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Homosexuality Is For The Birds

Koryos, who previously explained how cats got domesticated using tumblr, now explains why homosexual pair-bonding can be a successful reproductive stratagem. Also, Coot Parenting Tips, Queen Cowbird Of The Brood Parasites , There's No Such Thing As An Alpha Wolf, and Can Animals Have Pets?
posted by The Whelk on Aug 16, 2014 - 9 comments

"a story about how Steam, Twitter and the App Store came to exist"

Consider the Holy Bible as a product in a marketplace. It has several attractive qualities, foremost among them the tantalizing possibility that it contains the true word of a being who created the universe. But it has several worrisome drawbacks as well. Like most written anthologies it has poor replay value when compared to something like Spelunky; after you read it once you know more or less how it goes. It features a relatively weak Physical Rights Management scheme; for example, you don't need to purchase one for your household if you can simply borrow it from a friend or read it in a local church. Even its branding as a 'perfect document' becomes something of a double-edged sword; the first, purportedly perfect edition might seem very desirable indeed, but who is going to buy Holy Bible: Religious Text Of The Year Edition when the original is supposed to be immaculate? How are you going to make corrections, utilize analytics data or market additional 'content'? Where will your fine sponsors place all their full-page advertisements: After the crucifixion or before?
Form and its Usurpers is a long essay by Brendan Vance [previously] about videogames, Hegel, form, content, what "free" means, how capitalism ruins everything and what to do about it.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 4, 2014 - 26 comments

Look what I can do with my two hands.

Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and the upcoming Bad Feminist, has a lot to say about relationships and sexuality and self esteem. Also about how to bake a pie and a killer summer pasta recipe.
posted by Stacey on Jul 9, 2014 - 11 comments

All I'm really saying is "Sebald is great"

In "Walking, Researching, Remembering: W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn as Essay," Patrick Madden reaches a simple conclusion but visits along the way several points of wider interest in a discussion of essays in general. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 4, 2014 - 2 comments

The Count and his fucking LF

Coder's High. Metafilter's own David Auerbach, who says he's now a former programmer, describes a satori-like absorption that comes only from things like debugging.
posted by grobstein on Jun 18, 2014 - 73 comments

Action movies are just musicals with knuckles.

Don JeVore: You Hate Musicals Because You Are Dead Inside.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 8, 2014 - 210 comments

.

"Elephants are obviously amazing, or rather, they are obvious receptacles for our amazement, because they seem to be a lot like us. They live about as long as we do. They understand it when we point at things, which our nearest living evolutionary relative, the chimpanzee, doesn’t really. They can unlock locks with their trunks. They recognize themselves in mirrors. They are socially sophisticated. They stay with the same herds for life, or the cows do, anyway. They mourn their dead. They like getting drunk. When an elephant keels over, its friends sometimes break their tusks trying to get it to stand up again. They bury their dead. They bear grudges against people who’ve hurt them, and sometimes go on revenge campaigns. They cry. So why would you want to put a bullet in one?" ... Journalist Wells Tower accompanied one of Botswana's final elephant hunts. This article contains graphic content of an elephant hunt which some may find disturbing.
posted by zarq on Jun 5, 2014 - 36 comments

Peak Advertising and the Future of the Web

"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jun 3, 2014 - 173 comments

No one. Owes you. Anything.

Chris Gethard: Overcome Your Programming And Be A Better Man
posted by zarq on May 28, 2014 - 104 comments

"Je suis très, très fier"

Portrait of a Young Man with Down Syndrome. A father reflects on his son's search for employment.
posted by zarq on May 27, 2014 - 53 comments

I sing of legs and a tail

puppy aeneid
posted by grobstein on May 3, 2014 - 8 comments

“So… do you… do you suppose we should… talk about money?”

Introducing Sociology: Tim Kreider's influential 1999 essay (previously) on how Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut uses sex and infidelity to cover up a story of greed and murder by the elite gets a brand new afterward by the author to introduce a new site for his non-fiction writing, TimKreider.com
posted by The Whelk on Apr 23, 2014 - 51 comments

"Thank you for letting me watch."

Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 18, 2014 - 21 comments

...not a neutral exercise.

"Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes?" By Amanda Lee Koe (Text essay, possibly nsfw)
posted by zarq on Apr 16, 2014 - 23 comments

Doña Quixote

My Dementia: Telling who I am before I forget, by author Gerda Saunders
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2014 - 16 comments

"Yo"

"The Fireman"
posted by zarq on Mar 3, 2014 - 13 comments

Extra innings

"Why am I not constantly grieving?" The wonderful Roger Angell on love, loss, sex, death, time, and the view from age 94.
posted by Miko on Feb 17, 2014 - 31 comments

'Builders' and 'Firefighters'

"The Art of Presence" [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 21, 2014 - 7 comments

Don’t let them call you by anything else.

The Names They Gave Me. From the essay: " 'Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.' My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying. 'Don’t let them give you an English nickname,' my mother insists once again, 'I didn’t raise amreekan .' My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth." By Tasbeeh Herwees in The Toast.
posted by sweetkid on Jan 17, 2014 - 125 comments

The past guides us; the future needs us.

