Berfrois

November 2011

Carolina Armenteros on Joseph de Maistre

Carolina Armenteros on Joseph de Maistre

Joseph de Maistre, Karl Vogel von Vogelstein, c.1810 by Carolina Armenteros Centuries after his death, the name of Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) can still trigger shudders. To non-specialists, it evokes Catholic zealotry, reaction incarnate, the taste for violence and the praise of war. After all, this is the Counter-revolutionary...

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Steve Yetiv: Triangulated

Steve Yetiv: Triangulated

Michele Solmi by Steve A. Yetiv On November 7, 1973, Richard Nixon called for major proposals to deal with the energy crisis caused by the 1973 Arab oil embargo and for a grand national undertaking which, “by the end of the decade” would allow the United States to “have...

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Add Me

Add Me

From The Morning News: The first thing I didn’t write about quitting Facebook was a status update to my friends saying, I’m quitting Facebook. I also did not write a proposal for the nonfiction book I imagined, which was about quitting Facebook. In the book, I would indulge the...

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Eric Dursteler: Beatrice the Renegade

Eric Dursteler: Beatrice the Renegade

Harem scene, from Memorie Turche, Museo Civico Correr, Cicogna, 1971 by Eric Dursteler In 1559, a ship sailed from Venice to the Dalmatian coast. On board were a mother and her four children, including her young daughter, Beatrice Michiel. As they crossed the Adriatic, corsairs waylaid the ship and...

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‘If monotheism is a gift for science, it is likely to be poison for the art of narrative’

‘If monotheism is a gift for science, it is likely to be poison for the art of narrative’

If a character born with every perfection is a poor premise for a story, then a God who is almighty, omniscient and eternal is even worse.

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Patricia Emison: The Renaissance Exists

Patricia Emison: The Renaissance Exists

 St. Justina of Padua, Benedetto Montagna, 1490s by Patricia Emison During the decades (more than three) that I’ve been studying the Renaissance, it has changed considerably. I can remember the flood in Florence in 1966, and the general horror and will to help that followed. One hundred people died,...

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Hav Not

Hav Not

From the cover of Last letters From Hav, by Jan Morris, 1985 edition  From Full Stop: Hav is a fictional travel narrative and in it, Morris mixes fact into fiction like mushrooms into scrambled eggs – if you look for the bits of mushroom, you can pick them out of the eggs,...

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Matthew Clavin: Beside Toussaint Louverture

Matthew Clavin: Beside Toussaint Louverture

by Matthew Clavin The last two decades have witnessed an extraordinary transformation in the writing of early American history. Where historians once assumed the exceptionalism of the new United States kept it hermetically sealed from the outside world, they now believe the early republic existed on the periphery of...

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Infinitely Gentle

Infinitely Gentle

His polite moments, which were frequent if often implausible (he denied reading quickly, being widely read, being “an especially fluid writer”) were all the more absurd given how caustic he could be.

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The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

The Islamic city functions well in the Nights, with Baghdad offering something of a cosmopolitan utopia…

“The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad”, from Arabian Nights, Illustrated by Duilio Cambellotti, 1912-1913  by Karla Mallette The Islamic Context of The Thousand and One Nights, by Muhsin Jāsim Mūsawī New York: Columbia University Press, 344 pp. Readers have long celebrated the Thousand and One Nights as a work that...

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Italy Consumes by Emanuela Scarpellini

Italy Consumes by Emanuela Scarpellini

by Emanuela Scarpellini The press has various ways of describing the current crisis afflicting many countries, including Italy. The first is usually to call it a finance crisis and blame the banks and financial intermediaries; there is talk of problems in the real economy, industry producing less and exports...

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Martha White on E. B. White

Martha White on E. B. White

In July 1969, New York Times journalist Israel Shenker had managed to persuade White to be interviewed at his farmhouse in Maine, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. It was rare for my grandfather to consent to such a request and the interview had not gone well.

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Pre-Code Horrors

Pre-Code Horrors

From Los Angeles Review of Books: It’s clear in retrospect that the comic book store I frequented at the age of 12 was a piece of shit. The year was 1994, a time of exciting developments in alternative and self-published comics — eventual lodestones such as Chris Ware’s Jimmy...

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‘Poche parole!’

‘Poche parole!’

Verdi’s Macbeth, 1964 via From The New York Review of Books: Verdi adored Shakespeare. Besides the three operas he took from him—Macbeth, Otello, and Falstaff—he considered (though briefly) doing a Tempest or Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. He considered for a very long time, and came near to creating, an...

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HAD A SESSION

HAD A SESSION

In 1909, after a six-day journey from Vienna with his associates Carl Jung and Sándor Ferenczi, Sigmund Freud arrived in New York Harbor and spent a week sightseeing in the city. He had traveled to America to give a series of lectures on his “talking cure” at Clark University...

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Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

Gloria Nne Onyeoziri: African Irony

From the cover of Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, 1959 edition   by Gloria Nne Onyeoziri Some Igbo people say that the millipede that is stepped on keeps quiet while its aggressor is the one to complain. They are not only leveling the playing field of the power to...

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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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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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