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Foucault’s Principalities & Powers

In the late 1960s, a sociologist described French theorist ­Michel Foucault (1926–1984) as “a sort of frail, gnarled samurai who was dry and hieratic, who had the eyebrows of an albino and a somewhat sulfurous charm, and whose avid and affable curiosity intrigued everyone.” Claude Mauriac, . . . . Continue Reading »

Beyond the Grave

The idea that one can report on one’s own death is paradoxical, if not preposterous. As ­Epicurus wrote in his Letter to Menoeceus, “When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not.” To which Woody Allen added the ­footnote, “I don’t mind dying . . . as long as I . . . . Continue Reading »

From Sirens to Song

At first, I didn’t notice the sirens. As a medical doctor, I’d grown used to electronic distress calls. Besides, I live in New York City. Ambulance whines and taxi horns are the treble and tenor lines of urban music. My eight-year-old pointed them out. “Coronavirus,” she said, as an . . . . Continue Reading »

The Final Enemy

Human mortality has always fascinated the greatest ­creative minds—from Homer declaiming on the slayings of Patroclus and Hector, to Sigmund Freud speculating on death drives. Roger Scruton even locates the significance of artistic endeavor in the fact that we understand our existence to be . . . . Continue Reading »

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