Roland on Free Will

From the February 2015 Print Edition

In my dream (if it was a dream), I was roused by a soft, suave, gauzily sonorous voice, hauntingly reminiscent of Laurence Harvey’s. “Are you doing anything just now?” it said. I opened my eyes to see the face of my dog, Roland, bent close over my own. Even in the dim light before . . . . Continue Reading »

Ad Litteram

When lecturing undergraduates on ­Kafka’s Metamorphosis—during his otherwise idyllic American years, when he had to make his principal living in the classroom—Vladimir Nabokov liked to call his students’ attention to those sparse textual clues that made it possible to . . . . Continue Reading »

Ad Litteram

From the January 2015 Print Edition

When lecturing undergraduates on ­Kafka’s Metamorphosis—during his otherwise idyllic American years, when he had to make his principal living in the classroom—Vladimir Nabokov liked to call his students’ attention to those sparse textual clues that made it possible to . . . . Continue Reading »

Should Science Think?

From the December 2014 Print Edition

The question is not quite as facetious as it might sound; it is really rather metaphysical; and it is a question that will ever more inevitably pose itself the more the sciences find themselves constrained rather than liberated by the mechanistic paradigm to which they have been committed for four . . . . Continue Reading »

Roland in Moonlight

From the June/July 2014 Print Edition

In my dream, I had just entered the sitting room of my house. It was still several hours before dawn, but music was quietly playing: I heard the last lines and fading chords of Schubert’s “Der Leiermann,” in the recent recording by Jonas Kaufmann, before silence fell. I was . . . . Continue Reading »

Gods and Gopniks

From the May 2014 Print Edition

Journalism is the art of translating abysmal ignorance into execrable prose. At least, that is its purest and most minimal essence. There are, of course, practitioners of the trade who possess talents of a higher order—the rare ability, say, to produce complex sentences and coherent . . . . Continue Reading »

The Nietzsche of Recanati

From the May 2014 Print Edition

Zibaldoneby giacomo leoparditranslated by kathleen baldwin, richard dixon, david gibbons, ann goldstein, gerard slowey, martin thom, and pamela williamsedited by michael caesar and franco d’intinofarrar, straus and giroux, 2,592 pages, $75In the history of Italian literature, arguably only . . . . Continue Reading »

The Love of Wisdom

From the April 2014 Print Edition

I went in at the sign of The Temulent Termagant (a frowsy slattern asplay in a shallow ditch along the wayside, with toes pointing upward, cheeks feverishly flushed, hair and bonnet and skirts wildly disordered, and a fist angrily raised at a rachitic child hobbling by on crutches). A . . . . Continue Reading »

Roland on Consciousness

From the March 2014 Print Edition

Afew months ago, the morning before my eldest brother was to return home to Norway after a long visit, I dreamed that I had just awakened in the early light of dawn to find my dog Roland sitting at the end of my bed, a bar of softly glaucous shadow—cast by the central casement frame of my . . . . Continue Reading »