Whenever I look around me, I wonder what old things are about to bear fruit, what seemingly solid institutions might soon rupture, and what seeds we might now be planting whose harvest will come at some unpredictable moment in the future. The most magnificent person I met in 2013 quoted a line from Michel Foucault to me: "People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does." Someone saves a life or educates a person or tells her a story that upends everything she assumed. The transformation may be subtle or crucial or world changing, next year or in 100 years, or maybe in a millennium. You can’t always trace it but everything, everyone has a genealogy. Rebecca Solnit in TomDispatch: The Arc of Justice and the Long Run: Hope, History, and Unpredictability [more inside]
posted by davidjmcgee on Dec 23, 2013 - 8 comments

Are you alive? If so, can you define what that means?

Why Life Does Not Really Exist
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Dec 7, 2013 - 85 comments

Everybody’s in the minstrel show

“Oh,” says the ad man. He’s responsible for the hour of primetime television Revlon has bought and turned over to Belafonte, who, by the way, will not be singing “The Banana Boat Song,” and has also decided that he won’t accept commercials. “Oh my god,” says the ad man. Belafonte grins now, and says what he thought then: “Swallow that sh*t, motherf***er.” The Revolutionary Life of Harry Belafonte.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Oct 4, 2013 - 36 comments

“If you were a homosexual, you’d be having sex with men. All the time. '

“I don’t think you’re gay,” he said. He then went through the same litany as Dr. F.—he didn’t believe I was a pervert, he just felt I was lost and confused and needed to be set on the right path. Dr. K. believed in behavioral modification. He told me to place a rubber band around my wrist. Every time I had “gay thoughts,” I was to snap the rubber band, causing pain. ­Eventually I would associate the thoughts with the pain. - Gene Stone on growing up gay, struggling with sex, anti-gay conversion therapy, and the doctor-mandated sex surrogate that finally helped him.
posted by The Whelk on Sep 29, 2013 - 23 comments

Variations on the Goldberg Variations

Why I Hate the Goldberg Variations, by Jeremy Denk, whose new (lovely) recording of the Goldberg Variations is now streaming on NPR. Also by Denk: Hannibal Lecter's Guide to the Goldberg Variations, which explores the famous cannibal killer through the lens of Bach. This is Your Brain on the Goldberg Variations, which gets in-depth on just how the Variations vary.
posted by Rory Marinich on Sep 24, 2013 - 30 comments

The first decade

Portrait of a Ten-Year-Old Canadian Girl
posted by zarq on Sep 18, 2013 - 10 comments

"The work of yakkers and tweeters and braggers..."

Jonathan Franzen: what's wrong with the modern world. [The Guardian]
posted by Fizz on Sep 13, 2013 - 89 comments

Etymologically, the opposite of “suffering” is, therefore, “apathy”

The Value of Suffering by Pico Iyer [New York Times]
posted by Fizz on Sep 8, 2013 - 17 comments

Letting Go

The Big Father Essay. Some readers may find sections disturbing.
posted by zarq on Aug 21, 2013 - 6 comments

Lock them in separate rooms and do experiments on them

"Unlike most teen dramas, Buffy wasn’t a narrative about finding an identity; it was always about having a lot of them." Kim O'Connor for The Toast on Buffy Summers, growing up, identity, and how saving the world every week is a better model than just getting through high school.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 20, 2013 - 113 comments

"Maybe she'll....

Explaining death to a four-year-old through Doctor Who
posted by zarq on Aug 14, 2013 - 65 comments

Don’t Suspect A Friend—Report Him

The AV Club's diaspora, The Dissolve, has spent a week analyzing Terry Gilliam's dystopian masterpiece Brazil. The keynote essay. Brazil Forum: style, gallows humor, the past as future, and more. Duct to the future: The nightmare of Brazil never arrived, but it’s still resonant
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants on Aug 7, 2013 - 57 comments

...the firm resolve of a determined soul.

Thurman Munson In Sun And Shade [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 3, 2013 - 9 comments

Not Featured: "Waterlillies" or "The Kiss"

What The Posters In Your First Apartment Say About You Now
posted by The Whelk on Jul 31, 2013 - 357 comments

Who Ruined the Humanities?

So you see, I am not making a brief against reading the classics of Western literature. Far from it. I am against taking these startling epiphanies of the irrational, unspoken, unthought-of side of human life into the college classroom and turning them into the bland exercises in competition, hierarchy and information-accumulation that are these works' mortal enemies. An essay by Lee Siegel (SLWSJ)
posted by chavenet on Jul 14, 2013 - 128 comments

Confusedly being alive is more important than being neatly dead

Five Reasons Why I Am Not An “Artist”, an essay by Tom Ellard (formerly of 1980s industrial electropop band Severed Heads and now an academic and media art practitioner in Australia; previously), touching on areas such as artificial divisions between art and technical practice, the politics of the role of the artist and the conflict between creative exploration and artistic recognition and success.
posted by acb on Jul 13, 2013 - 25 comments

The expanding canvas

The Sad and Rapid Decline of the Ball Cap: Including photos of the 67 hats that survived of the author's 90s-era Hat Collection. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Jul 12, 2013 - 84 comments

A life well lived.

