Are We Ready to Listen to René Girard?

The Philosopher Saw a World of Scapegoats and Persecutors. On His 100th Birthday, His Insights Into Human Nature Are as Relevant as Ever

Years ago at a conference, French theorist René Girard faced a tough question about his unconventional methods.

The Stanford professor’s research involved a close reading of archaic and classical texts from Greece, Rome, Mesopotamia, and elsewhere—which is to say, a close reading of ancient stories.  In these stories, he discerned hidden patterns of rivalry, and how we use collective violence to end strife, an unending sequence throughout the long night of humanity.

“Given that we can’t entirely trust the veracity of ancient writings,” one academic asked him afterwards, “how would you measure …

Work Is Boring—Use It

Let Your Zoom Ennui Inspire You to Change Your Life, or the World

Work is boring.

I expect many of you will disagree. You’ll offer your job as a counterexample. Or, if yours isn’t much to brag about, you’ll come up with hypothetical scenarios …

Is Euphoria a TV Show or an Aesthetic?

From the HBO Series to Cottagecore, the Blending of Surface and Serious May Serve Modern Life

In the comment section of a one-hour loop of the Labrinth song “Forever” that’s already hit upward of a million views on YouTube, one person wrote: “This song makes me …

America Isn’t Awkward Enough | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

America Isn’t Awkward Enough

Our Anti-Social Social Norms Keep Us From Engaging in the Uncomfortable Moments That Lead to Real Change

Ever since vaccines became available, people have been joking that the return to normal life would be awkward. After more than a year of relative isolation, so the half-earnest predictions …

This Period of Crisis Can Help Lead Us ‘Closer to the Good’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

This Period of Crisis Can Help Lead Us ‘Closer to the Good’

From Studying Ancient Wisdom to Learning From Modern Emergencies, We Have the Tools to Be Better 

The final Zócalo/University of Toronto The World We Want event, “Can We Still Find the Good in the World?,” delved into a wide-ranging discussion of what finding the good in …

Can Bridgerton Teach Us How to Live? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Can Bridgerton Teach Us How to Live?

A Historian Finds Classical Resonance, and Maybe Even Useful Philosophy, Beneath the Elaborate Costumes and Melodrama

Everything is broken,” repeated the chorus of a Bob Dylan song from his 1989 album Oh Mercy—strings (guitar, presumably), heads, hearts, vows, laws, and idols. The nation suffered from social …