Cinema is the most prestigious cultural activity in the modern world. It is for us what theatre was in the age of Shakespeare or painting was in the days of Leonardo da Vinci.
Modern societies are deeply invested in the idea of big, glamorous weddings. We have evolved highly detailed collective ideas about what a proper wedding is supposed to be like, down to the specialised floral arrangements, seat covers, presents for bridesmaids and the correct order of the speeches.
Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was born in Frankfurt in 1903 into a wealthy and cultured family. His father, a wine merchant, was of Jewish origin but had converted to Protestantism at university.
Hegel was born in Stuttgart in 1770. He had a very middle-class life. He was obsessed by his career path. He fretted all his life about his income. He never quite got his hair under control.
The Ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus was born in 341 BC, on the island of Samos, a few miles off the coast of modern Turkey. He had an unusually long beard and wrote over three hundred books.
Athens, 2400 years ago. It’s a compact place: around 250,000 people live here. There are fine baths, theatres, temples, shopping arcades and gymnasiums. Art is flourishing, and science too.
We don’t always feel comfortable admitting it to our friends. But, secretly, the idea of being famous has great appeal. Fame is deeply attractive because it seems to offer very significant benefits.
It’s tempting to think of marriage as old fashioned. Why not just live with someone and be done with it? What need for a public ceremony? Why the weird traditions that people normally keep away from?
You are queuing to go through to Departures; one of the guards at security has lovely, almost turquoise eyes. You are intrigued by the way they're frisking the occasional passenger.
The once very famous and immensely successful artist Rolf Harris has been convicted of a string of predatory sex-crimes that seem utterly horrible and debased.
It’s one of the grandest and oddest words out there, so lofty, it doesn’t sound like something one could ever consciously strive to be - unlike say, being cultured, or kind.
Going travelling is one of the most exciting pastimes. It’s up there with love in terms of the happiness it can bring – though, unlike love, it's generally assumed to entail no big philosophical issues.
If you had the misfortune to do too much, or the wrong kind of it at school, you’ll probably remember one thing about history: how dull it can sometimes be.
One of the couple has been out all day: they’ve been to three meetings, grappled with a failing supplier, cleared up a misconception about tax rebates and sought to bring the new CEO on side.
Today, like most days, you are anxious. It is there in the background, always present, sometimes more to the fore, sometimes less so, but never truly banished - at least not for longer than an evening.
You’re flicking through a fashion magazine and playfully suggest that your partner might want to make a few experiments with their wardrobe. How about a different pair of jeans or a new T-shirt?
It is, of course, a form of madness. You pick up the largest jam jar and fling it to the floor. You go up to the attendant at the counter and deliver a stream of obscenities.
You might think this bit would be easy, but one of the hardest things about our working lives is knowing what we ideally want to do with them. It’s simple enough to sense what is boring and soul-destroying.
You are introduced to someone at a conference. They look nice and you have a brief chat about the theme of the keynote speaker. But already you have reached an overwhelming conclusion.
Feeling grateful about the good aspects of our lives is something we all know we should do a bit more often. And yet there’s often something uncomfortable about being reminded to do so.
We tend to reproach ourselves for staring out the window. You are supposed to be working, or studying, or ticking off things on your to-do list. It can seem almost the definition of wasted time.
Despite good intentions modern societies are profoundly unequal. Yet contemporary culture encourages the feeling that in crucial ways, everyone is, in fact, on the same footing.
Our minds are filled with out-of-focus feelings and ideas: we dimly experience a host of regrets, hurts, anxieties and excitements. For the most part we never stop to analyse or make sense of them.
Generous, thoughtful, sensitive people are often drawn to the view that we shouldn’t expect economies to ‘grow’. After all, the earth and its resources are limited, so why keep asking for GDP to expand?
On a good day, Capitalism can seem pretty impressive. Take the sheer organisational might of corporations, with their incredible ability to focus the efforts of thousands of people on precise goals.
Fake, copy, pastiche, forgery, reproduction. Many of the most bitter insults of the art world are designed to denigrate anything which is not the actual product of the master’s hand.
For years, you felt burdened with thoughts, feelings and opinions that didn’t seem to make much sense to anyone else. You sometimes wondered if you were going mad.
Many people will note a particular brightness to the light today, and a balminess to the air, which may trigger a surge of hope and a willingness to look at familiar problems with renewed determination.
You and your partner are waiting, and waiting, at the airport carousel for your luggage. Other people are wheeling their bags away. Soon, you are the only ones left standing by the now empty conveyor belt.
Insomnia leaves us horribly exhausted, but there are a few benefits to sleepless nights, which we might focus on to alleviate the sheer panic that a failure to sleep can cause.
Alexander Lukashenko is an old-fashioned dictator of Belarus. He is often described as the last dictator in Europe. This doesn't mean that he doesn't care a lot about making his country a better place.