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Detail from Beethoven Frieze, Hostile Forces (1902) by Gustav Klimt, on display at the Secession Building, Vienna. Courtesy Wikipedia

Essay/
Music
Vienna, city of paradox

How did the city of elegant classicism give birth to an explosive modernism, threatening to destroy its very traditions?

Alexander Carpenter

Two girls with their Cabbage Patch dolls. New York City, 1986. Photo by Leonard Freed/Magnum

Essay/
Mood and emotion
The bittersweet madeleine

It is a guilty pleasure and undergirds nationalist bombast, yet nostalgia for the past can help propel us into the future

Elizabeth Svoboda

‘Culling Tea’ (c1869), attributed to Lai Fong (or Afong, Chinese, 1839-90). Courtesy The Met Museum, New York

Essay/
Economic history
Tea and capitalism

The China tea trade was a paradox: a global, intensified industry without the usual spectacle of factories and technology

Andrew Liu

Honeybees collect nectar from an Eryngium plant at Great Dixter in Northiam, East Sussex, on 4 August 2013. Photo by Chris Helgren/Reuters

Essay/
Animals and humans
The accidental beekeeper

The gift of a half-wanted hive took me into the world of bees, kept and wild: a place of generosity and attentiveness

Helen Jukes

The Avenue at Middelharnis (1689), by Meindert Hobbema. Courtesy the National Gallery, London

Essay/
The environment
We are nature

Spinoza helps diagnose the bad ideas and sad passions that preclude us from a finer relationship with the natural world

Beth Lord

Seamen relaxing on the HMS Pallas, April 1775. Early depictions of common seamen are exceedingly rare; this one is from an album of watercolours by Second Lieutenant Gabriel Bray aboard the ship. Courtesy the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Essay/
Oceans and water
Who was Jack Tar?

He was a patriot and a prisoner, a delegate and a drunk; circling the globe when few Englishmen ever left their home counties

Stephen Taylor

Valparaíso, Chile, 1992. From Sergio Larrain’s Valparaiso. Courtesy of Magnum Photos

Essay/
Psychiatry and psychotherapy
Intimate strangers

By chance, I grew up without a father. As an adult, I chose to meet him. Through the prism of this event, life slowly made sense

Vincenzo Di Nicola

Uummannaq Fjord in Northern Greenland. Photo by Ciril Jazbec/National Geographic

Essay/
Anthropology
We are wayfinders

Navigation and spatial awareness sustained humans for tens of thousands of years. Have we lost the trail in modern times?

Michael Bond