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...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 - 12 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

Usà puyew usu wapiw!

It seems that the utopian imagination is trapped, like capitalism and industrialism and the human population, in a one-way future consisting only of growth. All I’m trying to do is figure out how to put a pig on the tracks. — Ursula K. Le Guin, "A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be"
posted by theodolite on Mar 15, 2013 - 13 comments

They never stop. They usually stop when they kill you.

Photographer as Witness: A Portrait of Domestic Violence
posted by MOWOG on Feb 27, 2013 - 72 comments

"once having given a pig an enema there is no turning back,"

Death Of A Pig, E.B. White.
I spent several days and nights in mid-September with an ailing pig and I feel driven to account for this stretch of time, more particularly since the pig died at last, and I lived, and things might easily have gone the other way round and none left to do the accounting. Even now, so close to the event, I cannot recall the hours sharply and am not ready to say whether death came on the third night or the fourth night. This uncertainty afflicts me with a sense of personal deterioration; if I were in decent health I would know how many nights I had sat up with a pig.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 26, 2013 - 32 comments

Slip Sliding Away

The Englishman and the eel is a photo essay of 93 images (thumbnails here; 2 pages) and article by London photographer Stuart Freedman that "attempts to look at (amongst other things) the significance and the decline of the eel and its fading from the changing London consciousness" with snapshots of "those palaces of Cockney culture, the Pie and Mash shops." [more inside]
posted by taz on Feb 24, 2013 - 30 comments

"I wanted to say: it’s nothing personal, it’s monarchy I’m staring at."

Royal Bodies by Hilary Mantel
"I used to think that the interesting issue was whether we should have a monarchy or not. But now I think that question is rather like, should we have pandas or not? Our current royal family doesn’t have the difficulties in breeding that pandas do, but pandas and royal persons alike are expensive to conserve and ill-adapted to any modern environment. But aren’t they interesting?"

posted by Fizz on Feb 17, 2013 - 53 comments

"Don't you see? If no one were watching, I would not dance at all."

The Old Man at Burning Man. "When I mentioned to friends that I was going to Burning Man with my 69-year-old father, 'Good idea' were the words out of no one's mouth."
posted by zarq on Feb 9, 2013 - 65 comments

"I still don’t understand what happened."

Sick by Amy Butcher (Via)
posted by zarq on Feb 4, 2013 - 30 comments

What Made "The O.C." Great, Bitch

What Made "The O.C." Great, Bitch
posted by infini on Feb 3, 2013 - 22 comments

Essay: Moral Shortcomings in the Technology Debate

Digital and genetic techniques increasingly influence life. Our belief in progress through technology stands in the way of a moral debate on this development. ~ by Rinie van Est
posted by infini on Jan 31, 2013 - 24 comments

The Phantom Phonebooth

Whether made of wood or glass, the phone booth stands apart, and is made to stand apart, from the normal flow of life in which it is situated.
posted by EvaDestruction on Jan 9, 2013 - 20 comments

Twelve Missives from the Roi des Belges

Perched high up above the Thames in downtown London every month this past year a different writer has spent four days living in a replica of the Roi des Belges, the boat Marlow travels up the Congo in Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness. Each author would write a short text during their stay "which explores London, rivers, the work of Joseph Conrad, or even all three." They would be visited on the last day by a journalist from The Guardian who recorded them reading their essay, poem or short story. Among the poets, historians and novelists were Adonis, Jeanette Winterson, Teju Cole, Michael Ondaatje and Kamila Shamsie. These recordings, each prefaced by a short interview, are all available on the Guardian website, to stream or download. Below the cut there is a link to each recording, with a short description. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Dec 31, 2012 - 7 comments

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the work

The author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a popular MetaFilter topic, was born 177 years ago today (November 30th 1835) in Missouri. The printer, riverboat pilot, game designer, journalist, lecturer, technology investor, gold miner, publisher and patent holder wrote short stories, essays, novels and non-fiction under the pen name Mark Twain. This included The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (recently adapted into a musical), one of the top five challenged books of the 1990s, published in 1884-85 to a mixed reception and with an ending that still causes debate. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 30, 2012 - 42 comments

Imagine a frozen ocean

"Entering into one of the fiercest competitions in existence, I found art."
Sixteen mushers. 120 dogs. An adventure across one of the longest mushing trails in the world: the Beringia, a dog sled race stretching 683 miles across eastern Russia. Twilight on the Tundra [more inside]
posted by zarq on Nov 28, 2012 - 8 comments

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