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In this white darkness, we will take the place of everything

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 episode (1, 2) 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 - 9 comments

Assault on the Minibar

"Assault on the Minibar" - an essay in The Paris Review by Dubravka Ugresic
posted by Trurl on Oct 26, 2011 - 22 comments

Generation X hasn't had a real voice since Axl got fat.

Generation X Doesn't Want to Hear It
posted by spacewaitress on Oct 18, 2011 - 378 comments

"We'll be fine."

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 - 19 comments

A Clumsy Martian, Indeed

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 - 228 comments

Survivial of the fittest school of economics?

Charles Darwin, Economist
posted by Gyan on Oct 6, 2011 - 121 comments

The Sadist State

Cruel America: It appears that no one is so unfortunate that he or she is exempt from spending cuts, while at the same time no one is so fortunate as to be ineligible for a tax cut.
posted by The Whelk on Oct 2, 2011 - 164 comments

What Is Middlebrow?

Dorothy Gambrell of Cat And Girl fame spends an awful lot of time talking about education, class, debt, money, and the hollow promise of aspirational media to discuss how much she hates Good Will Hunting
posted by The Whelk on Sep 22, 2011 - 108 comments

Jean Paul Gaultier

"Jean Paul Gaultier's World of Inspiration" - a profile by Susan Orlean [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Sep 19, 2011 - 6 comments

Rita Hayworth in "Gilda"

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 - 14 comments

Pomobama

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 - 22 comments

The people of India love you deeply!

"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 - 45 comments

Library of America free content

Every Monday The Library of America features a free Story of the Week. It could be anything -- a short work of fiction, a character sketch, an essay, a journalist’s dispatch, a poem -- taken from from one of the hundreds of classic books in the LoA collection. Archive of 83 weeks so far.
posted by stbalbach on Aug 2, 2011 - 5 comments

Deindividuation and Polarization through Online Anonymity

The Guardian: Online commenting: How the internet created an age of rage
posted by zarq on Jul 25, 2011 - 93 comments

We Could've Had The Moon

Tim Kreider writes a little essay comparing the Moon and Afghanistan.
posted by The Whelk on Jul 23, 2011 - 50 comments

Blasphroggy

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 - 67 comments

In Defense of Prudes

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 - 150 comments

Let Facts be submitted to a candid world

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 - 72 comments

The Loading Dock Manifesto

John Hyduk, a middle aged blue collar worker in Cleveland, writes about his daily existence.
posted by reenum on Jun 28, 2011 - 46 comments

Hates gays, taxes, and light bulbs.

"Bachmann's entire political career has followed this exact same pattern of God-speaks-directly-to-me fundamentalism mixed with pathological, relentless, conscienceless lying. She's not a liar in the traditional way of politicians, who tend to lie dully, usefully and (they hope) believably, often with the aim of courting competing demographics at the same time. That's not what Bachmann's thing is."- Michele Bachmann's Holy War - Matt Tabbi - Rolling Stone
posted by The Whelk on Jun 23, 2011 - 283 comments

"When someone starts winning unwinnable cases, you notice."

The Baddest Lawyer in the History of New Jersey (and that's saying something.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 6, 2011 - 29 comments

"Apocalypses are not only catastrophes; they are also opportunities: chances for us to see ourselves, to change."

Apocalypse: What Disasters Reveal: An essay by Junot Díaz.
posted by Fizz on Jun 6, 2011 - 4 comments

"I don't think there's ever closure. I think whoever came up with that concept is an imbecile."

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 - 60 comments

The Empire of the Nickel

"For five cents Coney Island will feed you, frighten you, cool you, toast you, flatter you, or destroy your inhibitions. And in this nickel empire boy meets girl." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 30, 2011 - 15 comments

"Liking Is for Cowards, Go for What Hurts"

Jonathan Franzen's essay, excerpted from his commencement speech at Kenyon College says, among other things "To speak more generally, the ultimate goal of technology... is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes ... with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self." [more inside]
posted by dubold on May 30, 2011 - 71 comments

More enthusiasm! More!

Your Life as Pornography.
posted by Memo on May 29, 2011 - 68 comments

On President Kennedy, the Space Race, legacies and politics

50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on May 25, 2011 - 79 comments

“Aux enfants, je leur dis et je leur répète: ne faites pas la guerre."

The Last Two Veterans of WWI [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 3, 2011 - 38 comments

To Crank and Crank

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 - 50 comments

What Is to Be Done?

What Is to Be Done? Tim Kreider of The Pain muses about the future of cartooning as a payable profession
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 10, 2011 - 41 comments

Let the chips fall where they may.

