Berfrois

What are we able to know about superstar college dropouts?

What are we able to know about superstar college dropouts?

A glance at celebrity websites and magazines serves to confirm that it is possible to make a living by taking photos of very famous people doing very ordinary things: walking dogs, pumping gas, dropping children off at daycare.

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Suzanne Ruta: Photographing Algeria

Suzanne Ruta: Photographing Algeria

by Suzanne Ruta Picturing Algeria, by Pierre Bourdieu, forward by Craig Calhoun. Edited by Franz Schultheis and Christine Frisinghelli, Columbia University Press, 230 pp. Algeria, by Dirk Alvermann, Facsimile edition of a work first published in 1960. Steidl, Germany 2011 In 2004, just around the time the Abu Ghraib...

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For. Us.

For. Us.

by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei It is not my intention to offer the following notes pertaining to one part of the series Narration d’équilibre , written by the poet, translator, photographer, encyclopedist, and radio maker Jean Daive (1941), as a meticulous overview of the different themes,...

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A Kafka Doctor

A Kafka Doctor

The Laurenziberg, Prague From London Review of Books: I am guilty of an association of ideas; or rather: I am guilty – that’s a given, and in casting about for the source of my guilt I find I cannot prevent myself from linking one idea with another purely on...

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Mapping Hidden Space

Mapping Hidden Space

In Pynchon's 2006 novel Against the Day, characters rove all over the known world and, indeed, beyond, discovering hidden realms and involving themselves in political conflicts, obscure mysticisms and mathematical debates. Given its vast scope, the novel may, as Christopher Leise contends, require "more lamps than most to illuminate...

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‘Not all the British visitors were philistines’

‘Not all the British visitors were philistines’

In the first half of the 19th century, the British began to discover Normandy. Previously, the point of entry into France for most travellers had been Calais, which felt safely half-English, and where even the beggars importuned new arrivals in their own language. Those prepared to make the longer...

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The Spirit of Grimalkin

The Spirit of Grimalkin

Cat and Butterfly, Hokusai, Edo period, From Poetry:  Cats can be cruel and stingy and aloof (although most cats are far less aloof than has generally been supposed). And all of them are half insane. But I have never been disappointed or bored or, aside from several scratches and...

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How much could a wandering writer carry from tambo to tambo?

How much could a wandering writer carry from tambo to tambo?

The sky is cloudless and still, and although the early afternoon temperature is only in the mid-70s, the air is incomprehensibly arid, and the sun intense enough to burn through our shirts. Downslope, heat waves shimmer over Chile’s Salar de Atacama, making the long piles of lithium 20 miles...

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Borges in Cambridge

Borges in Cambridge

The sweet-tempered octogenarian I knew needed in his blindness to be helped gently across carpeted floors. His preoccupations, notably Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse, were above all philological. His father had taught in English, which Borges used to say was the first language he ever spoke, though you would probably...

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‘Now as to magic’

‘Now as to magic’

“Dr Faustus in the Magic Circle”, from The Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Doctor John Faustus, P.F. Gent, 1969 From Lapham’s Quarterly: If the paramount project of W. B. Yeats’ professional life was the perfection of the art of poetry, it was intertwined with a personal preoccupation, the...

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riverunning running and running running…

riverunning running and running running…

Passages from Finnegans Wake, Mary Ellen Bute, 1966 From The New York Review of Books: I got my first real glimpse of that beast in the Burger Chef restaurant that used to occupy the basement of the Cathedral of Learning, at the University of Pittsburgh, in my senior year,...

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“And still playing the role”

“And still playing the role”

Superman, DC, series #1, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, 1939 From The New York Times: “Superman!” gasps Lois Lane, freshly scooped from beneath the nodding carbines of a South American firing squad. “Right!” says the boxy blue-and-red figure who holds her in his arms. “And still playing the role...

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Ulysses is fit to read and life is fit to live…

Ulysses is fit to read and life is fit to live…

Joyce had a lot of bad luck in the literary marketplace. Four publishers turned down his first book, a volume of poems called “Chamber Music.” He spent nine years getting his story collection, “Dubliners,” into print. It was rejected by eight publishers. At least thirteen printers refused to set...

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Literature Against the French

Literature Against the French

To what extent can literature be used as a source for gaining historical knowledge? This question has challenged historians and literary historians ever since the development of ‘history’ as a scholarly discipline. The answer tends to be moderately positive: literature may reveal specific information that can increase our historical...

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Pynchon and the Past by Joanna Freer

Pynchon and the Past by Joanna Freer

From Secret Behind the Door, Universal Pictures, 1948 by Joanna Freer Thomas Pynchon and the Dark Passages of History, by David Cowart, Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 250pp. “Thomas Pynchon merits recognition as America’s greatest historical novelist”, (24) is the rather grand claim upon which David Cowart...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: LGBT Struggles in Albania

This morning I woke up to a rather surprising headline: "first gay marriage in Tirana." The article referred to the marriage ceremony recently held...

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Feroz Rather in Srinagar

Though the war was still going on, it was not a terribly sad time in my life; at least, I had the consolation of...

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Foucault’s Politics of Truth by Stuart Elden

The key figures are Cardinal Richelieu and Chancellor Séguier, and Foucault thinks it is important that he can discern the “first great deployment of...

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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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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...

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Tammy Ho Lai-Ming: One Little Room

A room with graffitied walls. Inside this room the dogs bark. A room cluttered with porcelain figurines. A room decorated with binary numbers.

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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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David Beer
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...

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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...

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Emeline Edgewood
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

Although there are also some independent candidates who may take a few votes here and there, the general opinion of the Tirana public and...

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En Liang Khong: Full Bloom

The cross-dressing Qiu Jin was emblematic of a revolutionary feminist current at the end of the Qing era, writing urgently on women’s emancipation: “While...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Very Much Like a Whale by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

They had obviously taken the pictures of the whale, and the group of people carrying it, out of curiosity. But still the images failed...

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Oscillation

We recognise oscillation to be the natural order of the world.

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