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...
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...
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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...
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...
One of the unexpectedly important things that art can do for
us is teach us how to suffer. It can do so by evoking scenes
that are dark, melancholy or painful, and that normalise and
lend dignity to the suffering we may ourselves...
It would be, today, unusual to find a travel agent
recommending a sojourn in Detroit as the ideal vacation. The
city, after all, is in decline. There are neighbourhoods
full of derelict homes, there are shattered theatres and
ruined office buildings that were thriving...
August is perfect for sitting outside at the Café de Zaak
in the Korte Minrebroederstraat. The decent beers on tap,
plus a generous bring-your-own-meal policy make this one of
the nicest cafes in town.
If one’s honest, there are really some very intriguing
There’s a belief that philosophy, when properly done,
should sound dense, forbidding, a little confusing, as if it
might have been awkwardly translated from the German. But at
the dawn of the modern age lived a French philosopher who
trusted in a very different...
Matthew Arnold was the most important educational reformer
of the 19th century. He realised that, in the modern world,
education would be one of the keys to a good society. But it
had to be education of a special kind - and not...