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 -
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 -
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 -
Categories as fundamental as fact and fiction, news and entertainment, gender and sexuality, have eroded away. In literature and architecture, in cuisine, in music, in fashion and furnishings, everywhere, everything—it’s fusion and mix.
Barack Obama emerged as a literal embodiment of this age. To educated people, especially younger people with generally progressive views, other candidates suddenly looked parochial by comparison—or simply outdated. In his ethnicity and biography and in his personality and politics, Obama, the conciliator, was above all a combiner. Because he was from virtually everywhere—Kenya, Indonesia, Honolulu, Harvard, Chicago’s South Side—he was also from nowhere. The pastiche of his persona made him “his own man” in a new sense of the term.
On the Politics of Pastiche and Depthless Intensities: The Case of Barack Obama
posted by Rumple
on Aug 25, 2011 -
Do you want to be a writer? "Write as if you were dying.
At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon?... Every book has an intrinsic impossibility, which its writer discovers as soon as his first excitement dwindles. The problem is structural; it is insoluble; it is why no one can ever write this book. Complex stories, essays and poems have this problem, too -- the prohibitive structural defect the writer wishes he had never noticed. He writes it in spite of that." Luminous and wise writing advice from Annie Dillard
, author of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
, one of the most beautiful books written in the last hundred years (published when Dillard was 29). As a writer myself, I am often asked by younger folk how to become one. Dillard says best what I would tell them.
posted by digaman
on Jan 10, 2005 -
for the best software essays of 2004. There's lots of reading here, pardners, and much of it is great.
posted by bonaldi
on Dec 3, 2004 -
The Abduction of Modernity.
"Western thinkers, many of whom cannot speak or read any non-Western language, are held back in their analysis of modern civilization by the assumption that modernity is an exclusive characteristic of the West. At a time when the sole superpower is resurrecting the practice of imposing national will by military might, Henry C K Liu examines this assumption in a series of articles." Part 1: The race toward barbarism, Part 2: That old time religion, Part 3: Rule of law vs Confucianism, Part 4: Taoism and modernity, Part 5: The Enlightenment and modernity, Part 6a: Imperialism as modernity, Part 6b: Imperialism and fragmentation, Part 6c: Imperialism resisted.
posted by homunculus
on Oct 15, 2003 -
How much freedom should we trade for our security?
That is the title of this years Economist/Shell essay competition. The winner will receive $20,000 as well as inclusion in The Economist: The World in 2003. The closing date is August 15. Anyone feel like entering? If I can learn to write English in time I may submit an essay that takes the form of a discussion between a 68 year old Japanese American ex-internee and a 7 year old Israeli girl.
posted by RobertLoch
on Apr 22, 2002 -
an interesting take on the whole western ideals v eastern ideals idea. The collapse of the Soviet Union as harbinger of the collapse of the west? Well, maybe not from the perspective of your average neo-libertarian. From the perspective of someone who didn't buy into the Enlightenment, from where springs both liberal democracy and marxism, then it may just look like one process. Interesting article from the 'Other Side of the Hill'
posted by vbfg
on Sep 17, 2001 -
The Case for Rage and Retribution.
An essay by Lance Morrow from the special all-attack issue of TIME.
"What’s needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury — a ruthless indignation that doesn’t leak away in a week or two."
posted by aaron
on Sep 16, 2001 -
"Every school has its story, every room its ghost."
Ian Dugay writes about the terrors of elementary school; his experience might be rather particular (if you read it, you'll understand that I don't mean that in a Columbine kind of way), but he can't be the only one with unpleasant memories -- how do you
remember grade school?
posted by lia
on Jan 21, 2001 -
Paul Ford's Ftrain
has a great piece on Micrsoft Word, writing, and the web. His stream-of-consciousness essay has hilarious nuggets like the "computer science axiom 'all software expands until it can send mail.'" There's a couple illustrations worth noting: the first
looks like Word with all
the tool bar icons enabled, and the other
is Word's paperclip assistant interfering with an especially private moment. Great stuff.
posted by mathowie
on Feb 8, 2000 -