Oxymoronically, silence speaks volumes for Soren Kierkegaard. His literary corpus demonstrates that, in matters relating to humanity’s relationship with a seemingly unknowable God, the language and modes of thinking of this world are insufficient for understanding our Creator. God’s incomprehensibility subdues humanity into a forced silence, leading it towards a faith that is a paradox.

Writing under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio, aptly translated to “John of Silence,” Kierkegaard identifies silence as a central theme in his 1843 work, Fear and Trembling. It is as much an existential examination of the human condition as it is a meditation on Abraham’s…


1905 was a year of temporal change in the sciences: Albert Einstein disproved the existence of ether using his theory of special relativity while Sigmund Freud laid the foundation of his psychoanalytic theory through a series of lectures delivered at an American university. While Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity represented a significant departure from the accepted mechanical worldview in physics — one inextricably linked to the existence of ether — Freud’s discourse was none other than the burgeoning of a completely new scientific field of thought. …


A common misconception about medieval sex is that humans were prudish, they engaged in sexual intercourse for the sole purpose of procreation, and were strictly forbidden by church authorities from engaging in any sort of premarital sexual acts. Although these claims have merit, they fail to capture the nuances inherent in the sex practices of the medieval age, conflating sex with morality as dictated by established religion.

However, historical reductionism aside, sex was not always viewed as a moral issue. Physicians, learned medical men and many clerical figures, strongly influenced by the medical ideas of Galen and Hippocrates, often deviated…


Uranium and Atomica Melancholica Idyll, 1945 by Salvador Dali

There is a fiery explosion in the darkness, baseball players batting and sliding, a face decaying into a mustard yellow residue of what was once a living, breathing life, atomic particles embedded into the bombed walls of a dilapidated room from which there appears to be no immediate escape. This is the setting of Salvador Dalí’s oil painting, Uranium and Atomica Melancholica Idyll (1945). It is bleak, violent and viscerally jarring, a cacophony of random elements all strewn together to form a picture of absolute chaos.

Painted by Dalí in the maelstrom of World War II’s destructive aftermath, it is…


Post-WWII America teemed with exuberance, ushered in by an era of stability and economic prosperity. It had just won, for the sake of democracy, a global confrontation that led millions of men, women and children into graves. But this America, eager to cling on to its reputation of prestige abroad, also abounded in paranoia and skepticism as social currents and movements threatened its relative peacetime stability.

Reflecting on the period, sociologist Norman W. Storer writes that “the Cold War was at its chilliest, Congress was obsessed with atomic secrets, and Senator Joseph McCarthy was waiting in the wings. Blacklists were…


Save for a single fluorescent desk lamp, the room is dim. Eerie, dusky, uninviting. The gel feels warm on my lower belly, against the coldness of my frigid hands. It is 3 in the morning, and I’m exhausted from the anxiety of not knowing what the hell is going on. The gel will reveal answers, I tell myself, and so I revel in its presence on my belly, ready to be read in the dark like a bedtime story.

The doppler makes its way around my stomach like a lunar lander exploring the moon’s surface for the first time, unearthing…


“Why don’t I love him?”

I sat across from my friend at a gelato joint, cross-legged on tall stool that was not big or sturdy enough to carry the weight of my heavy, burdensome heart. I sought answers in her piercing eyes, the dark circles under them testaments to the years and experiences of a well-lived life. Hand pressed against my forehead, I demanded that she explain to me exactly why the love department was not bearing any fruit.

“You can’t really love him, or anyone for that matter, if you don’t love yourself first,” she explained to me, warming…

Karmen Rivera

Health IT by day. Historian by night. Texan forever.

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