Berfrois

February 2011

Peter Corning: Toward a New Social Contract

Peter Corning: Toward a New Social Contract

by Peter Corning The term “social contract” has a deep history in political theory.  Today it generally refers to the implicit bargain that exists in any stable society over social rights and duties, and the division of economic benefits and costs. In the U.S., the social contract has become...

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Imperial Citizens

Imperial Citizens

The last (1944) batch of the Indian Civil Service in Dehra Dun, Ghulam Nabi Kazi by Claude Markovits Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire, by Sukanya Banerjee, Durham: Duke University Press, 272 pp. Nationalist teleologies often result in the erasure of significant moments and movements, because the latter...

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Cigarettes and bras and airlines

Cigarettes and bras and airlines

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway in Mad Men, AMC From The New York Review of Books: Mad Men keeps telling you what to think instead of letting you think for yourself. As I watched the first season, the characters and their milieu were so unrelentingly repellent that I kept wondering...

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Navigating between nihilism and fanaticism

Navigating between nihilism and fanaticism

Illustration by Matt Kish by Sean D. Kelly My in-box has been flooded, and I know Bert’s has too, with e-mails from readers of All Things Shining.  It’s wonderful!  I only wish we could respond to each of you individually.  Unfortunately, that would be a full-time job, and we’ve...

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‘It’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be’

‘It’s we who decide what nature is and what it will be’

Henry J. Fair, December 2005 From Environment 360: Human population will approach ten billion within the century. We spread our man-made ecosystems, including “mega-regions” with more than 100 million inhabitants, as landscapes characterized by heavy human use — degraded agricultural lands, industrial wastelands, and recreational landscapes — become characteristic...

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A little cinnamon with it

A little cinnamon with it

Vaclav Havel’s Leaving, performed at The Wilma Theatre, Philadephlia, 2010 From World Affairs: No matter how moral, humble, and immune to the temptations of power you are, once you’ve had it, it’s impossible to ever be free of it. It comes to define you as much in its absence...

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Popping Smoke On Veteran

Popping Smoke On Veteran

Call of Duty 2, Activision, 2005 From Kill Screen: The Call of Duty series represents the extreme forward guard of “hyperrealism” and technological might in contemporary game design. It’s a bombastic, McBay take on American foreign policy. Parents, commentators, and critics look on in horror as frenzied gamers lap...

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“Sicilian is like English: sharp, short, the less said the better”

“Sicilian is like English: sharp, short, the less said the better”

From Deutsche Welle: Deutsche Welle: “There’s Nothing Wrong with Lucy” is based on the true story of a man you defended, who was accused of sexually abusing one of his daughters… I wonder if your career as a lawyer, which has always been in your second language, made it...

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Life moves pretty fast

Life moves pretty fast

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Paramount Pictures, 1986 From The Paris Review: My husband and I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) the other night. He’d never seen it before, to the consternation of his Facebook friends, and I last saw it a decade ago, when I remember having been...

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‘Readers find it easy to carry Borges in their heads. It has proved rather difficult, however, to carry his work in a reasonable number of books’

‘Readers find it easy to carry Borges in their heads. It has proved rather difficult, however, to carry his work in a reasonable number of books’

  Cover Art for The Library of Babel, Erik Desmazières, 2000 From The Times Literary Supplement: Jorge Luis Borges was an eminently portable writer. He favoured various forms, but everything he produced was brief. He once claimed that his reluctance to publish novels was due to laziness, and that his...

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That Great Beat

That Great Beat

Original art by Whitney Garner by Anne Boyer I spend a lot of time at a pharmacy which is also a bookstore and at which a prominent scholar tells me a global ethnomusicologist to whom I have for a long time only been very scarcely connected via the Internet...

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C+V+S

C+V+S

Photograph by Phil Douglis From London Review of Books: In the case of real estate, it might happen – as it has – that more building and selling of houses has been financed than can actually be paid for with income deriving, in the last instance, from production. So...

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Andy Warhol as the Angel of Anachronism

Andy Warhol as the Angel of Anachronism

Marilyn Monroe and Charlie McCarthy by Joyelle McSweeney I’ve been thinking through a theory of Anachronism lately. My thinking goes that Art is a kind of Anachronism, breaking into, collapsing, and convulsing conventional ‘straight’ time with media, and, reflexively, turning conventional chronology into a kind of medium for convulsive,...

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Thunder, sunlight, sweet dew, whirlwind

Thunder, sunlight, sweet dew, whirlwind

The Greatest Japanese Writer You’ve Never Heard of | by Damion Searls,

The Quarterly Conversation

Tun-huang has been an important city for millennia, on the Chinese end of the silk road, and the nearby Mogao Grottoes or Thousand Buddha Caves...

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