Berfrois

October 2012

Always Aniconic?

Always Aniconic?

Mohammed receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From Jami’ al-Tawarikh, (The Universal History), by Rashid al-Din, 1307 From The New York Review of Books: It may be ironic, but it is not entirely surprising that the YouTube clip of what appears to be a badly made film...

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Jenny Diski stares the muddle into existence

Jenny Diski stares the muddle into existence

The first lesson: finding. Actually, the only lesson: what you do when you find what you want is another lesson entirely, and not one that will be taught. Finding is a question of looking, my child. Of looking in the right way. That’s looking not to see, do you...

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Rumpus the Interviewer

Rumpus the Interviewer

From The Rumpus: The Rumpus: I’ve read that, when you got to the Review, you wanted the poetry section to be for non-expert poetry readers. But the interviews are with writers who mean something to other American writers. Is there a disparity there? Lorin Stein: We don’t choose our interview subjects...

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Democracy is more powerful than all those false Gods like Lenin, Stalin, Reagan…

Democracy is more powerful than all those false Gods like Lenin, Stalin, Reagan…

October 1st saw once again that liberalism does not equal democracy. The great and very skillful neoliberal autocrat Mikheil Saakashvili lost democratic elections to the opposition. This vote in Georgia was not so much a victory for the opposition, but a verdict to Georgian electoral autocracy.

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“European conductors enjoy performing it…”

“European conductors enjoy performing it…”

From London Review of Books: Before the Second World War, American composers went to Europe. That was the way of the ‘boulangerie’, the group including Aaron Copland who studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. After the war, though, they began to take seriously Charles Ives’s declaration that ‘we have...

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The Victorians Can Help Us by Simon Calder

The Victorians Can Help Us by Simon Calder

‘David Copperfield and Uriah Heep’. From David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, 1850. Illustration by by Fred Barnard, 1870 by Simon Calder How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain, by Leah Price, Princeton University Press, 360 pp. What use is this book, which asks us to enlarge our...

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Hobsbawm and the CPGB

Hobsbawm and the CPGB

Eric Hobsbawm, Peter De Francia,  c.1955. James Hyman Fine Art, currently on public display in Room One of the stunning curation of art and archives connected to John Berger, ‘Art and property now’ at the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, King’s College London, the Strand, WC2R till November...

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Danville

Danville

Paul Ryan did a good job at the vice-presidential debate; but Joe Biden did a little better. Biden came off condescending in the initial part of the debate with his laughter, but he mellowed out toward the end. He was aided in part by the fact that Martha Raddatz,...

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Mare Nostrum

Mare Nostrum

The Sea Battle of Navarino, Louis Ambroise Garneray, 1831 From Eurozine: A supranational construct of Europe that imposes boundaries but also makes them negotiable has contradiction built into its genetic code. Looking at maps of Europe at various times since antiquity, this hardly seems new – Europe’s external borders...

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Yahia Lababidi: Every Tweet

Yahia Lababidi: Every Tweet

Stone Garden, Kazuyuki Ohtsu by Yahia Lababidi Poetic Ideal: a language scrubbed clean by silences. If we listen, the air is heavy with poems, ripe for plucking. Branches are roots, too, in the sky. Perhaps it is not poetry that purifies the language of the tribe, but Silence. The...

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‘What can the chick-a-dee call teach us about communication and language?’

‘What can the chick-a-dee call teach us about communication and language?’

Toward the end of summer, many songbirds in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere migrate south to overwinter in more favorable climates. But some species stay put. One of the most common groups of resident songbirds is the chickadees and titmice of North America and the tits of Europe...

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Stand and Stare

Stand and Stare

Our usual answer to the complaint that we’ve neglected activities or a cause is “we haven’t the time” — to read books or see films that are too long, or stroll round a museum or even down a street. We can’t read an article on a new subject without...

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Franco Mormando on Bernini

Franco Mormando on Bernini

Detail of Ganges, Fountain of the Four Rivers, Rome. Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1651. Photograph by Dale East by Franco Mormando One of the more frequent comments made – approvingly or disapprovingly – about my recent biography of that international superstar of Baroque Europe, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, concerns its scandalous content. Why...

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What the Debates Mean by Adam Staley Groves

What the Debates Mean by Adam Staley Groves

A close friend asked “does anyone actually pay attention to these debates?” Consoling, indeed. The forming consensus is that President Obama lost the first of three debates to Former Governor Romney. In fact, some polls indicate a wipe-out. Obama looked like he had ring rust, often looked down and...

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Nine Biker Films

Nine Biker Films

Joan Didion by Justin E. H. Smith When it comes to texts in foreign languages, I find the closest reading I can give them is by translating them into my native idiom. Texts in English can’t be translated any further, but I can at least transcribe them: already a...

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¿Super Mario Pres. 2?

¿Super Mario Pres. 2?

Mario Monti by James Walston The Prime Minister of Italy, Mario Monti, has recently hinted that he might stay for a second term at the head of his mostly technocratic and nonpartisan government, on the condition of not having to face the voters in the upcoming election. But for how...

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Narratomania

Narratomania

My livelihood depends on fiction. To this end I have published a book arguing for the importance of literature in life. I have posted personal blogs that combine internal reflection with cultural commentary. In short, I see the absolute importance of narrative in life and work. Yet, I also...

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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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