraction"... [more]
Millionaire poet and gay dandy, Raymond Roussel once wrote 20,000 lines of verse about a boy blowing bubbles... [more]
Willard Van Orman Quine, a philosopher who had the question mark removed from his typewriter ("I deal in certainties"), is dead at the age of 92... [more]
Titanic blunders. They spend so much on authentic sets and costumes for movies. How about a little care for authentic speech?... [more]
A jazz bandleader was asked, "How late does the band play?" — "About half a beat behind the drummer." Turns out it's true... [more]. Could a computer swing?
Since the first one was built in San Luis Obispo, motels have been used not only for sleep, but for illicit sex, planning crimes, and dividing spoils... [more]
Where can a Briton find her native culture as it thrived in the 18th century? Preserved in a remote corner of England? Try Virginia... [more]
Kissing, ugh! Why do booze and mistletoe make people slurp each others' spittle, trading bacteria and chewed peanut fragments? ... [more]
When he walked on stage, his fears, regrets and pains "all disappeared." They have now gone forever for Victor Borge... [NYT]
That Mr. Snowman is fat, lusty, and a symbol of patriarchal control of public space is bad enough. What's worse: he's always white... [more]
Peter Brook can turn an empty space into a stage. His stripped down simplicity is the end product of a long theatrical journey... [more]
A little odor goes a long way. Welcome to the world of the flavorist, a chemical wizard who conjures illusions in the very food we eat... [more]
Unlike most utopian fiction of the past, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward, a mutant hybrid of Victorian sci-fi and political tract, can still grip our attention... [more]
The genome will tell us important things about ourselves, but not why Mozart wrote greater music than Salieri, or Aquinas was deeper than Freddie Ayer... [more]
In developed countries, "we" the people have become "me" the people. Richard Tomkins considers the ugly effects of the triumph of individualism... [more]
Ever since Homer, emotions have had a pretty bad press. Are we slave to their tyranny, or are emotions misunderstood elements of cognition?... [more]
Next time you pass the sleekly clean window of a nail salon, ask, What's going on in there? What are those well-dressed apes doing?... [more]
Whether two men had sex is not an especially literary question. Still, Caleb Crain wonders just what Queequeg and Ishmael got up to under that quilt... [more]
Jacqueline du Pré once stood for spirit, beauty, and bravery. Now her name evokes adultery and bitter anger. Get ready for the next turn in an endless squabble... [more]
Can a TV show replace politics or offer a preferable parallel world, a sort of benign Manchurian candidate? The West Wing might, says Michael Wolff... [more]
"Jazz it up," said Aldous Huxley. "Keep moving. Step on the gas. Say it with dancing." Chris Hitchens meditates on a Victorian who loved Los Angeles... [more]
Romp, giggle, tease, cuddly, spank: Jeanette Winterson considers the nursery-speak of porn, and figures the mad old feminists were right after all... [more]
The tree of life is 3.5 billion years old, and has grown without a nanosecond of disruption. Stephen Jay Gould ponders a metaphorical miracle... [more]
These days a novelist is more likely to be a resting actor, a clapped-out comedian, or a pop star detoxing at a clinic, says Philip Kerr... [more]
T.S. Eliot is a flawed and haunted figure who should be remembered not for what he hid and obscured, but for what he gave and revealed... [more]
As half the languages of the earth totter near death, English thrives with new offshoots: hip-hop, Spanglish, Sea Speak, Weblish... [more]
The similarity of the Talmud and the Internet seems to console Jonathan Rosen for the pain of his identity split... [more]
Scratch a New Age eco-tourist, and you'll likely find a capitalist scumbag lurking just under the surface... [more]
Robert Kaplan's guide to the sensual, vicious, yet civilized oil-rich underbelly of Asia boils away subtlety and complexity... [more]
To make sex boring is hard, but the Freudians, after a century of practice, have mastered the trick, says Paul McHugh... [more]
Michel Houellebecq may well be an intellectual poseur, but his jarring new book, like a traumatic memory, just won't go away... [more]
G.W.F. Hegel was neither apologist for Prussia nor radical subversive, but was instead a moderate progressive, says James Donelan... [more]
A harmless fairground ride, a motel shower, that crow eyeing you from the garden fence: Alfred Hitchcock slipped them deep into our unconscious... [more] ... [yet more]
