Berfrois

December 2012

Bakkheia!

Bakkheia!

Acratophorus, ("giver of unmixed wine"), at Phigaleia in Arcadia. Acroreites at Sicyon. Adoneus ("ruler") in his Latinised, Bacchic cult.

Read More

Nimble, Fiery, Delectable

Nimble, Fiery, Delectable

Falstaff with Great Wine Jug and Mug, Eduard von Grützner, 1896 From Lapham’s Quarterly: On a June day in 1598, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, nearly three thousand patrons file into The Curtain, a London playhouse on the outskirts of the city, along the Shoreditch road. They...

Read More

For 20 years at the end of his life, Marcel Duchamp did little more than play chess…

For 20 years at the end of his life, Marcel Duchamp did little more than play chess…

From The Smart Set: Robert Rauschenberg made a series of all-white paintings after meeting Cage and Cunningham and seeing the work they were doing in the early 1950s. Cage called Rauschenberg’s white paintings “landing strips,” meaning that they were like little airports for light and shadow and dust to...

Read More

Strange Monsters

Strange Monsters

Nearly a decade ago, I sat in a class entitled, quite simply, “Corporations,” taught by Vijay Prashad at Trinity College. Over the course of the semester, I was amazed at the extent of Prashad’s knowledge, and the complexity and erudition of his style. He has since authored a number...

Read More

Even the crafted poetry menu would look strange…

Even the crafted poetry menu would look strange…

Much of modern poetry is unintelligible or seems incoherent. That’s not modern poetry’s problem though. The problem with modern poetry is the absence of a general interest reader of poetry. Cautious readers avoid the crafted, arched bridges called poems precariously balanced over esoteric estuaries. But was there ever a...

Read More

The Now

The Now

Nostalgia No. 3, Ma Leonn, 2006 From BBC: Throughout the 20th Century, the preservation of individuals’ memories became cheaper and so more ubiquitous, but it wasn’t until the last decade that the seamless interconnection of mobile recording devices with the world wide web allowed for the retention of the...

Read More

Merry Xmas

Merry Xmas

Photograph by Draculina Ak From 3 Quarks Daily: I have very fond memories from the 1990s of listening to a friend’s Gujarati Indian immigrant family butcher Christmas carols. It was an annual Christmas Eve tradition for these religious Hindus. Each year, with women on one side of the room...

Read More

Deborah Cameron: Integration for the Nation

Deborah Cameron: Integration for the Nation

Last week, the Labour leader Ed Miliband made a much-hyped speech about ‘cultural integration’. He faced the usual problem: how to placate that section of Labour’s traditional, white working class constituency which opposes immigration, without at the same time alienating minorities and the anti-racist Left. And he reached for...

Read More

‘Iago as much as Imogen’

‘Iago as much as Imogen’

Moby Dick Arises from the Deep, Gilbert Wilson From The Chronicle Review: The poet most likely to practice and evoke ethical imagination is not “poetical,” in the sense of flamboyant or opinionated. Thinking of Shakespeare, Keats, who was Shelley‘s contemporary, claimed that the most powerful versifier “has no identity”...

Read More

John Gaffney: Hitler’s ‘Something’

John Gaffney: Hitler’s ‘Something’

The stunning spectacle of mass hero-worship in the Third Reich is compelling, in particular, the sight of unbridled joy at these mass rallies. This is even more so given that we – unlike those smiling faces - know what happened next, the nightmare of World War II and the...

Read More

Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

I’ve spent a good deal of time lately reading up on the set of historical, medical and philosophical conditions known for centuries as melancholia and more recently as depression. My interest is that I’ve been commissioned to write a book about melancholia, but I’ll be writing it because it’s...

Read More

Fly by Night

Fly by Night

Bird migration at Eddystone Lighthouse, by Charles Samuel Keene From American Scientist: Migration likely brings to mind the familiar sight of geese flying overhead in their iconic V formation, honking stridently as they fly toward their faraway goal. But the migration of many birds is a rarely observed phenomenon....

Read More

Always an Audience

Always an Audience

Photograph by Tolga Musato by Gregory Jusdanis What was more dazzling, my view of the Bosphorus with the Aghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque or the conversation? In Istanbul last month I rediscovered what I treasure whenever I go abroad: the well-roundedness and cosmopolitanism of intellectuals in comparison with...

Read More

Ronald Hendel: Genesis as Magical Realism

Ronald Hendel: Genesis as Magical Realism

It occurred to me that Genesis is such a supreme fiction, or perhaps it is the supreme fiction in western culture, which begat many others.  For thousands of years this book has been the mirror or lamp that reveals what reality consists of – regarding the nature of human...

Read More

Nature’s Grain

Nature’s Grain

Fallen Leaf Lake in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, California, 1905 by Justin E. H. Smith For most of my adult life, beginning, really, in the rebellious years of adolescence, I have been against nature. This phrase, against nature, is the standard title for the English translation of J.-K. Huysmans’...

Read More

“Det er det rene volapyk”

“Det er det rene volapyk”

Johann Schleyer on a harp given to him as a 50th birthday present by his colleagues at Sionsharfe, a magazine devoted mainly to Catholic poetry, which Schleyer edited and in which he first published on Volapük in 1879 by Arika Okrent Johann Schleyer was a German priest whose irrational...

Read More
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,...

Read More
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...

Read More
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:...

Read More
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...

Read More
I Know I Have to Go by Rick Whitaker

W.G. Sebald’s father joined the Reichswehr in 1929 and remained in the Wehrmacht under the Nazis. He was captured by the French and remained...

Read More
B. Alexandra Szerlip: Vertigo

Vertigo has been scrutinized under the rubric of scopophilia, fetishism, voyeurism, the sadistic male gaze, objectification of the female body, “a dream substrate of...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie With Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie and Marcel Duchamp on Lena Dunham’s Girls

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

Read More
Europe’s Fascists in Suits by John Gaffney

Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

Read More
Lauren Berlant’s Love Theory

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

Read More
B. Alexandra Szerlip: Dream Train

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

Read More
70-Minute Mark by Nicholas Rombes et al.

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

Read More
You may say Rauan Klassnik’s a dreamer…

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

Read More
David Palumbo-Liu on Chinua Achebe

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

Read More