Short essays


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Columnist at 3 Quarks Daily

Every 8th Monday

A series of essays on not knowing. Why we need to live with ignorance; why we need ignorance to live.

 
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Up in the Air: Charles Durant and the Clairvoyants

LA Review of Books Quarterly Journal, April 2019

A balloonist debunks a spirit-traveler. Or does he?

 
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Modernity’s Residues

The Immanent Frame, March 22, 2019

On Graham Jones’s Magic’s Reason, for the forum “Modernity’s Resonances: New Inquiries into the Secular”

 
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The Secularist Killjoy

The Immanent Frame, February 22, 2019

A reply to Caleb Smith and Donovan Schaefer’s essays on Credulity, for the forum “Modernity’s Resonances: New Inquiries into the Secular”

 
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How the Occult Thrived in an Age of Enlightenment

IAI News, March 12, 2019

An excerpt of Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism (Chicago, 2018)

 
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A Brief Introduction to Credulity

The Revealer, September 10, 2018

An excerpt of Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism (Chicago, 2018) with a short introduction

 
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He Blinded Me with Science

Lapham's Quarterly Online, August 29, 2018

Three presidents take the fight to mesmerism's founder. They lose.

 
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Donald Trump, Mesmerist

New York Times op-ed, Sunday Review, August 5, 2018

Why doesn't debunking work? An answer from 19th-century stage hypnotism

 
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'Tis he! The ass foretold me in my dream!

Lapham's Quarterly Online, July 19, 2018

A mock epic of the warring literati

 
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Don't go back to Princeton

Review of Joyce Carol Oates's The Accursed, Public Books, October 22, 2013

Occult historical fiction and a cursed town in New Jersey