Berfrois

Three Literary Freaks

Three Literary Freaks

Victor Hugo. Portrait by Edmond Bacot, 1862 From Verso Books: There are three kinds of conception of the novelistic. There is what we could call the official lineage, which the academy presents as the history of the French novel, proceeding by way of Stendhal and Flaubert. Here, the novel is the narrative, the capturing of the…

Read More

The reader becomes addicted…

The reader becomes addicted…

In the FAMA documentary, “The Siege of Sarajevo,” the owner of a used bookstore in Sarajevo says that philosophy books were the most popular during the war. Customers frequented bought books by Aristotle, Hegel, and Kant. Deep concentration is required to read these works. The reader takes the role...

Read More

Mammoth Mugs

Mammoth Mugs

Woolly Mammoths, Charles R. Knight, 1915 by Leonard Finkelman I need two things to start my average weekday. One of them is coffee. The coffee, of course, goes into a mug . Mugs reflect our deepest-held values, proudly displaying the logo of a faceless corporate monolith or the title...

Read More

You

Bébert Survived

Bébert Survived

There is a cat that sits on the sidewalk in front of the bistro Chez Bébert near the Gare Montparnasse in Paris (I snapped his picture just yesterday). He does not greet visitors, but he does give them to know, in his silent occupation of that crucial space before...

Read More

‘Camus was seduced over a dinner by the creator of anthropophagy’

‘Camus was seduced over a dinner by the creator of anthropophagy’

L-R: Oswald de Andrade; Albert Camus by João Cezar de Castro Rocha In 1946 Albert Camus traveled to South America. During this journey, he took random notes published posthumously, in which he produced irregular (and sometimes brutal) remarks on both cities visited and on persons he met. In São...

Read More

Such Meats

Such Meats

When King Pyrrhus invaded Italy, having viewed and considered the order of the army the Romans sent out to meet him; “I know not,” said he, “what kind of barbarians” (for so the Greeks called all other nations) “these may be; but the disposition of this army that I...

Read More

En Face

En Face

In the everyday use of the concept, saying that something is grotesque rarely implies anything other than saying that something is a bit outside of the normal structure of language or meaning – that something is a peculiarity. But in its historical use the concept has often had more...

Read More

Sociology(:) for the Rich

Sociology(:) for the Rich

The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1559 From N+1: It seems there’s no way out of sociology; nevertheless sociology cannot provide us with internal reasons for its ever-rising prestige. Surely we want to be able to say that the sociology of culture is valuable because...

Read More

Daniel Tutt on Fethi Benslama

Daniel Tutt on Fethi Benslama

The political philosopher Charles Taylor made an excellent observation recently when he pointed out that Islam is usually the culture that multiculturalism fails to adequately encompass in its pretensions towards universalism. By excluding Islam on the basis of the very values that multiculturalism stands for, Islam presents to liberal...

Read More

There are butterflies in Colorado, too…

There are butterflies in Colorado, too…

by Justin E. H. Smith Vladimir Nabokov has done pretty much all a human can do, from within the pouch of corporeal experience and the tunnel of time, to trace out the boundaries of the absolute. He has done so entirely without positive beliefs, but armed only with a...

Read More

Ask

Ridin’

Ridin’

by Justin E. H. Smith The apocryphal story of Phyllis and Aristotle is captivating for a number of reasons. For one thing, it recalls for us a period in the history of culture in which philosophy, and philosophers, were implicated not just in elite disputation, but also in popular...

Read More

Work It

Work It

Work, Ford Maddox Brown, 1852–1865 by David Palumbo-Liu In its March 2013 issue, The Atlantic ran a tersely titled article, “Anthropology, Inc.” The author, Graeme Wood, spoke about a market research company (ReD) that was hiring anthropology PhDs to use their training in social science field work to dreg up...

Read More

New Stories

New Stories

No, she insisted, she could never go back to Zanesville. Of course, she would continue to visit her hometown but she would not live there again. My student’s words were adamant but her voice broke with undisguised sadness. I stared at her as the sun flooded the oak desk...

Read More