Essays

How Will We Farm?

Farming and child-rearing seem natural, but they’re cultural. And like all cultural activities, generations disagree about how best to do them.

What Is a Book?

The “papers” of Toni Morrison can be accessed through a Princeton computer terminal. But where do these digital drafts end, and Beloved begin?

Thy Face Tomorrow

What does it take to live without the ability to smile or move half of one’s face? For that matter, what does it take to live at all?

Subaquatic Homesick Blues

A Taiwanese scifi novel—set under the sea, after the surface becomes unlivable—reveals the remarkable burst of cultural freedom in 1990s Taiwan.

When the Vibe Is Off

Which matters more, intent or interpretation? What if a juxtaposition of images in literature or art is just that—a chance encounter?