Berfrois

On the Flying Time

On the Flying Time

Presentism—the notion that everything that exists is only what can and does exist right now—is countered in metaphysics by eternalism: the idea that time is not a process but a dimension, and in that dimension all reference points have equal validity, and thus all time, past, present, and future, exists at once, extending (like space) in all directions.

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The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

“The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”, from Arabian Nights, Illustrated by Duilio Cambellotti, 1912-1913  by Karla Mallette The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights, by Muhsin Jāsim Mūsawī New York: Columbia University Press, 344 pp. Readers have long celebrated the Thousand and One Nights as a work that...

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Martha White on E. B. White

Martha White on E. B. White

E. B. White, circa 1923 by Martha White Quotations have a way of shape-shifting, and like the best shape-shifters in mythology or fairytales, they can unexpectedly take on the characteristics of someone else entirely. In 2011 at a Harvard Business School conference, for example, this image appeared on the...

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Pre-Code Horrors

Pre-Code Horrors

From Los Angeles Review of Books: It’s clear in retrospect that the comic book store I frequented at the age of 12 was a piece of shit. The year was 1994, a time of exciting developments in alternative and self-published comics — eventual lodestones such as Chris Ware’s Jimmy...

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‘Poche parole!’

‘Poche parole!’

Verdi’s Macbeth, 1964 via From The New York Review of Books: Verdi adored Shakespeare. Besides the three operas he took from him—Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff—he considered (though briefly) doing a Tempest or Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. He considered for a very long time, and came near to creating, an...

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Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

From the cover of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, 1959 edition   by Gloria Nne Onyeoziri Some Igbo people say that the millipede that is stepped on keeps quiet while its aggressor is the one to complain. They are not only leveling the playing field of the power to...

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‘Systematic nonconsideration of human rights’

‘Systematic nonconsideration of human rights’

From The New York Review of Books: When a scientific experiment uncovers a new phenomenon, a scientist is pleased. When an experiment fails to reveal something that the scientist originally expected, that, too, counts as a result worth analyzing. A sense of the “nonappearance of the expected” was my...

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Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

The Slaying of the Bull of Ishtar, from Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, illustrated by Ernest Wallcousins, 1915 by Theodore Ziolkowski Any ten minute search on the internet turns up hundreds of hits for Gilgamesh in recent years. Apart from novels, plays, poems, operas, and paintings, the ancient Babylonian...

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Dear National Geographic

Dear National Geographic

by Tamar Rothenberg American Iconographic: National Geographic, Global Culture, and the Visual Imagination, by Stephanie L. Hawkins, Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 264 pp. What is iconic about National Geographic? From the ethnographic “types” displayed as such in the first half of the twentieth century, to the bare-breasted women...

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Yo Borges

Yo Borges

by Jon Beasley-Murray What does it mean to “read Borges”? What are we even endeavoring to read? “Borges” is a cipher: a proper name that stands in for a set of texts with which that name is associated. It’s a figure or speech or language, a form of metonymy:...

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SATAN, n.

SATAN, n.

 Satan’s Treasures, Jean Delville,1895 From The Smart Set: There’s a connection between the Devil and the word that goes back to the original Greek diábolos, which means “slanderer” or “accuser.” Bierce knew all too well the demons that lurk in our language. He wrote that the cynic sees things...

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‘A dancing pine tree, a surfacing sea monster, a wife splitting into sixteen pieces and reassembling’

‘A dancing pine tree, a surfacing sea monster, a wife splitting into sixteen pieces and reassembling’

From The Times Literary Supplement: Sometimes a person’s most fleeting glance, a throwaway comment, or simply their presence, can become fixed with significance, freeze-framed in the memory like a panel in a comic, there to revisit and linger over. The visual and verbal registers of graphic novels seem well...

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Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Franz Schubert’s handwritten sheet music by Niklas Schiöler The opening lines of Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “Schubertiana” from 1978 are: In the evening darkness at a place outside New York, an outlook where you can perceive eight million people’s homes in a single glance. The giant city there is a long...

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Suzanne Ruta: Benmalek for Cheney

Suzanne Ruta: Benmalek for Cheney

Photograph by Omar D by Suzanne Ruta In My Time A Personal and Political Memoir, by Dick Cheney, Threshold Editions: New York, 565 pp. Abduction, by Anouar Benmalek, Arabia Books, Haus Publishing Co: London, 299 pp Dick Cheney’s memoir, In My Time, is self serving, stonewalling and riddled with...

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Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

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Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

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A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

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I Know I Have to Go by Rick Whitaker

W.G. Sebald’s father joined the Reichswehr in 1929 and remained in the Wehrmacht under the Nazis. He was captured by the French and remained...

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B. Alexandra Szerlip: Vertigo

Vertigo has been scrutinized under the rubric of scopophilia, fetishism, voyeurism, the sadistic male gaze, objectification of the female body, “a dream substrate of...

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Bobbi Lurie With Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie and Marcel Duchamp on Lena Dunham’s Girls

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

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Europe’s Fascists in Suits by John Gaffney

Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

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Lauren Berlant’s Love Theory

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

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B. Alexandra Szerlip: Dream Train

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

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70-Minute Mark by Nicholas Rombes et al.

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

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You may say Rauan Klassnik’s a dreamer…

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

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David Palumbo-Liu on Chinua Achebe

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

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