has been mentioned before
on Metafilter as a website that collects the best writing around the web. Over the past 3 days they've been posting their year end list of the best essays from 2011. The full annotated list is after the jump. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla
on Dec 26, 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 -
"The rigorous division of websites into narrow interests, the attempts of Amazon and Netflix to steer your next purchase based on what you’ve already bought, the ability of Web users to never encounter anything outside of their established political or cultural preferences, and the way technology enables advertisers to identify each potential market and direct advertising to it, all represent the triumph of cultural segregation that is the negation of democracy. It’s the reassurance of never having to face anyone different from ourselves." – Charles Taylor, The Problem with Film Criticism
posted by Rory Marinich
on Nov 24, 2011 -
Just wait till we're alone together. Then I will tell you something new, something cold, something sleepy, something of cease and peace and the long bright curve of space. Go upstairs to your room. I will be waiting for you...
As a rare October blizzard drifts a blanket of white across the Northeast just before Halloween, what better time to settle in and read (or watch) Conrad Aiken's
most famous short story, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow."
About a small boy who increasingly slips into an ominous fantasy of isolation and endless snow, it could be viewed as a metaphor about autism, Asperger's syndrome, and even schizophrenia before such conditions even had names. In addition to the 1934 short story, the tale has also been adapted as a creepy
1966 black-and-white short film
(also at the Internet Archive
) and as a Night Gallery
) narrated by Orson Welles. Or for a more academic take, see the essay "The Delicious Progress"
examining Aiken's use of white as a symbol of psychological regression.
posted by Rhaomi
on Oct 29, 2011 -
GQ: The Man Who Sailed His House. On the third day after the Japanese tsunami, after the waves had left their destruction, as rescue workers searched the ruins, news came of an almost surreal survival: Nine miles out at sea, a man had been found alone, riding on nothing but the roof of his house. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Oct 13, 2011 -
Margaret Atwood defines science fiction
"Is [the term science fiction] a corral with real fences that separate what is clearly 'science ﬁction' from what is not, or is it merely a shelving aid, there to help workers in bookstores place the book in a semi-accurate or at least lucrative way? If you put skin-tight black or silver clothing on a book cover along with some jetlike ﬂames and/or colourful planets, does that make the work 'science ﬁction'? What about dragons and manticores, or backgrounds that contain volcanoes or atomic clouds, or plants with tentacles, or landscapes reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch? Does there have to be any actual science in such a book, or is the skin-tight clothing enough? These seemed to me to be open questions."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi
on Oct 6, 2011 -
Leonard Michaels' "The Zipper"
: Rita Hayworth is never seen disrobed in the movie, though it is threatened more than once. The atmosphere of dark repression and mysterious forces – the mood or feeling of the movie – might be destroyed by the revelation of her body. It scared me as she began her striptease dance in the nightclub. I didn’t want everybody to see her body, or even to see that Rita Hayworth had a body. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Sep 5, 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 -
"Certainly, Uncle Sam, disowned by Pakistanis, has found innumerable devoted nephews in India. Indian and Pakistani perceptions of America now wildly diverge: A 2005 Pew poll conducted in 16 countries found the United States in the highest regard among Indians (71 percent having a favorable opinion) and nearly the lowest among Pakistanis (23 percent).
" Why do India and Pakistan see America in such opposite ways?
posted by vidur
on Aug 17, 2011 -
Weekend At Kermie's: The Muppets' Strange Life After Death.
Elizabeth Stevens asks:
What if, in 1990, instead of recasting Kermit—something that had been done to Mickey and Bugs Bunny before him—the Muppets had continued on Kermit-less, as "The Simpsons" did after Phil Hartman died. Recall Susan’s words on "Seasame Street" about Mr. Hooper in 1982: “Big Bird, when people die, they don’t come back.” Let’s say Robin showed up saying his uncle Kermit had passed away? Or, if that was too dark for Disney, what if Kermit had left show business to go off to start a family with Piggy? Someone else could lead the gang of weirdoes.
It would’ve made more artistic sense than what happened
posted by zarq
on Jul 14, 2011 -
So, I have come to take back the knife on behalf of us prudes, who quite often are only reserved, shy, terribly square people whose native restraint and weak knees are, in fact, generally accompanied by a deep love of personal freedom and diversity of opinion. Prudery comes in for a lot of flak because people imagine that the prudes want to impose limitations on the behavior of others, but they particularly, especially do not. The wimpy and yikes-prone, far from wishing to restrict or even to express an opinion regarding anyone else's private practices, are in reality possessed of a fervent, if doomed, desire to know as little about them as possible.
In Defense of Prudes,
an essay by Maria Bustillos, from the Awl.
posted by sweetkid
on Jul 7, 2011 -
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable.
The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study
. More on the Declaration: full transcript
and ultra-high-resolution scan
, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft
, the little-known royal rebuttal
, a thorough history of the parchment itself
, a peek at the archival process
, a reading of the document by the people of NPR
and by a group of prominent actors
, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation
, Slate's Twitter summaries
, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers
posted by Rhaomi
on Jul 4, 2011 -
The Survivor. "When your family is murdered, and the home you had made together is destroyed, and you yourself are beaten and left for dead — as happened to Bill Petit on the morning of July 23, 2007 — it may as well be the end of the world. It is hard to see how a man survives the end of the world. The basics of life — waking up, walking, talking — become alien tasks, and almost impossibly heavy, as you are more dead than alive. Just how does a man go about surviving such a thing? How does a man go on? ... Why does one man come undone while the next finds a way to make it through?" [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jun 2, 2011 -
Cranking. "She couldn't really help my Dad. My Dad couldn't really help her. But they sure tried. She cranked and cranked. I was seven. I didn't know how to help anyone."
- A brief essay on life, happiness and work by Merlin Mann.
posted by Memo
on Apr 24, 2011 -
The Someone You're Not: "Our packed prisons are starting to disgorge hundreds of mostly African-American men who, over the last few decades, we wrongly convicted of violent crimes. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years in prison for something you didn't do. This is what it's like to spend nearly thirty years as someone you aren't. And for Ray Towler, this is what it's like to be free." Via. [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Feb 25, 2011 -
Fifteen years after we broke up, my ex-boyfriend published a book of poetry. ... For months, the slim book sat on my shelf like an awkward houseguest. Then, one quiet night, something nudged me out of my inertia, or dread, and I settled into bed with his book. And there I was.
posted by Joe Beese
on Feb 10, 2011 -
Los Angeles Plays Itself
is a dazzling cinematic essay
by the filmmaker Thom Andersen
about how the city of Los Angeles is portrayed in films. Watch it now on YouTube: Part 1
, 12 [more inside]
posted by jonp72
on Feb 5, 2011 -
Born This Way!
Photo/essay submissions that capture men and women, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate gay selves.
posted by hermitosis
on Jan 13, 2011 -
, I type many things – sincere and not – that I would never say in person because it’s easy, when typing certain things into a box, to forget whom you are typing to." From Thought Catalog
, writer Caroline Bankoff lists 45 things she thinks about when she thinks about google's chat service. [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue
on Jan 6, 2011 -