The moral paradigm for liberal thinking about biotech has problems. Sure, biotech goods ought to be fairly doled out. But can they be?... [more]
Adam Gopnik's Paris is the very place where literate Americans have been going for years to show off their sophistication... [more] ... [yet more]
"I no longer feel free to imagine things," said mafia writer Leonardo Sciascia. "I'm afraid to say things that might happen"... [more]
Anna Deveare Smith's new book lifts us, if only for a moment, out of our quotidian, jazzless lives. Thank you, Prof. Smith. Oh, thank you!... [more]
Montaigne preferred to write without books around. Except for Plutarch: "I cannot be with him even a little without taking out a drumstick or a wing"... [more]
Bluefin tuna would seem an unlikely case of globalization. So why are New England dock workers and Japanese sushi chefs negotiating?... [more]
The nasty bits have been restored to Sylvia Plath's journals: she promises "to kill anyone who is weak, false, sickly in soul."... [more]
However newfangled the computer or efficient the search engine, deep down Web surfers are still foraging cavemen... [more]
An overwhelming desire for a book he should have read long ago has led Ralph Lombreglia on a journey into e-publishing's not so distant past... [more]
Clement Moore was a gloomy prude, pedant, and Bible thumper. And he didn't write The Night Before Christmas. Or did he?... [more]
Alcohol was a great invention of the first civilizations — a form of shared, chemical day-dreaming that tied people together... [more]
Chopin cigarettes, Chopin hotels, Chopin vodka: the Poet of the Piano is big business in Poland, but government is about to shout enough!.... [more]
Yasmina Reza is the most exported playwright on the planet. But is she just a crowd pleasing mistress of Big Ideas Lite? ... [more]
Danielle Steel writes till 3 a.m. each night, then wakes up at 7:00 to make her kids French toast (mothers everywhere may now laugh in unison)... [more]
Schizophrenia is the result neither of faulty genes nor faulty parents. So then what is it, exactly? E. Fuller Torrey smells a cat... [more]
Weird Science. When Max Planck invented quantum theory a century ago, not even he thought his number juggling matched physical reality... [more]
The end of courtship: young, nervous male predators and female trophy hunters act at once casual and carefree, grim and humorless about sex ... [more]
Goebbels kept a diary, as did Queen Victoria. But in our age of instant celebrity who can be bothered with this vital record of manners and history?... [more]
"Of making many books, there is no end," Ecclesiastes reports. Of collecting them, it's even worse, Joseph Epstein has come to think... [more]
"I've seldom been an art critic," says John Berger. "I just try to understand. In front of paintings, I try to draw them, to touch their energy"... [more]
"If you say this art is rubbish, you're saying that the taste of the millions of people who bought it is rubbish," Wayne Hemingway protests. Uh, yes... [more]
Don DeLillo, last of the great medieval masters? Maybe not. But he does do things that have no connection with postmodernism, says Michael Bérubé... [more]
More than any other composer, J.S. Bach was able to show us the immense power of small details in music, says Charles Rosen... [more]
Oscar Wilde argued in his early work that nothing precious can exist without goodness. He might have turned out to be a fine Christian writer, says Adam Kirsch... [more]
The widespread yearning to belong to a small cozy group with special customs and a separate language is familar to Jacques Barzun. He calls it Primitivism... [more]
TV news and punditry is the tribute entertainment pays to democracy's ideal of discourse. It's not research or argument: it's coverage, says Todd Gitlin... [more]
Had the constants of physics been different even by a hair from what they are, the universe would have been a lifeless dud. Does this mean there is a God?... [more]
If the forbidden is essential to exciting sex, and our culture forbids nothing except inequality, we're doomed to boredom in the bedroom, says Daphne Merkin... [more]
Writers reading writing about how to write may look like chasing your tail, but to the desperate, writers' magazines seem to reveal Masonry secrets... [more]
Jorge Luis Borges had no heart, no sex, and no stomach, says Eduardo Galeano. He was all head: a super-smart, patrician, racist head... [more]
Silicon Valley start-up veteran Andreas Ramos says the next dot-com growth area is bankruptcy legal services... [more]. Even the venture capitalists are skeptical.
