The New Political Economy and Its Culture

Richard Sennett

I look at the practice of democracy not so much as a fixed set of procedural requirements, but as a process that needs to have certain kinds of symbolic markers and consummations that define where people are in relation to each other.

The Commodification of Self

Joseph E. Davis

The shaping and conditioning of our self-understanding by consumption is one form of the commodification of self. 

From the Editors

Joseph E. Davis and Jennifer L. Geddes

The rate of change, the kinds of change, and the scope of change taking place today are impossible to understand without also looking at the ways they are affecting societies and how we understand and experience ourselves and others.

Moodiness

Harvie Ferguson

We no longer experience a world, or sense ourselves as the subject of that experience; we are, rather, shrouded and carried along in the moodiness of the present.

From Inwardness to Intravidualism

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn

The available terms for making better sense of the human predicament are plentiful, but most are currently buried beneath layers of exhausted soil.

The Shifting Experience of Self

Joseph E. Davis

We know very little about what we are doing, why we do it, or how we feel about it.

The Ghost of Kinsey Past

From the Editors

The Kinsey agenda remains alive as key justifications for counting up sexual acts.

On Technology and Humanity

Daniel Doneson

The unscientific foundation of science and technology is in need of wisdom, practical and theoretical, about human ends.

Sacred Reading

Chad Wellmon

With the rise of humanism and modern critical scholarly practices in subsequent centuries, texts began to be treated as material objects to be fixed and plumbed for meaning.

Lessons from the Ring—Then and Now

Gordon Marino

Coming to terms with our most basic instincts is another thing we learn through boxing.

Liberated as Hell

Brent Cebul

The quest for personal authenticity and autonomy in the face of unreliable communities and institutions has become a defining feature of the modern working class.

The Self-Assembled Career

Carrie M. Lane

The solution to the unraveling of the social contract of employment may not be to prop up the ailing traditional job but, instead, to imagine what other forms work lives might take. 

Next-Door Strangers

Marc J. Dunkelman

Within cities themselves, new wealth has been greeted with great fanfare—except by those who see gentrification as a threat to the communities that remained during the decades of white flight.

The Metaphysics of the Hangover

Mark Edmundson

A hangover is about being poisoned, no doubt. The toxins linger in the body and must be expelled, or waited out. We’re sick with a mini-flu and need to get better. But isn’t a hangover about more than physical toxins, at least some of the time?

Animal Spirits

Jackson Lears

The self-made man and the confidence man have existed in dialectical tension down to the present.

Being There

Wilfred M. McClay

A human person is a historical being, in whom the past remains immanent in the present, and whom the wear and tear of time enhances rather than diminishes.

From the Editors

Jay Tolson

Great as they are, the challenges of the digital age are not only profoundly intellectual and conceptual.

Digital Metaphysics

Leif Weatherby

At the beginning of the digital revolution, there existed a speculative energy that we could use now. It was put at the service not of innovation or disruption but of maintenance and politics, of establishing categories to put our digital world on a better course.

Virtuosos of Idleness

Charlie Tyson

Our crisis of work is accompanied by a crisis of idleness.

The Inner Life of a Sinking Ship

Greg Jackson

I am concerned with the quality of our choices as choices, and I am interested in excavating from our behaviors and artifacts an archaeology of our emotional life in the hope that naming these feelings can help us begin to reclaim our choices as our own.

When Work and Meaning Part Ways

Jonathan Malesic

The fact is, work as we know it isn’t worth saving anyway.

Forgiving Heidegger

Nathan Goldman

Uncomfortable though it might be to admit, Heidegger’s thinking is part of the Jewish textual tradition.

After the Vernissage

Greg Jackson

The principal experience of the art I encountered, I found, was not the art itself, but the uncertainty and complexity of my own subjective response.

Fellow Passengers

Mark Rowlands

We need to learn to see animals for what, and maybe who, they really are.

The Ills That Flesh Is Heir to

B.D. McClay

What if our weakness were the best part of us?

The Shifting Experience of Self

Joseph E. Davis

Social and cultural change, from the rise of the “information economy” to changes in family life to the technological mediation of our relationships, is happening all around us.

Minding Our Minds

Joseph E. Davis

Demands on our attention come from the informational environments and shared physical spaces we inhabit. At issue are ethical questions about the conduct of civic life.

Reality Made Me Do It

Martha Bayles

Is the whole world slouching toward a Panopticon of digitally enabled surveillance and control?

Trajectory of a Dream

S.D. Chrostowska

Why do dreams, aside from those that prove uncannily prophetic, not befit our biography?