"In life, things happen twice if you're lucky. There's the father you get and the father you choose." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 10, 2013 - 10 comments

Further Materials Toward a Theory of the Man-Child

In an essay for The New Inquiry, Moira Weigel and Mal Ahern consider The End of Men, global recession era capitalism, and ironic sexism.
"Mancession Lit portrays the Man-Child as pitiful, contrasting him with women who are well-adjusted and adult. But it rarely acknowledges the real question that this odd couple raises. Namely, are women better suited to the new economy because they are easier to exploit?"

posted by GameDesignerBen on Jul 9, 2013 - 108 comments

Next Year at Stonewall

During this Pride season, 44 years after Stonewall and 17 years since HAART was introduced, writers reflect on what the past can teach us about the way forward and what the end of DOMA has to do with it. John Weir on AIDS, death, trauma, and liberation; Reina Gossett on resistance, assimilation, and the life of Marsha P. Johnson, one of the first to fight back at Stonewall. And Stonewaller Sylvia Rivera at the 1973 Christopher Street Liberation Rally, recently rediscovered by Reina Gossett, and Gossett's reflections on what Rivera, like Johnson and countless other transwomen of color, had to do to make space for herself.
posted by liketitanic on Jun 30, 2013 - 14 comments

I Know What You Think of Me

"I’ve also been written about, in ways I could find no fault with but that were nonetheless excruciating for me to read. It is simply not pleasant to be objectively observed — it’s like seeing a candid photo of yourself online, not smiling or posing, but simply looking the way you apparently always do, oblivious and mush-faced with your mouth open. It’s proof that we are visible to others, that we are seen, in all our naked silliness and stupidity." -Tim Kreider writes about finding out what people really say about you, and how it's all okay.
posted by smock smock smock on Jun 18, 2013 - 46 comments

Thinking about thinking about thinking

The Essayification of Everything (SLNYT)
posted by shivohum on May 30, 2013 - 15 comments

Proletariat isn’t just the name of a race horse my family owns

I’m 23 And I Still Have A Babysitter! I Really Hope This Is How You File For Divorce! Wait, What is the Stock Market? There’s Nothing Punk Rock About Sriracha Anymore. All this and more from Thought Brochure: Where Thoughts Are Thinked. (some stuff NSFW) [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on May 30, 2013 - 58 comments

"...your trauma high is always someone else’s trauma."

Fire School
posted by zarq on May 27, 2013 - 13 comments

"He had his life. And he did not yield."

The Final Days of 'Macho Man' Randy Savage [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 24, 2013 - 28 comments

"Makes you feel kind of desperate, doesn’t it?" *Mblgpf.*

"By the time Cathy began, the sexual revolution had ended, so the strip stands as a perfect artifact of a moment when the cultural understanding of coercion changed completely—a moment when, one could argue, second-wave feminism basically died. With its baby-boomer characters, Cathy dramatizes the aftermath: the ’60s ended when it became clear that a revolutionary movement toward a just society wasn’t happening; the ’70s ended up being about trying to navigate the wreckage of the ’60s. The ’80s were largely about looking for strategies to accept injustice and inequality, and to construe that acceptance itself as a positive value.

"Cathy takes its place in this cultural progression by drilling in the notion that it doesn’t matter what the law says: you are being coerced not by the state but by your desire to be valued."
posted by Rory Marinich on May 5, 2013 - 78 comments

In a few cases, the start dates are well-informed guesses

Predicting Google Shutdowns. "In the following essay, I collect data on 350 Google products and look for predictive variables. I find some while modeling shutdown patterns, and make some predictions about future shutdowns. Hopefully the results are interesting, useful, or both." Gwern exhaustively analyzes Google products past and present with an eye to establishing what's not long for the bitverse. tl;dr? Results.
posted by mwhybark on May 4, 2013 - 89 comments

They're not the same men

Mad Men Season 6 (and simultaneous saturation coverage) begins again tonight. As the show winds down, along with the decade that defined it, the 1960s, critics are wondering "What's the best ending for the best series on TV? Can it survive the onset of the 1970s?"
posted by Potomac Avenue on Apr 7, 2013 - 1408 comments

Good photos of cool rich midcentury Americans on yachts in New England.

Good photos of cool rich midcentury Americans on yachts in New England.
posted by maiamaia on Mar 26, 2013 - 95 comments

"There was no return from apostasy."

Leaving the Witness. "In one of the most restrictive, totalitarian countries in the world, for the first time in my life, I had the freedom to think." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 21, 2013 - 26 comments

The longest sentence ever served in an American prison: 64 years.

William Blake has been held in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York State for nearly 26 years, after he murdered a Sheriff's Deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt back in 1987. Sentenced to 77 years to life, he will be eligible for parole in 2064. But Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers "a sentence worse than death." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 16, 2013 - 79 comments

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