366 posts tagged with essay.
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It was 1982. We were young. There was only one urinal.

It is my brother's and my shared belief that a single fast food meal eaten on or about June 6, 1982, ruined the relationship between us in a way that we still don't understand, and from which we have yet to recover. Please bear with me as I set the stage for this incident—an incident which I believe, in its sum, to be as tidy an aperçus as can exist for the essence of siblinghood.
Chris Onstad (yes, that Chris Onstad) on Carl's Jr., and the Thing That Happened There
posted by SansPoint on Nov 2, 2016 - 61 comments

American gun violence and legislation in the "shelter in place" age

We teach our students that the first move in an argument is often one of definition: gun as tool. Gun as "objective correlative" (T. S. Eliot) of "liberty" (Wayne LaPierre). Gun as "right" that, if left "unexercised," will be lost (opencarry.org). While running for president, Jeb Bush argued that our country is a gun when he tweeted a photo of his engraved handgun with a one-word caption, "America." A gun is a little cannon for killing that we've sentimentalized and normalized. [American Weather]
posted by amnesia and magnets on Oct 20, 2016 - 46 comments

The Last Whale Hunt

Above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, a half-day's journey by snowmobile from the nearest paved road or tree, a village called Kivalina sits on a slip of permanently frozen earth bracketed by water — a lagoon on one side and the Chukchi Sea on the other. Everything on Kivalina is hard: there are no roads, few jobs, and rising waters that will soon swallow the island whole. But life can get better if the villagers catch a whale. It hasn't happened since 1994, but that's no reason to give up. This just might be the year. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 17, 2016 - 3 comments

There's little doubt I'm practicing a vocation in its twilight.

Reflections on ten years working as a fire lookout:
My lookout tower is situated five miles from the nearest road, on a ten-thousand-foot peak in the Gila National Forest. I live here for several months each year, without electricity or running water. Although tens of thousands of acres are touched by fire here every year, I can go weeks without seeing a twist of smoke. During these lulls I simply watch and wait, my eyes becoming ever more intimate with an ecological transition zone encompassing dry grasslands, piñon-juniper foothills, ponderosa parkland, and spruce-fir high country.
--A Talent for Sloth
posted by MoonOrb on Oct 14, 2016 - 29 comments

My First Gulfstream

My First Gulfstream In 1998, Vanity Fair published this account by an anonymous "information entrepreneur" (rumored to be Nathan Myhrvold) about the process of buying a private jet.
posted by mecran01 on Oct 9, 2016 - 38 comments

Symbols matter

What I Pledge Allegiance To. "I am a black Mississippian. I am a black American. I pledge to never be passive, patriotic, or grateful in the face of American abuse. I pledge to always thoughtfully bite the self-righteous American hand that thinks it’s feeding us. I pledge to perpetually reckon with the possibility that there will never be any liberty, peace, and justice for all unless we accept that America, like Mississippi, is not clean. Nor is it great. Nor is it innocent." -- Author Kiese Laymon, Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 21, 2016 - 19 comments

"Around the world in the LRB Archive"

One Hundred Diaries is a map with links to a selection of a hundred short personal essays that have appeared in The London Review of Books throughout the years. The essays revolve around a place somewhere in the world , including Neal Ascherson writing about Ilullilat in Greenland, Jenny Diski writing about Christchurch in New Zealand, Perry Anderson writing about Nantes in France, Rebecca Solnit writing about New Orleans in the US, Hilary Mantel writing about Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Anneke van Woudenberg writing about Kilo in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 19, 2016 - 3 comments

From Jingoism to Feelings - the aesthetic response to collective trauma

Lindsay Ellis' (previously) new video series 'Loose Canon' (Previously) takes a look at the different media takes on the same cultural character or property. She takes on the longest and most detailed one yet with the media reaction to and portrayal of the 2001 9/11 attacks. Part 1 (21:21) Part 2 (27:37) (Warning for photos and video of attacks)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 18, 2016 - 2 comments

"Does Dolly Parton win?" Hogan asks. "Always," I answer.

