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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Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

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Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

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Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

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Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

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David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

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Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

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Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

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Joseph Spece
Joseph Spece: When Gamers Attack

Like many ugly controversies, the beginnings of #gamergate are linked to the end of love — well, the end of a relationship, at least....

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Lauren Berlant performs by clicking

Today I introduced Facebook to someone older than me and had a long conversation about what the point of networking amongst “friends” is. The...

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Tinder Times by Bibi Deitz

I am in bed with a man. He has to go home. He is not staying the night. So he pulls out his iPhone...

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Jenny Diski keeps up

Some things are best met with silence. If I were to proceed with this month’s column in an honest way, it would be a...

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From Fashion by Tracy O’Neill

The man who brought us a disembodied protagonist alluringly voiced by Scarlett Johansson has now issued a drama — starring apparel. Recently, Opening Ceremony...

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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