Berfrois

April 2019

Next week: will a boy ever be born who can swim faster than a shark?

Next week: will a boy ever be born who can swim faster than a shark?

Living in the Canadian Rockies allows me ample opportunities to get out into nature. In an hour outside the city, I can be within wilderness, with no cellphone reception and no other humans.

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Ed Simon: The First Question

Ed Simon: The First Question

From whence did the interrogative arise? In what pool of primordial muck could the first question have been asked?

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Medha Singh’s India Elections Diary #1: Introductions

Medha Singh’s India Elections Diary #1: Introductions

Indian democracy, it is said, is the largest democracy in the world. It grants its Members of Parliament (MPs) the freedom to whack Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) with flip flops in public to settle the odd disagreement...

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Eric D. Lehman: The Pleasures and Dangers of Private Criticism

Eric D. Lehman: The Pleasures and Dangers of Private Criticism

Literary critics are an easy target, particularly for authors. John Fowles put it this way in his novel Daniel Martin: “However justified the criticism...

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Kant ‘N Marx

Kant ‘N Marx

In 1784 Immanuel Kant described humanity as being in a state of immaturity, which to Kant is “the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another”

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Enlightened, Much?

Enlightened, Much?

How enlightened was the Enlightenment? Not a few critics have seen it as profoundly benighted. For some, it was a seedbed for modern racism and imperialism; the light in the Enlightenment, one recent scholar has suggested, essentially meant “white.”

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Chairman of the Board

Chairman of the Board

Ten thousand years ago, in the Neolithic period, before human beings began making pottery, we were playing games on flat stone boards drilled with two or more rows of holes...

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Tolkien in His Sleep

Tolkien in His Sleep

It is difficult not to feel that JRR Tolkien’s name destined him for philological studies and perhaps in the end for the creation of imaginary worlds...

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“I don’t want to be representative”

“I don’t want to be representative”

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is set during the peak of the AIDS crisis, and is full of deep-cut references to 1990s pop culture.

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The Gram

The Gram

Researchers have produced mountains of studies on the motivations and rewards that drive the social media user. The craving for attention, the narcissistic self-referencing...

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Slacking

Slacking

And so the torch has been passed to a new generation, or so the story goes. This year, the last of the millennials and the first of Generation Z...

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Berfrois: The Book Is Now Available!

Berfrois: The Book Is Now Available!

Berfrois: The Book is now available at all good bookshops and a certain online store.

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Joe Linker: AWP Diary

Joe Linker: AWP Diary

The annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) convention is being held this coming week in my home town of Portland, Oregon.

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Chrissy Lau: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental”

Chrissy Lau: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental”

During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, San Francisco had the popular reputation as a sexually liberal wonderland and an international city. At the same time, during the era of increasing nativism and immigration exclusion...

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Slow Green Water

Slow Green Water

Leonard Cohen’s death in November 2016, at the age of eighty-two, prompted the usual media outpouring that greets the passing of any influential artist.

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Sancho’s Relief

Sancho’s Relief

Readers will remember that in chapter 20 of Part I of Don Quixote Sancho relieves himself while in close proximity to his master...

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“Tinder sucks. The entire project of it is racist.”

“Tinder sucks. The entire project of it is racist.”

Some friends and I started a group chat to share the micro-aggressions that we experience daily. When these encounters feel too minuscule to say out loud, for fear of being disregarded or dismissed as the Black Person Who Cried Racism...

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Stand Up, Stretch, Set Off

Stand Up, Stretch, Set Off

If Friedrich Nietzsche were alive today, what would he think of our times? “The nations are again drawing away from one another and long to tear one another to pieces”...

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Dear Moment

Dear Moment

I came to philosophy bursting with things to say. Somewhere along the way, that changed...

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David Beer on Georg Simmel

David Beer on Georg Simmel

In May 1913, German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote to the poet and essayist Margarete von Bendemann to express his joy at seeing some ‘magnificent Rembrandts’.

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