Oct 042010
 

Arts & Letters Daily

ideas, criticism, debate

Manure, wood shavings, hot peanuts, greasepaint, popcorn, burning sugar, sweat, despair: There's nothing like the <strong>smell of the circus</strong>

Manure, wood shavings, hot peanuts, greasepaint, popcorn, burning sugar, sweat, despair: There's nothing like the smell of the circus
 
 

<strong>Cy Twombly</strong> fell for Robert Rauschenberg, an Italian heiress, and, reportedly, his own assistant. His art, like his love life, was inscrutable

Cy Twombly fell for Robert Rauschenberg, an Italian heiress, and, reportedly, his own assistant. His art, like his love life, was inscrutable
 
 

<strong>Precision</strong> "pervades our lives entirely, comprehensively, wholly," says Simon Winchester. But does the abstract concept have a precise history? Yes. It begins in 1776

Precision "pervades our lives entirely, comprehensively, wholly," says Simon Winchester. But does the abstract concept have a precise history? Yes. It begins in 1776
 
 

Sotheby's and spectacle. <strong>Banksy&rsquo;s autoshredding stunt</strong> reinforces how contemporary art is not so much about art but the documentation of an event

Sotheby's and spectacle. Banksy’s autoshredding stunt reinforces how contemporary art is not so much about art but the documentation of an event
 
 

<strong>George Scialabba</strong> is a mind out of time. His temper &mdash; a radical who demonstrates the virtues of conservatism &mdash; is the very opposite of what passes for serious thought these days

George Scialabba is a mind out of time. His temper — a radical who demonstrates the virtues of conservatism — is the very opposite of what passes for serious thought these days
 
 

The pernicious <strong>social dynamics of the internet</strong>. We overshare about our personal lives and fail to understand those of others. Narcissism spreads; empathy vanishes

The pernicious social dynamics of the internet. We overshare about our personal lives and fail to understand those of others. Narcissism spreads; empathy vanishes
 
 

<strong>Descriptions of the future</strong> are hopelessly tied to the gadgets of today. Ideas, not technology, drive the biggest historical changes

Descriptions of the future are hopelessly tied to the gadgets of today. Ideas, not technology, drive the biggest historical changes
 
 

<strong>Gandhi</strong>: Behind the cuddly icon was a relentlessly counterintuitive thinker &mdash; self-sacrifice over self-interest, obligations over rights, dying over killing

Gandhi: Behind the cuddly icon was a relentlessly counterintuitive thinker — self-sacrifice over self-interest, obligations over rights, dying over killing
 
 

What is the point of a <strong>bookish life</strong>? It's not to become knowledgeable or clever, and certainly not to become learned. It is to become wiser

What is the point of a bookish life? It's not to become knowledgeable or clever, and certainly not to become learned. It is to become wiser
 
 

Steven Pinker believes that we take the <strong>Enlightenment&rsquo;s gifts</strong> for granted; Homi Bhabha believes that we must calculate the cost of those gifts. A debate

Steven Pinker believes that we take the Enlightenment’s gifts for granted; Homi Bhabha believes that we must calculate the cost of those gifts. A debate
 
 
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