Over the course of nearly 20 centuries, millions of East Africans crossed the Indian Ocean and its several seas and adjoining bodies of water in their journey to distant lands, from Arabia and Iraq to India and Sri Lanka.
Called Kaffir, Siddi, Habshi, or Zanji, these men, women and children from Sudan in the north to Mozambique in the south Africanized the Indian Ocean world and helped shape the societies they entered and made their own.
Free or enslaved, soldiers, servants, sailors, merchants, mystics, musicians, commanders, nurses, or founders of dynasties, they contributed their cultures, talents, skills and labor to their new world, as millions of their descendants continue to do. Yet, their heroic odyssey remains little known.
The African Diaspora in the Indian Ocean World traces a truly unique and fascinating story of struggles and achievements across a variety of societies, cultures, religions, languages and times.
posted by infini
on Feb 6, 2014 -
This year's critical darling essay collection -- Junot Diaz's favorite read of the year (#)
, Michael Robbins's pick for best book of the year (#)
-- is White Girls
by Hilton Als. Mentions of Als are infrequent on Metafilter, so I thought I would share a Readlist collection of his stuff
(that has a bit of overlap with the book).
posted by AceRock
on Dec 16, 2013 -
"One of the greatest stories, true or fictional, in all literature is Gibbon’s account of the life and martyrdom of Boethius under the Ostrogoth Theodoric. Senator, poet, philosopher, man of reason, he was the last of his kind in all these categories. The story is an incomparable masterpiece of prose. From the opening sentence, "The Senator Boethius is the last of the Romans whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged for their countryman,"
Gibbon builds a mighty organ toccata. He always seems to see ahead to every echo and resonance and inversion of rhythm, through the idyllic description of The Consolation of Philosophy
to the terrible climax — the philosopher garroted and clubbed to death in the last gloomy hours of Theodoric, followed by the swift cadence, and the coda of the martyrdom of his fellow Senator Symmachus — four crowded pages of the most solemn music. Each man speaks in his own style. Gibbon speaks with such sublimity because, sitting in his quiet study, he was totally involved in the defense of reason against the triumph of barbarism and superstition and the ruin of all bright things." [more inside]
posted by Iridic
on Oct 21, 2013 -
Lately, I've had some doubts about the level of discourse here on Metafilter. To remedy the situation, here is that great American essayist and thinker, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, on diddling
. [more inside]
posted by Nomyte
on Jun 18, 2013 -
"A talented writer such as John Jeremiah Sullivan might, fifty years ago, have tried to explore his complicated feelings about the South, and about race and class in America, by writing fiction, following in the footsteps of Walker Percy and Eudora Welty. Instead he produced a book of essays, called Pulphead
, on the same themes; and the book was received with the kind of serious attention and critical acclaim that were once reserved for novels. But all is not as it seems. You do not have to read very far in the work of the new essayists to realize that the resurrection of the essay is in large measure a mirage
) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Feb 22, 2013 -
Wood Central is a long lived forum
for woodworkers predating even young upstart Metafilter. Having been around for so long the forums are a source of immense knowledge of all things wood and some of that has been collected into posting archives and essays on their Articles and Reviews
page. So if you ever wanted to know
Wood Central's article page has you covered. [more inside]
posted by Mitheral
on Feb 15, 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 -
I have known him profess himself a man-hater, while his cheek was glowing with compassion; and, while his looks were softened into pity, I have heard him use the language of the most unbounded ill-nature. Some affect humanity and tenderness, others boast of having such dispositions from nature; but he is the only man I ever knew who seemed ashamed of his natural benevolence.
From "The Man in Black,"
by Oliver Goldsmith
, author of She Stoops to Conquer
and The Vicar of Wakefield
posted by Iridic
on Dec 25, 2012 -
On the day he turned thirty-eight, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
retired from public life to the tower of the Château de Montaigne
, there to spend the next ten years composing an assay
of his life's experience. That his mind might thrive, he turned the tower into a "Solitarium"
and its top floor into a sumptuous library
, lining its round walls with some 1,500 books
. Even the roof beams were made to bear his thoughts: on them he inscribed 46 quotations, here
collected and translated.
posted by Iridic
on Oct 11, 2012 -
Food writing’s shameful secret, wrote John Thorne his seminal essay, “Cuisine Mécanique”,
is its intellectual poverty. John himself is a notable exception. He is one of those rare authors who have the gift of transporting us into a world of their own creation which we are happy to occupy for a while in preference to any other. They are Virgils to our Dante, showing us around the territory and introducing us to the natives. In these magic realms, strangers speak to us immediately as old friends; arriving unexpectedly at dinner time, we find a place already set for us. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Aug 11, 2012 -
This is powerful writing.