Is Jean Valjean the same person to be punished at seventy for crimes committed at the age of twenty? Walter Olson meditates on statutes of limitation... [more]
Priests once wielded power by exploiting fear of an unpredictable universe. What about scientists today? Matthew Parris considers global warming... [more]
A machine-gun mishap in the 1950s left Auberon Waugh minus ribs, a lung, and spleen. Odd about the spleen, which he's been venting ever since... [more]
Attitude? Joseph Epstein isn't sure if he has it himself. But his giant, red and white, polka-dot bowtie — now that's got attitude... [more]
We should be wary about giving short shrift to French intellectuals. In some ways, their concerns are more relevant than ever, writes Michael Prowse... [more]
Fabulous food at a diner (that isn't open yet), superb chicken soup at a restaurant (that doesn't serve it). Zagat's survey shows the perils of culinary democracy... [more]
William Hazlitt was England's supreme essayist and brave defender of radical causes. He was also the pathetic victim of his passion for the landlady's daughter... [more]
Mother Nature, damn the old cow, refuses to toe the politically correct line. Consider boys, whose very masculinity is a mental disorder... [more]
Modernism tried mighty hard to kill it off, but storytelling is intrinsic to biological time, which we can't escape, says A.S. Byatt... [more]
John Maynard Keynes claimed to be in "deeply moved agreement" with Hayek's Road to Serfdom and was no great believer in central planning... [more]...[yet more]
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Drop his name in a fashionable literary crowd and you'll get a harsh verdict: "mawkish," "shallow," "trite"... [more]
It's no help to blacks that so many well-meaning whites don't get it: a person you excuse from any genuine challenge is a person you don't truly respect... [more]
Whisper the word "Gatsby" in the ear of a sleeping college student, and she'll murmur back "the decay of the American Dream"... [more]
Clearly stated truth drawn from observation: Tocqueville did for democracy what Euclid did for geometry, Aristotle for drama, Darwin for biology... [more]
Much as her mother before her, Mary Shelley tried to live in a free love ethos — yet another Flower Child who had much to learn ... [more]
When Hungarian students wrote to beg Pablo Picasso in 1956 "to do for Budapest what you have done for Guernica," there was no reply... [more]
Weimar Berlin: cabaret shows of sweaty, perfumed female flesh, child nudist magazines, cocaine, gay clubs, teams of mother-daughter whores... [more]
Orwell and Rimbaud have both been turned into celebrity flacks for our empty, buzzing time — without honor, glory, kingship, or sainthood... [more]
Saul Bellow's writing reaches for life, says James Wood, for the breath of mankind. Joyce is his only 20th-century rival... [more]
James Boswell "had an odd, mock solemnity of tone and manner, acquired imperceptibly from constantly imitating Dr Johnson"... [more]
Dung Ho! The new Histoire de la Merde is a "Prolegomenon to Any Future Crapping," a jeu d'esprit, a tease, a fart... [more]
Beauty and Justice. We love them both, but do they actually help and support each other? Elaine Scarry believes that they do... [more]
When Martin Heidegger speaks as oracle and prophet, he sounds less like Blake or Nietzsche and more like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars... [more]
W.E.B. Du Bois was a tragic hero, a prickly Brahmin who walked with kings but failed to acquire the common touch... [more]
Machiavellian is an odd way to describe the man who said that the greatest princes led their people "out of slavery and into a state of liberty"... [more]
Slug penises are huge. They get tangled and, regrettably, the only way to free them is to bite them off at the base... [more]
A self-taught computer whiz who works out of his converted garage, Steve Grand is quite likely to revolutionize our lives in the next century... [more]
And you thought nipple piercing was as extreme as it got? Well, a black-market leg amputation can cost as much as $10,000 these days... [more]
New French film makers have left behind the fantasies and flashy camerawork of their elders, yet they have not gone back to traditional storytelling... [more]
Question for Peter Singer: if the slow, painful torture of academic philosophers made for a happier world, would it be justified?... [more]...[still more]
"I hope you don't talk about my clothes in any prolonged manner," said social critic Thomas Frank, looking like Tom Wolfe dressed by George Will... [more]
The history of science, Thomas Kuhn wrote, is ''a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions"... [more]
What do art museums want? To preach moral lessons? To ape department stores? Many museums now manifest a terminal fear of art... [more]. Meanwhile, in Russia ...
