Berfrois

August 2018

The story of the subway is the urtext of any book about New York…

The story of the subway is the urtext of any book about New York…

When the ground was first broken in 1900 to build a subway under the crowded streets of New York, some 25,000 of the city’s residents gathered to watch the ceremonies and cheer

Read More

Saturday-morning cartoons and kung fu…

Saturday-morning cartoons and kung fu…

Released in 1998, Lauryn Hill’s first solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was also a canonical intervention—to both the previously male-dominated sphere of hip-hop as well as the white-dominated upper echelons of the music industry and pop culture.

Read More

Remains as the End

Remains as the End

Some time back I took a group of students to the Galerie d'Anatomie Comparée at the Jardin des Plantes. This is the famous collection of skeletons laid out according to one version of the order of nature by Georges Cuvier at the turn of the 19th Century.

Read More

‘I look underneath my desk and think I might sit there’

‘I look underneath my desk and think I might sit there’

I can’t pick up the clothes. I can’t explain the granite of that “can’t” to anyone else, the way it feels impossible to beat. Look at me looking at the pile and you will think, Just pick it up. For fuck’s sake.

Read More

Kick Out the Joy

Kick Out the Joy

The MC5 were never a famous band, merely a legendary one. The Clash wrote a song about their lead guitarist and ideologue, Wayne Kramer, called Jail Guitar Doors.

Read More

Ed Simon: First Five Observations about the Moment

Ed Simon: First Five Observations about the Moment

Life experienced narratively, which is to say the only way actual life can be experienced, continually deletes the immediacy of the transitory, but in depicting the specifically of the second within the crystalline moment artists reendow the present with meaning.

Read More

When the Wrestlers Are Women

When the Wrestlers Are Women

“The virtue of wrestling is to be a spectacle of excess,” Roland Barthes begins—but we are wary of excess in women, wary of too much flesh, too much blood, too much lust or power.

Read More

D.H. Lawrence on Moby Dick

D.H. Lawrence on Moby Dick

For Moby Dick, the huge white sperm whale: who is old, hoary, monstrous, and swims alone; who is unspeakably terrible in his wrath, having so often been attacked; and snow-white...

Read More

Dance ‘n’ Hop

Dance ‘n’ Hop

Also known as the “dancing plague”, it was the most fatal and best documented of the more than ten such contagions...

Read More

Vast Comic Proportions

Vast Comic Proportions

I have been a professor of philosophy and a fonctionnaire in Paris for five years. I think by now this gives me at least some credibility as a participant-observer

Read More

What made Diogenes Laertius so lucky?

What made Diogenes Laertius so lucky?

Poor Diogenes Laertius. He gets no respect. A “perfect ass”—“asinus germanus”—one nineteenth-century scholar called him. “Dim-witted,” said Nietzsche.

Read More

Monitoring Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

Monitoring Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region

The surveillance infrastructure in Kashgar is state of the art, but the Chinese government is already working on the next level of control. It wants to introduce a "social credit system" that rates the "trustworthiness" of each citizen

Read More