Romanian Philosopher Emil Cioran on the Courage to Disillusion Yourself

Emil Cioran “The man who unmasks his fictions renounces his own resources and, in a sense, himself. Consequently, he will accept other fictions which will deny him, since they will not have cropped up from his own depths.” BY MARIA POPOVA “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster,” James Baldwin wrote in a staggeringly prescient piece from 1953. And yet shutting our eyes is how we humans have coped, again and again, with our own discomfort … Continue reading Romanian Philosopher Emil Cioran on the Courage to Disillusion Yourself

Philosophy must be useful

Frank Ramsey, pictured in 1925 above Buttermere Lake in England’s Lake District. Photograph by Lettice Ramsey. With thanks to Stephen Burch For Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, much of philosophy was mere nonsense. Then came Frank Ramsey’s pragmatic alternative by Cheryl Misak is professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. She is the author of Cambridge Pragmatism: From Peirce and James to Ramsey and Wittgenstein (2016). Her biography of Frank Ramsey (Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers) will be published by Oxford University Press in 2019. Edited by Sam Dresser Vienna in the 1920s was an exciting place. Politically, it was the time of … Continue reading Philosophy must be useful

9 weird and terrifying monsters from Japanese mythology

From animated umbrellas to polite-but-violent turtle-people, Japan’s folklore contains some extremely creative monsters. by Matt Davis Compared to Japan’s menagerie of creatures, Western folklore can feel a little drab. The collection of yōkai—supernatural beasts or spirits—has a staggering amount of variety. Although there are many more creative folkloric creatures, here are nine that caught our attention. Like any culture, Japan has its fair share of folkloric creatures. But to Westerners, whose folklore tends to recycle the same variations on witches, goblins, orcs, and dragons, Japan’s bestiary of creatures can be staggeringly varied. Out of the hundreds of yōkai—or supernatural beings—here’s just nine … Continue reading 9 weird and terrifying monsters from Japanese mythology

The Feud That Birthed the Electric Guitar

Jimi Hendrix performs in Stockholm in May 1967.AFP / GETTY IMAGES Les Paul and Leo Fender were fierce competitors. Their rivalry led them both in the same direction—toward the creation of the solid-bodied instrument that changed the course of rock music. by JAMES PARKER “More circuitry was necessary.”How is it that in a book as rich in description, as full of imagist sound-summonings, spot-on human characterizations, and erotic paeans to the bodies of guitars as Ian S. Port’s The Birth of Loud, this rather bald little line should be my favorite? Two reasons, I think. First, it comes at a mythic … Continue reading The Feud That Birthed the Electric Guitar

How to Rewire Your Broken Behavioral Patterns: Shakespeare’s Advice on Acquiring Better Habits

Depiction of William Shakespeare from an 1889 art edition of his comedies, tragedies, histories, and sonnets. “Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” BY MARIA POPOVA “The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us,”Mary Oliver wrote in contemplating how habit gives shape to our inner lives. “Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar,” William James asserted a century earlier in his foundational treatise on the psychology of habit. But if our habits incline more toward vice more toward virtue, what does it take to reconfigure our scarring patterns? That is what William Shakespeare — another … Continue reading How to Rewire Your Broken Behavioral Patterns: Shakespeare’s Advice on Acquiring Better Habits

The “Problem” of Religious Diversity

Illustration by Ray Zim We need a less theological—and more spiritual—defense of religious diversity. By Rita M. Gross To tell the truth, I have no idea which element of my hyphenated identity as a Buddhist practitioner and a scholar of comparative religions is more prominent in my conviction that religious diversity, which also includes indifference to organized religions, is simply a normal, natural aspect of life. Yet I was brought up to think that it was a huge problem. At some point, fairly early in my life, it just became ludicrous to me to think that of all the people on … Continue reading The “Problem” of Religious Diversity

Economics as a moral tale

US President Bill Clinton standing in Red Square during a Moscow summit in January 1994.  Photo by Diana Walker/Time Life Pictures/Getty The development sector set out to summon the magic of capitalism from the ashes of communism. How is it going? John Rapley is a political economist at the University of Cambridge, as well as a journalist and co-creator of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute in Jamaica. His latest book is Twilight of the Money Gods: Economics as a Religion and How it all Went Wrong (2017). He lives in London. Edited by Sam Haselby Think of human development as a long journey. At … Continue reading Economics as a moral tale