Berfrois

October 2011

“v.hot”

“v.hot”

Two Books, Abelardo Morell, 1994 From The Atlantic: When I was young I wanted to write a challenging book of ideas. I had in mind the kind of “deep” book that public intellectuals of the 1950s and ’60s wrote: The Lonely Crowd, The One-Dimensional Man, The End of Ideology. Intellectuals...

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Jonathan Boyarin: 180 Stanton Street

Jonathan Boyarin: 180 Stanton Street

180 Stanton Street by Jonathan Boyarin The fast-approaching secular year 2013 will mark the centennial of a modest building at 180 Stanton Street, on New York City’s Lower East Side, that houses Congregation Bnai Jacob Anshei Brzezan. I first entered its doors and re-learned how to place tefillin on...

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Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Niklas Schiöler on Tomas Tranströmer

Franz Schubert’s handwritten sheet music by Niklas Schiöler The opening lines of Tomas Tranströmer’s poem “Schubertiana” from 1978 are: In the evening darkness at a place outside New York, an outlook where you can perceive eight million people’s homes in a single glance. The giant city there is a long...

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Dancers

Dancers

Soviet invasion of Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1968 by James Warner A recurring idea in the work of Milan Kundera is that the spirit of totalitarianism lives on in our mass media. In a world without privacy, will we all be perpetually on trial? In his 1994 essay “Blacklists, or Divertimento...

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‘What they fear most about China is the absence of a genuine autocrat’

‘What they fear most about China is the absence of a genuine autocrat’

From The Nation: Ever since the Communist Party came to power in 1949, forceful, unifying figures have dominated the political arena and the PLA. The first was Mao Zedong, who used his unparalleled charisma and political genius to pit rivals against one another, to create a cult of personality...

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Which?

Which?

Female factory workers in Shenzhen, China, Douglas Johnson From Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews: In 1923, the British House of Commons had what was termed “a great debate”: “Socialism or Capitalism: Which?” Not so long ago, books were regularly published on this thorny topic; but now, even on the left,...

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Suzanne Ruta: Benmalek for Cheney

Suzanne Ruta: Benmalek for Cheney

Photograph by Omar D by Suzanne Ruta In My Time A Personal and Political Memoir, by Dick Cheney, Threshold Editions: New York, 565 pp. Abduction, by Anouar Benmalek, Arabia Books, Haus Publishing Co: London, 299 pp Dick Cheney’s memoir, In My Time, is self serving, stonewalling and riddled with...

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Elaine Forman Crane: Legal Matters (and Whores)

Elaine Forman Crane: Legal Matters (and Whores)

A Bellarmine Jug, or “Witch-bottle” by Elaine Forman Crane John Hammett, a Newport clerk, schoolmaster, and wife beater, may not be the most typical early American, but his experience suggests how braided law and life actually were in the era. Before his own brush with the authorities as an...

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The Power of Dignity by Donna Hicks

The Power of Dignity by Donna Hicks

Dignity and Impudence, Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1839 by Donna Hicks Nobody wants to be treated badly or to feel inferior. Yet, it is not uncommon for everyone to experience a violation of that dignity on a daily basis. It happens everywhere humans come in contact with one another:...

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Great Fun

Great Fun

The Finest Life You Ever Saw | by James Salter

The New York Review of Books

From his father, who loved the natural world, Hemingway learned in childhood to fish and shoot, and a love of these things shaped his life along...

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Craig Harline: Conversion

Craig Harline: Conversion

The Conversion of Saul, Micheangelo Buonarroti, 1542-45 by Craig Harline What are the choices when a family member converts to another faith (or non-faith)? Or, takes a path that upsets the family’s perceived traditions? One good place to look for answers is Reformation Europe, where the problem of individual...

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Ronald Reagan’s ubiquitous Americana is constantly recycled by neophytes…

Ronald Reagan’s ubiquitous Americana is constantly recycled by neophytes…

by A. Staley Groves 1. St. Reagan and the Return of the Storyteller The 2004 Republican National Convention was a significant event concerning language and aesthetics in contemporary politics. The Reagan myth appeared as a stellar aura of sentimentality that churned a cultic swoon. Among the polity this spectacular...

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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....

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Jeremy Fernando: Not

A response — Bartleby’s response — foregrounding the fact that it is the “I” that “prefers not to”: not that ‘I cannot’ nor ‘I...

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Owen Vince on HARK

As a poet, you are your grandmother; you are browsing the obituaries with a red pen and an address book in your hand. The...

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Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

Eric Weisbard wrote twenty years ago, introducing the voluminous, era-summarizing, contrarian and contradictory Spin Alternative Record Guide.

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Collective Destruction by Keith Doubt

What, then, is sociocide? Sociocide resonates with the term demodernization formulated by A. V. Tishkov to account for the consequences of the war in...

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Heather Lang on Fiona Sampson and Sarah Morgan

Poet Fiona Sampson is a former career violinist, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, overt references to music appear in her work.

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Setsuko Adachi: Azalea Exuberance Strikes

In May, in the garden of the elevated house at the bottom of the hill, four shrubs of stunning azaleas come into full blossom....

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Joe Linker
Joe Linker on Li Po

Florence showed me what she called the most famous of Chinese poems. She had made her own translation from a Chinese language newspaper clipping....

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Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Luc Moullet

To begin at the end: After nearly two hours exploring facets of exploitation in the globalized food system, Luc Moullet closes Genèse d’un repas/Origins...

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Adam Staley Groves: Iowa Nasty

Now it seems the state’s radical conservatives are degrading the historic, populist-provincial mentality of Iowa; they are revising the state’s legacy within the broader...

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Animal Spirits at the Nueva Burdalesa Bakery by Jessica Sequeira

A few years ago all I had was a certain ambition and an understanding, more or less, of how things work in this world....

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Sebastian Normandin
Meaning and Pseudoscience by Sebastian Normandin

The persistence and proliferation of pseudoscientific thinking in contemporary culture demands explanation. Clearly there are some pragmatic reasons for its expanded existence, and people...

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Janice Lee For the Ghost

The memories are like stutters. Sometimes I inhale for air, and exhale a shaking chain of memories. A choking hazard. I for the ghost....

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Edi Rama’s Bunker Mentality by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei

As many former Eastern Block countries in the EU display a hardly dissimulated form of racism and religious hatred, Albania, always a little behind...

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