more » , he mortgaged his farm and worked on a manuscript. It's justified, but it's not the reason undergraduates aren't getting the education they deserve... more » A tour through the maddeningly tedious canon of books by dictators leads one to ask: Does a savage autocrat lurk within every dreadful writer? The question once distinguished little magazines from think tanks, but that has changed... more » An aesthete traipsing nimbly through an age of brutal rupture.

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But there is probably no more noise than there used to be. Why does posture attract such philosophical attention? more » Derided by Dadaists and Surrealists and hijacked by contemporary narcissism, beauty is an idea that's been up and down. But this is less a solution to the “hard problem” than a window through which to see it...

The CIA even produces a partly classified journal devoted to the spy novel: Precious and lilting, odd and interminable pauses, hanging in the air like "a thick cloud of oratorial perfume." What, exactly, is Poet Voice? more » Life is a cacophony — cellphones, TVs, traffic. more » For Plato, uprightness made us human; for Kant, people were inherently bent; Hegel worried about stiffness. more » “The evil opinions and acts of Baruch de Spinoza.” At the age of 23, the future philosopher was expelled from his Jewish community. He was also, it turns out, complicit in the Nazi killing machine... more » Julia Kristeva's alleged collaboration with the Bulgarian secret police is unfortunate but understandable. more » Consciousness is an instinct, says Michael Gazzaniga.

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more » The private writing of Roland Barthes reveals his crushes, his musical and literary preferences, and his desired thesis adviser — Claude Lévi-Strauss, who turned him down... His works have resurfaced with surprising frequency. Despite the ministrations of academics, Joseph Conrad endures as a modern master of a tragic sense of life... more » For decades Thomas Kuhn struggled to square the thought of an independent reality with the thesis of a changing world. more » In higher education, the ubiquity of innovation-speak masks a dearth of actual innovation. But what explains the gap between his popularity and the middling esteem in which he is held by critics? more » Do the sex lives of Surrealists tell us anything about their paintings? But it does make for wonderfully bizarre — if somewhat frivolous — reading... more » How many spaces — one or two — to leave after a period at the end of a sentence? more » Chekhov, Beckett, Woolf, Poe — all childless. more » Joyce’s Dublin, Dos Passos’ New York, Woolf’s London, Proust’s Paris, Kafka’s Prague: How writers don't merely describe a city but reconstruct it... One project dominated his thinking: Every generation of intellectuals finds a way of coming to terms with the limits of its agency. “Beggar is jealous of beggar and poet of poet,” wrote Hesiod...

more » No one questions Oscar Hammerstein’s historical significance. Genius is contingent — precarious, rare, magical... Thompson lit dynamite under beer kegs, sprayed unsuspecting people with Mace, blasted his assistant with a shotgun... He ducked landlords, always lost at roulette, and pawned his wife’s dowry and their clothing.

more » The dominant image of Samuel Beckett is that of a man not merely apolitical but antipolitical, a disengaged pessimist offering disempowering despair. more » “Past results are no guarantee of future performance, yet in book publishing they are pretty damn reliable.” Is a minor writer destined to a career of mediocrity?

So how to explain the proliferation of pointless jobs? An affair with Proust, who called him Tom Wolfe was the great statustician, exposing the pretensions, hypocrisies, fraudulence, and anxieties of others. more » Jordan Peterson has much to say about masculine despair. more » Deontologists, consequentialists, virtue ethicists. Philosophers are hopelessly divided on how to reach the truth about morality ... more » Philip Roth, master chronicler of the American berserk, is dead.

more » was so insatiable, copies were rented out at hourly rates... more » Sylvia Plath's correspondence fills 1,424 pages. “A strangely brilliant Black boy who had read everything," said Langston Hughes, "and whose critical mind could find something wrong with everything he read”...

David Graeber on the bullshitization of academic life... more » How did Gershom Scholem, an expert on obscure Jewish texts, become not just a historian or even theologian, but a prophet? more » Wallace Thurman: editor, novelist, playwright.

Britain’s postwar painters had a talent for taboo-breaking...