Berfrois

August 2012

Alexander Hahn: 199 Visible Oranges

Alexander Hahn: 199 Visible Oranges

The merchant’s attractive display had been constructed very carefully. The pyramid has a triangular base of 12 oranges to a side. From each side of this triangle rises one of the sloping triangular faces of the pyramid. Each triangular face starts with its row of 12 and continues with...

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Imagine Your Audience

Imagine Your Audience

Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil, Joan Miró, 1925 From Poetry: I may not know what reviews are for, but I know who they are for: their readers. And it behooves reviewers to keep...

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“Darwin chose agnostic for tactical reasons”

“Darwin chose agnostic for tactical reasons”

He said the common man was not ready for atheism. There’s a lovely story the comedian Julia Sweeney tells about her own journey from devout Catholicism to atheism. After she’d finally decided she was an atheist, something appeared about it in the newspaper. Her mother phoned her in hysterics...

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Her story is not only about a receptionist…

Her story is not only about a receptionist…

Janet Groth at The New Yorker. Via by Joe Linker The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker, by Janet Groth, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 229 pp. The receptionist receives. Receives what? An education, a memoir. One purpose of a memoir, a narrative of memory, might be to...

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Email Trail of a Crisis

Email Trail of a Crisis

New York Stock Exchange. Photograph by Mario Tama/Getty Images by Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein As ProPublica has been detailing for two years, Wall Street banks and the hedge fund Magnetar worked together to build mortgage-backed deals that the hedge fund also bet against. The more than $40 billion of...

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Chip’s Permanency

Chip’s Permanency

Heavenly Breakfast (1979) is a confessedly idealized account of a Lower East Side Manhattan commune that lasted through the winter of 1967-1968 -- Delany writes, “At the Breakfast I learned to move within the circle of other people's desire, and be at ease as I generated my own. And...

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The impeachment of Lugo was a very Paraguayan affair…

The impeachment of Lugo was a very Paraguayan affair…

Fernando Lugo by Peter Lambert On Thursday, 21 June 2012 the Paraguayan Chamber of Deputies voted 76-1 to impeach President Fernando Lugo on the grounds of poor performance of functions. The following day, following a brief debate, the Paraguayan Senate voted 39-4 to confirm the decision, thus bringing to...

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Exactly Backwards

Exactly Backwards

Small White Pebble Circles, Richard Long, 1987 by Jeffrey Frankel The world is seized by a debate between fiscal austerity and fiscal stimulus. Opponents of austerity worry about contractionary effects on the economy. Opponents of stimulus worry about indebtedness and moral hazard (see Corsetti 2012). Is austerity good or...

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‘Descartes gave us all that we needed to claim gender equality a long time ago’

‘Descartes gave us all that we needed to claim gender equality a long time ago’

Elisabeth Badinter by Cécile Alduy Forget Simone De Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, and Naomi Wolf. Descartes gave us all that we needed to claim gender equality a long time ago. Historians rarely remember it this way, but women’s rights were dramatically (if hypothetically) advanced when, in 1619, René Descartes, snow-bound...

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Peter Suber: Free and Open

Peter Suber: Free and Open

We all understand why free online music sharing is controversial. Musicians make a living by selling their work, and widespread unauthorized sharing could slash their revenue. File sharers respond with evidence that obscurity is more costly than piracy, for those below the rank of superstar, and that unauthorized online...

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Deborah Cameron defines online dictionaries

Deborah Cameron defines online dictionaries

The publisher Collins has recently adopted crowd-sourcing as a lexicographical tool, inviting members of the public to propose new words for its online dictionary. Some of their suggestions, like howlerious and crapalicious, are reminiscent of the Blackadder episode where Edmund torments Dr Johnson with a string of absurd neologisms.