Hipster Elegies

Greg Jackson

The death and life of the great American hipster offers an alternative history of culture over the last quarter century.

Do Something!

Charlie Tyson

When it comes to doing nothing, style is everything

Homo Saecularis

Jay Tolson

Who is secular man, and why is he so unhappy?

Irony

Matt Dinan

What does it mean to like something "ironically"?

The Art of Not Concluding

Becca Rothfeld

Can philosophy be worth doing?

Under the Sign of Sontag

Charlie Tyson

Could Sontag the woman ever live up to Sontag the persona?

There Is Simply Too Much More to Think About

Robert L. Kehoe III

To feel and give voice to the “more” of our humanity was Saul Bellow’s vocation.

The Soul in Itself

Nicholas Cannariato

Gustav Theodor Fechner’s soul neither defies naturalism nor depends on revelation.

Our Mindless and Our Damned

Antón Barba-Kay

Vampire and zombie stories are stories of a new mass folklore. But they have dreamt themselves into us for specific reasons.

Monstering

Vanessa Place

If we really wanted to kill the monster, we would give it what it wants.

Inviting Evil In

Paul A. Cantor

We have met the monsters, and they are us.

Season of the Witch

Becca Rothfeld

Today’s witches are no longer experts in the “occult.” Instead, they rush to aid the downtrodden—and to publish their potion recipes in best-selling how-to guides.

The Odd Couple

Natasha Zaretsky

Both Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey endorse the same belief: that there are only winners and losers.

Je Regrette Tout

Jonathan Malesic

Moral growth doesn’t just mean looking to the future but reconciling past and present selfhood. It demands regret.

What Freud Got Right

Wilfred M. McClay

We might do a better job of living together if we believed that we are meant to do so.

After Cosmopolitanism

Stuart Whatley

Like globalist, cosmopolitan has become a freighted term.

Social Physics Comes to the Workplace

Joseph E. Davis

Nowhere has the power of disembodied observation become more pervasive than in the workplace.

Into the Whirlpool

Rebecca Lemov

How predictive data put brainwashing on the spin cycle.

Data and the Task of the Humanities

Leif Weatherby

We have automated the society of clues to act on its own divinations, with consequences far beyond the individual.

Closing Time

Clare Coffey

We’re all counting bodies.

If These Walls Could Talk

Matthew D. Rodrigues

On our own sensitivity to the magnetism of objects.

Recombinant Approaches

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Though careful observation comes first, my process involves research: detecting palimpsests in the architecture or observing how people move and inhabit the place.

Brother Rat?

Paul Nedelisky

Empirical verifiability is great when you can get it. But the worry here is what might happen to our self-understanding as human beings if we become willing to trade in an understanding of a rich and meaning-laden feature of our nature for, well, something we can share with a rat.

Harlequin as Hammer

Leann Davis Alspaugh

Cubism’s stylistic hegemony—the dislocated binaries, the tactile surfaces in a two-dimensional work, and the distortions—interferes with what we want to understand about what few clues we can decipher.

Big Easy Ink

Leann Davis Alspaugh

New Orleans, where spectacle and transgression are part of the infrastructure, is the ideal place to conduct completely unscientific research on tattooing.

With Friends Like These

B.D. McClay

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

Release and Attack, Speed and Drag

“The world just flipped itself over with hardly any recognition of the tentacles it would sprout”—from an interview with artist Rosamond Casey, whose work appears in our spring issue.

“Putting the Soul to Work”: Reflections on the New Cognitariat

Talbot Brewer

Why should we expect that the inner self waiting to be born corresponds to some paid job or profession?

Introducing Our Spring Issue

Jay Tolson

What does dominion “over every living thing that moves on the earth” mean? Brute sovereignty and ruthless exploitation? Or thoughtful stewardship and responsible cultivation?

It’s Complicated

Mark Edmundson

What’s up with us humans, us American humans, that we’re committing ourselves more and more to unbending postures?

Lockdown Nostalgia

S.D. Chrostowska

The return to normalcy will be long, and we might even change our mind along the way.

Against Projection; For Promise

Alan Jacobs

To make promises, to stand by one words, to be answerable for them, is to open oneself to blame.

How to Cook a Wolf Under Lockdown

Laurel Berger

My quarrel with M.F.K. Fisher was part of a larger quarrel I’ve been having with myself ever since we went to ground in March. 

A Different Kind of Connectivity

Mark Edmundson

A human spirit of community and kindness can be learned. But it can also be forgotten.