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France's Tragic Song

From the April 2022 Print Edition

This year, France’s presidential election is being fought almost entirely on the terrain of national identity. Not on the question of who is best suited to govern France, but on the ­question of what France even is to begin with. So much public discourse circles on the same questions: Are we . . . . Continue Reading »

Grander and Weirder

From the January 2022 Print Edition

The Ur-Bororo are the most boring people in the world. Their entire population, which is not large, lives in “dwelling sheds,” rectangular clapboard houses in the depths of the Amazon rainforest. Other jungle tribes tend to decorate their bodies with elaborate tattoos, lip plugs, or ritual . . . . Continue Reading »

It's Not All In Your Head

From the December 2021 Print Edition

Emma Eckstein was a bleeder: She liked to bleed. She wanted to empty herself out into the world. She was sick and dying, because that was what she desired. This isn’t my interpretation; it’s the analysis offered by her doctor, one Sigmund Freud. Emma was one of Freud’s first patients, but she . . . . Continue Reading »

Infinite Hitlers

From the Aug/Sept 2021 Print Edition

In 1980, the soldiers of the Third Reich took Bolivia. After the huge tank battles that had brought about the final victory in Europe, South America was something more like a police operation—in fact, the conquest of the country was led not by the ­Wehrmacht, but by a Hauptsturmführer of the . . . . Continue Reading »

On Demons

From the June/July 2021 Print Edition

According to the Talmud, the demons are more numerous than we are. “They stand over us like mounds of earth surrounding a pit.” Rav Huna teaches that “each and every one of us has a thousand demons to his left and ten thousand to his right.” Abba Binyamin tells us that “if the eye had the . . . . Continue Reading »