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...

Read More

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...

Read More

“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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More

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...

Read More

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.

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

‘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...

Read More

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....

Read More

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...

Read More

(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...

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
Sebastian Normandin on Steven Pinker

“The great thinkers of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment were scientists.” So begins Steven Pinker’s recent controversial essay on scientism and its...

Read More
Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

Read More
McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

Read More
Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

Read More
Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

Read More