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Culture

Essays and videos on the arts, literature, travel, rituals and celebrations
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Life stages

What Michelangelo’s late-in-life works reveal about his genius – and his humanness

13 minutes

Mist-covered city skyline with a calm, reflective body of water in the foreground under a grey sky.
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Pleasure and pain

Eulogy for silence

Tinnitus is like a constant scream inside my head, depriving me of what I formerly treasured: the moments of serene quiet

Diego Ramírez Martín del Campo

Four young girls in dresses smile outside, with one holding a small cat.
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Biography and memoir

Preserving memories of a Japanese internment camp, and the land where it stood

8 minutes

Close-up of a hammer, metal pot, and three rounded wooden objects on a stone surface, with a hand holding the hammer.
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Making

Trek to a remote Himalayan village where artisans craft teapots fit for kings

11 minutes

Intricate artwork of robed women with long, flowing hair in a forest, surrounding a glowing, veiled woman adorned with flowers.
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Beauty and aesthetics

All aquiver

The Decadent movement taught that you should live your life with the greatest intensity – a dangerous and thrilling challenge

Kate Hext

Cyclists in a professional race riding in rainy conditions. The leading cyclist in a blue jersey raises his arms in victory, with other cyclists closely following behind on the wet road. Everyone is wearing helmets and sunglasses for protection.
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Sports and games

Performance-enhancing vices

Selfishness channels ambition, envy drives competition, pride aids the win. Does it take a bad person to be a good athlete?

Sabrina Little

Sepia photograph of the poet with long curly hair and a full beard and moustache. He wears a white shirt and dark suit, and has a thoughtful expression.
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Stories and literature

To capture grief in poetry is to describe the ineffable. Here’s why Tennyson did it best

8 minutes

A person with light blonde hair, wearing a dark hoodie, stands on a cliff by the sea, holding a bird. The sea is rough with waves crashing against the rocks, and several rock formations are visible in the misty background.
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Childhood and adolescence

The unique fellowship between teens and young puffins on a remote Icelandic island

20 minutes

A colourful, abstract image featuring a large, black and white bird in flight. The background is a swirling mix of purple, orange, and yellow hues. A small figure of a child walks in the distance, casting a long shadow.
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Ageing and death

Peregrinations of grief

A friend and a falcon went missing. In pain, I turned to ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ – and found a new vision of sorrow and time

Emily Polk

Medieval manuscript illustration of a dragon with a red head, green and blue wings, and a snake-like tail, standing on a hill. The dragon is bordered by a decorative green frame with circular patterns and a blue border with white rings. The background features golden leaf motifs.
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Animals and humans

Why be dragons? How massive, reptilian beasts entered our collective imagination

58 minutes

Open books arranged in a grid with pages featuring bright, hand-painted floral designs, around a drawing of a loaf of bread.
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Rituals and celebrations

Flirtation, negotiation and vodka – or how to couple up in 1950s rural Poland

5 minutes

A historical painting of a woman in a detailed blue and silver gown with lace sleeves. She wears a pearl necklace and a hat adorned with white and pink flowers. The background features a golden tapestry and dark pillars.
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Stories and literature

Her blazing world

Margaret Cavendish’s boldness and bravery set 17th-century society alight, but is she a feminist poster-girl for our times?

Francesca Peacock

Close-up image of a hand holding a pile of vibrant red powder, possibly a spice or pigment, displaying a textured and granular surface. The background is blurred, ensuring the focus remains on the red powder and the hand.
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Biology

How the world’s richest reds are derived from an innocuous Mexican insect

5 minutes

A black-and-white photo of a group of men sitting close together, some with mouths open as if singing or speaking. In the blurry background, additional people are seated around a table. The scene appears to be inside a room with a warm, communal atmosphere.
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Music

Folk music was never green

Don’t be swayed by the sound of environmental protest: these songs were first sung in the voice of the cutter, not the tree

Richard Smyth

Illustration of soldiers in action, with one leading the charge and another crawling forward. Both wear military uniforms with helmets and carry rifles. The background is a vibrant red, enhancing the sense of urgency and movement.
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Stories and literature

On Jewish revenge

What might a people, subjected to unspeakable historical suffering, think about the ethics of vengeance once in power?

Shachar Pinsker

A serene landscape of snowy trees and hills set against a backdrop of a yellow sky and blue mountain range, with a bird flying by.
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Stories and literature

Robert Frost’s poetic reflection on youth, as read in his unforgettable baritone

5 minutes

Two wooden chairs with a unique, organic design stand in a lush garden surrounded by green plants and yellow flowers. A small tree in the background appears to be pruned in an artistic manner, enhancing the natural aesthetic.
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Design and fashion

Sitting on the art

Given its intimacy with the body and deep play on form and function, furniture is a ripely ambiguous artform of its own

Emma Crichton Miller

Two people with backpacks reach towards each other with extended arms but are not touching. The text on the image reads ‘How do we touch when we can’t?’
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Film and visual culture

‘Bags here are rarely innocent’ – how filmmakers work around censorship in Iran

8 minutes

Colourful illustration of the Mad Hatter holding a clock showing 13 o’clock. His eyes are spirals. The background is filled with small images of the same character.
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Consciousness and altered states

Acid media

How perforated squares of trippy blotter paper allowed outlaw chemists and wizard-alchemists to dose the world with LSD

Erik Davis

A woman stands against a white wall, in a red top and blue jeans, extending an open hand forward. Subtitles at the bottom read ‘Let me show you.’
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Language and linguistics

Closed captions suck. Here’s one artist’s inventive project to make them better

8 minutes

A person is sitting on the edge of a traditional Japanese building, looking out at a lush garden. Sunlight illuminates the foliage, creating a serene atmosphere.
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Architecture

The celebrated architect who took inspiration from sitting, waiting and contemplating

29 minutes

Ancient cave painting depicting bison and other animals, primarily in red and black hues, on a textured stone surface that shows visible cracks.
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Archaeology

Why make art in the dark?

New research transports us back to the shadowy firelight of ancient caves, imagining the minds and feelings of the artists

Izzy Wisher

Two men sit talking on a wooden beam by a dock. One is in jeans, the other wears a coat and holds a small item. A cargo ship, a bridge and a warehouse are in the background.
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Stories and literature

Do liberal arts liberate?

In Jack London’s novel, Martin Eden personifies debates still raging over the role and purpose of education in American life

Nick Romeo

A young girl in a helmet and with a skateboard stands in a skatepark. Behind her is a hand-drawn reclining figure.
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Subcultures

Drop into London’s eclectic skate scene, where newbies and old-timers find community

5 minutes