Berfrois

‘We all hate the poetry we learnt in school. Why?’

‘We all hate the poetry we learnt in school. Why?’

That the object of education should be to fit the child for life is such a trite and well-worn saying that people smile at its commonplaceness even while they agree with its obvious common sense.

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Imagine Your Audience

Imagine Your Audience

Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil, Joan Miró, 1925 From Poetry: I may not know what reviews are for, but I know who they are for: their readers. And it behooves reviewers to keep...

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Her story is not only about a receptionist…

Her story is not only about a receptionist…

Janet Groth at The New Yorker. Via by Joe Linker The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker, by Janet Groth, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 229 pp. The receptionist receives. Receives what? An education, a memoir. One purpose of a memoir, a narrative of memory, might be to...

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Chip’s Permanency

Chip’s Permanency

Heavenly Breakfast (1979) is a confessedly idealized account of a Lower East Side Manhattan commune that lasted through the winter of 1967-1968 -- Delany writes, “At the Breakfast I learned to move within the circle of other people's desire, and be at ease as I generated my own. And...

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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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