– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Blog archives for April, 2012

Archive for April, 2012

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

Pattern Recognition

Today the inaugural lecture by one of our new professors, Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer, took place at work, and he spoke well and eloquently about ‘the great transformation,’ about what can be done to transform societies into societies that can survive in the future, and what some of the problems with the whole scenario are (lots). The last time society was profoundly transformed was the first industrial revolution, and we’re arguably still struggling with that, and that was not a transformation that was implemented top-down, but rather that grew haphazardly out of a variety of confluences and circumstances. I’ve read about the dialectic of people being concerned about the environment on the one hand and not implementing any lifestyle changes in their own lives here and there (and everywhere), but a new perspective on it was interesting, especially since he mentioned some books and writers I’ve not yet read (second hand book places, here I come). I’ve also mostly been looking at it from an ecocritical perspective, not a socio-political one, given the nature of the book I recently finished writing. It’s all similar, though, from a variety of angles, and some points of his talk just made me think of Margaret Atwood’s novel Oryx & Crake, where the difficulty of stopping a destructive process once it has reached a certain momentum is also discussed. Everyone’s banging their head against the same wall, trying to stop what might well be inevitable, for reasons manifold and plenty and mostly indeed psychological and socio-political.

“Change can be accommodated by any system depending on its rate,” Crake used to say. “Touch your head to a wall, nothing happens, but if the same head hits the same wall at ninety miles an hour, it’s red paint. We’re in a speed tunnel, Jimmy. When the water’s moving faster than the boat, you can’t control a thing.”

I listened, thought Jimmy, but I didn’t hear.

I, too, think we’re in a speed tunnel, or approaching it fast – even if not the same as the one in Oryx & Crake turns out to be. But we’re listening but not hearing, too. (Have you read Oryx & Crake? Read Oryx & Crake!)

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Futures & Ruins

So, parts of what my PhD brought along with it was a lot of research into ruins and ruin theory, and especially into the first appearances of what I refer to as ‘anticipated ruins’ – depictions of isochronically whole buildings in a future state of ruin. Hubert Robert is one of the first painters of such anticipated ruins, although not the earliest (known) painter of them (that distinction goes to Victor Louis, and his 1759 painting of The Church of Sant’Andrea de Vignola, transformed into a Roman ruin). However, Robert’s Vue imaginaire de la Grande Galerie du Louvre en ruines (1796) is really the most well-known early example.

So, when I found out that there’s a book about Hubert Robert’s works of anticipated ruination out there now, I could not resist investigating it, even though it was published too late to be integrated into my work. I ordered it on long-distance inter-library loan and what with one thing and another it arrived the day before I went adventuring, and had to be returned the day after I got back – so all I got to do was glance into it and see if it sounded interesting, or if the title had given me false hopes … and since it turned out looking like something I might enjoy reading at my leisure at some point in time I made a note of the title and publication details … and just now I gave in and ordered a copy for myself (rather than re-loaning it, which I have also pondered doing).

It took me a while to get around to ordering it, though – might this mean that my complete apathy towards academic writing connected to my PhD in particular and outside of essential to teaching-and-uni-work things in general is wearing off again? That’d be nice. Batteries, recharge! Still, six weeks of post-PhD-kind-of-apathy-towards-academia-pursued-only-for-myself … fair enough, huh. That was a bit of a mountain to scale after all, I guess, and as long as all it gave me was temporary exhaustion instead of permanent altitude sickness … I ain’t complaining.

I’ll post about what the book is like, once it gets here & I have time to read it. For now I gotta get back to finishing my musings about tomorrow’s classes (my class load has doubled this term, so it’s all kind of … intense right now) … we’ll be reading and discussing Edgar Allan Poe as well as founding our own fictive companies, it’s gonna be fun (one hopes) (Not in the same class, though)!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Annabel Lee

Tomorrow is session two on the works of Edgar Allan Poe in one of my classes and we’ll be discussing Poe’s “Review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales” as well as his “Philosophy of Composition”. For transfer work, we’ll be applying things learned from these two theoretical works to both the short story we read and discussed last week, and to (and this is where the title of this post comes in) his poem “Annabel Lee”. Which is – in my opinion – fantastically well composed, and I love the sheer rhythm and soundscape of it … which also means that, once you’ve got it in your brain, it kind of stays there. So I thought I’d share. Three anapaests and then a iamb make for a beautiful rhythm that grabs you right there in the first line, don’t you think?