My Virtual Brunch With Dolly Parton is an autobiographical essay by Heather Hogan of Autostraddle about growing up as a gay, southern Dolly Parton obsessive. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 13, 2016 - 24 comments

"For God’s sakes, it’s just a snake vagina."

Among the Lizard People: Silent Connections at the Reptile Expo
posted by Faint of Butt on Aug 11, 2016 - 22 comments

"On the physical and emotional shocks of truly inhabiting our bodies."

Break My Body: "What I’m trying to unravel is the difference between merely existing in a body and truly inhabiting it—to untangle passivity from receptivity. My woman-body has never been as easy for me to love, with its big breasts and disorienting cycles, as the girl-body that hurled me so beautifully through the air. To be sure, the woman-body has been good for sex, for attracting my husband’s touch, but sex is just one aspect of the whole—one that for me has never felt like a primary purpose. And as I find myself choosing not to use the body to create a child, it now seems that the one act its whole design evolved toward will be one it never performs. I’m looking for a new working definition." -- an essay by Marin Sardy [CW: suicide, mental illness]
posted by Room 641-A on Aug 9, 2016 - 11 comments

Love, Loss, and Kimchi

" I’d create true fusion one mouthful at a time, using chopsticks to eat strips of T-bone and codfish eggs drenched in sesame oil, all in one bite. I liked my baked potatoes with fermented chili paste, my dried cuttlefish with mayonnaise."

Michelle Zauner writes on how Korean food helped her connect with her mother after her death, winning Glamour's 11th essay contest.
posted by FirstMateKate on Aug 8, 2016 - 9 comments

"Liberals got out of the habit of arguing for their beliefs"

"But it goes way beyond that. Some researchers claim that liberals aren't motivated by feeling of moral disgust, but I disagree. Liberals think incidents like these are disgusting. Racism is viscerally wrong, it's unacceptable, and it needs to stop." Four years ago Mark Rosenfelder (metafilter's own) wrote The Practical Case For Liberalism (previously). He follows it up now with The Moral Case For Liberalism.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 25, 2016 - 29 comments

"Hidden literary gems"

Writing for the BBC, Lucy Scholes lists "Ten 'Lost' Books You Should Read Now," starting with Teffi's Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea. An excerpt from Memories appeared in The New Yorker in 2014, and a recent article there provided additional background for that book as well as the collection of which the essay "My Dinner with Rasputin" is a part. [more inside]
posted by Wobbuffet on Jul 23, 2016 - 11 comments

“What bothers me is the way people were applauding him.”

To "more fully understand why conservative [American] politics [has] become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel," Author Tom Bissell went on a ten day “Stand with Israel Tour” hosted by right-wing Jewish Conservative talk show pundit Dennis Prager. My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Christian Zionists, is this month’s Harper’s Magazine cover story. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 12, 2016 - 29 comments

The Writing Men Want You To Know They've Been Very, Very Bad Boys

"The personal essay format demands that women reveal everything, often to the point of absurdity, while also allowing men to get away with vague metaphors and platitudes. On one end of the spectrum you have “I’m Glad My Friend Killed Herself,” and on the other end you have, "I Did Some Bad Shit, But All You Need To Know Is That I’m Dealing With It, Manfully."
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Jul 1, 2016 - 19 comments

"It's not really scary," Brad says. "None of this is scary."

