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Roundtable discussions of contemporary issues by the academics, writers, and thinkers who know them best.

The Grand Shattering

I never wanted to be a mother. I wanted to be a person. My identity crisis began at age three, when I wanted to be Popeye but realized that I…

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How to Be a Parent

These are tough times for parents. Not because child rearing has gotten any harder — it’s the same as it ever was — but because we are newly overrich in hand-wringing books…

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Hammer Island

Over the Fourth of July holiday in 1985, when I was seventeen years old, the film producer Morris Walls took me to Hammer Island. This is an island shaped like…

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Nina

I met her in a computer course my sophomore year at NYU, in 1981. It was the first day of class, and we were learning how to connect the terminals…

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My Mother’s Apartment

I took a class in ad writing at Pratt Institute when I was twenty-four. I lasted one day. One of my classmates came in on the first day with storyboards…

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At First Blush

It must have been sometime in the early fall, I was thirteen and had just moved to a new school. It must have been during science class, because I remember…

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Beeper World

The jellyfish life cycle, we were taught in school, involves a sessile state and a period of radiant flight. As polyps, jellyfish are rooted to the seafloor by fleshy stalks.…

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Gaboxadol

In 1755 the naturalist Stepan Krasheninnikov observed the Amanita muscaria mushroom’s effects on Russian soldiers in Siberia ingesting it for the first time. Claiming to have been seized by an…

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Restlessness

I am a sleep hunter. I track sleep through my house. I track it with a flashlight, and a bottle of pills, and two pillows, and a blanket, and a…

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Segmented Sleep

At first I dreaded having to investigate the history of sleep. Human slumber appeared impervious to time and place, stubbornly immune to the element of change animating most works of…

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Neighbors

Maximilian in the basement watched TV every night. I lay on a mattress on the floor in the apartment above him. He’d turn on the news around ten, fall asleep,…

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Bed-wetting

Whereas child bed wetters in sixteenth-century England had been directed for their malady to consume the testicles of a hedgehog or the windpipe of a cock, Enlightenment science, which rejected…

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Herbal Remedies

As a holistic nutritionist, I often work with people who have trouble sleeping. Some wake throughout the night; others jolt up at two a.m. and are unable to return to…

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Insomnia

If only sleep could be hoarded, accumulated, and traded; if only you could store it up for a rainy day or borrow it from friends or buy it on the…

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Motherhood

In the beginning, waiting for the baby to feed or stop feeding or burp or pass wind or yellow liquid shit, I postponed showers, phone calls, bowel movements. With the…

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Sleeping Together

She bowed and introduced herself as Yukiko and I knew it was her real name. I’d heard about the games played by the women in Tokyo’s hostess bars, that they…

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Big Brother at the OK Corral

A frontier fable of gun control and federal justice

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Who Needs Men?

Addressing the prospect of a matrilinear millennium

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The New Auteurs

How Hollywood publicists and ad execs get a turkey to fly

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Untitled

You are twenty-one—exactly the same age I was when I had my one and only abortion, in London in 1938. This was way before anyone talked about the “right” to…

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August 2015

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