Berfrois

November 2012

A Whole New Shark

A Whole New Shark

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, Damien Hirst, 1991 From The Believer: When I’ve gone to the Met to study the early Italian works that Berenson loved and appraised, I’ve often wandered into other parts of the museum, and gradually a looping chain of...

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Vegetarianism has not gone the way of the cravat…

Vegetarianism has not gone the way of the cravat…

Gilbert Seldes From The New Republic: American history is the history of fitful enthusiasms. “On canal boats” in the nineteenth century, Gilbert Seldes records mysteriously in the history of American fanaticism that he published in 1928, which has been reissued by NYRB Classics, “bed-linen was promiscuous.” There were fads...

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Adam Staley Groves: Four More Years

Adam Staley Groves: Four More Years

American political narratives failed this election. It seems the political media was befuddled as sayers and intelligentsia failed to provide wise counsel (save Nate Silver’s 538). Yet not just ‘they’ it’s ‘we’ machine users, participating in this representation process and sharing in derision. How to read what was immediately...

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‘Such a dynasty’s days are numbered’

‘Such a dynasty’s days are numbered’

Liao Yiwu From Words Without Borders: A dynasty that is so degenerate that it massacres children and tortures the truth—such a dynasty’s days are numbered. Yet the shrewd tyrant Deng Xiaoping resorted to a trick: in the spring of 1992, he made a historical trip to Shenzhen in the...

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Valued by Alienists

Valued by Alienists

Many and many a reader has asked that. When the story first came out, in the New England Magazine about 1891, a Boston physician made protest in The Transcript. Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.

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Stretch Out Your Neck

Stretch Out Your Neck

The Robbers and the Donkey, Paul Cezanne, 1870 by Justin E. H. Smith Whether species all emerged from the same origin, each representing slight variations on the same underlying type, or whether, to return to Buffon’s view, they are timeless variations on the same underlying type, related not by...

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For print literature too, hermeneutic approaches already account for the material presence of the work…

For print literature too, hermeneutic approaches already account for the material presence of the work…

Digital literature runs the risk of becoming top-heavy, by which I mean that the amount of theory (let's say: the head) on digital literature is weightier than the body of works to be considered. This is quite contrary to the situation in print literature, where serious literary criticism is...

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Desires

Desires

Scene From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom, Edwin Henry Landseer, 1848 From Threepenny Review: As in Freud’s own time, the “boundary violation” (the discipline’s contemporary euphemism) remains embarrassingly common. Usually the clinician is a man, often professionally distinguished with years of experience, and the patient a younger...

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Elias Tezapsidis: It

Elias Tezapsidis: It

Who is Daphne Guinness and what does she do professionally? Why does Ms. Guinness merit to be profiled by The New Yorker, a staple of intellectually respected literary journalism?

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The Origin of Just War Theory

The Origin of Just War Theory

The Underworld, Walter Bayes, 1918 From The New York Times: The origin of just war theory is usually traced to the writings of Augustine, though many of the theory’s elements became well established only much later, during its “classical” period between the early 16th  and mid-17th centuries. The principles...

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Sound and Sight

Sound and Sight

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney Studios, 1928 by Bill Benzon Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz has an interesting piece in the New York Times: The Science and Art of Listening. He talks of hearing as the passive registering of sound; listening, however, requires active attention. Hearing is fast while vision is slow:...

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Logan Young: Sonic Poetry

Logan Young: Sonic Poetry

Remember this: Thurston Moore came to New York City to be a poet. Tired of driving his old man’s Volkswagen down from Connecticut, it was Gotham Book Mart, not CBGB, that convinced him to make the move in 1977. Bohemia had put down roots on the Lower East Side;...

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“LOT is a throwing together of ideas”

“LOT is a throwing together of ideas”

From 3:AM: 3:AM: What made you become a philosopher? You’ve been one for a long time. Has it been what you expected and has the profession changed a lot since you started? Jerry Fodor: It was because my parents wanted me to be a lawyer. I actually did take...

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Rove Rejects Reality

Rove Rejects Reality

The Simpsons, 20th Century Fox by Elvin Lim It is tempting now that the election returns are in for us to want to plow forward and forget the spectacular silliness we just traversed. But before we move on, it is critical that we call out those who had predicted...

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Skag Central

Skag Central

In his fiction, Irvine Welsh asks how we can sustain a sense of community in a culture where pursuit of self-interest is proclaimed as the dominant virtue. Skagboys, the new prequel to Trainspotting, takes issue with the spiritual legacy of Thatcherism.

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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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