Berfrois

June 2018

The evisceration of storytelling

The evisceration of storytelling

by Sujatha Fernandes In his seminal essay “The Storyteller,” published in 1936, the German philosopher Walter Benjamin decried the loss of the craft of oral storytelling marked by the advent of the short story and the novel. Modern society, he lamented, had abbreviated storytelling. Fast forward to the era of...

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Robert L. Tsai On Langston Hughes

Robert L. Tsai On Langston Hughes

Equality is a central concern of Hughes’s work, but in his hands, the concept possesses a desperate, embodied—and thoroughly pragmatic—quality to it. There are serious inequities facing black Americans, he reports...

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Virginia Woolf On Not Knowing Greek

Virginia Woolf On Not Knowing Greek

For it is vain and foolish to talk of knowing Greek, since in our ignorance we should be at the bottom of any class of schoolboys, since we do not know how the words sounded...

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Real Friends #3 by Elias Tezapsidis and Anthony Strain

Real Friends #3 by Elias Tezapsidis and Anthony Strain

Andy Cohen turned 50. Except on Instagram he said “allegedly I’m 50 today”. In addition to age being something that can be merely alleged, I enjoy the idea of forgetting your own birthday...

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There’s no return from ’89…

There’s no return from ’89…

On 18th March 1921 the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Paris Commune was marked in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Newspapers were emblazoned with headlines decrying the brutal suppression of the heroic Communards...

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Hereditary’s Illusions

Hereditary’s Illusions

Hereditary is really about the power of art-making, and the movie’s artists are all female. Their artwork is craft-based, works that have long been associated with female labor...

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The New Republic of North Macedonia

The New Republic of North Macedonia

The Republic of Macedonia reached a deal with Greece on 12 June to change Macedonia’s name: it will now be known as Severna Makedonija, or the Republic of North Macedonia.

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Sent Pics

Sent Pics

Facebook’s DeepFace algorithm can identify a face with more than 97 percent accuracy. This is thanks, in part, to the billions of photographs we have uploaded to the platform.

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Trump and America’s Evil by Ed Simon

Trump and America’s Evil by Ed Simon

If your politics are anything like mine, which is to say that you abhor wanton cruelties enacted against children, then surely, you’ve said it, or at least thought it – Donald Trump is an evil man...

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The collapse of freedom and the rule of law occurred in increments…

The collapse of freedom and the rule of law occurred in increments…

Liberal democracy has enjoyed much better days. Vladimir Putin has entrenched authoritarian rule and is firmly in charge of a resurgent Russia. In global influence, China may have surpassed the United States...

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The Shattering Din of the Morning Star by Lital Khaikin

The Shattering Din of the Morning Star by Lital Khaikin

Memory is struck into the air. Time is recalling itself, spring is recovering the body. “What is the name of the great double nest?” Mnemosyne, daughter of Earth and Heaven, writes the unearthing...

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Cam Scott: Writing Drawing/Drawing Writing

Cam Scott: Writing Drawing/Drawing Writing

If thought consists in circularity, we could begin where we propose to end, with a question in two directions: how is writing drawing? And how is drawing writing?

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At this terrible Brexit moment…

At this terrible Brexit moment…

The British creativity I grew up with – in pop, fashion, poetry, the visual arts and the novel – has almost always come from outside the mainstream: from clubs, gay subcultures, the working class and from the street.

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Contesting Coyote Contests

Contesting Coyote Contests

Coyote killing competitions, where contestants vie to shoot the most animals, are held throughout the U.S. But some hunting groups are denouncing these events as unethical, and states from New Mexico to New York are considering bans on these and other wildlife killing contests...

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‘My neo-vagina felt like the confirmation that I had been born transgender’

‘My neo-vagina felt like the confirmation that I had been born transgender’

I couldn’t write a book about sex, trans bodies and genitals, or the changes we make without being honest about my own inability to get it right or at least explore it openly and with self-respect.

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‘In a desert, all waters are holy’

‘In a desert, all waters are holy’

My parents were both churchgoers, and when I first encountered the opening chapters of the Bible, I recognized the description there of an earthly realm stretched between waters above and waters below.

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Will Lament, and Love

Will Lament, and Love

In 1826, at the age of 20, John Stuart Mill sank into a suicidal depression, which was bitterly ironic, because his entire upbringing was governed by the maximisation of happiness.

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Scott Manley Hadley on Jon Fosse

Scott Manley Hadley on Jon Fosse

Of all the nations of Europe with a rich literary tradition, Norway is a country that seems–whether by accident or design–to export exclusively exquisite fiction...

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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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