John Beckman: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Americans!

pirates__in_an_adventure_with_scientists_2

Blackbeard in Smoke and Flames, Frank E. Schoonover, 1922 by John Beckman While writing an early draft of my recent book, American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt, I became impatient with the Northeastern cultural glacier that stretched between the wild party that was 1620s Merry Mount and obstreperous 1760s Boston. 140 years of mirthless…

Read More

Dead Thought-Forms Talk

breer31

“The music of Mendelssohn” by Benjamin Breen “I have always considered myself a voice of what I believe to be a greater renaissance — the revolt of the soul against the intellect — now beginning in the world,” wrote William Butler Yeats to his mentor, the Irish nationalist John...

Read More

Eugenia Herbert on Julia Margaret Cameron

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has long evoked interest not only because of her distinctive style but also because of her eccentric personality, her dominant — very dominant...

Read More

Around the World With Elizabeth Bisland

On the morning of November 14, 1889, John Brisben Walker, the wealthy publisher of the monthly magazine The Cosmopolitan, boarded a New Jersey ferry bound for New York City. Like many other New Yorkers, he was carrying a copy of The World, the most widely read and influential newspaper...

Read More

Lisa Rosner: No Bones About Rapping

Located in a historic building in Philadelphia, The Mütter Museum attracts a steady stream of visitors to its exhibits in medical history. Describing its exhibits as “Disturbingly Informative,” the museum’s highlights include a collection of skulls and other body parts put together by physicians; a startlingly large and varied...

Read More

To Jenny Diski, the 1950s seem a pale dove gray…

by Jenny Diski Family Britain by David Kynaston, Walker & Company, 776 pp. Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II,  by A. N. Wilson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 482 pp. I was born in central London in 1947, a child in a very special generation. In no time at...

Read More

Woodrow Wilson and Race by Eric S. Yellin

Woodrow Wilson, 1919 by Eric S. Yellin Progress is never inevitable, even in reform eras. The United States at the turn of the twentieth century was in a progressive mood. It was a time in which the nation’s leaders tackled some of modern life’s most vexing problems: from taming...

Read More

Michael B. Katz: Back to Poverty

In retrospect, the late 1980s, when the first version of The Undeserving Poor was written, appear a paradoxically optimistic moment for those of us concerned about mounting an attack on poverty. True, Republicans retained the presidency; public benefits had taken a hard blow; trade unions reeled under a savage...

Read More

Barbara Newman: Romance

Near the end of Susanna Clarke’s magical history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, comes a peculiarly chilling scene. A magician named Childermass, riding through a wood festooned with corpses, arrives at the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart. Before the castle stands a champion who defends its lady...

Read More

Man

Frederick Douglass, 1852 From The New York Times: Upon arriving at the White House, Douglass found “the stairway was crowded with applicants … and as I was the only dark spot among them, I expected to have to wait at least half a day.” But within two minutes he...

Read More

Jill Norgren: American Women Pioneers of Law

Belva Lockwood by Jill Norgren No woman shall degrade herself by practicing law…if I can save her. I think the clack of those possible Portias will never be heard at Dwight’s moot courts. “Women’s Rights-women” are uncommonly loud & offensive of late. I loathe the lot. — George Templeton...

Read More

Joseph Banks excelled at controlling his public image…

Figure 1: “The Fly-Catching Macaroni” (1772), engraved by Whipcord, published by M. Darly (from the New York Public Library, not openly licensed) – Source. by Patricia Fara Benjamin Robert Haydon, the artist who helped bring the Elgin marbles to the British Museum, was scathing about portraiture. It is, he...

Read More

John O’Malley: Trent

Council of Trent, Pasquale Cati, 1588 by John O’Malley Most people have heard of the Council of Trent, and probably most of what they have heard is negative. It was a church council convoked to condemn the Reformation. It initiated a repressive epoch in Catholic countries and opposed everything...

Read More

Alexander McGregor: Cuban Machismo

Following the sheer, inviolable force of gravity that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, so much freedom was promised to the people, who in turn expected so much liberty, and yet the revolutionary soil proved infertile. In the construction of a genuinely socialist state, shaped upon Bolivarian principles,...

Read More

Christopher Beckwith: Disputed Questions

The lone survivor of traditional Western European ‘scientific’ culture is science. It has survived because it is now the handmaid of technology, without which contemporary civilization would collapse utterly. Anyone who doubts this should try to get a research grant for genuinely “pure” research.

Read More

Bakkheia!

Acratophorus, ("giver of unmixed wine"), at Phigaleia in Arcadia. Acroreites at Sicyon. Adoneus ("ruler") in his Latinised, Bacchic cult.

Read More

John Gaffney: Hitler’s ‘Something’

The stunning spectacle of mass hero-worship in the Third Reich is compelling, in particular, the sight of unbridled joy at these mass rallies. This is even more so given that we – unlike those smiling faces - know what happened next, the nightmare of World War II and the...

Read More

Ronald Hendel: Genesis as Magical Realism

It occurred to me that Genesis is such a supreme fiction, or perhaps it is the supreme fiction in western culture, which begat many others.  For thousands of years this book has been the mirror or lamp that reveals what reality consists of – regarding the nature of human...

Read More
Marcel-Duchamp-Leaving-the-Cafe-1

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie
Duchamp-smoking-through-the-cracked-glass

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

Read More
fp

Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

Read More
Ernst_Ludwig_Kirchner

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

Read More
ramirez1fullsize

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

Read More
MashaTheDevilProbably

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

Read More
ron-sky-rat-cover

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

Read More
chinua

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

Read More
Masha Tupitsyn
sickert

No one can love anymore because of an overabundance of reaction formation. No one wants to owe anything to their desire(s); to other people’s...

Read More
Hearn1

How could a man born on a Greek island in 1850 be a household name in Japan today? The answer lies in the story...

Read More
kentridge1

Jean Améry titled his renowned book on voluntary death, Hand an Sich Legen – To lay Hands on Oneself. Beyond the argument of Amery...

Read More
letters

Several months ago, I wrote a long letter by hand to a young woman I barely knew. That sounds pretty dubious, if not to...

Read More
Kemmler

In a move that might strike readers as odd, Derrida spends most of these lectures not on the case made by death penalty proponents,...

Read More
proust

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

Read More