"I've been eating two family-size bags [chips/crisps] a day for two years, and little else for the past decade." Via: The Guardian.
posted by Fizz on Mar 26, 2011 - 133 comments

California Schemin'

"As Woody Guthrie put it seventy years ago: California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see. / But be­lieve it or not, you won't find it so hot / If you ain't got the do re mi. My father, who risked all our do re mi in pursuit of his own California dream, is a case in point."
posted by liketitanic on Mar 12, 2011 - 28 comments

I mentally seceded from the US in 2004

Cartoonist Tim Kreider (previously, previously) of The Pain talks about the last decade, our "disastrous decline" and his latest book of cartoons and essays, Twilight Of The Assholes. Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
posted by The Whelk on Mar 5, 2011 - 6 comments

"My brain seems to work okay, but how would I know?"

My Above-Average Stroke. From November 2010, Garrison Keillor writing about the stroke he suffered in 2009. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 4, 2011 - 52 comments

Hate Man

Hate Man. "How a New York Times reporter dropped out and became a hate evangelist in Berkeley." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 3, 2011 - 49 comments

"For those of us who dreamed of trips to Mars, the trouble with our times, as Paul Valery once said, is that the future is not what it used to be."

When will our Martian future get here? [via: The Space Review]
posted by Fizz on Mar 3, 2011 - 10 comments

Twenty-eight years and eight months

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 - 18 comments

You are your life and nothing else, pig rider.

Jonathan Gourlay explores Minecraft, an ugly game with no point and endless possibility.
posted by The Whelk on Feb 21, 2011 - 173 comments

Poems From My Ex

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 - 41 comments

How Chinatown Falsifies History and Why Dragnet Is Like Ozu

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, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 [more inside]
posted by jonp72 on Feb 5, 2011 - 36 comments

Why I call myself a socialist

Why I call myself a socialist, by Wallace Shawn.
posted by serazin on Feb 4, 2011 - 103 comments

Can we lower medical costs by giving the neediest patients better care?

The Hot Spotters examines the possibilities of a strange new approach to health care: to look for the most expensive patients in the system and then direct resources and brainpower toward helping them. — by Atul Gawande [more inside]
posted by netbros on Jan 28, 2011 - 34 comments

Born This Way

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 - 78 comments

Lubricating Sincerity

"On GChat, 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 - 34 comments

An identity so appealing, someone should launch a meat market just to adopt it

Why does Futura work here but Slanted Futura doesn't? Enter FONTS IN USE: A breakdown, explanation and appreciation of type design out in the real world.
posted by The Whelk on Jan 3, 2011 - 17 comments

At first glance it may seem mediocre but over time you see why such a vehicle would inspire so much loyalty and devotion.

During the month of December, tor.com has been publishing essays on the Twelve Doctors of Christmas. Today artist Pia Guerra gives us the gift of an extended metaphor: the fifth Doctor as a Volvo. [more inside]
posted by PhoBWanKenobi on Dec 30, 2010 - 38 comments

Becoming Invisible

From June until August they hid out in their camp in the scrub oak up in the foothills, avoiding the search parties. Then they began coming down into the city by day, passing within a quarter-mile of Elizabeth's home. They walked the streets dressed as religious pilgrims from the New Testament. Mitchell had a long beard and a walking stick. Elizabeth and Wanda covered everything but their eyes. And no one figured it out. This American Life contributor Scott Carrier profiles the Messianic cult of Brian David Mitchell, the abductor of 2002 media icon Elizabeth Smart.
posted by l33tpolicywonk on Dec 14, 2010 - 60 comments

"Desperately Seeking Susan" [Sontag]

"Desperately Seeking Susan" [Sontag] [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Dec 12, 2010 - 14 comments

Working on the Ending

Working on the Ending. Writer Gail Godwin reflects on the way she works now: "Inevitable for the old writer is the slowdown of word retrieval... All it once took was the slightest tug at the bell for the vigorous servant, accompanied by backup synonyms, to report for duty... You can rail at your 'senior moment' like those tiresome people who bring a conversation to a halt because they can’t remember the name of a place or person... Or you can leave a blank, to be filled in later... For me, a consolation prize of word delay has been an increased intolerance for the threadbare phrase. I don’t want anyone on my pages to 'burst into tears' or 'just perceptibly' do anything, ever again."
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 10, 2010 - 12 comments

A thousand words can improve an image

What Matters (Flash based) is a book published in 2008 combining imagery and essays to tell stories highlighting contemporary issues benefiting from both images and text. The book was edited and curated by David Elliot Cohen (Wikipedia) including 17 essays (TOC, pdf) covering such issues as the Price of Oil Addiction (pdf) and Shop till You Drop (pdf). The complete book is available for free as a series of PDF documents. [more inside]
posted by michswiss on Nov 17, 2010 - 4 comments

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