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 -
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 -
“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 -
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
posted by chavenet
on Jul 14, 2013 -
Five Reasons Why I Am Not An “Artist”
, an essay by
(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 -
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 -
"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 -
"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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
The Englishman and the eel
is a photo essay
of 93 images (thumbnails here; 2 pages)
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
"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 -
is a longtime sportswriter and author who has, among other things, reported for Grantland
, and the Boston Globe
, paneled on more than a few games
of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
, and fished diapers out of trees
as a state forest ranger. He's also made a name for himself as one of the sharpest and most incisive political columnists since Molly Ivins. The lead writer for Esquire's Politics Blog
ever since a caustic article
on former Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell cost him his Globe job
, Pierce has churned out an uninterrupted stream of clever, colorful, and challenging commentary
on the 2012 election season and its implications for the nation's future, dispatches often seething with eviscerative anger but shot through with deep love of (or perhaps grief for) country. Look inside for a selection of Pierce's most vital works for some edifying Election Eve reading. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Nov 5, 2012 -