Berfrois

July 2012

Chasse-Croisé

Chasse-Croisé

La rue Félix Faure, Nancy. Photograph by Dalbera by Jean-Michel Rabaté My title assumes that the reader knows what “the Nancy School” is. In fact, there is more than one. I will mention at least three. There is the school, celebrated at the Museum of the Nancy School, that...

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Calling a Crêpe a Pancake

Calling a Crêpe a Pancake

by Justin E. H. Smith One question  I keep coming back to here is the way in which natural language influences our metaphysics of individuation. Differences between different natural languages on this point are most in evidence, I think, in the way we talk about food, in particular, which...

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How much could a wandering writer carry from tambo to tambo?

How much could a wandering writer carry from tambo to tambo?

The sky is cloudless and still, and although the early afternoon temperature is only in the mid-70s, the air is incomprehensibly arid, and the sun intense enough to burn through our shirts. Downslope, heat waves shimmer over Chile’s Salar de Atacama, making the long piles of lithium 20 miles...

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Never Exactly Poster Children

Never Exactly Poster Children

L-R: David Mamet and Gilad Atzmon by James Warner Reading Gilad Atzmon’s The Wandering Who? immediately after David Mamet’s The Secret Knowledge, I was surprised to find the two books, written from vehemently opposed political viewpoints, nonetheless reminded me of each other. Does Mamet’s need to see the Israelis...

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Borges in Cambridge

Borges in Cambridge

The sweet-tempered octogenarian I knew needed in his blindness to be helped gently across carpeted floors. His preoccupations, notably Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse, were above all philological. His father had taught in English, which Borges used to say was the first language he ever spoke, though you would probably...

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Smells Like Tribes Spirit

Smells Like Tribes Spirit

by Joe Linker I knew about The Tribes of Palos Verdes (St. Martin’s Press, 1997) when it first came out, and I was interested in reading it for what appeared to be its local surf setting. We used to go snorkel diving in the coves around Palos Verdes, the...

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‘FEMEN’s images and actions became increasingly daring and innovative’

‘FEMEN’s images and actions became increasingly daring and innovative’

Any emergent social movement will faces obstacles, will proceed unevenly and with difficulty as it undermines people's resistance toward cultural change. In Ukraine, the decades ahead will present ever greater challenges to the formation of a consensus on women's rights, even as people's awareness of the patterns of anti-woman...

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In something else in something else…

In something else in something else…

Tristan Garcia by Graham Harman The French philosopher and novelist Tristan Garcia was born in Toulouse in 1981. This makes him rather young to have written such an imaginative work of systematic philosophy as Forme et objet,1 the latest entry in the MétaphysiqueS series at Presses universitaires de France....

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United

United

Caesar Chavez on the México-Tenochitlán—The Wall That Talks mural project, Avenue 61 and Figueroa, Los Angeles From New Left Review: In any account of the United Farm Workers, there is ample room for recrimination and bitterness; but Bardacke shows none of that in his own spirited history. The story...

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Materially Entrenched

Materially Entrenched

The “network” of which we speak is comprised of contingent logical and physical strata: applications and content; the higher level protocols and services implemented in software, and the lower substrate network or “physical layer”, comprising physical hardware such as channels, routers, storage and processing technologies and resources such as...

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Francisco de Miranda actually lived in the foothills of the Acropolis…

Francisco de Miranda actually lived in the foothills of the Acropolis…

Cartagena, Colombia. Photograph by Fernando Zuleta by Gregory Jusdanis Literature seems to be everywhere in Cartagena and not just because Gabriel García Márquez still has a house there. I was prepared to find a literary city as I had recently read Ilan Stavans’ biography of García Márquez. But as...

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Foucault too could be a vampire…

Foucault too could be a vampire…

The way that the undead challenges the living’s boundaries provides the focus for several essays. Richard Greene uses a thought experiment to argue that undeath is considered worse than death because of its presumed relationship with evil. However, the state of being undead is not necessarily bad for the...

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Agustín Fuentes: Humans Being

Agustín Fuentes: Humans Being

The quest to provide a concise description of human nature is ancient, extensive and recently in vogue again. But the simplistic and linear narratives frequently offered up for whom we are and why we do what we do are mostly wrong. These basic, and erroneous, stories such as those...

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Taped

Taped

I take a position on filesharing and the free exchange of copyrighted works that surprises many people I meet. Because I’m a writer, they assume that I oppose all forms of unauthorized copying and distribution, that I resent anyone who wants to “steal” my work, and that I’m afraid...

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Bobbi Lurie: Walter White and I

Bobbi Lurie: Walter White and I

Dying in Albuquerque can be the breaking point for anyone, believe me. Walter White, of Breaking Bad, and I were diagnosed with cancer the same week. I have no idea how long Walter White has lived in Albuquerque but I had only lived here a few months when I...

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“Democratic theory can be thought of as an attempt to answer the challenge of Thomas Hobbes”

“Democratic theory can be thought of as an attempt to answer the challenge of Thomas Hobbes”

Josiah Ober Josiah Ober is a classicist and political theorist at Stanford University, and his work on ancient Greek democracy is widely read in both disciplines. The Art of Theory recently spoke with him about Athens, democracy, and fly-fishing. The Art of Theory What prompted your interest in classics?...

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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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