Berfrois

Soap and Bones

Soap and Bones

When viewed on a hot plate under a polarising microscope, liquid crystals appear as a fluctuating kaleidoscope of colour: swirling, as Esther Leslie describes them, like ‘twisting lines of silks’...

Read More

A Historical Parable by Ed Simon

A Historical Parable by Ed Simon

Pennsylvania’s frontier in the decade after both the Seven Years War and Pontiac’s fearsome Indian rebellion was a paranoid place...

Read More

Justin E. H. Smith: Notes on Hands

Justin E. H. Smith: Notes on Hands

I am haunted by an image I first saw many years ago of a ‘cortical homunculus’: a figure of a sort of man, whose bodily parts are variously shrunken...

Read More

Foucault, the Drowned and the Saved

Foucault, the Drowned and the Saved

Foucault would have wanted 'very important people of the world' to refer to the refugees, not himself...

Read More

‘Critical thinking is not bracketed off from poetic and political imaginaries’

‘Critical thinking is not bracketed off from poetic and political imaginaries’

In conversations with students feeling overwhelmed by their studies, I sometimes use the phrase, ‘remember that studying is part of life, not the other way around.’

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

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’...

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

Jeremy Fernando on (In)die Art

Jeremy Fernando on (In)die Art

To begin to speak of indie art, one must first address the question: what is art? A question haunted by another question, a dependent question: is art, art, without the frame?

Read More

McBuddy

McBuddy

After spending a few days at Elsewhere, a museum set in a former thrift store in Greensboro, North Carolina, I was asked to select a single object from the teeming mountains of stuff.

Read More

Cursed Freedom

Cursed Freedom

Kate Kirkpatrick's provocative interdisciplinary study argues that Sartre's conception of nothingness in Being and Nothingness (BN) can be fruitfully understood as an iteration of the Christian doctrine of original sin...

Read More

Trump and America’s Evil by Ed Simon

Trump and America’s Evil by Ed Simon

If your politics are anything like mine, which is to say that you abhor wanton cruelties enacted against children, then surely, you’ve said it, or at least thought it – Donald Trump is an evil man...

Read More

‘In a desert, all waters are holy’

‘In a desert, all waters are holy’

My parents were both churchgoers, and when I first encountered the opening chapters of the Bible, I recognized the description there of an earthly realm stretched between waters above and waters below.

Read More

Will Lament, and Love

Will Lament, and Love

In 1826, at the age of 20, John Stuart Mill sank into a suicidal depression, which was bitterly ironic, because his entire upbringing was governed by the maximisation of happiness.

Read More

Ed Simon on Philip Roth

Ed Simon on Philip Roth

It’s easy to see Roth as an avatar of the American literary “Great Male Narcissists” identified by David Foster Wallace (takes one to know one…). In a fashionable word, Roth can be problematic...

Read More

Absurd!

Absurd!

Last semester, halfway through a meeting of my ‘Meaning of Life’ seminar, I found myself lying on a window seat along the eastern wall of the classroom. I was scheduled for spinal surgery in a few months, and sitting and standing were tough.

Read More

What of meaning?

What of meaning?

To my surprise, most of the people with whom I have talked about the meaning of life have told me that they did not think that their lives were meaningful enough. Many even presented their lives as outright meaningless.

Read More

Anthony in the Desert, and Other Mirages

Anthony in the Desert, and Other Mirages

Saint Anthony’s encounters with those fearsome demons in the desert happened more than just once; in fact, they occurred repeatedly.

Read More