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Essay/
Sleep and dreams
Broken sleep

People once woke up halfway through the night to think, write or make love. What have we lost by sleeping straight through?

Karen Emslie

Detail from Senecio by Paul Klee. 1922. Oil on gauze. Kunstmuseum, Basel. Photo by Corbis
Essay/
Philosophy of mind
I am not a story

Some find it comforting to think of life as a story. Others find that absurd. So are you a Narrative or a non-Narrative?

Galen Strawson

Photo by Johan  Warden/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Film and visual culture
The reality show

Schizophrenics used to see demons and spirits. Now they talk about actors and hidden cameras – and make a lot of sense

Mike Jay

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in the Forest by Carl Larsson, 1881. Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Essay/
Stories and literature
The good guy/bad guy myth

Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?

Catherine Nichols

Illustration by Matt Murphy

Essay/
Stories and literature
Future reading

Digital books stagnate in closed, dull systems, while printed books are shareable, lovely and enduring. What comes next?

Craig Mod

Achilles slaying Penthesilea. Detail from an amphora, 530-525 BCE. Photo courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum

Essay/
The ancient world
Black Achilles

The Greeks didn’t have modern ideas of race. Did they see themselves as white, black – or as something else altogether?

Tim Whitmarsh

Photo by Stephen Tamiesie/Gallery Stock

Essay/
Neurodiversity
Autism from the inside

Too many depictions of autistic people rely on tired clichés. The neurotypical world needs to take note of our own voices

Katherine May

Slender meanings: ‘Atmosphere is the all-important thing' in weird fiction, wrote H P Lovecraft. Illustration by Lee Moyer

Essay/
Information and communication
Creepypasta

With a flood of dark memes and viral horror stories, the internet is mapping the contours of modern fear

Will Wiles

Photo by Lloyd Arnold/Hulton Archive/Getty
Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
The power of story

Across time and culture, stories have been agents of personal transformation – in part because they change our brains

Elizabeth Svoboda

Detail from Hotel Room (1931) by Edward Hopper. Oil on canvas. Courtesy Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid

Essay/
Cities
Me, myself and I

Loneliness can be a shameful hunger, a shell, a dangerous landscape of shadowy figures. But it is also a gift

Olivia Laing

Female Ghost in the Moonlight. School of Katsushika Hokusai, Kaei era (1848-54) to Ansei era (1854-60). Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Essay/
Stories and literature
Ghosts on the shore

In Japan, ghost stories are not to be scoffed at, but provide deep insights into the fuzzy boundary between life and death

Christopher Harding

Anna and Elsa from Frozen (2013). Image courtesy of Disney Inc. All rights reserved

Essay/
Film and visual culture
Love isn’t what it was

In a strangely unremarked-upon twist, Disney films have taken to subverting romance and rethinking the happy-ever-afters

Sophus Helle

The Bibliophiles, 1879, by Luis Jimenez y Aranda, Private Collection. Photo by Christie's/Bridgeman Images

Essay/
Stories and literature
Bookish fools

The book has always been a sign of status and refinement; a declaration of self-worth – even for those who hate to read

Frank Furedi

Albert Einstein relaxing beside the Baltic Sea in 1928. Photo by AKG London
Essay/
Stories and literature
Thus spake Albert

You probably know a quote from him. He probably never said it. How did Einstein become a touchstone of all that is wise?

Andrew Robinson

Photo by Marianne Gunderson

Essay/
Physics
Parallel worlds

If human history turns on the tilt of the multiverse, can we still trust our ideas of achievement, progress and morality?

Andrew Crumey

‘...the recognition of the irredeemable vanity and falsity of all beauty and all greatness is itself a kind of beauty and greatness that fills the soul.’ Inside the Pantheon, Rome. Photo by Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos

Essay/
Thinkers and theories
The great disillusionist

In an age when so many people are at a loss to give life meaning and direction, Giacomo Leopardi is essential reading

Tim Parks

Elise Hardy/Gamma-Rapho/Getty
Essay/
Mood and emotion
Only the lonely

Loneliness is hell: debilitating yet formative. Can we avoid the pains of loneliness yet enjoy the pleasures of solitude?

Cody Delistraty

Photo by Brooke Anderson Photography/Getty

Essay/
Language and linguistics
Who decides what words mean

Bound by rules, yet constantly changing, language might be the ultimate self-regulating system, with nobody in charge

Lane Greene