Berfrois

April 2014

  • What is philosophy still excluding?

    April 2014 Highlights

    What is philosophy still excluding?

    What is wrong with philosophy? This question has been tearing the community, such as it is, of professional Anglophone philosophers apart over the past few years.

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  • Suzanne Ruta: Raubkunst

    April 2014 Highlights

    Suzanne Ruta: Raubkunst

    In 1914, my husband’s uncle Gustav Kirstein bought a lovely painting from the German impressionist master, Max Liebermann – a cheerful summer scene, clearly influenced by Renoir, of rowboats on Hamburg’s Alster River. In 1943 the Nazis stole the painting, along with the rest of Kirstein’s estate.

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  • Giorgio Fontana: Invisible Agony

    April 2014 Highlights

    Giorgio Fontana: Invisible Agony

    Jean Améry titled his renowned book on voluntary death, Hand an Sich Legen – To lay Hands on Oneself. Beyond the argument of Amery (who killed himself in 1978), I’ve always found this image very appropriate. It describes with precision and grace a terrible gesture.

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  • Daniel Tobin on John Donne

    April 2014 Highlights

    Daniel Tobin on John Donne

    Today because I am sufficiently connected here in my book-glutted home in Boston I have decided to make my little room an everywhere. As it so happens, I am hovering now above an area of greater London known as Mitcham that four-hundred years ago was an outlying village backwater away from the teeming intrigue and bustle of King James’ city and his court.

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  • Death and Derrida by Peter Gratton

    April 2014 Highlights

    Death and Derrida by Peter Gratton

    In a move that might strike readers as odd, Derrida spends most of these lectures not on the case made by death penalty proponents, with whom he clearly disagrees, but on demonstrating that abolitionists borrow from the same language and historical sources as their avowed enemies.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: European Love

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: European Love

Albania is inching forward to the third attempt to gain EU candidate status in June. After the country was denied this status for the second time last December owing to a Dutch veto, it is making considerable efforts to meet the “standards” yet again. This is a slightly perverse...

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The Rime of the 450 Year Old Bard

The Rime of the 450 Year Old Bard

"Hamlet" was the play, or rather Hamlet himself was the character, in the intuition and exposition of which I first made my turn for philosophical criticism, and especially for insight into the genius of Shakspere, noticed.

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Occupybook

Occupybook

Rather than creating an alternative internet, that is free, self-managed and non-commercial, contemporary tech activists seem much more concerned with harnessing the potential of the corporate internet, making use of the capabilities of gigantic corporate social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

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Agrume

Agrume

The Lemon Grove in Bordighera, Claude Monet, 1864 From Literary Review: Goethe’s ‘The Apprenticeship of Wilhelm Meister’, a neglected masterpiece if ever there was, is known nowadays for a single line from a ballad sung by Mignon, the daughter of a wandering musician. ‘Know’st thou the land where the...

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Rad NGOs

Rad NGOs

I call myself an anarchist. You might not use that word. But if you are skeptical of hierarchies, and are used to organising politically in more autonomous or horizontal groups, you too may have struggled with one of the most glaring contradictions we face in a capitalist society: Jobs....

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Virginia Woolf on George Eliot

Virginia Woolf on George Eliot

To read George Eliot attentively is to become aware how little one knows about her. It is also to become aware of the credulity, not very creditable to one's insight, with which, half consciously and partly maliciously, one had accepted the late Victorian version of a deluded woman who...

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From the Fog

From the Fog

A Philosopher, Jacopo Tintoretto, 1570 From 3:AM: ‘Point to the fog. Now point away from it. Now brush your teeth. (Philosophy as a type of activity) ‘Seduction is the premature ejaculation of the future. It works best after brushing your teeth.’ ‘Always attach yourself...

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‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

Herb and Harry were the names of our two steers, the one a Hereford, the other a Holstein. They did not do much but stand, bovine and stoic, from one day to the next. They sculpted strange rolling shapes into the salt lick with their fat blue tongues, and...

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A Second Belle Époque

A Second Belle Époque

From The New York Review of Books: Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn’t a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a...

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MOTELS

MOTELS

From Bottle Rocket, Columbia Pictures, 1996 From Oxford American: Back when Roger Miller was King of the Road, in the 1960s, he sang of rooms to let (“no phone, no pool, no pets”) for four bits, or fifty cents. I can’t beat that price, but I did once in...

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Remembrance of Translations Past

Remembrance of Translations Past

Although Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff’s translation of À la recherche du temps perdu is considered by many journalists and writers to be the best translation of any foreign work into the English language, his choice of Remembrance of Things Past as the general title alarmed the seriously ill Proust...

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Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

Mario Carpo: Voice, Words, Memory

It all started with cellphones, a long time ago. No student, and few teachers, would make voice calls from class, but in the early 2000s GSM phones started to offer nearly free text messaging, and students (and faculty) started to text during lectures and seminars. Before long students were...

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Hindu Nationalism’s Poster Boy

Hindu Nationalism’s Poster Boy

Photograph from Narendra Modi on Flickr. by Nikita Sub India’s Hindu Right is associated with the colour saffron. The saffron flag, or bhagwa dhwaj adorns the offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or Sangh for short), which is at the core of the Hindu nationalist movement. The Sangh...

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Is Kate Bush a Rosicrucian?

Is Kate Bush a Rosicrucian?

From The London Review of Books: We know all the essential passport application stuff about Bush, and down the years she’s dutifully done the odd unrevealingly bland Q&A, but there’s an immense amount we don’t know. Has she ever taken psychedelic drugs? Has she had therapy? (Reichian, Jungian, marriage?)...

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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...

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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...

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Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

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

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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...

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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.

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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....

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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....

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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...

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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....

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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...

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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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