Magazine December 17, 2018, Issue

Metaphysical Mystery Tour

Tim Blake Nelson in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Annapurna Pictures)

The oeuvre of the Coen brothers, sometimes dismissed as nihilistic, actually partakes of an unusual metaphysical perspective: a sincere agnosticism, adopted not as a comfortable modern person’s evasion of religious questions but out of what seems like true uncertainty. That sincerity is proven by the way that the Coens are constantly trying on different worldviews in their movies, inhabiting them without condescension and taking their claims seriously, before moving on restlessly to try out something else.

When they do come to rest, it’s usually in a mysterian attitude toward the cosmos and the human place within it — an attitude

In This Issue



Lifestyle Section

Books, Arts & Manners


Gun Country

David French reviews First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, by David Harsanyi.




One reader praises Shawn Regan’s recent article, “Consider the Dusky Gopher Frog”; another praises Sen. Chuck Grassley.


Panpsychism (believed in by those who know what particle physics is but are uneasy with “Big Bang” as a search term) has its limits I suspect…


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