Berfrois

April 2013

Oliver Farry in Albania

Oliver Farry in Albania

I went to Albania to try and get back with an ex-girlfriend, though that is only half the story. The trip had been planned in advance; Anna, a Swedish girl I had been seeing for about eighteen months, gave me as a birthday present a plane ticket to Tirana...

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Unveiled

Unveiled

From The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1483-85  by Meredith Tax Last month Amina Tyler, a 19 year old Tunisian blogger, posted a nude photo of herself as a protest; she is now under death threat. In her defense, the Ukrainian group Femen staged a global “topless jihad” on...

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Joseph Banks excelled at controlling his public image…

Joseph Banks excelled at controlling his public image…

Figure 1: “The Fly-Catching Macaroni” (1772), engraved by Whipcord, published by M. Darly (from the New York Public Library, not openly licensed) – Source. by Patricia Fara Piece originally published at Public Domain Review. Benjamin Robert Haydon, the artist who helped bring the Elgin marbles to the British Museum,...

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How progressive is same-sex marriage?

How progressive is same-sex marriage?

Over the past several years, I have written a number of articles, in Lapham's Quarterly, the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere, in which I have questioned some of the features of the emerging mainstream consensus about gay marriage. I have consistently affirmed my support for it, and have...

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Ask

Who likes going to the zoo?

Who likes going to the zoo?

Allegro Strepitoso, Carel Weight, 1932 by Vincent Barletta Two summers ago, my family and I decided to spend an afternoon at Lisbon’s Jardim Zoológico. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that our eldest daughter made the decision to go and wouldn’t relent until we took her there. She...

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Germany is not poor, but many Germans are…

Germany is not poor, but many Germans are…

Europa regina, Sebastian Munster, 1570 by Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji A recent ECB household-wealth survey was interpreted by the media as evidence that poor Germans shouldn’t have to pay for southern Europe. This column takes a look at the numbers. Whilst it’s true that median German households...

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Elias Tezapsidis gives the new The Knife album 889/1000

Elias Tezapsidis gives the new The Knife album 889/1000

The Knife definitely employs the shock-value of an incestuous theme to further strengthen their mission in creating powerful work. The music duo is comprised of Swedish siblings Olof Dreijer and Karin Dreijer Andersson. They produce and release their music through their own label, Rabid Records, and therefore are in...

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Sui Sin Far’s Mamma

Sui Sin Far’s Mamma

When I look back over the years I see myself, a little child of scarcely four years of age, walking in front of my nurse, in a green English lane, and listening to her tell another of her kind that my mother is Chinese.

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John O’Malley: Trent

John O’Malley: Trent

Council of Trent, Pasquale Cati, 1588 by John O’Malley Most people have heard of the Council of Trent, and probably most of what they have heard is negative. It was a church council convoked to condemn the Reformation. It initiated a repressive epoch in Catholic countries and opposed everything...

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Talia Schaffer: Romantic Marriage

Talia Schaffer: Romantic Marriage

Gay marriage supposedly interferes with “traditional marriage,” say its opponents. “We have at least 6,000 years of recorded history on our side,” remarked Kris Mineau, president of the conservative group Massachusetts Family Institute. People like Mineau assume that the traditional definition of the family is stable, unvarying and ancient.

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Russian philanthropists have heeded the cautionary tale of Mikhail Khodorkovsky…

Russian philanthropists have heeded the cautionary tale of Mikhail Khodorkovsky…

The Sinyavsky–Daniel trial, February 1966 From The Nation: American writers are familiar with the manifest injustices of the literary marketplace. They are also accustomed to feeling outrage on behalf of censored writers abroad, signing petitions from Amnesty International or PEN. But Sinyavsky’s story addresses some of the aspects of...

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Get Over It, Women Haters

Get Over It, Women Haters

It’s My Pussy. It’s My Body., Favianna Rodriguez From BitchMedia: Tina Vasquez: As a Latina who grew up in an incredibly strict and repressive household, I still struggle with being “out” about various aspects of my identity, even at the age of 27. Because of this baggage I carry—and...

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‘This is about joy’

‘This is about joy’

From Guernica: The Lost & Found project at CUNY’s Center for the Humanities, essential to the revival of the lost novel, has brought thoughtful attention to resurrecting lost prose, journals, and correspondence from a range of twentieth-century writers. Since 2010, its annual series of chapbooks has spotlighted the pamphlet-length...

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Breath and Breathing by Sebastian Normandin

Breath and Breathing by Sebastian Normandin

So this is the thing. I’ve been breathing a long time but, driven by the objective of writing a book, only recently started deliberately thinking about it. We commonly view breathing as a pedestrian automatism, but I try to imagine how this simple physiological function was once perceived as...

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D&D

D&D

L-R: Fyodor Dostoevsky and Charles Dickens From The Times Literary Supplement: Late in 2011, Michiko Kakutani opened her New York Times review of Claire Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens with “a remarkable account” she had found in its pages. In London for a few days in 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky...

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Alexander McGregor: Cuban Machismo

Alexander McGregor: Cuban Machismo

Following the sheer, inviolable force of gravity that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959, so much freedom was promised to the people, who in turn expected so much liberty, and yet the revolutionary soil proved infertile. In the construction of a genuinely socialist state, shaped upon Bolivarian principles,...

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What’s a dwarf fortress then?

What’s a dwarf fortress then?

SimCity, Maxis, 1989 From The New Yorker: The great lesson of SimCity, the fact the game was built to display, is the delight of city life, of urbanity in general. Even failing cities are beautiful in SimCity. Their streets are straight and well kempt, their deserted building zones are...

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A public and non-commercial space

A public and non-commercial space

“Let’s grab all this new technology in our teeth once again and turn it into a bonanza for advertising.” These are the words of former Procter & Gamble CEO Edwin Artzt. Renowned for his business acumen, Artzt, always one to turn a profit, told his fellow captains of industry...

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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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