Do We Have to Monetize Everything?

    It is the nicest apology I have ever received. “Babe,” my husband says, “I am so sorry. I watched you paint and said, ‘You could sell these!’ But last night I heard somebody on the radio saying that nobody can just have a relaxing hobby anymore because if you’re any good, people start […]

Marriage is an Institution for the Rich

  When people talk about large-scale social crisis in the United States the topic eventually gravitates straight toward marriage. Or more precisely, the current lack of it. If children are in crisis it is because marriage is in crisis. If loneliness is epidemic it is because marriage is in decline. And if people are poor […]

Moths Are Not Romantics

    Humans are the ones who fly straight into the flame. Lost causes, unrequited loves, crazy gambles, consuming addictions, dangerous exploits—we live bent, one would guess, on self-destruction. All the poor moths want to do is set a flight path. When their light sources were the moon and stars, all went well. But our […]

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Have Evolved Yet Again

    When my kids were little, we used to snuggle up to watch videos before their bedtime. I joked it was rock appreciation and theory class, but the music ranged beyond The Beatles, Creedence, and Talking Heads to Schumann’s “Träumerei,” Ray Charles’ “Heaven Help Us All,” and The Gregory Brothers’ political satires. Often we […]

Anselm Kiefer’s Appetite for Destruction

        Of all the works currently on display at the Saint Louis Art Museum we can be surest that Anselm Kiefer’s Burning Rods will never be printed for postcards in the museum’s gift shops. A massive painting that stands about 11 feet high and stretches just beyond 18 feet wide, this dark […]

What Miniatures Can Reveal

      You were expecting fairy houses? Look elsewhere. For her MFA thesis, Amanda Kelly has been miniaturizing hoards. Spinning wee vases on a tiny pottery wheel, carving bevels with tiny woodworking tools, painting minuscule, perfect letters with a two-haired brush. With surgical focus, she creates little worlds that render chaos safe. You can […]

Unexpected Mardi Gras Moments in St. Louis

      I think of French influence in St. Louis the way I think of the Romans’ influence in Britain: Other than naming, most of that culture has disappeared. St. Louis certainly “brands” with the ubiquitous fleurs-de-lis, and the landmark statue of Louis IX, sculpted by a German-American artist, at the top of Art […]

How Esther Perel Figures People Out So Fast

    William of Ockham never met Esther Perel. After days of mainlining her latest podcasts on Where Should We Begin, I realize the medieval monk was wrong. Nothing is simple. Using a razor to cut away what feels irrelevant can set you up for a lifetime of confusion. Granted, Perel is an Olympic-caliber psychotherapist, […]

Will Walking-Around Knowledge Save You?

        “Walking-around knowledge” is an odd phrase. Do you use it? I do not know where I first heard it, though I suspect it was in my childhood or army service because it feels like an older construction my elders would have used. The presumption was that seeing and hearing things firsthand—to […]