The holy grail of cryptograms was created by Edgar Allan Poe more than 150 years ago. A Toronto software geek has just deciphered the code... [more]
Philosopher Charles Taylor either knows all there is to know about the self, or he knows all there is to know about everything but the self... [more]
Who painted Rembrandt's works? The question only sounds stupid to those who don't know the Rembrandt Uncertainty Principle... [more] ... a fake's progress.
Young math geniuses: no need to have raised kids or dealt with tragedy to find three numbers whose fourth powers add up to another one... [more]
What exactly causes traffic jams? Many civil engineers have tried to figure this out, but German physicists now feel there is no answer... [more]
Willy Loman needs an heroic actor, says Arthur Miller, one who can bring out humor, lyricism, and irony. This play has arias... [more]
"True" is a nice compliment to pay a sentence you find useful, says Richard Rorty, but truth has nothing to do with the way the world really is... [more]
In the administrative gridlock of Oxford University, any new idea is, alas, either wrong or dangerous. Nothing shall be done for the first time... [more]
Marcel Proust began as a sighing romantic, but survived as comedian and chronicler of capitalist culture. He offered no redemption but the glory of art... [more]
Dr. Seuss boldly refused to sentimentalize kids or treat them with psychobabble. Now here comes Hollywood, turning the Grinch into a victim of childhood trauma... [more]
Full Service: he'll give you a lube and change your oil, but Mahmood is also a mystic, artist, healer, inventor, and thinker... [more]
One word sums up the divide between us and the Romans: public. Their poetry, art, and architecture was for the people, grand and theatrical... [more]
Smart, irreverent, fun, lively: simply put, the gadfly stings of Lingua Franca make the best damned reading an academic could ask for... [more]
Robert Gottlieb, legendary editor, is at the same time madcap and utterly in control, a Lewis Carroll character reworked by Nietzsche... [more]
Is Martha Stewart a robot, gay male icon, Über-housewife, or tough business woman? "People don't know me," she insists... [more]
Eco-pornography? That's what one Canadian environmentalist calls scare stories about the death of North Pacific fauna. Enter Dr. David Suzuki... [more]
Amazon's amateur reviewers were invited to become a community, one of them says, "and then the community was handed over to thugs"... [more]
Susan Sontag's In America is such a clumsy, cliché-ridden book that to mistake for a work of art requires that one not read it... [more]. She's famous for being famous.
