Berfrois

The Bear Within

The Bear Within

I try not to weigh in on ephemeral online outrages, but there's one thing I just can't resist the urge to bring up in connection with the recent flare of fascination with Rachel Dolezal's inner life and its outer expression.

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“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.,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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‘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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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,...

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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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Menachem Feuer: Body

While Sarah Silverman jokingly tells us that her Jewish identity has more to do with her body than with the “responsibilities and limitations” that...

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Jeremy Fernando: Pink

An offering that might well remain in its being offered.

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