Berfrois

June 2016

Virginia Woolf invents human intercourse

Virginia Woolf invents human intercourse

When the first number of Lysistrata appeared, I confess that I was deeply disappointed. It was so well printed, on such good paper. It looked established, prosperous.

Read More

Oliver Farry on Patrick Modiano

Oliver Farry on Patrick Modiano

The latest of his novels to belatedly see the light of day in English is his 1975 work Villa Triste, published by the Other Press, in a translation by John Cullen. Unusually for Modiano, it takes place entirely outside his usual Parisian hinterland.

Read More

Adrienne Rich had run-ins with literary men throughout her life…

Adrienne Rich had run-ins with literary men throughout her life…

“One rainy day in the spring of 1960, the San Francisco poet Robert Duncan arrived at my door,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her essay “A Communal Poetry.”

Read More

Geoffrey Hilsabeck: What Was Vaudeville?

Geoffrey Hilsabeck: What Was Vaudeville?

We are left with the word vaudeville and little more than that. Vaudeville. We are left with traces: a few flat descriptions in books, some scratchy studio recordings, and what survives in early Hollywood.

Read More

‘June whispers that anything is possible’

‘June whispers that anything is possible’

June itself, not the girl but the month, has something about it of the unattainable, the unfulfilled promise. That is, paradoxically, because June, at least in the cities where I have spent my life, is the only reliably spring-like month.

Read More

Precariousness is quite simply the condition of the working class under capitalism…

Precariousness is quite simply the condition of the working class under capitalism…

The terms ‘precarity’ and its derivation, ‘precariat’/precariato gained notoriety after the 2001 Euro May Day parade when a network of casual workers, students, migrants, feminists, LGBT activists

Read More

Nothing, Nothing but Hell

Nothing, Nothing but Hell

The death of champion boxer Muhammad Ali is an occasion to remember one of the strangest moments in popular culture, when Ali collaborated with legendary poet Marianne Moore on a work of verse.

Read More

Virtues and Vices

Virtues and Vices

Hamilton treats the classic so-called paradox of tragedy­ -- why do we enjoy representations of horrible things?­­ -- by suggesting, following Nietzsche, that we may resonate to the glories of poetic language and take comfort in "an illusion about the nature and value of suffering" as somehow ennobling or...

Read More

Ed Simon on Thomas More

Ed Simon on Thomas More

The Garden of Earthly Delights, Hieronymus Bosch, 1490-1510 by Ed Simon For its name literally meaning “No Place,” echoes of Utopia seem to be everywhere. Early autumn and a week before the pope’s visit and I am at the corner of 53rd and 5th, halfway between St. Patrick’s Cathedral...

Read More

Robyn Ferrell: Freedom’s Formula

Robyn Ferrell: Freedom’s Formula

‘The Future is Here – it is just not evenly distributed’ was the catch phrase for the Sydney Biennale, which closed this month. But the experience on offer forecasted an uneven future for a widely distributed art product.

Read More

Scherezade Siobhan: Tabeer

Scherezade Siobhan: Tabeer

I navigate an illness that makes me a protagonist of clichés. Sometimes, the thought of release is a dream of falling through clouds. My friend excitedly speaks about watching the northern lights from the cockpit of a plane — the whole kaleidoscopic spectacle, every inch of that cursive diffusion.

Read More

Rome, If You Want to

Rome, If You Want to

Things are looking good for Movimento Cinque Stelle, Italy’s leading anti-establishment party. (In Italy, being anti-establishment is a competition.)

Read More

Klyfez Cleven

Klyfez Cleven

The medieval poem “Pearl” was written by someone whose identity we do not know, and is set mostly within a dream.

Read More

Her Sorrows and Adversities: Berfrois Interviews Adrian Nathan West

Her Sorrows and Adversities: Berfrois Interviews Adrian Nathan West

The impetus was an account I read as a teenager in John Zerzan’s essay The Case Against Art that describes a couple having sex in a museum in front of a camera that projected them onto a television.

Read More

Wary of the They

Wary of the They

Elon Musk, the billionaire inventor and amateur futurologue, has recently taken to the idea that we may all be living in a simulation akin to Second Life. He has been influenced in his thinking by the philosopher Nick Bostrom.

Read More
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....

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