Berfrois

October 2014

  • Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

    October 2014 Highlights

    Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

    For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place — as one is watching the film. And even if one knows the filmmaker, even if one has watched the film because the filmmaker is a friend, even if I had spoken with Tan Chui Mui long before I had ever seen, watched, Tanjung Malim 有棵树 (A Tree in Tanjung Malim).

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  • Jason S. Polley: Prawns

    October 2014 Highlights

    Jason S. Polley: Prawns

    The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly assortment of itinerant “aliens” in an informal zone, aka a third-world slum.

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  • An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

    October 2014 Highlights

    An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

    There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous poiêtikos, al-‘aql al-fa‘‘āl). The few dense, cryptic sentences in which Aristotle gives it its inaugural formulation, which comprise the whole of the fifth chapter of book three of the De Anima, are on one scholar’s estimation the “most intensely studied sentences in the history of philosophy.”

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Alone, Together

Alone, Together

Yet culture is glaringly absent in digital connectivity. In clutching at multiple digital floats on a confusing sea of bites and images, one may not have to confront the empty core of one’s personality, moral integrity, or engage in a moment of reflection on life’s meaning.

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We might reflect on the ambiguity manifested in bisexuality…

We might reflect on the ambiguity manifested in bisexuality…

The prevailing attitude in political and journalistic circles is to cling onto this widely-held belief, rooted in the philosophical and social systems of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, that individualism remains triumphant. Yet the plural person and emotional tribes – this is the reality we see all around us...

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On the Flying Time

On the Flying Time

Presentism—the notion that everything that exists is only what can and does exist right now—is countered in metaphysics by eternalism: the idea that time is not a process but a dimension, and in that dimension all reference points have equal validity, and thus all time, past, present, and future,...

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Salt & Vinegar?

Salt & Vinegar?

Or: An Experiment in Behavior Modification. There is an old saying in Camden Town: If you give BERFROIS fish and chips, it’ll eat fish and chips and read the paper it came wrapped in. But if you teach BERFROIS to fish and chips, it’ll eat fish and chips and...

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Pynchon: The Movie by Albert Rolls

Pynchon: The Movie by Albert Rolls

The pleasure of watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, much like the pleasure of reading Pynchon’s novels, is, however, to be found elsewhere, and those who insist on having tidiness of structure and an ending that unites the various elements of the story into some...

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In Three Days

In Three Days

It was a deliberately outlandish thing to do, setting up a booth at the largest, noisiest book expo in the world and inviting a small group of writers to sit there, talk, type, and edit a series of answers to the question “what is the future of publishing?”

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We want the suffering and scandal in books to be real, but not so real….

We want the suffering and scandal in books to be real, but not so real….

There are few things to do in Anacostia, Maryland, besides visit the home of Frederick Douglass. It’s an estate called Cedar Hill, a large, white, red-gabled colonial with the type of rocking chair-laden porch that begs you to sit down with an iced tea and a bowl of strawberries.

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Eric Beck Rubin on Daniel Libeskind

Eric Beck Rubin on Daniel Libeskind

Dresden Museum of Military History by Eric Beck Rubin In late Spring of 2013, the Canadian federal government announced a design competition for a National Holocaust Monument in the capital, Ottawa. The response was diverse. Was this another part of the reigning Conservative party’s strategy of appealing to Canadian-Jewish...

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Carolina Armenteros on Dominican Gagá

Carolina Armenteros on Dominican Gagá

The feast, for which around 100 people are present, takes place in the backyard of one of Bocachica’s poor homes, where a goat was killed that morning to honor the saint. On entering the yard, I walk past a cauldron containing the remains of the goat looking for Gambao,...

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Two Fingers

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Two Fingers

The former “Obelisk of Democracy” a.k.a. “Monument with Two Fingers” in Kavajë by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Being the son of a famed sculptor from the communist period who co-created, amongst many other works, the Independence Monument in Vlorë, and the Mother Albania statue on the National Martyrs’...

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“Martin Luther King’s the Greatest Artist of the Twentieth Century”

“Martin Luther King’s the Greatest Artist of the Twentieth Century”

Martin Luther King’s not just a political martyr and the Civil Rights Movement is not just some political phenomenon. Nope. Instead: Ta-dah! Martin Luther King’s the Greatest Artist of the Twentieth Century and the Civil Rights Movement is the greatest exhibition of performance art ever...

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O, Scotland

O, Scotland

Many ‘No’ voters wanted what a plurality of Scots have wanted for nearly forty years: to govern themselves as other small nations do but, if possible, within the United Kingdom. They were cheated too. Devo-max, whose minimum version means full fiscal autonomy, would have suited them.

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Heidegger’s Little Black Books

Heidegger’s Little Black Books

For Heidegger the “inner truth and greatness” of the Nazi movement lay in “the encounter between global technology and modern humanity” (a specification he secretly added to a 1935 lecture when it was published in 1953). These are not the words of a brutal realist

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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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