Kūkai (空海), 774–835, was a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist who founded the Shingon or "True Word" school of Buddhism. Kūkai is famous as a poet, calligrapher, and engineer. He profoundly influenced the development of Buddhist philosophy and of the Japanese language.
Politics and the English Language
"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, then fail more because he drinks. The same thing is happening to the English language. It is ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to think foolishly."
What Came Before the Big Bang?
Alan Lightman explores the physics and metaphysics of the creation of the universe in this arresting essay. He looks at a plethora of scientific thought about the nature of time, the relative structure and order of our universe, and the state of existence at or near the big bang.
A Bigger Problem Than ISIS?
The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people. This article explores the history and future of the dam which looms heavy over much of Iraq.
Desperately Seeking Susan
In an almost vengeful essay published just a few months after her death, Castle details her "on-again, off-again semi-friendship" with Susan Sontag. For years she served as Sontag's chauffeur around California, friend, and sympathetic audience for her kvetching about academics.
Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise
A central piece in Wallace’s collection 'A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again', Shipping Out brilliantly and compellingly narrates the misery of luxury cruises.
The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic
Walter Pitts rose from the streets of Detroit to MIT, partnered with Warren McCulloch and revolutionised the way we think about psychiatry. He laid the foundations for cybernetics and artificial intelligence but was ultimately haunted by the need to find logic and order in a chaotic world.