Berfrois

December 2012

Bakkheia!

Bakkheia!

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

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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‘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”...

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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’...

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“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...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: LGBT Struggles in Albania

This morning I woke up to a rather surprising headline: "first gay marriage in Tirana." The article referred to the marriage ceremony recently held...

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Feroz Rather in Srinagar

Though the war was still going on, it was not a terribly sad time in my life; at least, I had the consolation of...

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Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden

The key figures are Cardinal Richelieu and Chancellor Séguier, and Foucault thinks it is important that he can discern the “first great deployment of...

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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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Mediamacro are very good at pretending…

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with David Cameron. Well, almost - we were at the same restaurant but on tables at...

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Tammy Ho Lai-Ming: One Little Room

A room with graffitied walls. Inside this room the dogs bark. A room cluttered with porcelain figurines. A room decorated with binary numbers.

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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David Beer
David Beer: Make Happy, Happy, Happy

As I read through William Davies’ engaging new book, I can’t help but wonder what Mad Men’s Don Draper would have made of John...

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Russell Bennetts: Coffee for 8 More

I might be the last person you should ask about St. Paul coffee in general. On an ordinary day I make do with drip...

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Emeline Edgewood
In X the Promise

X seems to want to be both the equivalent of The Giant and of Laura Palmer’s mother in Twin Peaks.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Municipal

Although there are also some independent candidates who may take a few votes here and there, the general opinion of the Tirana public and...

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En Liang Khong: Full Bloom

The cross-dressing Qiu Jin was emblematic of a revolutionary feminist current at the end of the Qing era, writing urgently on women’s emancipation: “While...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Very Much Like a Whale by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

They had obviously taken the pictures of the whale, and the group of people carrying it, out of curiosity. But still the images failed...

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Oscillation

We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.

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