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Wild geese in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York City, USA, 2017. Photo by Rebecca Norris Webb from the book Brooklyn, the City Within with Alex Webb/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Nature and landscape
A place of silence

Our cities are filled by the hubbub of human-made noise. Where shall we find the quietness we need to nurture our spirit?

Liam Heneghan

Black clothing, a distracted gaze: the height of Elizabethan fashion. Portrait of Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland (1590-1595), by Nicholas Hilliard. Photo courtesy the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Essay/
Stories and literature
My mistress Melancholy

In The Anatomy of Melancholy, Robert Burton gave his life to charting a Renaissance disease both alluring and dangerous

Mary Ann Lund

Five O'Clock. Plate VII from the series Intimacies (1898), by Félix Edouard Vallotton. Courtesy the Art Institute of Chicago

Essay/
Love and friendship
The joy of intimacy

A polyamorous friend challenges me: are you really happily monogamous or are you just hung up about your philandering dad?

Lily Dunn

Aaron Hernandez of the New England Patriots celebrates a 12-yard touchdown against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI on 5 February 2012. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Essay/
Sports and games
Invisible tattoos

Many athletes are propelled by childhood trauma to succeed, but it’s a toxic myth that healing the wounds blunts the edge

William D Parham

Virginia Woolf pictured at Monk’s House, Sussex, England c1928. Photo courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University

Essay/
Stories and literature
Highbrows and self-helpers

Woolf loathed it but it spurred her on. Hemingway drew ideas of manliness from it. Self-help haunted the modernist imagination

Beth Blum

The Funeral of Shelley (1889), by Louis Édouard Fournier. Photo courtesy the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool/Alamy

Essay/
Rituals and celebrations
Death by design

We can chose how we live – why not how we leave? A free society should allow dying to be more deliberate and imaginative

Daniel Callcut

Moved by fictions: Greta Garbo in Anna Karenina (1935). Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Essay/
Philosophy of language
Making up stuff

A novel, by definition, tells a fictional story – but does that make its author a liar? On the space between stories and lies

Emar Maier

At the World Chess Championships in London, 2013. Photo by Andrew Testa/Panos

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Concentrate!

The challenge of chess – learning how to hold complexity in mind and still make good decisions – is also the challenge of life

Jonathan Rowson