When teenage hippie and runaway Paulina Borsook cooked her first turkey, she found out how preparing food can be a human and artistic fulfillment... [more]
The Holocaust has become a moral sedative, a tool for opportunist politicians, and, like Elvis, Marilyn, and Diana, a banal media icon, says Nick Cohen... [more]
Postmodernism, by arguing that all claims are political, erodes our ability to draw distinctions and blinds us to our own decline, says Arthur Pontynen... [more]
As we bed down for eternity, to sleep free from alarm clocks, worms may be less a nuisance than those well-educated ghouls, biographers ... [more]
Who'd have guessed that entry to trendy London clubs would come to be controlled not by brawny men, but by Door Bitches... [more]
Here's a Hollywood scriptwriter who traces his ancestry back through a line of depressives and alcoholics to Charles Darwin. An odd kind of evolution... [more] ... [still more]
People who can't stand pop culture are truly indiscriminate. If you can't tell Poison apart from the Cure, don't waste my time, says Michael Bérubé... [more]
Sylvia Plath tucked a pocket of air between herself and her poems. She was an artist before she was a woman, says Anne Stevenson... [more]
The current luxury boom has a largely unnoticed downside: the struggling middle class can't keep up. Should we care? Robert H. Frank thinks so... [more]
Americans don't know what to do with poetry and art, since for them science is the arbiter of truth. They need to read Martin Heidegger... [more]
The past is a cosy country. As dull, complacent histories flood the market, Stephen Howe wonders why the historian's craft has lost its bite... [more]
Some women may well prefer a life of modesty and obedience, but it's not a choice to be forced on all, says Martha Nussbaum... [more]
"How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon" is a dramatic subtitle for a book. It should be, How a Journalist Tried to Smear Science... [more]
Publishers only promote the titles they've already spent loads of money on. What we hear about in the world of ideas is vetted in boardrooms... [more]
Smoking habits of our ancestors are as much a part of their faded oddity as their strange hats and the strictures of their underwear... [more]
Michel Houellebecq has silly, wild-eyed views, on top of which he piles a few truly repulsive opinions... [more]
Robert Conquest attacks the tyranny of abstract Ideas, and those who would use force to shape our lives unnaturally... [more]
Liza Minnelli was the only little girl in Hollywood with her very own stomach pump. It was for Mommy, of course... [more]
Are you a Nobel wannabe? Some advice: live in the UK, the US or Germany, go to an elite school, choose your problem well, live a long time... [more]
Giacomo Puccini knew how to write for voice and how to pen a good tune. Is it his fault he was so popular?... [more]
Alexis de Tocqueville was a democrat, but a wary one. He knew what atrocities could be carried out in its name... [more]
Education maven Diane Ravitch is a harsh critic of the "whole language" movement and the "new math"... [more]
Isaac Bashevis Singer knew that the shadow of the Holocaust would fall across even the sunniest of his stories... [more]
His mother-in-law would be "skinned alive, dragged over thistles, and tossed into a vat of vinegar." Or so the Marquis de Sade hoped... [more]
Joseph Brodsky's focus on rhyme scheme, often to the neglect of sense and meter, was not an idle choice... [more]
No nation mocks itself better than England. No nation is so proud of its failings, so confident about its lack of confidence... [more]
Can you tell when someone is staring at you, even out of your field of vision? Rupert Sheldrake is sure you can. But hang on a minute... [more]
English professors have a civic duty too, says Harvard's Elaine Scarry, ridiculed for her forays into airline crash research... [more]

The wine industry is at the mercy of a bumpkin named Robert Parker, a critic who looks as if he could wrestle down a bull... [more]
Is it a newspaper's fault if the subjects of its articles choose to commit suicide? Debate is raging at the Cleveland Plain Dealer... [more]
When Doug and Dave showed that it was they, and not little green men, who had created crop circles across Britain, believers still refused... [more]
A "banal, flat-footed" book, or the "heart and majesty of American writing"? Susan Sontag has won the National Book Award... [more]... [yet more]
Listening to a day of WJSV's program for September 21, 1939 delivers a bracing whiff of the crisp, clear air of prewar America... [more]
Aristophanes' plays are rife with ethnic slurs, homophobia, and misogyny. The Victorians didn't mind, but today's students flinch... [more]
Hollywood loves its ETs, and UFO buffs are certain the aliens are out there. Scientists have tended to agree. But now doubts are setting in... [more]
You once eased the pain of missing tenure with your therapist or loved ones. Now, with the Web, you can howl away into the void... [more]
We wouldn't let the Sistine Chapel vanish without trace, says Steven Pinker. And so we must now record the world's vanishing languages... [more]
Will Self combines Kafka and Swift with an obscene phone call. His work seethes with sex, violence, and enough body fluids to fill a swimming pool... [more]
Borges' handwriting almost seems as if it were designed to ruin people's eyesight. Maybe like the effect of his stories on the mind... [more]
Fame and fortune await the person who cracks the greatest problem in math. And the Riemann hypothesis could be proved any day now... [more]
Archeologist Shinichi Fujimura had an uncanny ability to find rare artifacts. But rivals had suspicions, and now they've got him on videotape... [more]... [yet more]


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