Berfrois

January 2012

Nicholas Rombes: Flowers Cover Everything

Nicholas Rombes: Flowers Cover Everything

by Nicholas Rombes 1. My life, in those days, was to be defined by three female poets: Dana Levin, Olena Kalytiak Davis, and Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Where lies the fault in that? Could I be blamed for seeing darkness in everything? Or for feeling, at some point of no...

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Ugly Commentary

Ugly Commentary

Kim Kardashian and Mario Lopez in H8R From The Believer: Last year’s short-lived reality show, succinctly entitled H8R (if you can’t decipher that idiom, you are too old to be watching the program), followed celebrities like Snooki and Kim Kardashian as they confronted people who’d said mean things about...

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A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow

A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow

Sure, there’s the GOP symbol, but the real elephant in the room at any of the Republican debates since December has been the super PAC, the turbocharged political action committee able to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads — as long as that spending isn’t...

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These days anyone with free software and access to a server can set up an online newspaper…

These days anyone with free software and access to a server can set up an online newspaper…

scienceforseo.com by Massimo Pigliucci A recent piece by Scott Jaschik in “Inside Higher Education” pointed out what a number of my colleagues have been thinking for a while now: the peer review system for scholarly journals doesn’t work very well, needs to be reformed, and really ought to take...

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Ryegrass and Clover

Ryegrass and Clover

Pluies by Toby Harper Seeds of Empire: The Environmental Transformation of New Zealand, by Tom Brooking and Eric Pawson, London: I.B. Tauris, 256 pp. Visitors and residents alike tend to think of New Zealand as a clean, green land, rivaling Ireland in the luxuriance of its verdure and leading...

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Hilal Khashan on Syria

Hilal Khashan on Syria

Dictators, be they benevolent or malevolent, are incapable of compromise, and because of their constitutional makeup they see the world as black or white. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is not an exception to the rule. He is not receptive to engagement in serious political reforms to placate his country’s...

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The Awful Daring

The Awful Daring

T. S. Eliot in 1923. Photography by Lady Ottoline Morrell From Poetry: In the summer of 1918, T.S. Eliot was alarmed by the news that the American armed forces in Europe, then engaged in the final campaign against Germany, would begin to conscript American citizens living in England. Eliot...

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Katrien Jacobs: Breast Lovers of China, Unite!

Katrien Jacobs: Breast Lovers of China, Unite!

Sora Aoi by Katrien Jacobs Since its establishment in 1949, the People’s Republic of China has upheld a nationwide ban on pornography, imposing harsh punishments on those caught purchasing, producing or distributing materials deemed a violation of public morality. Meanwhile, a well-developed yet illegal internet pornography industry, DIY pornography...

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Patti Smith was aiming at once higher and lower than Paul Simon or Jim Morrison…

Patti Smith was aiming at once higher and lower than Paul Simon or Jim Morrison…

Patti Smith at Jim Morrison’s grave, Paris, 1976 From The New York Review of Books: I first heard of Patti Smith in 1971, when I was seventeen. The occasion was an unsigned half-column item in the New York Flyer, a short-lived local supplement to Rolling Stone, marking the single...

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Flawedonomics

Flawedonomics

From Freakonomics, Cold Fusion, 2010 From American Scientist: The nonfiction publishing phenomenon known as Freakonomics has passed its sixth anniversary. The original book, which used ideas from statistics and economics to explore real-world problems, was an instant bestseller. By 2011, it had sold more than four million copies worldwide,...

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What Bread-Weight Dreams May Come

What Bread-Weight Dreams May Come

I dreamt last night that weight was bread. More precisely, I dreamt that a kilogram was a loaf of dark, rye-like, round bread, about the diameter of a steering wheel.

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Charles LaPorte: Seeming Prey

Charles LaPorte: Seeming Prey

Victorian poetry is famous for documenting the emergence of key strains of secular modern thought, including those associated with natural science and modern biblical criticism. Breathtaking advances in astronomy, geology, and evolutionary biology during this era had produced a very different looking cosmos from that imagined in the book...

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We Who Draw

We Who Draw

by Susan James In which it is claimed that the practice of drawing can lead two thinkers centuries apart into a new symbiosis opening the way to political transformation. But what kind of transformation? Bento’s Sketchbook, by John Berger, Verso, 2011. 167pp. From A to X. A Story in...

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Frog Loves Moon

Frog Loves Moon

Figure 1: All art unless otherwise indicated by Rex Veeder by Rex Veeder Introduction Marshall McLuhan deserves to be re-evaluated as a rhetorician because he has described and demonstrated a perspective on rhetoric that remains significant. That perspective involves aesthetic, social, and cultural elements that gravitate around a mythos...

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Qigong’s Comeback

Qigong’s Comeback

The Jinhua caves are located in a wooded, hilly area about 200 miles southwest of Shanghai. The most famous cave, Double Dragon Cave, is entered by a stream that passes under a stone overhang just a few inches above the water.

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Leslie Paul Thiele: Sustainability

Leslie Paul Thiele: Sustainability

King Midas turns his daughter to gold, from A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls by Nathaniel Hawthorn, 1893 by Leslie Paul Thiele Sustainability is quickly becoming the lingua franca of public discourse. It is endorsed by government agencies around the globe, championed by increasing numbers of international non-governmental...

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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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