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What Has One Eye and 1,200 Heads? An Old English Riddle, That’s What!

Riddles are at the heart of language. The Old English verb raedan lies at the root of “to read” and “to riddle”: To read is to riddle, to riddle is to read. What makes the riddle so special and weird as a form — and so like the crossword — is its ability to be at once highbrow and lowbrow. Riddles represent the whole of Anglo-Saxon life. These short pieces range about as widely as possible in tone and form, from ribald cracks to grammar lessons to ornate religious puzzles by the archbishop of Canterbury. Read more

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The worldview-changing drugs poised to go mainstream

In the last 10 years, psychedelic drugs like LSD, magic mushrooms, DMT, a host of “plant medicines” – including ayahuasca, iboga, salvia, peyote – and related compounds like MDMA and ketamine have begun to lose much of their 1960s-driven stigma. Promising clinical trials suggest that psychedelics may prove game-changing treatments for depression, PTSD and addiction. Read more

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Is the Tractatus more a work of poetry than philosophy?

“Philosophy,” Wittgenstein argued in the posthumously published Culture and Value, “ought really to be written only as poetic composition.” In keeping with its author’s sentiment, I’d claim that the Tractatus is less the greatest philosophical work of the 20th century than it is one of the most immaculate volumes of modernist poetry written in the past hundred years. Read more

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Ishmael Reed Gets the Last Laugh

His brilliantly idiosyncratic fiction has travestied everyone from Moses to Lin-Manuel Miranda, and laid a foundation for the freewheeling genre experiments of writers such as Paul Beatty, Victor LaValle, and Colson Whitehead. Yet there’s always been more to Reed than subversion and caricature. Laughter, in his books, unearths legacies suppressed by prejudice, élitism, and mass-media coöptation. Read more

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In True Crime, We Find a Deep, Elusive Connection

Women love true crime. While certainly not a universal truth, it’s a generalization that feels apt enough that even SNL has noticed. On February 27, the song spoof “Murder Show,” aired to general acclaim — if the women I follow on Twitter are any indication. As the skit begins, Nick Jonas leaves his girlfriend alone for an evening of unwinding and self care. Bubble baths and sheet masks come to mind. But as soon as he shuts the door behind him, she curls up on the couch, opens Netflix, and breaks into song about the specific delight of watching murder shows. Read more

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