➜ The Marsh (Ryuunosuke Akutagawa, translated by John Gardner)
A short story about a man who happens to find a painting of a marsh in an art gallery and is greatly moved by it despite having a professional art critic ridicule the artist, the painting and the narrator himself for declaring that he personally finds it ‘a masterpiece’.. Despite being an Akutagawa story and therefore full of a sense of hopeless, helpless doom, I found it strangely moving too. Many thanks to Wabei Translation for sharing.
➜ Abd el-Kader and the Massacre of Damascus
A well-researched post about a historical hero I’m sorry not to have learned about before.
If you don’t know the history and have not read this piece, you owe it to yourself to do so.
(What is really weird is that I’m sitting here ripping a copy of 1, 2, 3 Soleils, which contains the definitive live version of “Abdel Kader” the song - ppl act all surprised-like when they find I’m familiar with it, even though I have no idea how you can live in a city with a large Arabic-speaking immigrant population and not be. Darned if I have any idea what the lyrics are, but that happens often enough in languages I speak. XD; I’ve been to a Khaled gig, too, by myself, before it would have occurred to me to be self-conscious about something like that.)
I didn’t know this and I’m more than slightly ashamed of myself for it.
“It is no light thing for history to record, that the most uncompromising soldier of Mohammedan independence (…) became the most intrepid guardian of Christian lives and Christian honor in the days of his political downfall, and in the decline alike of his people and of his faith. (…) To-day (Oct 20, 1860) the Christian world unites to honor in the dethroned Prince of Islam, the most unselfish of knightly warriors, risking limb and life to rescue his ancient foes, his conquerors and the conquerors of his race and his religion, from outrage and from death.”
➜ On David Foster Wallace's Private Self-Help Library
(h/t michelledean, although I would have read it sooner or later, and this post is probably one of a flood washing over your dashboard)
This is physically difficult to read. I had to tab out at least five times because I felt too sick to go on. It’s intrusive; it’s completely at odds with the idea that you present, and are supposed to present, your own self, no warts and no troubles. Wallace likely would have hated this.
But read it anyway; it is worth the effort, and there are insights in the piece that must be read.
This piece is amazing.
If reading his private notes (the highlighted areas) make you feel like prying just read the article. Excerpt:
Wallace’s harrowing depictions of self-loathing (…) remind me every time of the things I have wanted to say (but can never actually say) to the depressed people I’ve known. Namely: fine, if you are such a worm, so false and worthless, unfit to live, then why are you even listening to yourself? You are the very last person anybody ought to be listening to, apparently? Just please back away from the mirror now, because it is all bullshit in there, nothing but illusions, illusions all the way down