Berfrois

July 2014

  • A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

    July 2014 Highlights

    A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

    The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty.[1] That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s also a quotation — a quotation and provocation from the late work of Alfred North Whitehead that sets the stage for everything to follow. And yet, Oglesby is measured. She immediately acknowledges that Steven Shaviro — another guiding light of the study — “doubtless speaks for many” when he calls Whitehead’s claim “outrageously hyperbolic.”

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  • Jimmy Chen: Mirrors

    July 2014 Highlights

    Jimmy Chen: Mirrors

    In Eduard Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882) a woman bartender stands directly in front of us behind a bar, her hands confidently propped up — less obsequious than merely resigned, almost bored by the present narrative — ready to serve the customer, who is not only always right, but in this case on the right. I invoke the collective first “us” because, though we experience this painting alone, locked behind different POVs and angles, we do so collectively.

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  • Post-Banter by Dylan Joyce-Ahearne

    July 2014 Highlights

    Post-Banter by Dylan Joyce-Ahearne

    Post-Officism, at its simplest and as its name would suggest, is a reaction to Officism. To begin to understand the former one must first discuss the latter and the aspects of the latter that meant the former was necessary, namely its shortcomings. For the Post-Officists, Officism’s emphasis on the text as a unified whole and its position in the canon is too broad and uninspired a line of study, that fails to take into account the detailed specifics of an individual work. The bureaucracy of working within the layered and tiered system of relating texts to texts and not allowing for divergence within a single work means that the finer points of a text are lost.

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  • Barry Mazur: Chinatown

    July 2014 Highlights

    Barry Mazur: Chinatown

    You may not know what Abracadabra means, but you very well feel its magical force, and its effect only gains from the obscurity of the incantation. It is true, of course, that ipsa scientia potestas est (“knowledge itself has powers”), but being confronted with something that purports to be wisdom and is Greek to you, is even more powerful.

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Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with someone in a formal, old-fashioned way; on the other hand, it suggests that we just don’t experience something, we judge it. Taken together, we can...

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Ashley James: Personhood

Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end of his State of the Union address, President Obama recounted the man’s near death by roadside bomb during his 10th deployment in Afghanistan—“ comrades found...

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Violets Violets

Violets Violets

Perhaps Rimbaud got the connection between color and language best in his poem “Vowels,” which sets out to illustrate a colored alphabet within a poem. A translation by Paul Schmidt and Peter Bauer goes like this: Black A, white E, red I, green U, blue O — vowels, Some day I will open...

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Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen out of love with the world.” Or something to that effect. In that vague period of late spring and early summer, which in Massachusetts we...

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Pound in Soho

Pound in Soho

When Ezra Pound arrived in London in 1909, he began arranging introductions to all the literary people he could manage. The most felicitous was to the novelist Olivia Shakespear; not only did she connect Pound with her lover, W.B. Yeats, but Pound eventually married her daughter, Dorothy.

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Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The Korean Market often came out to talk to me. I must have looked pathetic, staring into the cracked glass of an empty restaurant. I did...

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j/j hastain: Pitch

j/j hastain: Pitch

Pitch has been used to socialize. Modern music’s impression differs from sound’s capacity to heal. We are bruised by the difference, the dissonance. To have changed nature (music in 432 Hz tuning) to something out of balance with nature (music 440 Hz tuning) enabled sound control where sound ceremony...

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Feroz Rather: Half-Residency

Feroz Rather: Half-Residency

In the winter of 2012, I flew from California to Chicago to attend the annual AWP conference. It was snowing lightly when I emerged from the hotel on Michigan Avenue with Brian, an aspiring fiction writer from Los Angeles. The wind blew ceaselessly, whipping the snowflakes into the chafing...

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‘New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one’

‘New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one’

New movements in literature are those which copy the last century but one. If they copy the last century, they are old-fashioned; but if it is quite clear that they are much more than a hundred years old, they are entirely fresh and original.

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Fin de Régime?

Fin de Régime?

In France, since the European elections of May 2014, and Marine Le Pen’s breath-taking 25 per cent of the vote – to the ruling Socialists’ paltry 13 per cent – she has said very little. She does not need to; between them, the left and the right are opening...

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Truth Through Motion

Truth Through Motion

On a chilly October day in 1806, Napoleon Bonaparte's army laid waste to Prussian troops on the outskirts of Jena, a university town in central Germany. The sounds of his canons reverberated through the town, providing a sound track for the young philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as he...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed ‘no future’ any more. Whilst Johnny Rotten waxed apocalyptical, Howard Devoto screeched existentially about his future no longer being what it was. Time seemed topsy-turvy,...

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I Know I Have to Go by Rick Whitaker

I Know I Have to Go by Rick Whitaker

W.G. Sebald’s father joined the Reichswehr in 1929 and remained in the Wehrmacht under the Nazis. He was captured by the French and remained a prisoner of war until 1947, when his four-year-old son met him for the first time. A disgraced Nazi, Sebald’s father.

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Intersectionality is an ornamentation of the present order, not a questioning of it….

Intersectionality is an ornamentation of the present order, not a questioning of it….

It is hard not be struck by the severe parochialism, and usually the US-centrism, of the now-popular approach to human diversity that calculates a person’s ‘privilege ranking’ by considering a few supposedly basic features of identity, particularly gender, religion, sexual identity, physical ability, and ‘race’.

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Oliver Farry on Brazil 2014

Oliver Farry on Brazil 2014

So Germany make it four World Cups, edging level with Italy in the pantheon of winners, and just behind Brazil, whom they slain in such terrifying fashion. It’s hard to argue with that, given they were really the only outstanding team to show enduring consistency (the odd hiccup aside)....

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B. Alexandra Szerlip: Vertigo

B. Alexandra Szerlip: Vertigo

Vertigo has been scrutinized under the rubric of scopophilia, fetishism, voyeurism, the sadistic male gaze, objectification of the female body, “a dream substrate of waking life,” Pygmalion fantasies, the “symptomology of trauma,” the “phenomenology of falling,” “death-drive pulsations,” the “psychoanalytic object-relations theory,” and the triple threat of the imaginary...

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Loving the Football by Jeremy Fernando

Loving the Football by Jeremy Fernando

The notion that haunts relationships is that of goodness; usually taking the form of the question, how good is the other person? However, in our politically correct age we would never approach that notion, let alone the subject in question, directly. It would usually take the form of “so,...

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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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