One of the most depressing aspects of travel is finding that
the world often looks the same in many different places. The
towers of downtown Tokyo are indistinguishable from those of
Frankfurt or Seattle. That’s no coincidence. Modern
architecture was founded on the idea...
When we use ‘modern’ to describe something, it’s
usually a positive. We are very appreciative and even a
little smug about the miracles of modern science, the
benefits of modern technology, and even the superiority of
modern viewpoints. But what if, in speeding towards...
There is something compelling and exciting about cities that
makes many of us love (and some of us dread) them. They are
full of bright attractions, intriguing strangers and
endless, unimaginable possibilities. Yet despite a great
migration towards city living in the modern era,...
The sun rose over central Africa as my plane touched down on
a dusty runway. I jolted awake with a start, but then smiled
as I looked out the window: I’d made it! I was in Rwanda
… or was it Burundi? And...
Abstract art continues to provoke annoyance and confusion in
equal measure. You know the kind of thing: a large empty
white canvas, with a solitary deep black line down the
middle. A splodge of purple paint against a yellow
background. Ten steel beams arranged...
Traditionally, philosophy has been nervous around the idea
of communication. Reaching out has not been high on the
agenda. Academic philosophers have frequently erected
barriers to wider participation: abstruse vocabulary and
hypercomplex arguments have seemed to guarantee intelligence
– all of which is a great...
Our assessment of politicians is torn between hope and
disappointment. On the one hand, we have an idealistic idea
that a politician should be an upright hero, a man or woman
who can breathe new moral life into the corrupt workings of
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The cultural elite gets nervous about cheerful or sweet art.
They worry that pretty, happy works of art are in denial
about how bad the state of the world is and how much
suffering there is in almost every life.
Look at this picture...
All subjects have their specialised vocabularies; a set of
words that initially sound unusual, even a touch
frightening, but that can also prove oddly beautiful and
To their enemies, key words are mere jargon, but jargon has
its advantages: it allows us swiftly to...
We live in a world saturated with false glamour. In truth,
the problem does not lie with glamour itself, but with the
things we have collectively agreed to regard as glamorous.
Progress wouldn’t be found in eradicating the whole idea
of glamour from our...