Berfrois

January 2012

Playing can be the most serious thing in the world…

Playing can be the most serious thing in the world…

Julio Cortázar From The Nation: One evening, perhaps a decade ago, I was walking along Canal Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown when a fishmonger, rushing out of his shop carrying a tank full of eels, slipped. Before he could let out a curse, there were eels and elvers everywhere: dark...

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Medieval

Medieval

Late in 2010, Google Labs introduced something called the NGram Viewer, which allows users to search a database of millions of published works and discover how often particular words have been used from year to year.

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Nico Slate: Satyagraha on the Spot

Nico Slate: Satyagraha on the Spot

by Nico Slate On Thursday November 17, a few days after Occupy Wall Street protesters were evicted from Zuccotti Park, a poster emerged declaring “mass non-violent direct action” to “shut down wall street,” “occupy the subways,” and “take the square.” While the reference to “non-violent direct action” reminded me...

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X & Co.

X & Co.

Melvin B. Tolson by Harris Feinsod Whenever a new anthology of modern U.S. poetry comes along, it seems that some distinguished critic or other is fated to take up arms, defending his or her vision of canonical distinction against the treachery of “inclusiveness.” The latest eminence to cast herself...

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“O that was strong poison”

“O that was strong poison”

by Deborah Blum When people ask why I would choose to write a book about poisons (The Poisoner’s Handbook) I usually start with my brief stint as a chemistry major, my continuing affection for using poisons as a way to think about our chemical planet. But I always end...

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How dare they vote that way?

How dare they vote that way?

Betty Benevolence wants to save the world. Yet she has crazy ideas about how to do it. When she sees a starving child, she steals his remaining food. When she sees someone in pain, she kicks him in the shins. When she sees a drowning man, she pours water...

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Cuba’s agroecological achievements are remarkable, yet still they import food…

Cuba’s agroecological achievements are remarkable, yet still they import food…

A city farm in Cuba. Photograph by Tardigrade From Monthly Review: When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors, parts, and petroleum. The situation was so bad...

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A Private General Intellect

A Private General Intellect

Bill Gates in The Simpsons, Fox Broadcasting Company From London Review of Books: How did Bill Gates become the richest man in America? His wealth has nothing to do with the production costs of what Microsoft is selling: i.e. it is not the result of his producing good software...

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Listen

Listen

by Noah Arceneaux Sonic Persuasion: Reading Sound in the Recorded Age, by Greg Goodale, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 208 pp. Given the subject matter of this work, it seems only appropriate to begin with a musical metaphor. Sonic Persuasions is like one of those rock ‘n’ roll albums...

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Mugging the Story

Mugging the Story

The moment you really begin to understand what it means to be watching a silent film in 2012 occurs very near the beginning of Michael Hazanavicius's The Artist.

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Single White Russian

Single White Russian

by Elena Strelnikova It’s an age-old adage that things always look greener on the other side of the fence and this is particularly true of married women looking at single women’s life and vice versa. My colleague and I have taken up sport. We go swimming and we run...

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Theodicy from a Kierkegaardian Perspective by Tamar Aylat-Yaguri

Theodicy from a Kierkegaardian Perspective by Tamar Aylat-Yaguri

Satan Inflicting Boils on Job, William Blake by Tamar Aylat-Yaguri A philosophical theodicy aims at establishing the responsibility for evil in the world: if evil is inevitable for human beings, then God, the absolute and only creator of the world, is held responsible for it, and theodicy is doomed...

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“With filthy things”

“With filthy things”

Kim Hyesoon From Guernica: Guernica: In an interview with Don Mee Choi, you said, “To live as a woman poet in Korea means to occupy a marginal place, a mere ‘spice’ within a world of poetry constructed by men.” Is it merely tradition that pushes women poets to the...

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We must question the validity of the Westphalian model as it applies to Greece…

We must question the validity of the Westphalian model as it applies to Greece…

Greece has a central position in the European imagination. Once modernity had established its legitimacy on the basis of antiquity, and a country such as Germany had constructed itself on a mystical affinity with Greece, it was impossible not to include Greece in the contemporary European scene.

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High Ships

High Ships

Lampudesa From Poetry: Across the piazza, there’s a little museum for the found leavings of refugees. Here are the things that wash up: plates, water bottles, prayer books in every imaginable language. Its curator is Giacomo Sferlazzo, in dreadlocks, who is a painter and musician (he gives me a...

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On the Other Side of the Seine

On the Other Side of the Seine

The writers and editors at The Paris Review, 1955 From The New York Times: In the winter of 1954 my wife, Barbara, and I spent a few weeks in a grand, gloomy Paris apartment amid scratched and faded 18th-century furniture and silken walls at 35 Rue de la Faisanderie,...

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Can you flatten a roach with an ebook?

Can you flatten a roach with an ebook?

Until recently, I’d open my copy of Franz Kafka’s Amerika and powdered milk would sift out. I carried that book in my pack for six months through the South Pacific.

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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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