Berfrois

May 2013

‘Technology is embedded within social relations of hierarchy and control’

‘Technology is embedded within social relations of hierarchy and control’

From The Cubies’ A B C, illustrated by Mary Mills Lyall and Earl Harvey Lyall, 1913. Via by Guy Aitchison Writing in response to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first systematic attempt by the US government to police the internet, John Perry Barlow – former lyricist for the Grateful...

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Debt + Overload

Debt + Overload

Hypatia, Alfred Seifert, 1901 by Linda Zionkowski While straitened budgets and shrinking resources present difficulties for all of us within the university system, some of the most vulnerable people affected are graduate students.  Occupying a liminal space as apprentices within the profession, students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs...

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En Face

En Face

In the everyday use of the concept, saying that something is grotesque rarely implies anything other than saying that something is a bit outside of the normal structure of language or meaning – that something is a peculiarity. But in its historical use the concept has often had more...

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Nap, Nap

Nap, Nap

by Joe Linker – Did you get my email? – What email? – I sent you an email. – I delete all email before reading it. – That doesn’t make any sense! – Welcome to the world of Postmodern Poetry. – But I sent you an email! – Must...

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Patrick Bray on Michel Houellebecq

Patrick Bray on Michel Houellebecq

by Patrick Bray The Map and the Territory, by Michel Houellebecq, Vintage, 288 pp. When we read literature from the 19th century, we usually try to be vigilant in order not to project our contemporary ideas and obsessions onto the past for fear they might obscure the radical difference...

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A Year of Hollande by John Gaffney

A Year of Hollande by John Gaffney

One year ago, on the day of François Hollande’s inauguration as the seventh President of the French Fifth Republic, May 15th, 2012, it poured with rain all day long. Inexplicably, no one offered him a raincoat or the protection of an umbrella. He spent the day’s ceremony drenched to...

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Gulp!

Gulp!

From cover of The Studio Almanac, illustrated by J. Walter West, 1897 by Louise Imogen Guiney An editor, a person of authority and supposed discretion, requested a friend of mine, the other day, to write an essay with this weird title: “How to Read a Book of Poems so...

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Sociology(:) for the Rich

Sociology(:) for the Rich

The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 1559 From N+1: It seems there’s no way out of sociology; nevertheless sociology cannot provide us with internal reasons for its ever-rising prestige. Surely we want to be able to say that the sociology of culture is valuable because...

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Jesse Miksic in Columbia

Jesse Miksic in Columbia

One of the strengths of BioShock Infinite, acknowledged less often than its expansive and detailed historical-revisionist steampunk setting, is the way its narrative is punctuated. The extended forays down cobblestone streets – and the intermittent murderous rampages – are connective tissue, linking a series of scenes that are genuinely,...

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Is Bangladesh a country of secular Bengalis or Muslim Bangladeshis?

Is Bangladesh a country of secular Bengalis or Muslim Bangladeshis?

Photograph by Michael Gumtau by Lailufar Yasmin Secularism was one of the cornerstones of Bengali nationalism, but its spirit was enforced only by pen and paper. How can demands to ban religion from politics be satisfied? The United Nations categorizes Bangladesh as a moderate Muslim democracy. Meanwhile, the current...

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‘Shoes whose shine needed vigilance’

‘Shoes whose shine needed vigilance’

Rue en Banlieue, Henri Rousseau, 1898 From The Threepenny Review: Men then were more alike than they are now. In their alikeness, which the time required, they had a conscientious, replicable beauty—boy cleanliness, haircuts that showed their ears, white shirts, black ties. Fresh handkerchiefs. Shoes whose shine needed vigilance....

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Robyn Ferrell: Open to the Sacred

Robyn Ferrell: Open to the Sacred

Mackerel sky over Balgo in the remote north west of Western Australia by Robyn Ferrell I go with a friend Jennifer to the exhibition ‘Genius of Place’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. Kathleen Petyarre’s canvasses are ravishing, and enormous. Their rhythmic repetition is arresting, and we...

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Joseph Spece
Joseph Spece: When Gamers Attack

Like many ugly controversies, the beginnings of #gamergate are linked to the end of love — well, the end of a relationship, at least....

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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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