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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Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

Joanna Walsh on Samuel Beckett

The first time I read More Pricks Than Kicks I was assailed by terrible cramps that rippled up and down the front of my torso until I stopped reading. It seemed appropriate. Echo’s Bones is a long short story originally intended as the ‘recessional’ to More Pricks Than Kicks,...

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Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

I have often talked about the Many-Worlds or Everett approach to quantum mechanics — here’s an explanatory video, an excerpt from From Eternity to Here, and slides from a talk. But I don’t think I’ve ever explained as persuasively as possible why I think it’s the right approach. So...

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Make It Like

Make It Like

The average Facebook profile, with its many status updates, commented photo albums, notes, and posts, contains approximately 65,000 words of text. If you assume a friend count of 300, the available reading playground for a typical user is close to 20 million words. This amounts to a small library...

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Michael Munro: Prose

Michael Munro: Prose

“We may laugh at the bourgeois’s inability to parrot his master’s lesson,” concludes this compelling account of our “illustrious,” inescapable precursor, “but we may well wonder whether, just as he has been speaking prose unwittingly, he may unwittingly state a truth about it.” Indeed, what might that truth...

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Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

Did Woolf prefer Joyce or Proust?

The Sirens imploring Ulysses to stay, 1886 by James Heffernan More than twenty years ago, Suzette Henke challenged what was then the reigning view of Virginia Woolf’s response to James Joyce’s Ulysses. To judge this response by Woolf’s most damning comments on the book and its author, Henke argued,...

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Giljotin

Giljotin

I knew another of my periodic retreats from the public expression of political opinions had arrived when, contacted by a certain French media outlet for my views on the recent electoral victories of the Front National, I muttered something about how I've been busy writing about animals recently, and...

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j/j hastain on lovers and orgasm

j/j hastain on lovers and orgasm

When I say I lust for land I do not mean that I long to own it or even to top it. For me, lust is draw, indelible convergence. I want to converge so deeply with it that I am in fact indistinguishable from it: a land-miracle, a green...

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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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