"This isn't an essay or simply a woe-is-we narrative about how hard it is to be a black boy in America. This is a lame attempt at remembering the contours of slow death and life in America for one black American teenager under Central Mississippi skies. I wish I could get my Yoda on right now and surmise all this shit into a clean sociopolitical pull-quote that shows supreme knowledge and absolute emotional transformation, but I don't want to lie."—A piece by Kiese Laymon, an Associate Professor of English and co-director of Africana Studies at Vassar College. [more inside]
posted by Moody834
on Jul 28, 2012 -
To do something well you have to like it. That idea is not exactly novel. We've got it down to four words: "Do what you love." But it's not enough just to tell people that. Doing what you love is complicated.
From How to do what you love
, by essayist
(and programmer, and entrepreneur) Paul Graham
posted by shivohum
on Feb 20, 2012 -
To get one large point out of the way: In the new book, The Socialist Car: Automobility in the Eastern Bloc, several contributors rapidly acknowledge the oxymoron of the title as well as the practice of owning a car in the former Soviet Empire. The private automobile, that avatar of western individualism, is difficult to square with collectivist notions. And once its owners were at the wheel, these socialist automobiles were often difficult to reconcile with notions of mechanical reliability. More than one contemporary joke appears in the text; the introduction, for instance offers, “Why does a Trabant have a heated rear window? To keep your hands warm when pushing it.” All that aside, the collection of essays edited by Lewis Siegelbaum, is a fascinating look at automobile use, production, and urban planning behind the Iron Curtain. It reveals a system that, if far from socialist or egalitarian in origin, created a culture of automobile use distinct from the western world.
posted by infini
on Jan 28, 2012 -
"To really love Joan Didion—to have been blown over by things like the smell of jasmine and the packing list she kept by her suitcase—you have to be female. … Women who encountered Joan Didion when they were young received from her a way of being female and being writers that no one else could give them. She was our Hunter Thompson, and Slouching Towards Bethlehem
was our Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
. He gave the boys twisted pig-fuckers and quarts of tequila; she gave us quiet days in Malibu and flowers in our hair. … Ultimately Joan Didion’s crime
—artistic and personal—is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore."
posted by Houyhnhnm
on Jan 11, 2012 -
The special duty of a Jewish Christmas baby
by Sheila Heti Most of the people one deals with say, “Oh! You're a Christmas baby! You must get ripped off when it comes to presents, right?” Their eyes light up.
It's a hard question to answer. The honest answer is, “I'm a Jew, I don't celebrate Christmas,” but saying this always seems chastising, and the person who asked then feels embarrassed (as they should) and I feel embarrassed that this is my accidental role in the world: reminding everyone that Jews exist. The times I say, gruffly, “I don't know. I'm Jewish,” they usually say, “Oh, I'm sorry!” But this always sounds to me not like, “I'm sorry I assumed you were Christian,” but rather, “I'm sorry that you're Jewish.” Given all this, I usually reply simply, “Yeah, it's awful. I get ripped off every year.” [previously from Sheila Heti]
posted by KokuRyu
on Dec 25, 2011 -
An Essay On The Noble Science Of Self-Justification:
"Timid brides, you have, probably, hitherto been addressed as angels. Prepare for the time when you shall again become mortal. Take the alarm at the first approach of blame; at the first hint of a discovery that you are any thing less than infallible:--contradict, debate, justify, recriminate, rage, weep, swoon, do any thing but yield to conviction.
I take it for granted that you have already acquired sufficient command of voice; you need not study its compass; going beyond its pitch has a peculiarly happy effect upon some occasions. But are you voluble enough to drown all sense in a torrent of words? Can you be loud enough to overpower the voice of all who shall attempt to interrupt or contradict you? Are you mistress of the petulant, the peevish, and the sullen tone? Have you practised the sharpness which provokes retort, and the continual monotony which by setting your adversary to sleep effectually precludes reply?" For remember, "a lady can do no wrong."
posted by shivohum
on Dec 15, 2011 -