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Suzanne Ruta: Photographing Algeria

Suzanne Ruta: Photographing Algeria

by Suzanne Ruta Picturing Algeria, by Pierre Bourdieu, forward by Craig Calhoun. Edited by Franz Schultheis and Christine Frisinghelli, Columbia University Press, 230 pp. Algeria, by Dirk Alvermann, Facsimile edition of a work first published in 1960. Steidl, Germany 2011 In 2004, just around the time the Abu Ghraib...

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Curiouser and Curiouser!

Curiouser and Curiouser!

“Alice sitting between Gryphon and Mock turtle”, John Tenniel, 1865. From Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865. by Albena Azmanova The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear....

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What Used to be Called Indology

What Used to be Called Indology

Any specialist on anything will have had that peculiar experience of coming across some casual comment from a total non-specialist about the very thing to which one has devoted one's life, a comment made as if there were no such thing as specialist knowledge, as if what we know...

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When Dittmer Met Séra

When Dittmer Met Séra

Ing Phouséra, or Séra, as he is known in artistic circles, is a French-Cambodian comics artist who evacuated Phnom Penh with his French mother in 1975. While the subject of his works range far and into other media, he came to my attention for his graphic novels about the...

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Ben Anderson: Quick, Emergency

Ben Anderson: Quick, Emergency

Prince George’s County Police Department Officers in a training exercise simulating a school shooting. by Ben Anderson Media reports suggest the first call to emergency services was made at 12.39am. Within 90 seconds, the parking lot of the Century 16 cinema in Aurora, USA was filled with around 25...

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Nicholas Rombes: Minecrafting Realism

Nicholas Rombes: Minecrafting Realism

Throughout his career, but especially in writings from the 1950s gathered together as the essay “The Evolution of the Language of Cinema,” film critic André Bazin praised the potential of the cinematic image “not according to what it adds to reality but what of it reveals of it.” And,...

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Owen Vince on HARK

As a poet, you are your grandmother; you are browsing the obituaries with a red pen and an address book in your hand. The...

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Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

Eric Weisbard wrote twenty years ago, introducing the voluminous, era-summarizing, contrarian and contradictory Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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Jeremy Fernando: Not

A response — Bartleby’s response — foregrounding the fact that it is the “I” that “prefers not to”: not that ‘I cannot’ nor ‘I...

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Collective Destruction by Keith Doubt

What, then, is sociocide? Sociocide resonates with the term demodernization formulated by A. V. Tishkov to account for the consequences of the war in...

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Heather Lang on Fiona Sampson and Sarah Morgan

Poet Fiona Sampson is a former career violinist, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, overt references to music appear in her work.

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Setsuko Adachi: Azalea Exuberance Strikes

In May, in the garden of the elevated house at the bottom of the hill, four shrubs of stunning azaleas come into full blossom....

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Joe Linker
Joe Linker on Li Po

Florence showed me what she called the most famous of Chinese poems. She had made her own translation from a Chinese language newspaper clipping....

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Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Luc Moullet

To begin at the end: After nearly two hours exploring facets of exploitation in the globalized food system, Luc Moullet closes Genèse d’un repas/Origins...

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Adam Staley Groves: Iowa Nasty

Now it seems the state’s radical conservatives are degrading the historic, populist-provincial mentality of Iowa; they are revising the state’s legacy within the broader...

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Animal Spirits at the Nueva Burdalesa Bakery by Jessica Sequeira

A few years ago all I had was a certain ambition and an understanding, more or less, of how things work in this world....

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Sebastian Normandin
Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

The persistence and proliferation of pseudoscientific thinking in contemporary culture demands explanation. Clearly there are some pragmatic reasons for its expanded existence, and people...

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Janice Lee For the Ghost

The memories are like stutters. Sometimes I inhale for air, and exhale a shaking chain of memories. A choking hazard. I for the ghost....

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Edi Rama’s Bunker Mentality by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

As many former Eastern Block countries in the EU display a hardly dissimulated form of racism and religious hatred, Albania, always a little behind...

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Menachem Feuer on Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham

Elle called Silverman’s image of her wearing a shirt with several naked Lena Dunhams a “beautiful tribute.” Dunham, the article tells us, “seemed to...

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