Berfrois

Thoreau’s Walk

Thoreau’s Walk

Summer and winter our eyes had rested on the dim outline of the mountains in our horizon, to which distance and indistinctness lent a grandeur not their own, so that they served equally to interpret all the allusions of poets and travellers

Read More

Can benevolent autocrats be trusted with development?

Can benevolent autocrats be trusted with development?

Historians have recently begun to investigate how development became central to the global humanitarian politics of the twentieth century, and why it has never been able to deliver on its promises.

Read More

‘Freud tended to dodge political questions’

‘Freud tended to dodge political questions’

The problem with the V-2 rocket, wrote George Orwell from London, is that “unlike most other projectiles, it gives you time to think.

Read More

Society for the Confused

Society for the Confused

Drawn by caricaturist John Leech, the illustrations of Gilbert Abbott à Beckett’s The Comic History of Rome are a Victorian fever dream of ancient Rome.

Read More

John Crutchfield: Go West

John Crutchfield: Go West

Perhaps this is what finally draws me back to the Western. It is a fundamentally serious genre. It deals with serious questions, and it does so, at its best, with an admirable economy of style, wasting little time on frivolity.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

Colin Dickey: Time’s Resistless Stream

By now, we are all of us more or less apocalyptic. Our calendar is itself based on the apocalyptic return of Jesus Christ, counting up from Anno Domini towards the End.

Read More

In Rome, Seneca was uniquely placed to influence those in power…

In Rome, Seneca was uniquely placed to influence those in power…

Sometime in the spring of the year 59, the emperor Nero decided to murder his mother.

Read More

Eugene Wolters on the Boston Massacre

Eugene Wolters on the Boston Massacre

To distinguish between “good riots” like in Boston and the “bad riots” in Ferguson is itself an exercise in historical amnesia practiced by the left and right.

Read More

MI5 saw fit to write to the CIA and FBI to warn them about Hobsbawm…

MI5 saw fit to write to the CIA and FBI to warn them about Hobsbawm…

Shortly before he died, Eric Hobsbawm told me of his irritation – I would put it no stronger than that – at being prevented from seeing his MI5 file. Despite some lobbying in the House of Lords on his behalf, he was told it would not be released in...

Read More

Gassy

Gassy

On Boxing Day of 1799 the twenty-year-old chemist Humphry Davy – later to become Sir Humphry, inventor of the miners’ lamp, President of the Royal Society and domineering genius of British science – stripped to the waist, placed a thermometer under his armpit and stepped into a sealed box...

Read More

John Beckman: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Americans!

John Beckman: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Americans!

Blackbeard in Smoke and Flames, Frank E. Schoonover, 1922 by John Beckman While writing an early draft of my recent book, American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt, I became impatient with the Northeastern cultural glacier that stretched between the wild party that was 1620s Merry Mount and obstreperous...

Read More

Dead Thought-Forms Talk

Dead Thought-Forms Talk

“The music of Mendelssohn” by Benjamin Breen “I have always considered myself a voice of what I believe to be a greater renaissance — the revolt of the soul against the intellect — now beginning in the world,” wrote William Butler Yeats to his mentor, the Irish nationalist John...

Read More

Eugenia Herbert on Julia Margaret Cameron

Eugenia Herbert on Julia Margaret Cameron

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. She has long evoked interest not only because of her distinctive style but also because of her eccentric personality, her dominant — very dominant...

Read More

Around the World With Elizabeth Bisland

Around the World With Elizabeth Bisland

On the morning of November 14, 1889, John Brisben Walker, the wealthy publisher of the monthly magazine The Cosmopolitan, boarded a New Jersey ferry bound for New York City. Like many other New Yorkers, he was carrying a copy of The World, the most widely read and influential newspaper...

Read More

Lisa Rosner: No Bones About Rapping

Lisa Rosner: No Bones About Rapping

Located in a historic building in Philadelphia, The Mütter Museum attracts a steady stream of visitors to its exhibits in medical history. Describing its exhibits as “Disturbingly Informative,” the museum’s highlights include a collection of skulls and other body parts put together by physicians; a startlingly large and varied...

Read More

To Jenny Diski, the 1950s seem a pale dove gray…

To Jenny Diski, the 1950s seem a pale dove gray…

by Jenny Diski Family Britain by David Kynaston, Walker & Company, 776 pp. Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II,  by A. N. Wilson, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 482 pp. I was born in central London in 1947, a child in a very special generation. In no time at...

Read More
Oliver Farry on Michel Houellebecq

The peculiar circumstances surrounding the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel constitute a case study in how even the biggest literary news stories are,...

Read More
McKenzie Wark
Information in Chains

“Information wants to be free, but is everywhere in chains.” The development of the forces of production took a qualitatively different turn when information...

Read More
Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie: Organic Fortune

isis - ebola - obama hit by halal truck (where is duchamp?)

Read More
Bharat Azad
Bharat Azad Meets Adair Turner

In a quiet office tucked away in Mayfair – over a long table so white I am hesitant to even place my fingers on...

Read More
Andre Gerard: Light Here, Shadow There

The deeper one looks in To the Lighthouse the more one sees. The more one listens the more one hears. Homer, Shakespeare, Conrad and...

Read More
Claudia Landolfi: Europe’s Colonial Perversion

The aftermath of a violent act or after a sharp change of political horizons is also a crisis of imagination and language. The rupture...

Read More
Jerry Moore: Feverish Rivers

I learned that Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff had been a Nazi when I was in a Santa Marta supermarket. I had just stepped into the Exito...

Read More
Lauren Berlant
Lauren Berlant flies

Most of the writing we do is actually a performance of stuckness. It is a record of where we got stuck on a question...

Read More
Robyn Ferrell on Balthus

The pitfalls of identification, hero-worship, envy and malice can beset the most patient writer in the throes of five hundred-plus pages of attention to...

Read More
Michael Munro on Spinoza

Immanence is not philosophy, nor philosophy immanence. But there is in the passage from one to the other a modification of sense that is...

Read More
David Beer
David Beer: Broadcastwerk

Writing at sometime around 1930 or 1931, Walter Benjamin suggested that the voice on the radio is a like a visitor in the home,...

Read More
Rose Barnsley: Young, Gifted and Žižekian

At nineteen, it is easy to think that all you're missing is the right movement. But there is something about the young left wing...

Read More
Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Rama’s And

While local journalists were once again busy regurgitating worn-down, coma inducing positions about yet another spectral appearance of Enver Hoxha at the celebration of...

Read More
Playing the Percentages: Berfrois Interviews Danny Dorling

The portrait of the 1% in your book is one of sociopathic, power-hungry narcissists with a striking lack of empathy. This may seem antagonistic,...

Read More