Berfrois

February 2016

Words never make anything that is useful…

Words never make anything that is useful…

The title of this series is “Words Fail Me,” and this particular talk is called “Craftsmanship.” We must suppose, therefore, that the talker is meant to discuss the craft of words — the craftsmanship of the writer.

Read More

^!

^!

Photograph by Tom Page by Justin E. H. Smith An official reform of French spelling was recently announced, causing no small uproar on the Internet, and presumably in real life too (I don’t really talk to people), as to whether this is good or bad. There were three broad...

Read More

Menachem Feuer: Conscious Schmoozing

Menachem Feuer: Conscious Schmoozing

In a popular Woody Allen joke about a moose, Allen, playing a schlemiel from New York City, recalls how he went hunting and shot an animal in Upstate New York. After shooting the moose, he brought it back to the city.

Read More

‘I found myself thinking about high heels’

‘I found myself thinking about high heels’

How long can I keep wearing it? I found myself thinking, as the bus lurched into motion and cars honked around us. The rest of the day? Forever? I wondered why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner to try wearing a head scarf—why nobody ever told me it was something...

Read More

Fire and Story

Fire and Story

A naturally occurring phenomenon in philosophy is that the key concept, the one whose weight is greatest and thus whose gravity is strongest—eidos in Plato, cogito in Descartes, Dasein in Heidegger—is all but untranslatable

Read More

Gerardo Muñoz: Latinamericanism

Gerardo Muñoz: Latinamericanism

In spite of its simplicity and methodical pragmatism, Charles Hatfield’s Limits of identity: Politics and Poetics in Latin America is an ambitious and systematic effort to dismantle some of the predominant variations of identarianism

Read More

‘A modernism that stood for the United States’

‘A modernism that stood for the United States’

Circus Girl Resting, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, 1924 From Los Angeles Review of Books: Here is a list of some major players in Cold War Modernists, Greg Barnhisel’s fascinating and meticulously researched history of modernist art and literature’s role in Cold War diplomacy: the American Artists Professional League (AAPL); the American Federation...

Read More

Three quarters reach for their phones…

Three quarters reach for their phones…

“As smoking gives us something to do with our hands when we aren’t using them, Time gives us something to do with our minds when we aren’t thinking,” Dwight Macdonald wrote in 1957.

Read More

Two Lines of Poetic Development

Two Lines of Poetic Development

What seems to me chiefly remarkable in the popular conception of a Poet is its unlikeness to the truth. Misconception in this case has been flattered, I fear, by the poets themselves.

Read More

One company now owns 214 of Canada’s newspapers…

One company now owns 214 of Canada’s newspapers…

For most of the last century, newspapers were a licence to print money. Sports car-driving sales people boasted of turning down clients because the paper was too full; they couldn’t take another ad.

Read More

Sorokin has long been tarred as a scandalmonger and, even worse, a postmodernist…

Sorokin has long been tarred as a scandalmonger and, even worse, a postmodernist…

I’ve been waiting for years for Vladimir Sorokin’s second novel, Norma (The Norm), to appear in English translation. It wasn’t published in the author’s native Russia until 1994, a decade after Sorokin finished it, so perhaps there’s hope yet.

Read More

Tweets of Flair

Tweets of Flair

But the idea that I might order for the benefit of social-media sharing haunted the evening. Every time the staff checked in on us, I felt my gut tighten, expecting to be asked if we’d yet tweeted the sea scallops, a red item on our table.

Read More

Is it time to turn a critical eye on the spectrum?

Is it time to turn a critical eye on the spectrum?

The words that the non-disabled use to talk about the disabled, or just the non-neurotypical, have not typically been known for nuance or tact.

Read More

Setsuko Adachi: Shinjinrui

Setsuko Adachi: Shinjinrui

At the City Hall, the two women, mother and daughter, were there to renew the latter’s passport. They got there at fifteen minutes to nine.

Read More

The Women of Greenham Common

The Women of Greenham Common

I never went to Greenham Common peace camp. I was a child during the main years - between 1981 and 1987. I don’t remember seeing any news coverage of the camp, especially compared to my vivid memories of reports on the miners’ strike.

Read More

The Giraffe and the Zookeeper and Diski

The Giraffe and the Zookeeper and Diski

In 2014, there was a bit of a stir here in the UK and in Europe when the Copenhagen Zoo announced that it was going to kill an 18 month-old giraffe called Marius.

Read More

The Goethezeit

The Goethezeit

If he hadn’t lived from 1749 to 1832, safely into the modern era and the age of print, but had instead flourished when Shakespeare did, there would certainly be scholars today theorizing that the life and work of half a dozen men had been combined under Goethe’s name.

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
Jay Aquinas Thompson Interviews Eric Weisbard

Eric Weisbard wrote twenty years ago, introducing the voluminous, era-summarizing, contrarian and contradictory Spin Alternative Record Guide.

Read More
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...

Read More
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.

Read More
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....

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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....

Read More
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...

Read More
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...

Read More