Berfrois

January 2012

Philip Kitcher gets ethical

Philip Kitcher gets ethical

Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law, Domenico Beccafumi, 1537 by Philip Kitcher Many people believe, like Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, that if ethical precepts were not grounded in God’s commands, then anything would be permitted. From Plato onwards however, the philosophical tradition has frequently questioned the idea of a...

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Gaming in the Stream

Gaming in the Stream

Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendo, 2011 From Kill Screen: While Pirate Kart is easily dismissed as fringe—a group of “no-name” hobbyists plotting raids on normal people from an uncharted island of the internet—even Mario, gaming’s most well-recognized mascot, has been influenced by the structure of the ‘net. Where once...

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Medium Talk

Medium Talk

Larry David and Jeff Garlin in Curb Your Enthusiasm, HBO From Frieze: Borrowing a line from his Frankfurt School colleague Leo Löwenthal, Theodor Adorno once derided the mindlessness of the idiot box as ‘psychoanalysis in reverse’, a backwards medium enforcing conformity, distraction and the programmed life. Yet with today’s...

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The Editorial Climate by Keith and Orrin Pilkey

The Editorial Climate by Keith and Orrin Pilkey

This good intentioned attempt to warn society has led to an unanticipated hailstorm of criticism and a loss of credibility across a broad spectrum of science. In Virginia, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli launched a civil investigation into renowned climate scientist Michael Mann.

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Choose the Outdoors

Choose the Outdoors

by Nicholas Rombes 1. A sense of outsideness. Buildings turned inside out on 9-11, and people outside in the streets of Manhattan. The mind, outside of itself with disbelief. The brutal and temporary restoration of the natural world in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities. Located...

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Junko Kitanaka: Depressed Nation

Junko Kitanaka: Depressed Nation

An advertisement for an all purpose pill called Wakyōgan sold in premodern Japan (Wakyōgan Hikifuda, Courtesy of Nichibunken) by Junko Kitanaka In Japan, in the 1980s, the term “kar­ôshi”, or “death from overwork”, was coined to describe cases where people have essentially worked themselves to death. In the late...

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“So I got involved”

“So I got involved”

In many parts of Madagascar they have this idea that dead kings continue to exist and possess people and retain all their authority. As a result, as Gillian Feeley-Harnik wrote, the Sakalava on the West Coast, could insist that the ultimate authorities in the colonial period were these old...

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Feminism must guard against atomisation…

Feminism must guard against atomisation…

The Spice Girls by Rahila Gupta Feminism needs to recapture the state from the neo-liberal project to which it is in hock in order to make it deliver for women. It must guard against atomisation and recover its transformative aspirations to shape the new social order that is hovering...

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Pattern of the Modal Scientific Miscreant

Pattern of the Modal Scientific Miscreant

From The Nation: In the summer of 2007, while the scientist Marc Hauser was in Australia, Harvard University authorities entered his lab on the tenth floor of William James Hall, seizing computers, videotapes, unpublished manuscripts and notes. Hauser, then 47, was a professor of psychology, organismic and evolutionary biology,...

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John Beverley: Latin America’s Pink Tide

John Beverley: Latin America’s Pink Tide

    by John Beverley Let me begin by recalling a famous passage in his lectures on The Philosophy of History, where Hegel, writing in 1822, anticipates the future of the United States:   Had the forests of Germany still been in existence, the French Revolution would not have...

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Not Shakespeare’s Age

Not Shakespeare’s Age

My Shakespeare class finally persuaded me to take a class trip to go see the new Roland Emmerich movie, Anonymous.  I went forewarned. Multiple reviewers have pointed out problems with the film, which proposes that the Earl of Oxford wrote the literature by William Shakespeare.

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Thingking about Stuff

Thingking about Stuff

by Justin E. H. Smith I will certainly not be the first to find it interesting that some languages do not allow for a distinction between things and stuff. In Latin for example there is only res, a word that abounds with ambiguities, though some more easily soluble than...

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A. Staley Groves on Ron Paul

A. Staley Groves on Ron Paul

Ron Paul speaking to supporters at a “victory rally” following the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucuses in Ankeny, Iowa. Photograph by Gage Skidmore by A. Staley Groves What the republican candidatura conceals in its paradoxical movement is the questionable duration of the American State. This question is concealed by the...

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America’s Beethoven

America’s Beethoven

If we are to believe the Beethoven mythology, which is based mostly on his letters and reports from his inner circle, Beethoven had an unshakeable sense of his own importance.

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Jonathan Lear: Isn’t It, Don’t You Think?

Jonathan Lear: Isn’t It, Don’t You Think?

Crow Indians, photograph by David F. Barry, c.1878 by Jonathan Lear On the face of it, a conception does not seem the sort of thing it is easy to lose. If we think of our life with concepts in terms of our ways of going on, categorizing and thinking about...

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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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