Berfrois

January 2013

How can we reconcile virtue ethics and contractarianism?

How can we reconcile virtue ethics and contractarianism?

Tapping a Blast Furnace, Graham Sunderland, 1941-42 by Massimo Pigliucci A really fascinating and, as we shall see in a moment, somewhat nasty dispute has exploded in the philosophical public sphere, and I think it’s going to be interesting to see why – both sides have a very good...

Read More

Why did the capitalist counter-revolution of the late 20th century prove to be so successful?

Why did the capitalist counter-revolution of the late 20th century prove to be so successful?

While there are a number of plausible labels that might be attached to the 20th century, in terms of social history it was clearly the age of the working class. For the first time, working people who lacked property became a major and sustained political force.

Read More

Why should not everyone be able to use all the available knowledge that humans have created?

Why should not everyone be able to use all the available knowledge that humans have created?

Aaron Swartz From The New York Review of Books: Since the sad death of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, there has been a lot of discussion of the extent to which the criminal prosecution hanging over him contributed to his suicide. Some have pointed their fingers at MIT, suggesting that,...

Read More

How to Teach with Guerrillas

How to Teach with Guerrillas

In fall 2009, an exhibition, public talk, and workshops by the Guerrilla Girls were presented at the Acadia University Art Gallery. Coincidentally, Gender and Development was being offered in the same semester. This provided an opportunity for a cross-disciplinary collaborative project that engaged students outside the classroom.

Read More

“God is seven!”

“God is seven!”

by Justin E. H. Smith Different people, different closets. I don’t quite know how to say it delicately so I’m just going to come right out and say it. I believe in God. Apart from periodic spells of foolish pride, I have believed in God all my life. Even...

Read More

Daniel Tutt: Atheism

Daniel Tutt: Atheism

Warkton, Northamptonshire: Monument by Vangelder, 1775, John Piper, 1964 by Daniel Tutt Difficult Atheism: Tracing the Death of God in Contemporary Continental Thought, by Christopher Watkin, Edinburgh University Press, 224 pp. Declaring oneself an “atheist” just isn’t what it used to be. Growing numbers of Generation Y prefer to...

Read More

Sues Race

Sues Race

Helprin’s latest novel, In Sunlight and in Shadow, can be read as an elegy for the American Century. Helprin’s emphasis on invidividual responsibility, as well as his backwards-lookingness, over-the-topness, and magical thinking, give us a window into the Republican Party he supports.

Read More

The Example of Georgia

The Example of Georgia

by Irakli Zurab Kakabadze Naira Gelashvili is in her own right one of the leading Georgian writers and literary critics of last 40 years or so.  Her writings have been very popular and controversial through the last 25 years when she came out as one of the leaders of...

Read More

Katrina van Grouw: Every Minute Part of the Avian Skeleton

Katrina van Grouw: Every Minute Part of the Avian Skeleton

I began by anatomical investigations on a dead Mallard which I found washed up on the beach, lovingly stripping off each layer of muscle, boiling up and reassembling the skeleton. Then, everything was drawn; from several angles. There were several mishaps: like when I glued a small bone to...

Read More

‘Never a sufficiently long lull in history’

‘Never a sufficiently long lull in history’

Girl and Three Men’s Heads, Edvard Munch From The New York Times: I’ve been living in complete silence for months, I might say for years, with just the usual dull sounds you hear at the outskirts of town, the occasional echo of steps in the corridor and, further off,...

Read More

game game

game game

Creators of electronic literature are progressing toward a more pervasive employment of the “ludic” — of the spirit of play inhabiting not just the writing, and not just the programming, but both in an elaborate, symbiotic combination. The tradition of “ludic” writing is well-rehearsed in criticism of electronic literature,...

Read More

The Scent of a Monad

The Scent of a Monad

Louis Riel by Justin E. H. Smith This is a translation of Louis Riel’s Mémoire sur les Monades, composed in prison while awaiting execution. Riel was hanged in Regina in November, 1885. To read the original French, go here. For a brief biography of Riel, go here. Riel’s version...

Read More

Why is Turkey jailing more journalists than China?

Why is Turkey jailing more journalists than China?

Photograph via IFEX From Columbia Journalism Review: Award-winning investigative reporter Ahmet Sik is no stranger to danger. In 1998, he was hospitalized after a pro-police mob, furious about a murder conviction against several cops in a torture case, attacked the victim’s lawyers, the prosecutor, and journalists. In 2009, he...

Read More

If lucifer-matches were blunderbusses…

If lucifer-matches were blunderbusses…

An innocent-looking little book lies on our parlour-table, an extensive demand for which would imply that English households abound in perils, and are hourly at the mercy of emergencies. Harmless as it looks, its purpose is alarming. It is called "Household Surgery; or, Hints on Emergencies."

Read More

Super Dupa

Super Dupa

Mariah Carey and Whitney Huston From Pitchfork: There was, of course, a lot to love about pop in the late 90s: I was entranced by the weird, warped sound of anything Timbaland had a hand in, from Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” to Aaliyah’s singles– even then, there didn’t seem...

Read More

“What do you know about gold?”

“What do you know about gold?”

Goldfinger, United Artists, 1964 From Virgina Quarterly Review: How did Paul Dehn become the preeminent screenwriter of the Cold War? Like most information about screenwriters, the answer might as well be top secret. There exists no biographical dictionary of screenwriters. The number of good biographies of screenwriters can probably...

Read More
Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

Read More
McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

Read More
Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

Read More
Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

Read More
Claudia Landolfi: Europe’s Colonial Perversion

The aftermath of a violent act or after a sharp change of political horizons is also a crisis of imagination and language. The rupture...

Read More
Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

Read More
Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

Read More
Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

Read More
Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

Read More
David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

Read More
Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

Read More
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

Read More
Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

Read More