Berfrois

The Marx of the Avant-Gardes

The Marx of the Avant-Gardes

So much for an academic #Marx21c. What about the avant-gardes?

Read More

“But-but-but, but-but-but…”

“But-but-but, but-but-but…”

Surely no one makes the case for orthophemism as a virtue of public speech more clearly than Cicero: "When you speak of the anus," he writes, "you call it by a name that is not its own; why not rather call it by its own [i.e.,...

Read More

To the extent that music involves repetition, it is all rooted in poetry…

To the extent that music involves repetition, it is all rooted in poetry…

by Justin E. H. Smith If cultural studies were not so wrapped up in the vapid and fleeting, to the point where they forget all about Baudelaire’s injunction to find ‘the eternal in the ephemeral’, they might just be able to discern some important truths about the sacred character...

Read More

Liberating Angels by Justin E. H. Smith

Liberating Angels by Justin E. H. Smith

The Good and Evil Angels, William Blake, c.1805 by Justin E. H. Smith God, on a certain widespread understanding, is an imaginary friend for the childish and simpleminded. Those so accused will often defend themselves: but I don’t mean a white-bearded old-man God. I just mean, you know, something. A...

Read More

The Russell Doctrine

The Russell Doctrine

The Fight For The Standard, Richard Ansdell, 1847 by Bertrand Russell I. The principle that it is always wrong to employ force against another human being has been held in its extreme form by Quakersand by Tolstoï, but has been rejected by the great majority of mankind as inconsistent...

Read More

Radical Love

Radical Love

No one can love anymore because of an overabundance of reaction formation. No one wants to owe anything to their desire(s); to other people’s desires. Hence why Žižek (who I normally can’t stand) warned, “Don’t be afraid to really want what you desire” at an Occupy Wall Street rally...

Read More

From the Fog

From the Fog

A Philosopher, Jacopo Tintoretto, 1570 From 3:AM: ‘Point to the fog. Now point away from it. Now brush your teeth. (Philosophy as a type of activity) ‘Seduction is the premature ejaculation of the future. It works best after brushing your teeth.’ ‘Always attach yourself...

Read More

‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

‘The deep-freeze was full for years to come’

Herb and Harry were the names of our two steers, the one a Hereford, the other a Holstein. They did not do much but stand, bovine and stoic, from one day to the next. They sculpted strange rolling shapes into the salt lick with their fat blue tongues, and...

Read More

Is philosophy more like ballet or more like dance?

Is philosophy more like ballet or more like dance?

On a certain plausible --but ultimately unsatisfactory-- definition, ‘philosophy’ is simply a proper noun. It describes a particular tradition, just like the terms ‘ballet’ and ‘butoh’. It would be odd to claim that there is an indigenous tradition of Polynesian ballet, not because anyone believes that Polynesians are inherently...

Read More

What Is Forgetting?

What Is Forgetting?

The Virtue Wagon, Paul Klee, 1922 by Lauren Berlant Not unintentional forgetting, but of a thing that insists on being in the flow of things. It could be the forgetting of a dream you can’t stop because you’re in it, or of a sense that the world is converging...

Read More

If They Say Why by Agustin Fuentes and Aku Visala

If They Say Why by Agustin Fuentes and Aku Visala

This debate is a good example of why ‘human nature’ is still a relevant concept. What does biology actually say about the origins of human morality and its flexibility? Is it true that we are slaves to our biological imperatives or can we use our flexible minds to significantly...

Read More

Tamar Aylat-Yaguri on Kierkegaard and Judaism

Tamar Aylat-Yaguri on Kierkegaard and Judaism

When Johannes Climacus defines Christianity in the Postscript, he writes:

Christianity is spirit; spirit is inwardness; inwardness is subjectivity; subjectivity is essentially passion, and at its maximum an infinite, personally interested passion for one’s eternal happiness.

Read More

Badiou’s Break?

Badiou’s Break?

Philosophy Consoling Boethius and Fortune Turning the Wheel, attributed to Henri de Vulcop, c.1470 From Notre Dame Philosophical Review: What are we to make of the recent ascendance of Alain Badiou to the position of general representative of French philosophy in the Anglophone humanities? There are multiple possible explanations,...

Read More

j/j hastain: rebellion

j/j hastain: rebellion

When Yaweh advanced into Ezekiel in the form of penetration, the four wings of the chariot became instantly erect and bloodshot and then fell directly into limpness.

Read More

Kant’s Peace

Kant’s Peace

by Immanuel Kant Whether this satirical inscription on a Dutch innkeeper’s sign upon which a burial ground was painted had for its object mankind in general, or the rulers of states in particular, who are insatiable of war, or merely the philosophers who dream this sweet dream, it is...

Read More

Foucault’s Don Quixote

Foucault’s Don Quixote

For my last post on Cervantes and his “invention of fiction” before handing in my finished manuscript, I wanted to return to one of the most influential interpretations of his work in the twentieth century: that of Michel Foucault. To begin with, we should recall that Foucault chooses two...

Read More

Capitalism, Drugs and Morality

Capitalism, Drugs and Morality

by Justin E. H. Smith I dreamt last night that I was sharing a taxi with Putin from Moscow to Sheremetyevo airport. He was being very friendly and I could tell he liked me. I felt like a coward and a moral cretin for not saying anything critical that...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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,...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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,...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More