What is hell?

The idea of hell has evolved over millennia. Where did it come from, and why does it endure? A brief history of eternal punishment…
The idea of hell has evolved over millennia. Where did it come from, and why does it endure? A brief history of eternal punishment… [More]

Medieval maps

Mapmaking mystery. How did a 13th-century cartographer do work so accurate that you could still navigate the Mediterranean with it?…
Mapmaking mystery. How did a 13th-century cartographer do work so accurate that you could still navigate the Mediterranean with it?… [More]

On G. K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton inveighed against pessimism, determinism, pragmatism, even impressionism. Yes, Impressionism: “It puts what one notices above what one knows”…
G.K. Chesterton inveighed against pessimism, determinism, pragmatism, even impressionism. Yes, Impressionism: “It puts what one notices above what one knows”… [More]

Fish tale

The self-invention of Herman Melville. In Polynesia, as in the settings of his early books, he made it up as he went along…
The self-invention of Herman Melville. In Polynesia, as in the settings of his early books, he made it up as he went along… [More]

Conspiracy theorists

The problem with conspiracy theorists isn’t that they lack information. The problem is that they lack intellectual character…
The problem with conspiracy theorists isn’t that they lack information. The problem is that they lack intellectual character… [More]

Pinker is wrong about violence and war

It’s nice to think that humankind is becoming more empathetic and selfless. And less violent. But is it true? John Gray takes aim at optimism…
It’s nice to think that humankind is becoming more empathetic and selfless. And less violent. But is it true? John Gray takes aim at optimism… [More]

On Raymond Williams

Read Raymond Williams. Only a coterie of Marxists, academics, students, and wonderful oddballs like Geoff Dyer still do. Too bad…
Read Raymond Williams. Only a coterie of Marxists, academics, students, and wonderful oddballs like Geoff Dyer still do. Too bad… [More]

Alice Dreger, reluctant crusader

A pernicious groupthink has infected certain branches of science, in which identity and politics trump inquiry and evidence. Ask Alice Dreger…
A pernicious groupthink has infected certain branches of science, in which identity and politics trump inquiry and evidence. Ask Alice Dreger… [More]

Saving fairy tale

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm expected to be remembered long after their deaths – for their masterful philological studies, not their fairy tales…
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm expected to be remembered long after their deaths – for their masterful philological studies, not their fairy tales… [More]

Who was Sappho?

The Sappho wars. For three millennia, the life of the poet has been the center of controversy. But how relevant is her biography to her work?…
The Sappho wars. For three millennia, the life of the poet has been the center of controversy. But how relevant is her biography to her work?… [More]