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

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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Cosmology vs. Philosophy

Cosmology vs. Philosophy

What is it with the philosophy-haters in astrophysics and cosmology? From the late Stephen Hawking’s claim that ‘philosophy is dead’, to Steven Weinberg’s chapter-long jeremiad ‘Against Philosophy’...

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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...

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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...

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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

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Official anti-communism is a rhetorical tool for upholding the status quo…

Official anti-communism is a rhetorical tool for upholding the status quo…

Back in the fall of 2014, I visited the House of Terror museum in Budapest. On the way out, I flipped through the pages of the guest book, curious to read the reactions of other visitors after they had perused the exhibits.

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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.

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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

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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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