Berfrois

September 2011

Ruth Kinna on Guy Aldred

Ruth Kinna on Guy Aldred

Guy Aldred, c.1912 by Ruth Kinna Guy Aldred is an obscure but important figure in the history of socialist thought. He sometimes crops up in histories of British socialism, syndicalist and labour organisation, but rarely in discussions of socialist theory. His uncompromising commitment to activism perhaps explains this neglect:...

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Sincerely Dirty

Sincerely Dirty

Angelina Jolie: Poppy Field (Lusty Spring), David LaChapelle, 2001 From The New York Review of Books: The wit, the utopian vision, and the pornographic utility of House of Holes all arise from the same fact of its fictional universe: no one is ever really shocked. Obscene declarations of desire...

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Nick Rombes: A x A

Nick Rombes: A x A

Dawn Treader Book Shop by Nick Rombes I had been working on a long short story, “The Messiah Detective Agency,” when I came across Dana Levin’s book of poems In the Surgical Theatre. This was sometime late in 1999 or early 2000. I was on my way to meet...

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‘Repurposing’

‘Repurposing’

It's Not Plagiarism. In the Digital Age, It's 'Repurposing | by Kenneth Goldsmith

The Chronicle Review

In 1969 the conceptual artist Douglas Huebler wrote, "The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more."...

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No WMD

No WMD

From Granta: Consider that during World War II there were fewer than one hundred civilian casualties on US soil. No fire-bombing of Dresden, no London Blitz, no Hiroshima. Throughout the most deadly century in human history, US civilians remained remarkably safe from foreign aggression. The trauma of 9/11 for...

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Jeffrey L. Kidder: Lifestyle Messengers

Jeffrey L. Kidder: Lifestyle Messengers

Bike messenger in New York City by Jeffrey L. Kidder Bike messengers work in the traffic-snarled business districts of major cities. Much of what they deliver is time-sensitive: A legal document signed at 11:45 uptown needing to be filed at a downtown courthouse by noon or an advertising proof...

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Caspar Pearson: Urban Siege

Caspar Pearson: Urban Siege

The Miracle of the Relic of the True Cross on the Rialto Bridge, Vittore Carpaccio, 1465 by Caspar Pearson This summer has seen English cities engulfed by the worst rioting since the early 1980s. Such was their ferocity that the riots quite eclipsed the troubles of News International, Anders...

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‘When you think about palindromes, you probably just think they’re fun’

‘When you think about palindromes, you probably just think they’re fun’

Oppede, Luberon, France. Photograph by M Disdero  From The Believer: In March 2010, Barry Duncan, master palindromist, was locked in an epic struggle with the alphabet. He was totally absorbed in the completion of a commissioned piece. “It’s draining me of every bit of energy I have,” he explained...

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‘Istanbul was like a gingerbread house’

‘Istanbul was like a gingerbread house’

Topaki Palace kitchens From Lapham’s Quarterly: Twenty years ago, I walked across Eastern Europe to Istanbul. The food, on the whole, was plain, but from Bulgaria we walked through a gathering rush of portents—strong coffee and orthodox domes, bright prints and the eastern rhythm of gypsy music—until we reached...

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Aaron Skabelund: Hachikō

Aaron Skabelund: Hachikō

The “Loyal Dog” Hachikō in 1934 by Aaron Herald Skabelund On the morning of 21 May 1925, a dog known as Hachikō walked with his master to a Tokyo railway station just as they had done each weekday morning for over a year since he had been adopted as...

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After the sewing machine, the fan, the toaster, and the teakettle, the vibrator was the next domestic appliance to be electrified…

After the sewing machine, the fan, the toaster, and the teakettle, the vibrator was the next domestic appliance to be electrified…

Hugh Dancy as Mortimer Granville and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Charlotte Dalrymple in Hysteria, Informant Media, 2011 From The New Yorker: If the popular perception remains that Victorians were hopelessly mired in repression and prudery, Lutz seeks to capture the shuddering underbelly of Victorian society—what Steven Marcus’s classic 1974 study, “The...

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Hierarchies of Belonging by Anne McNevin

Hierarchies of Belonging by Anne McNevin

Untitled 1 (At Botany Bay), Boat-People.org, 2006. Image courtesy of the artists.  by Anne McNevin The image above, which fronts the cover of Contesting Citizenship, is an intervention into the politics of what it means to belong in a country like Australia today.  The artist collective responsible for the image have...

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This Little Potala

This Little Potala

China’s Tibetan Theme Park | by Richard Bernstein

The New York Review of Books

In the international press, China’s tensions with Tibet are often traced to the Chinese invasion of 1950 and Tibet’s failed uprising of 1959. But for the Chinese themselves,...

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‘Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness’

‘Manure is the flashpoint of exurban consciousness’

Thoreau’s Cove, Concord, Massachusetts From Design Observer: Currently, the town is embroiled in a minor controversy, played out on the municipal listserv, about a local pond that has been purchased by the town and preserved under a conservation easement. Where there used to be a clothing-optional beach and a...

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donetimeofthewidowitgotaghost

donetimeofthewidowitgotaghost

From Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, illustration by Samuel Clemens From American Scientist: Perception entails not just sensing the world but also making sense of it. When you listen to orchestral music, you hear oboes, violins, timpani and so on, each playing distinct notes. But the sound...

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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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