Berfrois

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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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Woodrow Wilson and Race by Eric S. Yellin

Woodrow Wilson and Race by Eric S. Yellin

Woodrow Wilson, 1919 by Eric S. Yellin Progress is never inevitable, even in reform eras. The United States at the turn of the twentieth century was in a progressive mood. It was a time in which the nation’s leaders tackled some of modern life’s most vexing problems: from taming...

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Michael B. Katz: Back to Poverty

Michael B. Katz: Back to Poverty

In retrospect, the late 1980s, when the first version of The Undeserving Poor was written, appear a paradoxically optimistic moment for those of us concerned about mounting an attack on poverty. True, Republicans retained the presidency; public benefits had taken a hard blow; trade unions reeled under a savage...

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Barbara Newman: Romance

Barbara Newman: Romance

Near the end of Susanna Clarke’s magical history, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, comes a peculiarly chilling scene. A magician named Childermass, riding through a wood festooned with corpses, arrives at the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart. Before the castle stands a champion who defends its lady...

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Man

Man

Frederick Douglass, 1852 From The New York Times: Upon arriving at the White House, Douglass found “the stairway was crowded with applicants … and as I was the only dark spot among them, I expected to have to wait at least half a day.” But within two minutes he...

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Jill Norgren: American Women Pioneers of Law

Jill Norgren: American Women Pioneers of Law

Belva Lockwood by Jill Norgren No woman shall degrade herself by practicing law…if I can save her. I think the clack of those possible Portias will never be heard at Dwight’s moot courts. “Women’s Rights-women” are uncommonly loud & offensive of late. I loathe the lot. — George Templeton...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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Joseph Spece
Joseph Spece: When Gamers Attack

Like many ugly controversies, the beginnings of #gamergate are linked to the end of love — well, the end of a relationship, at least....

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Lauren Berlant performs by clicking

Today I introduced Facebook to someone older than me and had a long conversation about what the point of networking amongst “friends” is. The...

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Tinder Times by Bibi Deitz

I am in bed with a man. He has to go home. He is not staying the night. So he pulls out his iPhone...

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Jenny Diski keeps up

Some things are best met with silence. If I were to proceed with this month’s column in an honest way, it would be a...

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From Fashion by Tracy O’Neill

The man who brought us a disembodied protagonist alluringly voiced by Scarlett Johansson has now issued a drama — starring apparel. Recently, Opening Ceremony...

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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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