Berfrois

August 2016

Somewhere and Everywhere

Somewhere and Everywhere

Lucy Sprague Mitchell, founder of the Bank Street College of Education, was sick of children’s books. She didn’t want didactic moral tales that told kids what to do, or mythological flights of fancy.

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Michael Thomsen on Haiti

Michael Thomsen on Haiti

After a visit to Haiti in the first week after the quake, Chelsea Clinton, who was traveling with Partners in Health, wrote an email to Bill, Hillary, and their chief aides, describing shock at the “mind numbing” incompetence of many aid workers.

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Manifesting Canada’s Identity by Julian Hanna

Manifesting Canada’s Identity by Julian Hanna

As a genre, the manifesto (the avant-garde variety, not the mainstream political platform) moves in and out of fashion. Political and social upheaval tends to put manifestos back in vogue.

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The Frankfurt School saw no hope for escaping the pathologies of society that they diagnosed…

The Frankfurt School saw no hope for escaping the pathologies of society that they diagnosed…

Benjamin hoped that his kind of writing would be, as Jeffries puts it, “a kind of Marxist shock therapy aimed at reforming consciousness,” waking people up to the dream-world they lived in under capitalism.

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Tru Blu

Tru Blu

Blue is often associated with coldness, even sadness. But how could this possibly explain why blue is such a well-loved color — perhaps even the most popular one?

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“Look at reality carefully”

“Look at reality carefully”

It had a focus on being dominant for centuries without change. Whole groups get excluded because a certain kind of dominant discourse is established.

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Captioning the Sitters by Volker M. Welter

Captioning the Sitters by Volker M. Welter

Judging by the crowd, of which I was part when recently visiting London’s National Portrait Gallery, the attraction of portrait painting is undiminished.

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Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Mantua Blue

Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei: Mantua Blue

Edi Rama, Blue Lunetta, public intervention, Mantua, Italy (2016). by Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei Albania and Mantua, the latter a provincial city in northern Italy, the former a country still somehow pretending to be EU-worthy. No one would ever think that these two geographical entities would have any...

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‘Love’ and ‘God’

‘Love’ and ‘God’

Various contemporary continental philosophers have taken an interest in espousing some form of a 'return to religion' but one devoid of actual, material religious belief and practice.

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Own the End

Own the End

Ever since Underworld, the 1997 book that marked the end of his ambitious middle period, Don DeLillo’s novels have been creepy, inconclusive, and short.

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A New Curating

A New Curating

Consider, Boethius. He was a descendent of a noble Italian family, a beneficiary of a classical education, and in some ways the last of the Romans.

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Alcoholic admissions punctuate Elizabeth Bishop’s narrative…

Alcoholic admissions punctuate Elizabeth Bishop’s narrative…

Bishop’s letters to her psychiatrist are newsy and notational. One begins with a friend surprising her “with a birthday cak and some mimosa” and concludes with a hairstyling appointment before dinner with Randall Jarrell.

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Gertrude Stein on writing and painting and all that

Gertrude Stein on writing and painting and all that

There is singularly nothing that makes a difference a difference in beginning and in the middle and in ending except that each generation has something different at which they are all looking.

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1915 was both too late and too modern a year for someone like Orson Welles…

1915 was both too late and too modern a year for someone like Orson Welles…

Orson Welles was born in 1915, which, in my view, was both lucky and unlucky. Unlucky because it was too late and too modern a year for someone like him—and I’m not referring now to the curious boundary drawn up by my reader, because I think 1914 and 1913...

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Putin’s regime has no real ideology…

Putin’s regime has no real ideology…

Putin is now plainly following the same tactic in US electoral politics that he has successfully promoted in Greece and elsewhere: supporting both far-right and left tendencies indiscriminately.

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Feroz Rather on Kashmir

Feroz Rather on Kashmir

In the mounting heap of blood-soaked images, I have a recurrent dream about Kashmir: a night filled with desolation and toxic smoke. I hear women wailing in the distance. The ground is abysmal and shaky. The street is a litter of limbs and stones and broken glass.

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Storia

Storia

Ferrante, in case you haven’t heard, has become an international phenomenon. She has acquired a certain notoriety not only because her writing is very intense.

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Jessica Sequeira: The Macabre Trunk

Jessica Sequeira: The Macabre Trunk

The poster for the 1936 Mexican film The Macabre Trunk shows a man in dark glasses and fedora, holding up a bloody hand in a menacing gesture, as a pulp dream of a blonde stretches out an arm to stop him.

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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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