Berfrois

Remembering Michael B. Katz

Remembering Michael B. Katz

Michael B. Katz sadly passed away in August. We knew him as a brilliant writer and strong champion of the urban poor. Here are some tributes from his friends.

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Bakkheia!

Bakkheia!

Acratophorus, ("giver of unmixed wine"), at Phigaleia in Arcadia. Acroreites at Sicyon. Adoneus ("ruler") in his Latinised, Bacchic cult.

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John Gaffney: Hitler’s ‘Something’

John Gaffney: Hitler’s ‘Something’

The stunning spectacle of mass hero-worship in the Third Reich is compelling, in particular, the sight of unbridled joy at these mass rallies. This is even more so given that we – unlike those smiling faces - know what happened next, the nightmare of World War II and the...

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Ronald Hendel: Genesis as Magical Realism

Ronald Hendel: Genesis as Magical Realism

It occurred to me that Genesis is such a supreme fiction, or perhaps it is the supreme fiction in western culture, which begat many others.  For thousands of years this book has been the mirror or lamp that reveals what reality consists of – regarding the nature of human...

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“Det er det rene volapyk”

“Det er det rene volapyk”

Johann Schleyer on a harp given to him as a 50th birthday present by his colleagues at Sionsharfe, a magazine devoted mainly to Catholic poetry, which Schleyer edited and in which he first published on Volapük in 1879 by Arika Okrent Johann Schleyer was a German priest whose irrational...

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Emerson and C

Emerson and C

Ralph Waldo Emerson visited England twice – in 1833 and again in 1847. On his first visit, as a young and unpublished writer, he travelled to meet the men whose works had inspired him – one of these giants was Thomas Carlyle, the ‘lonely scholar’.

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Hobsbawm and the CPGB

Hobsbawm and the CPGB

Eric Hobsbawm, Peter De Francia,  c.1955. James Hyman Fine Art, currently on public display in Room One of the stunning curation of art and archives connected to John Berger, ‘Art and property now’ at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, King’s College London, the Strand, WC2R till November...

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Russell Overcounted

Russell Overcounted

Mezzofanti as pictured in the frontispiece to The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti; with an introductory memoir of eminent linguists, ancient and modern, by Charles William Russell, 1858 by Michael Erard Without a doubt, the most important book in English devoted to Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti (1774-1849), the polyglot of Bologna,...

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Lillian Hellman’s stance was inspirational to a cowed generation…

Lillian Hellman’s stance was inspirational to a cowed generation…

Lillian Hellman From The Nation: In 1952, Hellman was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). It was the height (or should I say “nadir”?) of the red hunt. Senator Joseph McCarthy, with the intimidating attorney Roy Cohn at his side, seemed to be making...

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United

United

Caesar Chavez on the México-Tenochitlán—The Wall That Talks mural project, Avenue 61 and Figueroa, Los Angeles From New Left Review: In any account of the United Farm Workers, there is ample room for recrimination and bitterness; but Bardacke shows none of that in his own spirited history. The story...

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John Bateson: Suicide Bridge

John Bateson: Suicide Bridge

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. While there have been many celebrations to commemorate the design, construction and beauty of the world’s most famous span, one thing that has received relatively little attention is the fact that the bridge continues to be the top...

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White Southerners and the American Civil War by Paul Quigley

White Southerners and the American Civil War by Paul Quigley

In October 1860, Sarah Lois Wadley was a month shy of her sixteenth birthday. Yet even at that age, she was dreadfully concerned about the crisis of the American Union that was unfolding all around her. Just days before the election of Abraham Lincoln, a few months before the...

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We Built This City

We Built This City

Paris Commune, 1871 by Jonathan Moses Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution, by David Harvey, Verso, 206 pp. It would be impossible to cover here the range of ideas in Harvey’s recent book, Rebel Cities, but it is worth considering one of its...

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In the early modern period, horniness and sexual insatiability are classic female attributes…

In the early modern period, horniness and sexual insatiability are classic female attributes…

Frenzy of Exultations, Władysław Podkowiński, 1894 by Justin E. H. Smith I’ve observed before that until at least the early 19th century, ‘orgasm’ did not mean what it does for us today. In La philosophie zoologique of 1809, for example, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck uses the term to describe something like...

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Rachael Mclennan: Anne Frank

Rachael Mclennan: Anne Frank

Most obviously, writing a novel in which Anne Frank in invoked in any way necessitates that Auslander’s work engages with the difficult ethical questions attendant on any fictional discussions of the Holocaust: questions which have been considered vital ever since Theodor Adorno’s claim that it would be barbaric to...

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Well After 999

Well After 999

by Justin E. H. Smith I am in Iceland for the first time in many years, for no better reason than that Icelandair offers extended stopovers on transatlantic flights at no additional cost. I cross the Atlantic as casually as one might take the subway from borough to borough,...

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Donald Raleigh: Generation Sputnik

Donald Raleigh: Generation Sputnik

Saratov School no. 42, graduation night, 1967 by Donald Raleigh Until recently, my office on the fourth floor of Hamilton Hall at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, was the only one along the corridor not occupied by someone affiliated with Carolina’s distinguished Southern Oral History Program...

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Patrick Downey on Jack “Legs” Diamond

Patrick Downey on Jack “Legs” Diamond

Jack “Legs” Diamond is little remembered today, but for the last eighteen months of his life he rivaled Al Capone as the most famous gangster in Prohibition Era America. Whereas Capone was famous for being the CEO of the largest criminal enterprise in the U.S., Jack was famous for...

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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...

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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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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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