Berfrois

May 2012

Who Comprehends the Watchmen?

Who Comprehends the Watchmen?

by Travis White-Schwoch and David N. Rapp Reading Watchmen: A cognitive perspective In the opening sequence of Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-1987), a disheveled man wanders the streets of New York, carrying a sign warning of the end of the world. He steps through puddles on...

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Bobbi Lurie: Girls, Girls, Girls

Bobbi Lurie: Girls, Girls, Girls

The children of 1960s who rebelled against their parents’ expectations decided to raise a kinder, gentler generation. They surrounded their babies with Mozart in utero, and from nursery school on, these Boomer parents sent their precious little ones to the best schools they really couldn’t afford, and buoyed up...

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“Double Quotations”

“Double Quotations”

by Feliz Molina A word about the quotation marks. People ask about them, in the beginning; in the process of giving themselves up to reading the poem, they become comfortable with them, without necessarily thinking precisely about why they’re there. But they’re there, mostly to measure the poem. The...

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Can Ellen Johnson Sirleaf win the trust of Liberia?

Can Ellen Johnson Sirleaf win the trust of Liberia?

From Guernica: In Liberia, loyalty matters. When Weah ran for president in 2005, he said he’d try to seek justice for Doe’s murder. Weah campaigned heavily in the southeast, including Grand Gedeh. At a rally in Doe’s home village of Tuzon, Doe’s sister Edith grabbed the microphone. “We’ll never...

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David Beer on Peter Sloterdijk

David Beer on Peter Sloterdijk

According to Peter Sloterdijk, ‘s a nobject, the vulva is the mother of granite’. Where should we start with a statement like that? Indeed, the question of where to start is likely to confront anyone who attempts to write a review of Bubbles, the 650 page cathartic and unravelling...

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Real Folksy Like

Real Folksy Like

by Justin E. H. Smith There is a well-known division between two camps of academic philosophy, often called ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’, with each side more or less convinced that what the other side is doing is not really philosophy at all. This is a provincial and mandarin dispute, and...

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Peggy Nelson: The Tragic Speed of Modern Life

Peggy Nelson: The Tragic Speed of Modern Life

Early vaudeville photo from the collection of Bob Bragman, as featured in the San Francisco Chronicle by Peggy Nelson Short attention span theater is hardly the new kid on the block. In the vaudeville era, an act was viable if it could manage to keep the audience’s attention for...

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Daniel Levin Becker: Little Demons of Subtlety

Daniel Levin Becker: Little Demons of Subtlety

As I write this in San Francisco, Jacques Jouet is at the Place Stalingrad in Paris, writing a serial novel in thirty-two parts. He has agreed to sit for eight hours a day inside a windowed tent at the southwestern tip of the Bassin de la Villette, typing away...

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Isaac Fitzgerald: In Love in San Francisco

Isaac Fitzgerald: In Love in San Francisco

by Isaac Fitzgerald I came to this city in love and with everything I owned stuffed into three bags — it was San Francisco, so six people in a three-bedroom apartment seemed like something that could work. But when a week turned into a month she said maybe I...

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Daniel Bosch: Wily Ants

Daniel Bosch: Wily Ants

He had started the series from inside Plato’s cave, so when William Kentridge launched his sixth and final Charles Eliot Norton Lecture with a retelling of the story of Perseus, he gave familiar things back to his audience—the myth itself, and art’s gesture of circling toward origin at closure.

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Donald Raleigh: Generation Sputnik

Donald Raleigh: Generation Sputnik

Saratov School no. 42, graduation night, 1967 by Donald Raleigh Until recently, my office on the fourth floor of Hamilton Hall at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, was the only one along the corridor not occupied by someone affiliated with Carolina’s distinguished Southern Oral History Program...

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It’s a Royale Hunger Battle Game

It’s a Royale Hunger Battle Game

Battle Royale and The Hunger Games are young adult novels in which governments force teenagers to kill each other. Comparing these books to classic works by William Golding and Robert Sheckley suggests that, while becoming more skeptical about governments, we've become more trusting about our own nature.

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Gertrude Stein’s Pétainism

Gertrude Stein’s Pétainism

From Life magazine, 1945 From Humanities: Why were so many prominent modernist writers and philosophers attracted to fascist or authoritarian regimes in the first half of the twentieth century? A list of those who were not—Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, and Robert Musil—pales in comparison to a list...

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You improve at running by running and running and…

You improve at running by running and running and…

The search for the one best way of running is what drives Chris McDougall’s “Born to Run,” which came out in 2009 and has sold at least half a million copies since. The book tells the story of a group of larger-than-life ultramarathoners, with names like Caballo Blanco and...

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‘Money never gets tired’

‘Money never gets tired’

Barney Dodd and Chris Frank From Rolling Stone: The giant reform bill turned out to be like the fish reeled in by Hemingway’s Old Man – no sooner caught than set upon by sharks that strip it to nothing long before it ever reaches the shore. In a furious...

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Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

Theresa Runstedtler on Jack Johnson

by Theresa Runstedtler In a recent post on SBNation, Bomani Jones compared Money May (Floyd Mayweather) to Jack Johnson: Mayweather has basically taken the persona of a great counterpuncher from a century ago, Jack Johnson, and modernized it. He’s impenetrable in the ring and insufferably flashy outside of it....

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Daniel Roberts: Bright Boys

Daniel Roberts: Bright Boys

By now, the 1946 noir classic The Killers, available on Criterion Collection DVD (currently our best indication that a movie is held in high regard), is likely better known than the 1927 Hemingway short story of the same name that inspired it. That being said, both pieces of art...

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(You Gotta)

(You Gotta)

The Beastie Boys, New York City, 1986. Photograph by Lynn Goldsmith From The Smart Set: There’s a straight lineage from Run-DMC’s “Peter Piper” to the Beastie Boys’ “Brass Monkey” on License to Ill. In fact, the Beastie Boys sampled directly from “Peter Piper” on another song from License to...

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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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