"Safety Rope," an achingly beautiful essay by Garrard Conley: "No touching unless he touches you. No touching where people can see. No touching unless dared to touch. Brad makes the rules, but never says them aloud. One, two, three. Brad and I don't leave our hands down there for more than a few seconds. When I say my prayers at night, I pretend to be penitent, but I'm secretly happy for the betrayal." [more inside]
posted by amnesia and magnets on May 5, 2016 - 5 comments

The Jewish Community of Antioquia

The Faithful. "René and Juan Carlos set out to convert their Colombian megachurch to Orthodox Judaism. This is what happened."
posted by zarq on Apr 28, 2016 - 27 comments

“crisis” refers a moment when the body identifies intense danger

“To Become Louder, Even Still”: Responses to Sexual Violence in Literary Spaces Apogee Journal has collected fourteen responses from writers to sexual violence perpetrated in the literary community. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Apr 19, 2016 - 1 comment

"...a third party in our relationship"

Thoughts on open marriage and illness. Poet and essayist Melissa Broder, formerly anonymous creator of the Twitter account so sad today, writes about her relationship with her husband, their other partners, and his progressive chronic illness. This essay is excerpted from a larger collection, recently published.
posted by fast ein Maedchen on Apr 18, 2016 - 16 comments

On poverty, surviving, taxes and economic justice in America

"The Throwaways" by Melissa Chadburn, from 2012. (Via. tw: mentions rape, but not graphically.)
posted by zarq on Apr 9, 2016 - 24 comments

I didn't know how to protect myself if that meant disappointing men.

"Just recently, I began to see what I lost. It wasn't a job, a wife, a house. There was no tangible evidence of my fall, no record of my mistakes to be expunged. There was only the wreckage of my early adulthood, the loss of my unstoppable nature, and the empty hole where once my confidence grew. There was only a string of decisions to run and run again, to hide from ambition, to leave the theater forever, and to disown my dedication as a childish fantasy. And the reinforcement of my suspicion that I was only visible when I was wanted, and that nothing about me would ever eclipse my objecthood." (Content warning for child sex abuse)
posted by amnesia and magnets on Mar 24, 2016 - 5 comments

A brief cultural analysis of Trader Joe's

Everything at [Trader Joe's] is suggestive of a time when life was supposedly simpler, more traditional (e.g. homogeneous) — long before the big-box superstore, parking lots the size of football fields, and the proliferation of brands in the aisles and on social media.
posted by So You're Saying These Are Pants? on Mar 3, 2016 - 144 comments

“When asked my name, I struggled between ‘Kenneth Reitz’ vs ‘I ॐ AM’.”

“The programming community has been opening up over the past few years about mental health issues, so, I want to take this opportunity to open up about my own.” Kenneth Reitz, developer of the famed Python requests module (as well as tablib, records, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To Python) has written an essay about suffering a mental health crisis and discovering that he has bipolar affective disorder.
posted by Going To Maine on Feb 27, 2016 - 35 comments

"Single Women Are Our Most Potent Political Force"

Almost a quarter of the votes in the last US presidential election were cast by women without spouses, up three points from just four years earlier. They are almost 40% of the African-American population, close to 30% of the Latino population, and about a third of all young voters. The most powerful voter this year is The Single American Woman.
posted by zarq on Feb 22, 2016 - 53 comments

Preparing For Your Appointment at the Podiatrist.

Preparing For Your Appointment at the Podiatrist Identify the problem. Recall your shaky theories about the dark spot on your left big toenail that first appeared you-can’t-remember-when: it’s mud, it’s a smear of brown hair dye, it’s a bruise from a 25-pound bag of trash you dropped on your foot while clearing out your childhood home to put it up for sale.
posted by zutalors! on Feb 16, 2016 - 21 comments

"Happy Valentine's Day!" the woman threatened.

"[E]ver since noticing a beautifully wrinkled and mysteriously sensual older French woman at a friend’s party, and, having inquired if she was the wife of the frizzy-haired, balding older man with the huge, horn-rimmed glasses next to her, and being informed that, “Nooo, she’s his mistress. They’ve been lovers for many years,” I’d decided that loverhood was what I aspired to." "The Magic Trick," by Carolita Johnson. (SLTheHairpin) [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Feb 11, 2016 - 12 comments

"When Your Fat Pic Goes Viral as a Feminist Cautionary Tale"

Writer Hale Goetz had just finished Christmas dinner with her family when she got the call: “A picture of you is on the front page of r/funny,” my friend told me. I’m not a regular Reddit user, but I know about r/funny—it’s a popular subpage, a place with a lot of cat pictures. Funny? Had I been funny? I traced back through the past week, wondering if I had finally made one of my 119 Twitter followers laugh, but then my stomach clenched as my friend explained my stardom wasn’t because I had been funny. It was because I had gotten fat.
posted by Room 641-A on Jan 6, 2016 - 72 comments

How Bad Are Things?

