Berfrois

June 2012

A thousand copies of Vargas Llosa’s novel were burned at the academy…

A thousand copies of Vargas Llosa’s novel were burned at the academy…

Tahitian Landscape, Paul Gauguin, 1893 From The Guardian: When Vargas Llosa was awarded the 2010 Nobel prize for literature, the Swedish Academy praised his “cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt, and defeat.” That assessment could still apply to The Dream of...

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Sympathetic Magic

Sympathetic Magic

In September 1863, a local paper in Somerset, England, ran an article about a man and a woman from Taunton whose child had been stricken with scarlet fever. Depressingly common, a child suffering from the illness itself was not noteworthy—what made the news were the remedies proposed. Distraught, the...

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Such Leniency

Such Leniency

One of the hostage takers during the Munich Massacre, at the 1972 Summer Olympics, Munich. Photograph by Russell McPhedran From Der Spiegel: The men who were arrested in the Munich house of former Waffen-SS member Charles Jochheim late on Oct. 27, 1972 were armed like soldiers on their way...

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Andrea Teti: Egypt Decided

Andrea Teti: Egypt Decided

After one of the most nail-biting weeks since the Egyptian uprising of January 2011, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political party, Mohammed Morsy, was recognised as Egypt’s new President, the first in the country’s history to be voted in through genuinely competitive elections. This is doubtlessly a momentous...

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Bobbi Lurie Plays with Mad-Men-ness

Bobbi Lurie Plays with Mad-Men-ness

John Hamm as Don Draper in Mad Men, AMC by Bobbi Lurie Mad Men has given me many hours of quality escapism. My involvement with the characters, through four seasons, provided me with a rare opportunity to connect deeply with imaginary companions. It allowed me to leave my life...

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‘Why would I be allowed to steal from myself and not from others?’

‘Why would I be allowed to steal from myself and not from others?’

Plate 37 from Jerusalem, William Blake, 1804-1820 by Jeroen Mettes Translated by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei from Jeroen Mettes. “Politieke Poëzie: Enige aantekeningen, Poëtica bij N30 (versie 2006).” In Weerstandbeleid: Nieuwe kritiek. Amsterdam: De wereldbibliotheek, 2011. Published with permission of Uitgeverij Wereldbibliotheek, Amsterdam. L’égalité veut d’autres lois. —Eugène...

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‘What are you doing?’

‘What are you doing?’

From N+1: It’s possible to have a clear attitude toward Twitter if you’re not on it. Few things could appear much worse, to the lurker, glimpser, or guesser, than this scrolling suicide note of Western civilization. Never more than 140 characters at a time? Looks like the human attention...

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Nate Garrelts: Comics Teachers Assemble!

Nate Garrelts: Comics Teachers Assemble!

One of the reasons Will Eisner quit working on the Spirit in 1952 was so that he could continue working on PS Magazine, an instructional comic dedicated to teaching enlisted men how to perform preventative maintenance on U.S. Army equipment. While there certainly may have been other contributing factors...

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We Built This City

We Built This City

Paris Commune, 1871 by Jonathan Moses Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, by David Harvey, Verso, 206 pp. It would be impossible to cover here the range of ideas in Harvey’s recent book, Rebel Cities, but it is worth considering one of its...

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“And no wireless”

“And no wireless”

Julie Otsuka From The Days of Yore: Days of Yore: Where did you live during your early New York years? Julie Otsuka: I have always lived in this neighborhood . I’ve always had my own place, I don’t think I could do roommates. I moved to New York...

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Another World: Contemporary Cemeteries and Heterotopia

Another World: Contemporary Cemeteries and Heterotopia

Contemporary cemeteries have adopted various ‘useful’ applications, but they also remain highly complex and ambiguous spatio-temporal enclosures. Worpole, in his study of cemetery landscapes, wonders whether we have the ‘vocabulary for describing what these unsettling landscapes mean culturally’. Are they religious or secular, places of despair or places of...

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Hugh Everett III, Many-Worlds Man by Jeffrey Barrett

Hugh Everett III, Many-Worlds Man by Jeffrey Barrett

Jacek Yerka by Jeffrey A. Barrett In the Spring of 2007, the journalist Peter Byrne interviewed Mark Everett (E of the band Eels) about Mark’s father Hugh Everett III. Mark did not know much about what his father had done for a living, and he knew even less about...

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Jamie Olson on Gennady Aygi

Jamie Olson on Gennady Aygi

Even though Gennady Aygi, who passed away six years ago, began writing poetry as a student in Moscow back in the 1950s, it was only in the early 1990s that his first major book collection appeared in Russia. What accounts for the time lag? On the one hand, it...

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In the early modern period, horniness and sexual insatiability are classic female attributes…

In the early modern period, horniness and sexual insatiability are classic female attributes…

Frenzy of Exultations, Władysław Podkowiński, 1894 by Justin E. H. Smith I’ve observed before that until at least the early 19th century, ‘orgasm’ did not mean what it does for us today. In La philosophie zoologique of 1809, for example, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck uses the term to describe something like...

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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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