Berfrois

January 2013

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Shakespeare

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Shakespeare

Great men are more distinguished by range and extent than by originality. If we require the originality which consists in weaving, like a spider, their web from their own bowels; in finding clay, and making bricks, and building the house; no great men are original. Nor does valuable originality...

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Stuart Elden: Kant, Space and Time

Stuart Elden: Kant, Space and Time

Kant lectured on a variety of topics through his career, including logic, metaphysics and ethics, but also on topics that were not strictly philosophical including anthropology, education and geography. Geography was one of his most popular—the most reliable figures suggest lectures on this topic were given forty-nine times from...

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The Puzzle of the Monograph’s Missing Engagement

The Puzzle of the Monograph’s Missing Engagement

Portrait of a Scholar, Domenico Fetti, C17th by Alexander Key I’ve just finished a review of a recent monograph on a mediaeval Arabic scholar in which I noted a few translation and typographical errors, commended the philology involved, and gave a synopsis of the contents. So much, so unsurprising;...

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Totally Extinct

Totally Extinct

by Justin E. H. Smith Since the Paris World Fair in 1900, the Galerie d’Anatomie Comparée of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle exhibition has been housed together with the Galerie de Paléontologie, featuring the fossils of extinct creatures: the dinosaurs and outsized Pleistocene mammals that so enrapture the children, and...

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Something at the Roots

Something at the Roots

The greatest irony of the numerous world-wide celebrations held this year to honor the 200th anniversary of the first edition of the Grimms’ Kinder-und Hausmärchen, published in two volumes in 1812 and 1815, involves the discovery that most people really don’t know the original Grimms’ tales or much about...

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“Different items, different stores”

“Different items, different stores”

Breaking Bad, AMC From London Review of Books: There’s a scene in Breaking Bad, a third of the way through the 54 episodes shot and screened on US TV so far, that marks a significant moment in the gradual passage of its central character, Walter White, from hero to...

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Masha Tupitsyn: About Two

Masha Tupitsyn: About Two

All the President’s Men, Warner Bros., 1976 by Masha Tupitsyn For a long time it was all about the camera. The truths it presented and the truths it covered up. We knew the camera lied, but we also believed it told the truth. Now we know it only does...

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Bananas!

Bananas!

In his 1917 short story, “Report to an Academy,” Kafka tells the story of Red Peter, a chimpanzee captured in Africa and brought back to Europe to be studied by the members of an institution very much like the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris. Red Peter, by some unusual...

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Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Contrast (Order and Chaos), M.C. Escher, 1950 by Mircea Pitici The world of mathematics is a dissenter’s paradise. Although mathematical reasoning binds the mind to rigor and constrains it to obey rules of inference and to accept semantic conventions shared by the community of its practitioners, the world of...

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Jungly Corridors

Jungly Corridors

A videogame corridor is possibly the simplest way to create epistemic suspense through spatial engineering. You can look down the corridor, thanks to games’ adoption of scientific perspective, but you don’t know what lies on the other side of the door at the end, or around the corner, or...

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A Recipe for Oppression

A Recipe for Oppression

The Simpsons, Fox Broadcasting Company by Richard Murphy I said I would make no predictions for 2013. A few hours in and the weight of evidence makes me change my mind. In 2013 we will see political prevarication in defence of the status quo come to the fore, and government become gridlocked...

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“Sundays / of rain.”

“Sundays / of rain.”

Vitruvius presenting De Architectura to Augustus. From Vitruvius on Archtitecture by Thomas Gordon Smith, 1864 From Evening Will Come: Julie Carr: And how about happiness? Lisa Robertson: Well, I’m not sure that pleasure and happiness are always necessarily aligned, but at an earlier period of my life I might...

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“Even in a fairly mainstream European publication, offshore from America, it’s able to thrive”

“Even in a fairly mainstream European publication, offshore from America, it’s able to thrive”

I don’t know about the time of Marx’s original publications, but I’d like to believe that in the 1890s perhaps, 1920s, when there was a strong labor movement going on in the country, a lot of civil unrest, my sense of things is that it was possible to describe...

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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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