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Aeon, a Digital Publication that Features Long-Form In-Depth Essays Written by Industry Professionals
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Aeon's writers are industry experts, many of whom are involved with academia. Aeon is registered as a 501(c)(3) charity in the US. They cover tough topics with essays.
What feelings and meanings does ‘home’ evoke? And after leaving home, can you find those feelings anew? In the Israeli animator Daphna Awadish’s short film Journey Birds, several people residing in countries far from where they were born reflect on what it means to live in – and become part of – a different culture. Using a distinctive style that combines animation and printed frames of video to create her visually enchanting film, Awadish renders her human subjects as anthropomorphised birds to reflect on migration and how the concept of home entangles itself in identity.
By Aeon Video
Imagine you have been asked to review the reference letters provided by the candidates for a lectureship in philosophy. One reads: ‘My former student, Dr Jack Smith, is polite, punctual and friendly. Yours faithfully, Professor Jill Jones.’ You would, I assume, interpret that Jones is implying th...
By Maria Kasmirli
‘Even if you're a tough person you can't avoid becoming a child again...’
In this video composed of time-lapse imagery recorded from the International Space Station, four veteran astronauts – Helen Sharman, Michael Barratt, Jean-François Clervoy and Daniel Tani – describe the singular, life-changing experience of looking down at Earth. In providing context for these images of our planet (the station orbits Earth every 92 minutes, for instance) and trying to find words for the profound sense of wonder that has come to be known as 'the overview effect', the astronauts strive valiantly to share their rarified perspective, giving us just a glimmer of an experience that many people think is just around the corner for a much greater number of us.
By Aeon Video
Behind the beatific image of Tibetan Buddhism lies a dark, complicated reality. But is it one the Western gaze wants to see?
By Mark Hay
Neuroscience was part of the dinner conversation in my family, often a prerequisite for truth. Want to talk about art? Not without neuroscience. Interested in justice? You can’t judge someone’s sanity without parsing scans of the brain. But though science helps us refine our thinking, we’re hinde...
By Jim Kozubek
Living among humans favours fearless problem-solvers interested in new things. That's how city birds get smarter
By Menno Schilthuizen
From a distance, Midtown Manhattan makes up part of New York City's iconic sky-scraping skyline. Among the neighbourhood's buildings, one can get the sense of being in something like a canyon. And at street level, especially during the workday, the frenetic pace is something that many see as quintessentially New York. In Midtown Flutter, the Chinese-born, Chicago-based artist Yuge Zhou fragments and reassembles the architectural surfaces of Manhattan's centre and the motion of the people within it, contrasting the stillness of the buildings with the swift, jagged movements of pedestrians and vehicles in the foreground. Zhou describes the resulting collage as a ‘play of texture, rhythm and interruptions’. Midtown Flutter is part of Zhou’s series The Humors, which sets out to explore ‘urban behaviours and relationships, those of people and of the built environment itself’.
By Aeon Video
Even in the most revolutionary thinkers, you will find the uncannily familiar. Sigmund Freud was no exception. Arabs recognised in Freud’s body of thought ideas from classical Islamic thinkers. In the 1940s and ’50s, when intellectuals translated Freud’s work into Arabic, they reached out to Ibn ...
By Omnia El Shakry
Marriage is what happens when the state gets involved in endorsing and regulating personal relationships. It’s a bad idea
By Clare Chambers
Every day in People’s Square in the heart of Shanghai, parents of marriage-aged single children trawl through handwritten personal advertisements and consult the professional matchmakers who ply their trade in what has become a vibrant if unofficial marriage market. The matchmakers’ questions are terse and practical – Has your daughter been married before? Does your son own a home? The parents answer in hopes of finding love for their children – or, at the very least, respectable, suitable partners. While these parent-arranged dates are mostly tolerated by China’s younger generation – who nonetheless rarely accompany their parents on these match-seeking missions – some old attitudes seem to be shifting amid the tide of urbanisation and Westernisation. Combining observational footage and revealing interviews with parents and matchmakers at the park, the Australian director Kate Lefoe’s Age, Height, Education offers a charming and incisive glimpse into the changing culture of courtship in modern China.
By Aeon Video
The internet is full of wild-eyed insinuation. Seemingly accidental events are not actually accidental. A few powerful people have hatched plots to bring about certain outcomes, usually with the goal of benefitting the shadowy string-pullers. As Karl Popper noted in Conjectures and Refutations (1...
By Roland Imhoff
War, famine and persecution inflict profound changes on bodies and brains. Could these changes persist over generations?
By Pam Weintraub
The words ‘know thyself’ (or ‘gnothi seauton’ in Ancient Greek) were famously inscribed above the forecourt at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. In Plato’s telling, Socrates believed that the value of self-knowledge consisted in one's ability to recognise the limits of what they know, which, Socrates ultimately thought, was nothing. In the centuries since, thinkers who have tried to discern the nature of the self have come to radically different conclusions. Thomas Hobbes advocated introspection – attention to one's own thoughts, feelings and desires – as a means to understanding others. Sigmund Freud developed his theory of the unconscious, introducing the notion that much of what makes up the self is hidden and unknowable. And in the contemporary era, the experimental psychologist Bruce Hood has turned to brain research to fundamentally question whether there is any self to know.
By Aeon Video
For more than two millennia, Western thinkers have separated emotion from cognition – emotion being the poorer sibling of the two. Cognition helps to explain the nature of space-time and sends humans to the Moon. Emotion might save the lioness in the savannah, but it also makes humans act irratio...
By Luiz Pessoa
Written and narrated by the poet Anam Cara, A Prickly Subject tackles – in verse – the cultural double standards around female body hair. A collaboration with the UK filmmaker Helen Plumb as part of The Art of Change series at the Barbican Arts Centre in London, this short film oscillates between empowerment and vulnerability in its words and images, as Cara grapples with breaking free of cultural norms that still treat female body hair as something worthy of shame and disgust.
By Aeon Video
When antibiotics fail, could phage therapy succeed? The germ’s-eye view of infection might open up revolutionary treatments
By Emily Monosson
The aid industry might be having its #MeToo moment, but sexual exploitation is just a symptom of a more fundamental issue: the neo-colonial structures through which most aid is delivered in disaster and conflict areas. If this is not addressed, no amount of independent investigating committees an...
By Lynne Jones
Imperial Chinese conscription shows how ordinary people exercise influential political skills, even in a repressive state
By Michael Szonyi
Some of the earliest documentary films were travelogues that offered experiences of places that viewers might never get to visit for themselves. In Outerborough, the US filmmaker and artist Bill Morrison repurposes and reimagines an early example of the genre – Across the Brooklyn Bridge (1899) – to give 'modern audiences [a] similarly rarefied view we can no longer experience'. As Morrison notes in describing his work: 'Not only has the cityscape changed over the past century, but also, no train crosses the bridge anymore, and no vehicle can travel over on its median as that trolley did. The unique central perspective lends itself to abstraction and time travel: the journey from one side of the East River to the other becoming a unit of both time and space...' Commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its 2005 reopening, the short film features a restored version and the original film, side by side. Juxtaposing the two frames and adding a frenetic, original score that yields an even greater sense of momentum, Morrison transforms the footage into something kinetic and enigmatic – an experiment in movement as a way of experiencing history.
By Aeon Video
A hypothetical alien visitor, sent to observe all of human culture – art and architecture, music and medicine, storytelling and science – would quickly conclude that we as a species are obsessed with patterns. The formal gardens of 18th-century England, the folk tales of medieval Germany and the ...
By Anthony Phillips