Berfrois

February 2015

Communist Party, pamphlet, patriot, protest, Chinese, CCTV, mountains, freedom, education…

Communist Party, pamphlet, patriot, protest, Chinese, CCTV, mountains, freedom, education…

I meet Golog Jigme again in his large empty room at the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center. He serves me Chinese green tea from golden foil packets, pouring hot water over the leaves until I have a dark forest in the bottom of my cup.

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Rise of the Robots

Rise of the Robots

In the next two decades, 47 per cent of employment is ‘in the high-risk category’, meaning it is ‘potentially automatable’.

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The Marx of the Avant-Gardes

The Marx of the Avant-Gardes

So much for an academic #Marx21c. What about the avant-gardes?

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Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Godot, written in the author’s own account as some sort of diversion from his serious work on the trilogy of novels, takes place in an unnamed land and at an unnamed time.

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Expected Virtues

Expected Virtues

Nearly every review I’ve read has mentioned the fact that Birdman has been shot and edited in a way so as to seem as if it had been filmed in one single, continuous take.

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“The point is to think philosophically about Christianity”

“The point is to think philosophically about Christianity”

Heidegger famously said of Christian philosophy that it was a ‘wooden iron’ and I am not sure that he is wrong in that.

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Jenny Diski is not cheery or brave or serene at the moment…

Jenny Diski is not cheery or brave or serene at the moment…

I’ve been writing a more or less monthly memoir of my life in the sixties and seventies when I lived with Doris Lessing, and my continuing relationship with her until her death last year at 94. It is also an ongoing portrait of my incurable cancer.

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Edifices and Narratives

Edifices and Narratives

In the beginning there was not the city, but the resistant shard; not the organic community, but more or less the cumbersome fragments.

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at/to/on/no/of.

at/to/on/no/of.

At long last, an electronic book for review! Its title—the beginning of a script—is shebang!—hashbang, pound-bang, hash-exclam, hash-pling!

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Down With the Authoritarian Crackdown!

Down With the Authoritarian Crackdown!

I finally read Michael Walzer's influential article on "Islamism and the Left," after being told a number of times that I had inadvertently been echoing his opinion when I sided unconditionally with the caricaturists against the assassins who came to kill them.

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After Debord

After Debord

After Debord, we can think of two ways of articulating pasts to presents via the archive.

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As early as 1909, newspapers had reported (entirely imaginary) Zeppelin sightings…

As early as 1909, newspapers had reported (entirely imaginary) Zeppelin sightings…

When Archduke Franz Ferdinand was shot point-blank in the neck on June 28, 1914, news of his assassination ricocheted from Sarajevo all the way across Europe before nightfall.

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“There could be that glimmer of collectivity”

“There could be that glimmer of collectivity”

There’s a weird way in which the novels had a relation to poetry: with 10:04 I wrote that long poem, the one that’s excerpted in the book, before I wrote the novel – but I had no idea that it was going to have a life in the novel....

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A Perfect Grill

A Perfect Grill

Della and Tatum, Sweet Pea and Packy, Ida and Cal. You met a lot of unpretentious people in Philip Levine’s spare, ironic poems of the industrial heartland.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Urban Politics

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Urban Politics

an important part of the image that the Rama government is intent on creating for Albania is based on his former accomplishments in urban development as Mayor of Tirana.

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Moneybundles

Moneybundles

After the Fall, progress toward free markets and multiparty politics was slow. Todor Zhivkov, the longest-serving general secretary in the Eastern Bloc, may have been deposed the day after the Berlin Wall came down, but it wasn’t necessarily the chief cause.

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By 1939, Camus understood that France was bound to lose Algeria…

By 1939, Camus understood that France was bound to lose Algeria…

To understand the alchemy of Far From Men, it helps to recall the story that inspired it. “The Guest” is not as well known as Camus’s classic The Stranger, but it is a favorite text for teaching the history of decolonization.

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London is in in danger of hitting a cultural dead-end…

London is in in danger of hitting a cultural dead-end…

Money, money, money. The city London ought to be – turbulent, chaotic, fantastically creative, brimming with a sense of freedom – is under threat.

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Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Mark Mordue: Curate. Content. Click.

Not that ‘the critic’ has ever been a greatly appreciated or understood figure. Some fat toad with a feather in his hat who thinks he is a modern-day Oscar Wilde.

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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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