Berfrois

September 2012

Out in Public

Out in Public

When Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963, “the problem that has no name” was the problem of college-educated housewives sitting at home being bored to death.  Today, the “problem that has no name” is more widespread, more alluring and more aggressive. Its most insidious aspect is how...

Read More

Jesse Miksic: Love on the Inside

Jesse Miksic: Love on the Inside

The 90s happened, man. I was there. I saw the mohawks on twelve-year olds being carried on their punk parents' shoulders. I rode in old cars while my friends snorted rids in the back seat, and I got delivered to crowded Warped Tours and saw bands my big sister...

Read More

What exactly happened, between 1970 and 1998, to Shulamith Firestone?

What exactly happened, between 1970 and 1998, to Shulamith Firestone?

Shulamith Firestone by Sianne Ngai Shulamith Firestone’s Airless Spaces (1998) has been sitting in one of my bookcases since 2000. I bought the postcard-sized Semiotext(e) book mostly out of surprise from seeing the name of its author in print: one I realized I hadn’t seen for a very long...

Read More

‘Adam Smith occasionally attacks the capitalists’

‘Adam Smith occasionally attacks the capitalists’

Portrait of Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Gustave Courbet, 1865 by Karl Marx Just as the first critical moves in every science are necessarily entangled in the assumptions of the science which they are intending to combat, so Proudhon’s work Qu’est ce que la propriété? is a criticism of political economy...

Read More

Nymphets Become Nymphs

Nymphets Become Nymphs

When in 1996 Hafid Bouazza published his debut collection of short stories De voeten van Abdullah, it caused quite a stir. Besides the obvious literary qualities of the collection, it was the author’s background that so excited its readers. Hafid Bouazza, born in Morocco, the son of one of...

Read More

Russell Overcounted

Russell Overcounted

Mezzofanti as pictured in the frontispiece to The Life of Cardinal Mezzofanti; with an introductory memoir of eminent linguists, ancient and modern, by Charles William Russell, 1858 by Michael Erard Piece originally published at the Public Domain Review. Without a doubt, the most important book in English devoted to...

Read More

Dickens the Inimitable

Dickens the Inimitable

Charles Dickens, by Charles Baugniet, 1858. From The New York Review of Books: Is Dickens the greatest of English novelists? Few would contest that he is the most English of great English novelists, and that his most accomplished novels—Bleak House, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, Dombey and Son, Our Mutual...

Read More

Kafka must end in the inexplicable…

Kafka must end in the inexplicable…

Franz Kafka From The Times Literary Supplement: Stanley Corngold seems to have established himself as the doyen of American Kafkaists. Ruth V. Gross’s preface to Kafka for the Twenty-First Century, co-edited with Corngold, sets the tone. The idea, she explains, was “to assemble a number of distinguished Kafka researchers...

Read More

18/14

18/14

“Seferis, Seferis. Do we have him? Is he one of ours?” (eínai se mas) shouts the clerk to a colleague sipping a frappé at a desk across the room. Fani Papageorgiou and I are negotiating the labyrinthine bureaucracy of death at some lesser Ministry of the Underworld.

Read More

J-1s

J-1s

Brighton Beach, New York. Photograph by Robert Coles From London Review of Books: Out on the dance floor the guests were in high spirits, dancing the twist to Michael Jackson songs performed with a Russian accent by a local singer. The men had taken their jackets off and their...

Read More

IAE

Conventional

Conventional

by Elvin Lim The Democrats are enjoying a little bump from their convention last week, but it had little to do with Barack Obama, and a lot to do with Bill Clinton. The reason why Clinton’s speech worked was because he was specifically charged to address the substance of...

Read More

Studying Sanskrit

Studying Sanskrit

My month-long ultra-intensive spoken Sanskrit course at the University of Heidelberg has come to an end. I was the oldest student, and probably the weakest (in my defense, I'd had only one semester of formal study prior to beginning the course). This was an extremely humbling experience, but also,...

Read More

‘Hawaiians have been surfing for more than a thousand years’

‘Hawaiians have been surfing for more than a thousand years’

From The Believer: Eddie Aikau was born in 1946, and grew up with his five siblings in a Chinese graveyard in Pauoa Valley, on Oahu. Hawaiians of Chinese ancestry have lived in Hawaii for more than two hundred years, though most showed up in the mid-to-late nineteenth century to...

Read More

The Deaths of a Tax Accountant by Jarrod Dunham

The Deaths of a Tax Accountant by Jarrod Dunham

“Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin”, Roland Barthes wrote in his 1967 essay “The Death of the Author”. Barthes, an author himself, was of course not speaking literally. And yet, the literal death of an author – the 2008 suicide of David Foster...

Read More

We’re Players

We’re Players

From Don Quixote, illustrated by Rob Davis, 2011 by William Egginton In early 1614 a royal censor named Márquez Torres was reading the manuscript of the second part of Don Quixote, to be released the following year, when he got into a conversation with some visiting dignitaries in the...

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

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

Read More
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...

Read More
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.

Read More
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....

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More