The sole purpose here is to take pleasure in writing and in intellectual exchange.

The hope is to develop something that is made with intensity but without self-consuming energy, that is emotionally honest, that lasts for a long time, that is always independent, and afraid of nothing.

Posts are weekly, give or take. Sections may evolve over time but these are the basic ideas:


Fairly straightforward political commentary on a weekly basis. What’s slightly unusual is that a lot of work has been done looking around the web and selecting articles that are provocative or good or just different in some way. The commentary is independent and idiosyncratic but, on the whole, just generally sort of pissed off, centrist but heterodox, less-than-amused by wokeism, appropriately horrified by the tech dystopia, but grown-up-enough to realize that nobody anywhere on the political map has any ‘solution.’


A similar principle as ‘Commentator’ but for art and ideas. The Curator’s sensibility is almost strictly aesthetic. The idea is to trawl the book and intellectual web, to identify the most interesting articles in a given week and to riff off of those. There’s a certain Castalia-ish tendency here to treat the history of ideas, and culture, as a separate domain from politics or morality – to see culture as, essentially, a vast mosaic of the collective sub-conscious, in which the only criteria of quality is the ability to speak honestly to chthonic drives.  


What it sounds like. ‘The Manifesto(es)’ are just an attempt to sort through the confusion of the world and to focus on what’s important. The particular crusade that these are on has to do with emphasizing the importance of art and of honesty in public communication - and to try to break free of the many coercions that inhibit authentic expression.


Shorter essays that are somewhere between diaries and observations. The idea is just to open the aperture wide in private life and to take in surrounding impressions.


The thought is to have one or maybe two long-form essays a week – on a mix of aesthetics, politics, and just general what’s-wrong-with-the-world stuff.


These are a cross between travel essays and profiles of the people met along the way. The title of each essay is just the area code of the place visited. The conceit here is that many of these essays emerge out of journalistic or documentary assignments. They often start with a frantic calling-around - with a whole bunch of numbers on my phone from some never-before-encountered area code. 

Newish Books

Fairly standard book reviews of newish work although written in a particular style. The conviction is that the usual format of book reviews is basically a plot summary with an opinion tacked on. What’s missing from the marketplace is the kind of conversation that you want to have after you’ve finished a book – where you’re excited or disturbed by what you’ve just read and want to trade notes with somebody who’s in a similar emotional place. These reviews tend to skip the plot summary and assume a reader who’s already read the book (or who plans to skip reading the book and just wants the ‘takeaways’).

Short Stories:

What it sounds like. The initial batch here is realistic stories on millennial, hipster types and will likely expand outwards from there. The underlying aesthetic, borrowed from the Inrockuptibles, is: “A little reality man, show us  the world as it really is!” – the idea being that contemporary fiction could use a dose of reality and of grounding before trying for effects.


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Intellectual Journal - essays, stories, reflections


Sam Kahn

Sam Kahn writes the Substack Castalia.