Monthly Archives: December 2013

Simon Critchley on Socrates

Let me set the scene. It’s hot. It’s really hot. It’s the middle of the Greek summer. Socrates is in Athens where he bumps into an acquaintance called Phaedrus. They say hi. They begin to talk. Phaedrus is a little…

Leonard Bernstein’s letters

Leonard Bernstein was one of the 20th century’s great composers and most charismatic men. In this extract from a new edition of his intimate letters, he describes the ‘agony’ of creating West Side Story, and the turmoil that wrecked his…

How did Vermeer do it?

David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces.…

Hardworking families

This is a message to any politician out there thinking of using the phrase ‘hardworking families’ or ‘hardworking people’ – I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you. …..It mainly annoys me because, although…

Which is harder? A science degree or an arts degree?

People get competitive about the difficulty of their degrees. The accepted line at Oxford is that Science is harder than Arts, and everything is harder than PPE – three years of sleeping until 1pm and waffling about Mill’s Utilitarianism, and…