One “advantage” of working in psychiatry is getting a window into an otherwise invisible world of really miserable people. Scott Alexander writes about mental health and well being in America.
"I work in a wealthy, mostly-white college town consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the country. If there’s anywhere that you might dare hope wasn’t filled to the brim with people living hopeless lives, it would be here. But that hope is not realized. Every day I get to listen to people describe problems that would seem overwrought if they were in a novel, and made-up if they were in a thinkpiece on The Fragmentation Of American Society."
posted by boo_radley on Dec 31, 2015 - 62 comments

Aw-nay-shuh.

"There was power in a name, and I figured if mine were Elizabeth, maybe the blue eyes and blonde hair would follow. I would look more like her. My mother. She has stories of walking around—me in her arms, my brother in a stroller—and people asking what country we were adopted from. My mother is too polite to say things like, The country of my vagina." "Where I'm Writing From" by Onnesha Roychoudhuri.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Dec 30, 2015 - 7 comments

“Our Christmases together were simple. ”

“My Christmas in New York” by Harper Lee, Illustrations by Bill Bragg [The Guardian]
“Several years ago, I was living in New York and working for an airline, so I never got home to Alabama for Christmas – if, indeed, I got the day off. To a displaced southerner, Christmas in New York can be rather a melancholy occasion, not because the scene is strange to one far from home, but because it is familiar: New York shoppers evince the same singleness of purpose as slow-moving southerners; Salvation Army bands and Christmas carols are alike the world over; at that time of year, New York streets shine wet with the same gentle farmer’s rain that soaks Alabama’s winter fields. I missed Christmas away from home, I thought. What I really missed was a memory, an old memory of people long since gone, of my grandparents’ house bursting with cousins, smilax and holly. I missed the sound of hunting boots, the sudden open-door gusts of chilly air that cut through the aroma of pine needles and oyster dressing. I missed my brother’s night-before-Christmas mask of rectitude and my father’s bumblebee bass humming Joy To The World.”
posted by Fizz on Dec 24, 2015 - 9 comments

"...thou shalt not be a bystander" ― Yehuda Bauer

Hollywood's Last Survivors [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 17, 2015 - 3 comments

“How did we get from Kitty Hawk to here?”

Take Flight [New York Times] [Magazine] The year’s best actors lift off in a series of tributes to the ultimate Hollywood magic trick. To watch in virtual reality on your phone, download our app. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Dec 10, 2015 - 4 comments

"Starving silences who you really are."

There Once Was a Girl. A work of criticism and of memoir on the false narratives surrounding anorexia in life and literature.
(Some may find the descriptions in this essay disturbing or triggering.)
posted by zarq on Dec 10, 2015 - 9 comments

This place has changed a lot.

These photos are why I'm trapped in Tokyo forever now is an animated photo essay about ... some kind of Tokyo.
posted by grobstein on Nov 29, 2015 - 15 comments

"You can’t sell something to people if they don’t want that thing."

Sending and receiving emails are important parts of his job. On average, he gets an email every 45 minutes. Sometimes, the interval between emails is only two minutes. Other times, it’s three hours. Although many of these emails are unimportant or stress-inducing, some of them are fun. Before long, whenever Michael S has an internet connection, he starts refreshing his email inbox every 30 minutes, and then every five minutes and then, occasionally, every two minutes. Before long, it’s a compulsive tic – the pecking pigeon of web usage.
If the internet is addictive, why don’t we regulate it?
posted by rorgy on Nov 29, 2015 - 42 comments

Steve Albini essay

Why I Haven't Had a Conventional Christmas in 20 Years
posted by josher71 on Nov 23, 2015 - 30 comments

"Let my people go"

1971: Fifth grader David Simon offers up a prayer: "Dear God, if you let Mike Epstein hit a home run right now, I will never, ever skip Hebrew school again." And lo, Mike "SuperJew" Epstein did indeed smack one deep into the upper deck. But less than a month later Simon was once again skipping Hebrew School.

