Berfrois

May 2017

If you’re not yet radical, you haven’t been paying attention

If you’re not yet radical, you haven’t been paying attention

There seems to be a consensus that we are in a political crisis. I don’t dispute the claim, but I would suggest that this crisis predates Brexit by a long way.

Read More

The Metaphysics of Handiwork; or, How Aristotle Conquered America

The Metaphysics of Handiwork; or, How Aristotle Conquered America

The debate between Juan Gines de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de Las Casas held in Valladolid, Spain in 1550 was the culmination of some forty years of agonizing policy discussions over the rights of Spain to the New World.

Read More

A Cold Take on Comey’s Firing

A Cold Take on Comey’s Firing

Until the American media and public stop simply lurching from one outrage to the next, with apparently no cumulative wisdom or even memory, we will continue to live in an outrageous political reality.

Read More

Ed Simon on American Jezebels

Ed Simon on American Jezebels

In 1637, Mary Dyer of Boston gave a monstrous birth and its midwife was Anne Hutchinson. Both were Puritans of-a-kind: Hutchinson the notorious advocate of the so-called “covenant of free grace,” she of the antinomian controversy.

Read More

Virginia Woolf: Dr. Burney’s Evening Party

Virginia Woolf: Dr. Burney’s Evening Party

The party was given either in 1777 or in 1778; on which day or month of the year is not known, but the night was cold. Fanny Burney, from whom we get much of our information, was accordingly either twenty-five or twenty-six, as we choose.

Read More

It was traditional to gulp down the entire glass with each toast…

It was traditional to gulp down the entire glass with each toast…

I met Irakli on the flight from Munich to Tbilisi. Being used to the indifference of fellow passengers on American flights, I did not expect more than a perfunctory greeting upon taking my seat.

Read More

Hipsters, Foodies and Tourists

Hipsters, Foodies and Tourists

Discussions about pricing are also connected to narratives concerning the kind of people who enjoy the market’s food, which seems not to appeal to the appetite of the area’s average resident.

Read More

Cute and Dirty and Innocent and Experienced

Cute and Dirty and Innocent and Experienced

In her candy-colored new memoir, “Priestdaddy,” Patricia Lockwood describes her father’s conversion this way

Read More

Menachem Feuer on Thomas Pynchon’s “V”

Menachem Feuer on Thomas Pynchon’s “V”

Even though they are always going somewhere, schlemiels seem to never know for certain whether they are coming or going. Wandering and bewilderment aside, this comic character is a figure of difficult freedom.

Read More

Joe Linker on Elif Batuman’s The Idiot

Joe Linker on Elif Batuman’s The Idiot

A tale told by an idiot signifying nothing might benefit from Walter Mosley’s advice in “This Year You Write Your Novel” to avoid first person narration unless you have an enthralling character. Elif Batuman’s The Idiot successfully ignores Mosley’s suggestion.

Read More