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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More

“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...

Read More

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....

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More
En Liang Khong: Full Bloom

The cross-dressing Qiu Jin was emblematic of a revolutionary feminist current at the end of the Qing era, writing urgently on women’s emancipation: “While...

Read More
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Very Much Like a Whale by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

They had obviously taken the pictures of the whale, and the group of people carrying it, out of curiosity. But still the images failed...

Read More
Oscillation

We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.

Read More
Menachem Feuer: Body

While Sarah Silverman jokingly tells us that her Jewish identity has more to do with her body than with the “responsibilities and limitations” that...

Read More
Jeremy Fernando: Pink

An offering that might well remain in its being offered.

Read More
Rosie Clarke Chats to Amelia Gray

I get the impulse to look to the canon, but I think we should try and challenge and squash the canon, too.

Read More
Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early...

Read More
Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best...

Read More
Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting...

Read More
Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks...

Read More
Russell Bennetts
Street Fighter: Berfrois Interviews Tariq Ali

The extreme centre is a form of government that arose out of neoliberal economics and exists today in virtually the whole of Europe, North...

Read More
John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it...

Read More
Joel Gn on Henri Lefebvre

How may we speak of that which goes off the record in an age of digital colonisation?

Read More
Volker M. Welter on Michael Graves

The designer Michael Graves, who passed away at the age of 80 on March 12th, was widely considered to be one of the founding...

Read More