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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Eugenia Herbert on Julia Margaret Cameron

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New...

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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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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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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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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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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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