Berfrois

Emile Bojesen and Ansgar Allen: Agamben and Techno-Fascism

Emile Bojesen and Ansgar Allen: Agamben and Techno-Fascism

Professors who switch to teaching online are the ‘perfect equivalent of the university teachers who in 1931 swore allegiance to the Fascist regime’. So says Giorgio Agamben...

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Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

Theodore Ziolkowski on Gilgamesh

The Slaying of the Bull of Ishtar, from Myths of Babylonia and Assyria, illustrated by Ernest Wallcousins, 1915 by Theodore Ziolkowski Any ten minute search on the internet turns up hundreds of hits for Gilgamesh in recent years. Apart from novels, plays, poems, operas, and paintings, the ancient Babylonian...

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Yo Borges

Yo Borges

by Jon Beasley-Murray What does it mean to “read Borges”? What are we even endeavoring to read? “Borges” is a cipher: a proper name that stands in for a set of texts with which that name is associated. It’s a figure or speech or language, a form of metonymy:...

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Angus Cleghorn on Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil

Angus Cleghorn on Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil

Brazilian Landscape, Eizabeth Bishop by Angus Cleghorn After a decade in Brazil, Elizabeth Bishop was offered a $10,000 advance “to provide the text for the Life World Library Brazil, but famously disliked how the editors changed what she wrote” (Bishop: Poems, Prose & Letters viii) in the 1962 volume....

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Zonkers

Zonkers

When Kerouac Met Kesey | by Sterling Lord

The American Scholar

During his trip back to Oregon in 1963, Ken and his entourage began to think about what would become the Merry Pranksters’ bus trip to New York the following year...

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Lisa Klarr: Gothic Yoknapatawpha

Lisa Klarr: Gothic Yoknapatawpha

by Lisa Klarr As Teresa Goddu argues, the ‘American’ gothic is usually a ‘regional term,’ referring quite specifically to the South. In the 19th Century, the region functions as a ‘repository’ for a variety of cultural anxieties having mostly to do with the moral degeneration of the nation. But...

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Get S¡ll¡!

Get S¡ll¡!

by Daniel Green The sheer bulk of Ron Silliman’s The Alphabet, as well as its apparently arbitrary structural principle, could initially leave the impression it deliberately defies reading. The same could be said of the larger project, the “life work” in progress and of which The Alphabet is a...

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Richard M. Cook on Alfred Kazin

Richard M. Cook on Alfred Kazin

by Richard M. Cook I discovered Alfred Kazin’s journals in the summer of 1984. I was researching a book on American public criticism, criticism written for the reading public, or what Virginia Woolf called the “common reader,” rather than for academics. Kazin was one of the critics I wanted...

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Baboonlike

Baboonlike

The Lion King, walt Disney Pictures, 1994 From Bookslut: “When nude/ I turned my back because he likes the back. /He moved onto me. // Everything I know about love and its necessities/ I learned in that one moment/ when I found myself/ thrusting my little burning red backside...

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Priest, Gangster, Drinker, Gent, Novelist, Funnyman, Genius

Priest, Gangster, Drinker, Gent, Novelist, Funnyman, Genius

Flann O’Brien, Brian O’Toole From Boston Review: “A really funny book,” was James Joyce’s verdict on At Swim-Two-Birds, the comic masterpiece by his compatriot Brian O’Nolan, a.k.a. Flann O’Brien. Graham Greene said he read it “with excitement, amusement and the kind of glee one experiences when people smash china...

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Both Daemon and Prig

Both Daemon and Prig

Malvolio and the Countess, R. Staines, 1859 by Emma Darwin I’ve stumbled on something that Auden wrote to an aspiring teenage poet, John Cornford: The real problem though for you as for every other writer… is that of the Daemon and the Prig. Real poetry originates in the guts...

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In sci-fi, Kurt Vonnegut found an improbable moral purpose…

In sci-fi, Kurt Vonnegut found an improbable moral purpose…

Slaughterhouse 5.5, photograph by Alev Adil From New York Magazine: A cranky ostrich in a rumpled suit, Kurt Vonnegut might seem an odd fit for the staid Library of America. (His advice to young writers? “Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”) But Vonnegut, like...

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Catherine Flynn: Out of the Exploration of Paris

Catherine Flynn: Out of the Exploration of Paris

André Kertész by Catherine Flynn Learning to read Ulysses means tracing a path through its strangeness. Becoming familiar with the twists and turns of its prose and the multitude of characters that pass through its pages can also mean forgetting the work’s initial effects of disorientation and fragmentation. It...

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The HTML Scene

The HTML Scene

by Gregory Jusdanis The world is text. Mallarmé and Flaubert described this possibility at the end of the nineteenth century and Derrida proclaimed it again more recently. But now we can say that the world is literature. It is turning literary through the Internet. What is taking place today...

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Mycophilia

Mycophilia

by Justin E. H. Smith Surely the single largest category of folk names for mushrooms is the one having to do with evil and death, and with the beings who bode and bring these: Witch’s Hat, Death Cap, Destroying Angel, Poison Pie, Lead Poisoner, Corpse Finder, Witches’ Butter, Devil’s...

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‘Whoever follows Alice down the rabbit hole and through the Red Queen’s labyrinthine kingdom never does it for the first time’

‘Whoever follows Alice down the rabbit hole and through the Red Queen’s labyrinthine kingdom never does it for the first time’

“Ahem!” said the Mouse, with an important air, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll, illustrated by Charles Robinson, 1907 From Threepenny Review: It may be that Carroll’s tale has deeper roots in the human psyche than its nursery reputation might suggest. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland does not...

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