Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544.

Six Tuscan Poets, by Giorgio Vasari, 1544. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota.


Volume V, Number 2 | spring 2012


Word Order

By Lewis H. Lapham

The Internet is blessed with undoubtedly miraculous applications, but language is not yet one of them. Technology cannot displace the primacy of words.


In the Panthéon

By Philipp Blom

History is written by the victors. So, too, in the world of ideas. Phillipp Blom on a group of thinkers far more daring than those enshrined in the Panthéon.



Henry James said in 1915, “The war has used up words…they have, like millions of other things, been more overstrained and knocked about and voided of the happy semblance during the last six months than in all the long ages before, and we are now confronted with a depreciation of all our terms.” While writing A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway copied out part of this interview, wrote above it “on the debasement of words by war,” and gave his main character the line, “Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the c

We should have a great many fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.

—John Locke, 1690


A telescopic image of the formalhault solar system. A bright dot is surrounded by a cloud of smaller red dots. An inset shows a close-up of what looks like a planet, labeled Formalhault b.


Space Oddities


Exoplanet revealed to be nothing but a large cloud of dust.


Supposed irrigation canals on Mars are merely optical illusions.


The World in Time

Peter Fritzsche

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Hitler’s First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich. More