The coming-of-age con
How can you go about finding ‘who you really are’ if the whole idea of the one true self is a big fabrication?
Mata Hari uncovered
Dancer, courtesan, spy: on the centenary of her execution, how much do we really know about the woman behind the legend?
Agony in the agora
Democracy, by nature, is a contest between clashing political desires. That is why the public square matters so much
Can novelists or psychologists better capture the strange multitude of realities in every human self?
The anger of Achilles
Homer’s warrior is no mere tragic human figure: fuelled by anger, he is at once a man of honour and a sword of the gods
Return of the grotesque
The postmodern carnival has arrived, and there are good reasons to prefer François Rabelais’s version
End-times for humanity
Humanity is more technologically powerful than ever before, and yet we feel ourselves to be increasingly fragile. Why?
The truth about tarot
Whether divining ancient wisdoms or elevating the art of cold reading, tarot is a form of therapy, much like psychoanalysis
Sands of time
The North Sea is rich in signs of what made the modern world. It's also a monument to what awaits us in the Anthropocene
What’s so new about news?
The interesting thing about news has never been its truth or falsehood but how it explodes our sense of onrushing time
The cosmology of Poe
Drawing on intuition, Edgar Allan Poe offered some remarkably prescient ideas about the universe in his poem 'Eureka'
Watchers of the earth
Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters. Scientists are now listening
Walk the lines
Can walking the city streets still be liberating, when every path is paved with literary quotations and artistic prefiguring?
The real Casanova
His name is synonymous with serial seduction but Casanova's memoirs reveal a man greater than the sum of his ‘conquests’
Literature can enthuse medicine, and medicine can inspire literature. They are complementary treatments for being human