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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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

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‘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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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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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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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Tjoa Shze Hui: 1920s

Of the many witticisms that make up The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, one voiced by Picasso really gets under the skin. He says...

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