Berfrois

March 2011

Diary of a Little Man

Diary of a Little Man

  Bezirk Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Berlin by Peter Fritzsche When I first found the sprawling diary in a Berlin archive, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  It was full of insight, but littered with self-pity.  Political reportage on the terrible drama of twentieth-century German history often yielded to inflexible...

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Dharamsala’s Democratic Dalai Lama

Dharamsala’s Democratic Dalai Lama

McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala From The New York Review of Books: It’s been startling to witness mass demonstrations in countries across the Middle East for freedom from autocracy, while, in the Tibetan community, a die-hard champion of “people power” tries to dethrone himself and his people keep asking him to...

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Madness

Madness

The Palestra, University of Pennsylvania’s arena in Philadelphia From Projo: For my pilgrimage to West Philly, I needed a spiritual guide, so I turned to John Edgar Wideman, the distinguished novelist and Brown University professor who played brilliant basketball for Penn from 1959 to 1963. But Wideman’s recollections proved...

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Helen Thomas talks Israel and Palestine

Helen Thomas talks Israel and Palestine

From Playboy: PLAYBOY: So is this how you pictured retirement? THOMAS: I’m not retired! I was fired. In fact, I’ll die with my boots on. I’m still writing and I’ll continue to write and ask hard questions. I will never bow out of journalism. PLAYBOY: Take us back to...

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Fight of the Century

Fight of the Century

From Reader’s Almanac: It seems like only a heartbeat ago that Frank Sinatra was ringside at Madison Square Garden, camera in hand, straining to get just the right shot of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier as they went to war for the first time. The calendar tells us, however,...

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Excess Cinema

Excess Cinema

Justin Reed by Michael B. Mathias Aristotle commended the poets for their ability to portray the ways in which fate tests character and to display how human weaknesses may be amplified in unusual situations. By depicting human beings caught up in extraordinary circumstances, the poets did not simply entertain; they...

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Rebecca Suter on Murakami

Rebecca Suter on Murakami

Norwegian Wood, ToHo, 2011 by Rebecca Suter Murakami Haruki is perhaps the best known and most widely translated Japanese author of his generation. His latest novel, three-volume, 1600-page 1Q84, was an instant success: the first print sold out on the day it was released, and the first two volumes...

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When everyone works, it’s hard to find extras for a strike scene…

When everyone works, it’s hard to find extras for a strike scene…

Monica Vitti as Guiliana in Red Desert, Rizzoli, 1964 From Words Without Borders: Ravenna, October 15, 1963 Finally, after a year’s delay, we are in Ravenna. Just a week left before the first take. The Red Desert will be born after a long and difficult gestation. Those of us here with...

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300 (Years of Hume)

300 (Years of Hume)

David Hume at 300 | by Howard Darmstadter

Philosophy Now

Like most philosophers of his time, Hume conceived of thought as a flow of mental images. Seeing a tree, imagining a tree, or remembering a tree, were all thought to consist of...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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Elias Tezapsidis on Lorentzen, Batuman, Lerner, Smallwood and Stein

Contemporary narrators feel entitled to their own realities now more than ever. The internet has created this fascinating binary, one in which individuals can...

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Henry Giardina on Bob Hope

All mythical creatures need an origin story. The Bob Hope character springs into being, Athena-like, from out of the head of Preston Sturges in...

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Mattilda B. Sycamore: Yearning From Spurning

One problem with gentrification is that it always gets worse. But then I go into a Hooters, and it’s a vintage clothing store. A...

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Alexander McGregor
Alexander McGregor: Trauma

Following World War II, the German philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote, “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch”: to write poetry after Auschwitz is...

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John Crutchfield: Chords

But music, even bad music, is a symptom of hope, is it not? Naturally one would prefer the music to be good, but any...

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Menachem Feuer on Robin Williams

Regardless of whether you are from Europe, the United States, Asia, or Africa, we can all agree that there is something special about the...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

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Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

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A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

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