The Beetle and the Fly

Why are stories about entomological transformation a mainstay in the canon? The premise is hopeful, if creepy. David Cronenberg wants to be a dragonfly…
Why are stories about entomological transformation a mainstay in the canon? The premise is hopeful, if creepy. David Cronenberg wants to be a dragonfly… [More]

Joy of literary destruction

Novelty and the novel. Innovative writers – Cervantes, Swift – don’t merely create stylistic forms; they create new ways to tell the truth…
Novelty and the novel. Innovative writers – Cervantes, Swift – don’t merely create stylistic forms; they create new ways to tell the truth… [More]

What does anxiety mean?

Reinhold Niebuhr called anxiety “the inevitable spiritual state of man”; Freud called it a riddle. But it isn’t either one. It’s an illness…
Reinhold Niebuhr called anxiety “the inevitable spiritual state of man”; Freud called it a riddle. But it isn’t either one. It’s an illness… [More]

Humanities and Us

“Atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin”…
“Atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin”… [More]

The Paratext’s the Thing

Epigraphs, webisodes, DVD extras, tweets, bloopers: Distractions have morphed into the main attraction. Welcome to the world of paratexts…
Epigraphs, webisodes, DVD extras, tweets, bloopers: Distractions have morphed into the main attraction. Welcome to the world of paratexts… [More]

Kafka and surveillance

Privacy is passé, surveillance is the norm, personal data are not our own. Who would feel at home in our world of secret bureaucracies? Of course: Kafka…
Privacy is passé, surveillance is the norm, personal data are not our own. Who would feel at home in our world of secret bureaucracies? Of course: Kafka… [More]

What Is It About Middlemarch?

The moral case for literature lacks evidence: Novels can’t really teach us how to be good, right? But then we come across Middlemarch…
The moral case for literature lacks evidence: Novels can’t really teach us how to be good, right? But then we come across Middlemarch… [More]

Arts and Crafts movement

Here comes the maker movement, an agile band of tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers. You, too, can join. All you need is a credit card and an appetite for vulgar hustling…
Here comes the maker movement, an agile band of tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers. You, too, can join. All you need is a credit card and an appetite for vulgar hustling… [More]

Scientific ideas to be retired

Old notions – about art, addiction, love, truth – are not easily cast off. But it’s time to clear some detritus: What idea is ready for retirement?…
Old notions – about art, addiction, love, truth – are not easily cast off. But it’s time to clear some detritus: What idea is ready for retirement?… [More]

True picture of Picasso

Late in life, Georges Braque was asked about his friend Picasso. “Pablo? Oh, Pablo used to be a good painter; now he’s just a genius.” Braque had a point…
Late in life, Georges Braque was asked about his friend Picasso. “Pablo? Oh, Pablo used to be a good painter; now he’s just a genius.” Braque had a point… [More]