Berfrois

May 2013

Jeremy Fernando on Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

Jeremy Fernando on Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew

There is a famous maxim that one must always kill your idols. That the only way to become your own person, as it were, is to free yourself from the shadow of the one you admire, look up to. Singapore has clearly taken this to heart: and has murdered...

Read More

Francis Ghilès on Nahda’s Tunisia

Francis Ghilès on Nahda’s Tunisia

by Francis Ghilès Tunisia remains very dependent on international good will: despite receiving aid and loans worth $1.5bn last year, the growing current account deficit has reduced hard currency reserves to the equivalent of three and a half months cover of imports. The Minister of Human Rights and Transitional...

Read More

The Leaning Sex

The Leaning Sex

Sheryl Sandberg. Photograph by Drew Altizer From The New York Review of Books: I am not the first person to notice that Lean In does not propose any concrete changes to corporate or public policy in order to accommodate women in top jobs, with a single exception. When she...

Read More

Global Warning

Global Warning

The question of how to prevent climate change – we’re way past that point now – has morphed into the question of how to slow it down. There’s no shortage of theoretical answers about the best way to pump fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or suck more of...

Read More

Jenny Diski’s Sporting Icons

Jenny Diski’s Sporting Icons

L-R: Lance Armstrong, David Beckham, Oscar Pistorius by Jenny Diski It hasn’t been a good year for sporting heroes. Lance Armstrong finally admitted what just about everybody already knew, though with barely an apology to the people who devotedly followed him and his organisation, partly because he was such...

Read More

Fingio

Fingio

Critics have long held that, even if Cervantes was at least somewhat aware that his work would be successful, this was only because he knew it was funny, and hoped that, in reading it, as he famously wrote in his first preface to Don Quixote, "the melancholy would be...

Read More

Is ‘fluggaenkoecchicebolsen’ a real word?

Is ‘fluggaenkoecchicebolsen’ a real word?

From Eurotrip, DreamWorks Pictures, 2004 From The New York Times: When it happens I feel as if I have stepped into a Far Side cartoon. I am a magazine editor, and the galley of an article will come back from a proofreader with a low-frequency word circled and this...

Read More

Pym’s Heroines

Pym’s Heroines

Barbara Pym. Photograph by Mark Garson via From Ploughshares: Although her novels were well-received and regularly published from 1950 to 1963, and although she continued to produce high-quality work at a steady pace between 1963 and 1977, Pym was devastated by her inability to publish at all throughout the...

Read More

Press the Pedal Again

Press the Pedal Again

Piper, Eduard Bersudsky, 2013 From Aeon: You press the pedal at the base of Eduard Bersudsky’s sculpture Piper (2013). The shadow on the wall moves, the cogs begin to hum, the little bell rings, and the pair of gendered fauns flex their legs to activate the dog typist at...

Read More

Masha Tupitsyn’s Latest Tumbl but 4

Masha Tupitsyn’s Latest Tumbl but 4

Men can’t just write serious songs anymore or make serious films or write serious books. They also need to date/marry/love serious women who are doing serious things other than dating so-called serious men. Women who actually reflect these so-called serious men’s so-called anti-establishment politics. Hard to take Kanye West’s...

Read More

To Read a Book by Virginia Woolf

To Read a Book by Virginia Woolf

Detail of Portrait of Ugolino Martelli, Angelo Bronzino, c.1535 by Virginia Woolf In the first place, I want to emphasise the note of interrogation at the end of my title. Even if I could answer the question for myself, the answer would apply only to me and not to...

Read More

Melissa Broder’s Last 23 Tweets

Melissa Broder’s Last 23 Tweets

fuck the son marry the spirit kill the father fav if paranoid rt if they're definitely talking abt u open 2 chakras at once bb i'm not playin a cool date wld be w someone imaginary shaped exactly like my emptiness

Read More

‘Camus was seduced over a dinner by the creator of anthropophagy’

‘Camus was seduced over a dinner by the creator of anthropophagy’

L-R: Oswald de Andrade; Albert Camus by João Cezar de Castro Rocha In 1946 Albert Camus traveled to South America. During this journey, he took random notes published posthumously, in which he produced irregular (and sometimes brutal) remarks on both cities visited and on persons he met. In São...

Read More

Such Meats

Such Meats

When King Pyrrhus invaded Italy, having viewed and considered the order of the army the Romans sent out to meet him; “I know not,” said he, “what kind of barbarians” (for so the Greeks called all other nations) “these may be; but the disposition of this army that I...

Read More

Lunar Thule

Lunar Thule

by Justin E. H. Smith There is a trite and obvious thing to say about Iceland, and that is that it looks like the moon. Descending into the Keflavik lava fields the other day, on an Icelandair flight from Paris, I was permitted to feel annoyed and a bit...

Read More

K. Thomas Kahn on Imre Kertész

K. Thomas Kahn on Imre Kertész

Nobel laureate Imre Kertész is certainly no stranger to controversy. His radical reconceptualization of the term “Holocaust” — in whose “unscrupulous employment” he locates “a cowardly and unimaginative glibness” — to extend beyond the scope of the concentration camps and those who perished therein, rhetorically privileges the survivors over...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

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

Read More
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...

Read More
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.

Read More
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....

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More