The Best of New Writing on the Web

February 13, 2008

Emerson on Carlyle

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 3:41 pm

From So Many Books 

I wonder what it was in Emerson that allowed him to have good friendships with people that were difficult? He must have found such relationships stimulating. Perhaps they were an opportunity to test his own mind and ideas against those of another who wouldn’t balk at telling Emerson he was full of it. And maybe that’s why he managed to be friends with Thomas Carlyle even toward the end of Carlyle’s life when he and Emerson seemed to hold divergent views on most things. Still, Emerson was Carlyle’s American agent, taking it upon himself to find publishers for his work.

I am not certain of the context in which Emerson wrote his biographical sketch, Carlyle. It doesn’t have the tone of a eulogy, so perhaps it was a speech Emerson gave to get people interested in Carlyle and his work which would explain why the only negative thing Emerson says about Carlyle is that he had “errors of opinion,” whatever that means. So what comes out most in this essay is Carlyle’s sense of humor and his cantankerousness which Emerson manages to make seem charming. (more…)

Anthropomorphic Motoring

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 3:38 pm

From Ombudsben

I have a coworker who gets lost easily; I’ll call her A. About four of us were hired at the same time, working between two buildings, a lovely old well-ornamented Beaux Arts building and a modern concrete and glass box, connected by various corridors and passageways. We have passcards to beam us into the places we are permitted to tread, which keep us out of the rest.At first A managed to get lost occasionally, losing her way on stairwells and such, and would find herself in other departments’ reception desks or elevator lobbies, relying on the kindness of strangers to find her way back to us. People tried to give her maps, but she claimed not to speak map. “Maps for me are art, and belong on the wall,” she half-joked. (more…)

January 28, 2008

Renfro, Ledger, It’s Been Nice

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 12:06 pm
From Natalia Antonova 

I was in the middle of writing Heath Ledger’s obit when I realized that Brad Renfro died last week. Somehow, I had missed the news of Renfro’s death. Two of my teenage crushes gone in one fell swoop. Bizarrely, I had their pictures tacked up side-by-side on my closet door at one point.

My bedroom in Charlotte went through many changes, but I can still picture certain details clearly: the garland of lights woven around the windows, the enormous Beatles poster, the incense sticks in the green glow of the alarm clock radio on top of the new-yet-rickety dresser, and, at one point, two of the Western world’s most gifted actors staring down onto my rather un-fancy little bed. Neither one smiling. (more…)

Philosophy and Practice

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 12:05 pm

From Think Buddha

The other day I was at the university attending a seminar on practical philosophy. The seminar was being led with considerable verve and gusto by Italian philosopher Franco Volpi, who was talking about practical philosophy, drawing on Foucault’s book The Hermeneutics of the Subject, a book I haven’t yet had the chance to read.

The main thesis in the talk was that there has been a tendency in the Western philosophical tradition to conflate what Foucault call the “care of the self” – the various practices that make up much of Hellenistic philosophy, for example Stoicism – with knowledge of the self – the Socratic imperative. As a result philosophy has become impoverished. (more…)

War on Terror

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 12:03 pm

From Jew Eat Yet? 

Why do we humans go out of our way to terrorize ourselves? Why do we love watching our adrenaline levels shoot through the roof? Being the movie snob that I am, I tend to avoid most major blockbusters and head straight for the smaller independent or foreign films. But Kendall and I have been on a mainstream kick lately. In the past few weeks, we saw not one but two mega-popular post-apocalyptic films set in New York, “I Am Legend” and “Cloverfield.”

God, I’m exhausted. (more…)

Proust and the Problems of Writing

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 12:02 pm
From The Existence Machine

A little over a year ago, I wrote about the impulse to write, and those thought processes that have prevented me from writing. I wrote about the impossibility of saying anything new. If I wasn’t going to say anything new, the thinking went, why would I bother to write at all? For—to repeat myself—a great many things have already been written about a great many topics. Later, I wrote about my sense of enveloping chaos when I look on the various forms available to the fiction writer. How does one choose the correct form? What makes a form “correct”? How does a writer make these kinds of decisions? (more…)

In a Uniform Manner

Filed under: Essay,Humour,Writing — litlove @ 12:01 pm

From The airport diaries 

My cries affirming my liberty were premature. The department store has many grasping tentacles it seems, and they are spurting their acrid slime all over my soul. I was “reminded” that my final pay cheque would be held back if I didn’t return my uniform, which is fair enough, but it meant venturing out to that barren place to deposit my washed, tumble dried/electrified polyester slave clothes. It speaks volumes that the only rebellion I could make was not to iron the uniform before stuffing it into a plastic bag. It crackled angrily at me and I smothered the urge to drown it in a canal, with bricks as ballast. (more…)

Anthony Bourdain and Britney Spears

Filed under: Essay,Humour,Writing — litlove @ 12:00 pm

From The Public, The Private and Everything In Between

Anthony Bourdain and Britney Spears, bringing folks together since, well, two days ago 

Very recently, I found myself once again the victim of Northwest Airlines utter ineptitude. According to all weather reports, the skies were clear from where I was flying from, to where I was flying to, and, in fact, better, brighter, more well-guided skies had rarely been witnessed in the month of January by any meteorologist, ever. This, of course, meant Northwest had to continuously delay my flight home because, while every other airline that I’ve flown has managed to have its fucking ducks in a row, Northwest never fails to postpone my departure, if not randomly cancel it altogether. With endless hours suddenly on my hands, I made my way to the airport TGI-Friday’s, grabbbed a bar stool, and ordered a Sam Adams Winter Lager. I am not much of a beer drinker generally but I felt the need for a mellowing pint to keep me from losing my temper with the blameless ticketing agent, to whom not moments earlier, when my flight was delayed for the eighteenth or twenty-first time, I finally said “Just be honest with me. This is going no where good, right?” (more…)

January 14, 2008

I still remember the moment I decided not to read Ulysses

Filed under: Essay,Writing — litlove @ 12:06 pm

By Anne Landsman at Chekhov’s Mistress

I still remember the moment I decided not to read James Joyce’s Ulysses. I was an English major at the University of Cape Town, milling about with other students in a large lecture hall with raked wooden seats. There was some confusion regarding which set of xeroxed pages to pick up from what stack and then I have a clear memory of confronting the opening pages of the novel with dismay, feeling that yes, this could be a fascinating read if I had Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey at my fingertips, if I was Catholic, if I was as clever as the lecturer behind the lectern who was talking about the oxen of the sun. (And where exactly, were those oxen in the text?) (more…)

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