It is now nearly half a century since a small boy asked his god to hang a Vida Blue pitch for his hero, and neither team with which he has allied himself has to this moment returned to a World Series. His foregone conclusion: "I gotta get right with God."
posted by zarq on Nov 20, 2015 - 29 comments

“how does one reconcile writing “the end” when life is still unfolding?”

Begin Again: On Endings in Nonfiction by E. V. De Cleyre [Ploughshares.org]
Talking, or writing, about endings is hard—whether it’s the end of a marriage, the end of a life, or the end of a book (lest one spoil the conclusion). Life rarely offers sudden and definitive endings or epiphanic conclusions. Rather, events leading up to the end seem to be a slow unfolding, occasionally bleeding into a new beginning. For writers of nonfiction, dealing with actual occurrences often means there is no definitive end, and even if there were (such as a death), there comes the aftermath—the grief, the coping, the rebuilding.
posted by Fizz on Nov 20, 2015 - 2 comments

“I suspect ‘chess rage’ & ‘road rage’ are neighbouring neural impulses.”

An Art Without an Artwork By Tom Russell [Guernica Magazine] A summer of chess in Bryant Park.
“Another way to distinguish a great chess player from an average one is to gauge how comfortable he or she is with tension. After the opening flurry of moves it is inevitable that a tension accrue somewhere on the board—a cluster of opposing pieces all vying for control of a vital square. The temptation for most is to resolve that tension by trading off pieces and simplifying the position. Experts let it build and build, and pounce only when they identify a clear way to gain an advantage. Everything you’d want to know about a person psychologically is there to see on the chessboard.”
posted by Fizz on Nov 15, 2015 - 11 comments

“the few comprehend a principle, the many require an illustration.”

Frederick Douglass's Faith in Photography by Matthew Pratt Guterl [The New Republic] How the former slave and abolitionist became the most photographed man in America.
He wrote essays on the photograph and its majesty, posed for hundreds of different portraits, many of them endlessly copied and distributed around the United States. He was a theorist of the technology and a student of its social impact, one of the first to consider the fixed image as a public relations instrument. Indeed, the determined abolitionist believed fervently that he could represent the dignity of his race, inspiring others, and expanding the visual vocabulary of mass culture.
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 8, 2015 - 4 comments

“The aims of life are the best defense against death.”

The Art of Witness by James Wood [The New Yorker] How Primo Levi survived.
“Primo Levi [wiki] did not consider it heroic to have survived eleven months in Auschwitz. Like other witnesses of the concentration camps, he lamented that the best had perished and the worst had survived. But we who have survived relatively little find it hard to believe him. How could it be anything but heroic to have entered Hell and not been swallowed up? To have witnessed it with such delicate lucidity, such reserves of irony and even equanimity? Our incomprehension and our admiration combine to simplify the writer into a needily sincere amalgam: hero, saint, witness, redeemer.”
[more inside] posted by Fizz on Nov 2, 2015 - 8 comments

"I'm sorry you're offended."

"I'm sorry you're offended." [more inside]
posted by Nevin on Nov 1, 2015 - 25 comments

I am named after the daughter my father lost

"What's in a Necronym?" by Jeannie Vanasco: "Whether the knowledge affected van Gogh—that he shared both his name and birthday with a dead sibling—remains unknown, the guide said. 'Does anyone have any questions?' he asked. My mind filled with loud, hurried thoughts and just as suddenly emptied, like a flock of birds scattering from a field." [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Oct 31, 2015 - 27 comments

"It's a metaphor for everything I've ever failed at."

