Berfrois

January 2020

That’s the Real Quiz

That’s the Real Quiz

Last March, when I went to Las Vegas for the very first time, I made sure to pack pens and paper. I knew we would need the supplies.

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With the Option to Sell Out

With the Option to Sell Out

For forty years the center had been drifting steadily to starboard. So what if it jumped a ways to port? It might have been abrupt, but it’s not as though anyone was proposing the abolition of the monarchy or the nationalization

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The Complicity of Health and Medical Personnel in Post-9/11 Torture

The Complicity of Health and Medical Personnel in Post-9/11 Torture

As the American psychologist and architect of the Bush-era torture programme, Dr James Mitchell, took the stand last week, I was reminded of Timothy Snyder’s Twenty Lessons on Tyranny.

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Victoria Brockmeier: Living With PTSD

Victoria Brockmeier: Living With PTSD

You hear stories, growing up, of what you were like as a baby. You used to love to suck on lemon slices, you slept with your face buried in the cat’s fur, you spent every car ride trying to wiggle out of your car seat to look out the...

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Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Memory

Teresa K. Miller and Gregory Giles Discuss Memory

More than once, my maternal grandmother went to a Seattle fire station for aid, certain she was having a heart attack.

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War on the War of Drugs?

War on the War of Drugs?

There are two key problems with books that attempt to be objective about illegal drugs.

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Gone Gentrified

Gone Gentrified

In her introduction to London: Aspects of Change (1964), Ruth Glass wrote that the city was “too vast, too complex, too contrary and too moody” to be known entirely.

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Ed Simon: Another Man’s System

Ed Simon: Another Man’s System

Excavated from the Iraqi desert at Tel Asmar in 1933 by a group of archeologists from the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute were a dozen votive figurines

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Meaningful Freedom: How Africa Responded to Independence

Meaningful Freedom: How Africa Responded to Independence

In African Freedom, Phyllis Taoua offers a study of “meaningful freedom” in Africa since independence from the perspective of literary studies...

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Nathaniel Kennon Perkins: Mexican Breakfast

Nathaniel Kennon Perkins: Mexican Breakfast

It’d been almost ten years since I’d seen my friend Adam. I didn’t even know that he’d gotten married. We’d casually kept in touch through the Internet...

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Adversarial culture rests on dubious ideas…

Adversarial culture rests on dubious ideas…

Philosophical discussions, whether in a professional setting or at the bar, frequently consist of calling out mistakes in whatever has been proposed: ‘This is all very well, but …’

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An Organic Marx?

An Organic Marx?

The effort to revive and recover critical theory and its intellectual precedents has become more difficult at a time in which ‘critique’ is regularly denounced as negative, skeptical and anthropocentric

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Got Curls

Got Curls

I grew up in the golden age of comics: the nineteen-forties, and most particularly, the five years immediately after the end of the Second World War. Comics were one of the main sources of entertainment for children then...

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Beer and Cider

Beer and Cider

There is no beverage which I have liked "to live with" more than beer; but I have never had a cellar large enough to accommodate much of it, or an establishment numerous enough...

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Ass as Raw Heart

Ass as Raw Heart

Over more than three decades and thirteen books of poems, Carl Phillips has been conducting an inquiry into intimacy, especially sexual intimacy...

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“How does one not write a depressing book about depression?”

“How does one not write a depressing book about depression?”

Mary Cregan’s debut work of nonfiction, The Scar: A Personal History of Depression and Recovery, is likely shelved in the bookshop’s memoir section.

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What I’M Eating

What I’M Eating

Hi. I am a popular novelist, and these are my thoughts about global warming. I grew up in a major East Coast city or perhaps some lesser, sadder place that I’ve built a relatively successful

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Not Enough Voters for Corbyn

Not Enough Voters for Corbyn

Before trying to examine the outcome of the 2019 general election, before any attempt to analyse the social complexities of the electorate that it reveals, it is important to understand three things.

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Ed Simon on Sean Bonney

Ed Simon on Sean Bonney

Prophets often die before their time, usually when the rest of us need their voices most. This was the fate of the English radical poet Sean Bonney, who died last November

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Protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act

Protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The BJP has long believed that its anti-Muslim project has two enemies: Muslims, and those non-Muslims who see Muslims as equal citizens under the constitution.

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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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