Berfrois

May 2015

  • David Beer: Make Happy, Happy, Happy

    May 2015 Highlights

    David Beer: Make Happy, Happy, Happy

    As I read through William Davies’ engaging new book, I can’t help but wonder what Mad Men’s Don Draper would have made of John B. Watson.

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  • Russell Bennetts: Coffee for 8 More

    May 2015 Highlights

    Russell Bennetts: Coffee for 8 More

    I might be the last person you should ask about St. Paul coffee in general. On an ordinary day I make do with drip Folger’s at home and distilled sludge at the office.

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  • In X the Promise

    May 2015 Highlights

    In X the Promise

    X seems to want to be both the equivalent of The Giant and of Laura Palmer’s mother in Twin Peaks.

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  • Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Municipal

    May 2015 Highlights

    Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Municipal

    Although there are also some independent candidates who may take a few votes here and there, the general opinion of the Tirana public and internationals “in-the-know” is that the municipal elections in Tirana will be a mere formality.

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Mediamacro are very good at pretending…

Mediamacro are very good at pretending…

A few weeks ago I was having dinner with David Cameron. Well, almost - we were at the same restaurant but on tables at the opposite sides of the room.

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Oscar Wilde’s Wisdom

Oscar Wilde’s Wisdom

The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.

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Menachem Feuer on Sarah Silverman and Lena Dunham

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 be touched by the gesture, which seemed like a well-timed show of support for Dunham.”

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We Should Be So Emboldened

We Should Be So Emboldened

Economic mismanagement at the university and cuts from the State have created the most severe crisis in a generation that undermines the survival of some subjects in the arts and humanities.

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Alison Kinney on the Bayeux Embroidery

Alison Kinney on the Bayeux Embroidery

The masterpiece—the war memorial, wall hanging, apologia—tells the same old story, a case of do or die: a tale of friends betrayed, cross-Channel invasion, and the passage of a comet heralding the doom of old England.

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Moby Dick is a wonderful target for critics who like to identify the books that Melville plundered…

Moby Dick is a wonderful target for critics who like to identify the books that Melville plundered…

Who Herman Melville was and what he actually thought about anything are altogether unsatisfying questions that have never been answered in a satisfying way.

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Discovered Country

Discovered Country

Until very recently, I have avoided writing about Hamlet. With the occasional exception, I have also avoided teaching Shakespeare’s most famous play. I might have casually referred to this avoidance as “The Hamlet Effect.”

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Shimla-Wallahs

Shimla-Wallahs

The image of Shimla on film has evolved alongside film-making itself. The town’s journey across swatches of celluloid began as early as the first decade of the twentieth century, when films, chiefly propagandist in nature, began to be shot in India under the Raj.

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Land Experiences Orgasm by j/j hastain

Land Experiences Orgasm by j/j hastain

Divine clout is a marvel. I have been held in marvels throughout many lifetimes. I had no idea when born this time that I would be born by metal: an animate display of rust.

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A Year Without Summer

A Year Without Summer

A vampire is a thirsty thing, spreading metaphors like antigens through its victim’s blood. It is a rare situation that is not revealingly defamiliarized by the introduction of a vampiric motif, whether it be migration and industrial change in Dracula, adolescent sexuality inTwilight, or racism in True Blood.

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I, I, I, I

I, I, I, I

The most compelling feature of William Carlos Williams’s poetry, for me, has perhaps always been the complex tango of virility and fragility that fight it out in his deeply autobiographical poetry.

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Lost and not knowing where to go next…

Lost and not knowing where to go next…

You can find his lost interview on YouTube—or the surviving fifteen minutes of it at least. In 1971 Michel Foucault and Noam Chomsky participated in the now famous debate on the topic of human nature, live on Dutch television.

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Thumbs Up

Thumbs Up

Tacitus reports, that amongst certain barbarian kings their manner was, when they would make a firm obligation, to join their right hands close to one another, and intertwist their thumbs.

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The Bird and Baby

The Bird and Baby

During the hectic middle decades of the 20th century, from the end of the Great Depression through the Second World War and into the 1950s, a small circle of intellectuals gathered weekly in and around the University of Oxford to drink, smoke, quip, cavil, read aloud their works in...

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Religious practice and identity after the war was neither condoned nor condemned…

Religious practice and identity after the war was neither condoned nor condemned…

Whether oppression and resistance, Soviet domination and domestic nationalism, or Communist ideology and state practices, the collapse of Communism has forced scholars to find a middle ground among extremes.

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Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders were informed of the US mission…

Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders were informed of the US mission…

It’s been four years since a group of US Navy Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden in a night raid on a high-walled compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The killing was the high point of Obama’s first term, and a major factor in his re-election.

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On Cide Hamete Benengeli

On Cide Hamete Benengeli

Nabokov said its humor did not age well, and unlike Moby-Dick, which is occasionally dismissed as a school-boy's adventure story but never as hokey or stale.

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Just Like Macondo

Just Like Macondo

We pulled off the main road and began to climb to the remote village in western Macedonia where I had been born.

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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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