"There are two kinds of women: those who knit and those who unravel. I am a great unraveler. I can undo years of careful stitching in fifteen gluttonous minutes. It isn't even a decision, really. Once I see the loose thread, I am undone. It's over before I have even asked myself the question: Do I actually want to destroy this?" [more inside]
posted by divined by radio on Oct 12, 2015 - 17 comments

웃 i am not here and this is not really happening.

After the triumph of OK Computer, Radiohead fell into a creative tailspin -- and frontman Thom Yorke into a nervous breakdown. Exhausted from touring, hounded by press, and jaded by copycats, he escaped into the electronica scene pioneered by Kraftwerk and Warp Records -- fertile ground, the band discovered. Trading spacey rock for apocalyptic brooding, they teased their new sound not with singles or music videos but with innovative web streaming and cryptic, dreamlike "blips" -- winterlands, flocks of cubes, eyeballs, bears. After nearly breaking up over tracklist angst, they cut the kid in half. Thus fifteen years ago today, Kid A and (later) Amnesiac debuted, a confounding mix of electronic fugue, whalesong, pulsing IDM, drunken piano, and epic jazz funeral whose insights into anxiety, political dysfunction, and climate crisis would make it one of the most revered albums of the twenty-first century. See the documentary Reflections on Kid A for interviews and live cuts, or look inside for much more. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 2, 2015 - 63 comments

"I don’t want to be left alone inside myself."

What will I hear when my ears stop working? by Ysabelle Cheung [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 28, 2015 - 30 comments

“I defer to no one in my love for America and for Christianity.”

Fear by Marilynne Robinson [New York Review of Books]
“There is something I have felt the need to say, that I have spoken about in various settings, extemporaneously, because my thoughts on the subject have not been entirely formed, and because it is painful to me to have to express them. However, my thesis is always the same, and it is very simply stated, though it has two parts: first, contemporary America is full of fear. And second, fear is not a Christian habit of mind. As children we learn to say, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.” We learn that, after his resurrection, Jesus told his disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Christ is a gracious, abiding presence in all reality, and in him history will finally be resolved.”
posted by Fizz on Sep 9, 2015 - 23 comments

The Democracy of Difficult Fiction

The value of fiction was clear to Virginia Woolf, who argued that nonfiction consists of half-truths and approximations that result in a "very inferior form of fiction." In Woolf's terms, reading ambitious fiction isn't comfortable or easy. Far from it: "To go from one great novelist to another—from Jane Austen to Hardy, from Peacock to Trollope, from Scott to Meredith—is to be wrenched and uprooted; to be thrown this way and then that." The illuminations that fiction offers are gained only with considerable effort. "To read a novel is a difficult and complex art," Woolf wrote. "You must be capable not only of great fineness of perception, but of great boldness of imagination if you are going to make use of all that the novelist—the great artist—gives you."
The Virtues of Difficult Fiction by Joanna Scott. She was interviewed by Larry Mantle on public radio show AirTalk about her essay. In the passage above Scott's quoting Woolf's How Should One Read a Book?
posted by Kattullus on Sep 7, 2015 - 16 comments

“Nature,” wrote Hitler, “knows no political boundaries.”

Hitler's World by Timothy Snyder [New York Review of Books]
In Hitler’s world, the law of the jungle was the only law. People were to suppress any inclination to be merciful and were to be as rapacious as they could. Hitler thus broke with the traditions of political thought that presented human beings as distinct from nature in their capacity to imagine and create new forms of association. Beginning from that assumption, political thinkers tried to describe not only the possible but the most just forms of society. For Hitler, however, nature was the singular, brutal, and overwhelming truth, and the whole history of attempting to think otherwise was an illusion. Carl Schmitt, a leading Nazi legal theorist, explained that politics arose not from history or concepts but from our sense of enmity. Our racial enemies were chosen by nature, and our task was to struggle and kill and die.
posted by Fizz on Sep 5, 2015 - 50 comments

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