Berfrois

February 2012

London is the city and the city and the city and the city…

London is the city and the city and the city and the city…

Eric Rimmington by Laurie Penny In some ways it was the first place I ever knew. Seventeen, sick and living in a box-room belonging to an octogenarian friend of the family, every day once I was just about well enough not to have to sleep in hospital overnight I...

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Lisa Jarnot: Fiddy

Lisa Jarnot: Fiddy

Photograph by Aleix Cabarrocas Garcia by Lisa Jarnot I’ve always been a list-maker, self-help junky, and lover of vision statements. When my husband composed an affirmation list called “50 Things” for the New Year, I couldn’t resist following suit. (“Owls” and “Defiant Lightness” are borrowed from him.) 1. domesticity...

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Pakt

Pakt

I enjoy spending time in those countries that are not big enough or important enough to have their own product packaging, and instead must share surface space with information in the sundry native tongues of neighboring countries.

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PacT

PacT

From “Anthology of Interest III”, Futurama, Season 3, The Curiosity Company From The Millions: The medial bulk of the book is accounted for by the actual “addict’s guide to battle tactics” promised by its ungainly subtitle, and this is where it really flourishes as a bizarro-world extracanonical oddity. It’s...

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Pynchonite Generosity by Martin Eve

Pynchonite Generosity by Martin Eve

The Cambridge Companion series has become, in academic literary circles, the equivalent to the Hollywood walk of fame; it comes with connotations of canonization, recognition and acceptance. It would seem somewhat surprising, then, to see Thomas Pynchon, the most notoriously elusive author of the twentieth century, a figure who...

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Once Slammed

Once Slammed

From Caged Heat, New World Pictures, 1974 by Kathleen Cairns Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists, Jodie Michelle Lawston, Ashley E. Lucas, eds., Albany: State University of New York Press, 352 pp. Once the cell doors slam behind them, virtually all prisoners exist in a netherworld–invisible to...

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120% Work

120% Work

Theories of workplace control typically have little to say about freedom. The workplace is often understood as a totalizing environment, saturated with obvious and subtle forms of coercion, so the struggle for freedom is best confined to realm of leisure, or more typically, left off the agenda entirely.

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Free Content

Free Content

by Gregory Jusdanis “Imagine a world without art.” This could easily have been the message greeting visitors to the Wikipedia site on January 18, 2012, when it went silent in protest against legislation proposed in Congress (Stop Online Privacy Act, or SOPA). For Wikipedia and Google the issue is...

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Daniel Roberts: DFW at Brown

Daniel Roberts: DFW at Brown

David Foster Wallace by Daniel Roberts There’s this thing that happens to people who read David Foster Wallace, the novelist and essayist who would have turned 50 years old today. It’s the reason his literary reputation so fervently exploded the moment he died: those who like his work don’t...

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Stuart Elden on Coriolanus

Stuart Elden on Coriolanus

Menenius comes out of this film as a largely sympathetic figure, more so than he does from the play. His somewhat ambivalent attitude to the people is largely removed here. In the film’s greatest liberty with the play’s script, but largely in keeping with its own vision, he is...

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The Mummy Returns

The Mummy Returns

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, 20th Century Fox, 2011 From The New York Review of Books: In the spring of 2001, at the Conservative Party Conference in Plymouth, Margaret Thatcher made a joke. She was then seventy-five, and had been out of office for more...

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Under Western Eyes

Under Western Eyes

Deng Xiaoping and Ezra Vogel From London Review of Books: Books about China, popular and scholarly, continue to pour off the presses. In this ever expanding literature, there is a subdivision that could be entitled ‘Under Western Eyes’. The larger part of it consists of works that appear to...

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1337

1337

With Honors, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1994 From The American Scholar: The first disadvantage of an elite education, as I learned in my kitchen that day, is that it makes you incapable of talking to people who aren’t like you. Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity...

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Andrea Teti: Egypt One Year On

Andrea Teti: Egypt One Year On

One year after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, it is difficult to conclude that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the military junta which took over from the former President, are anything but the hard core of Mubarak’s regime, fighting for its own survival.

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“No, nothing bad”

“No, nothing bad”

Chorus, Jeffrey Michael Harp From The Threepenny Review: For such a heavyweight literary project, which might be expected to hedge its bets, Your Face Tomorrow gambles heavily on the narrator’s attraction for the reader. Its three volumes unfold with the searching, cherishing, recursive aimlessness of intimate talk. The style...

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France as Tourist Brothel

France as Tourist Brothel

Bercy Village, Paris, described by locals as “faux French village in the heart of Paris.”  by James Warner A prophet-provacateur faithful to French traditions of lucidity, sensuality, and alienation, Houellebecq believes we are all doomed. The Map and the Territory continues his great project of exposing the limits of individualism....

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Christopher Cappelluti: The World is Full of Maple Streets

Christopher Cappelluti: The World is Full of Maple Streets

Rod Serling by Christopher Cappelluti The name Rod Serling is associated with mind-bending narratives and imaginative tales of science fiction. This reputation is largely due to his magnum opus, the Twilight Zone, which has guaranteed his status in the canon of significant American television writers. However, Serling’s career did...

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Imperial Ventriloquism and Other Magic Tricks

Imperial Ventriloquism and Other Magic Tricks

The centennial anniversary of the First World War provides a fitting opportunity to review the literature devoted to the origins of the conflict.

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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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