Annabel Lee
Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love–
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me–
Yes!–that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we–
Of many far wiser than we–
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling–my darling–my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

–> Dramatic Rendition.

Bonus random fact:
Nabokov’s original title for Lolita was The Kingdom by the Sea, and Humbert Humbert’s childhood sweetheart’s name is? Annabel Leigh. How about that.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012


So, after Facebook paid an insane amout of money for Hipstamatic Instagram ($1 BN!) (a photo app for android and iphone), I though I’d try it* out to see what it was all about … and, yeah, I am decidedly lukewarm about it. I’ll probably get more adept at using it if I try it out more, but so far I am decidedly ‘meh’ about it. What I dislike the most is that the little ‘preview’ window it shows you before taking a picture does not, actually, correspond to the frame that the final picture will actually have. And since I really, really like to compose photos and spend quite some time thinking about angles and stuff before I shoot, that is what will ultimately keep me from using it, as the final result does in no way make up for having to take ten pictures to get even close to the composition you want. If I want to my photos to look weird and scratchy, I can just add layers in photoshop, after all … . (None of the pictures here have the composition I wanted, though the poster/earring one comes close [after about 15 attempts!], and you can’t really go wrong with a shot of a car like that. The street one is off by about 30% at least – too much road, not enough sky).

So: I am not convinced. Do you lot use it? What to you think? Any favourite settings?

(*Only I ended up testing Hipstamatic, ooops…)


Sunday, April 15th, 2012


Photowise these are going to be some boring weeks for us all, folks, as I am busy with other things, have posted a variety of holiday photos into the albums already, and don’t want to repeat too many things. Eeek! I shall mostly be really busy with work things – now that my PhD is done-but-for-the-publication my class load has doubled for this term, and that, along with some other classes and projects I am committed to is keeping me busy-busy … and then there’s the interdisciplinary lecture series I’m co-hosting and also giving a talk at, and there’s an article I need to finish and another one I ought to start writing … yep, busy-busy. It’s good I don’t have much of a regular weekend social life in early spring, otherwise I would really rue handing yet another weekend over to work. :-) As it is, it’s still annyoing, but less than actually having to cancel something for it. The plan is to have the article I ought to finish ready to send off for a grammar/flow beta (it’s been a long time since I did any academic writing in German, and das/dass slips by me far too often anyway) before the first meeting starts tomorrow. Write write write! Polish polish polish!

Then it’s going to be one of the fullest weeks of term, appointments-wise, what with commissions of all sorts meeting, new potential colleagues being interviewed and all … and then it’ll be time to ponder what I’m going to say at the lecture in ten days’ time – that’s on my schedule for next weekend, though, and I’m not really thinking that far ahead yet. Linear thinking is the mode for today. One thing after the other.

In non-work things I can report that I watched the ZDF “Super-Champion” quiz show last night (while doing some low-brain computer cleaning etc, and in lieu of a choice between all the Titanic movies in the history of, possibly, the last 100 years). It did not impress me much – the questions were good, some of the experts too, but the moderation was off and some of the contestants too clichéed for me. And what did most stick with me was how their giant arrow (of which one can find no pictures online, tricksy, ZDF, tricksy!) looked rather unfortunately like a giant (there’s no getting around it) penis. It totally did. Phallic objects of non-subtlety were not subtle. And since the contestants had to ‘screw’ the experts, it was even – albeit I fear completely unintentionally – kinda funny. So yeah. That was yesterday. Back to my word document now! How was your weekend?

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Here, have a rant!

About smoothies, at that. So, as some of you know and a lot of you don’t really need to, I cannot eat everything I might want to, for I get sick when I do. Allergies and intolerances, they are in the house body. Well, one deals and is happy that none of them can kill one. (I know people where that is not so, and trust me, I’m glad to not have to deal with that.) Anyway, this post is not to be a ‘oh no, poor woobie’ kind of thing – hey, we all carry some stuff or other around with us etc pp bla bla. Rather, it’s a post of supreme annoyance about the secretive changing of ingredients in products one buys, and in a strange way about vindication for a paranoia I did not really want vindicated and/or was actually getting better about.

You see, I have this thing about reading ingredients lists. For the same product, even if its something I’ve bought for years – before I open it, I read the list of ingredients and double-check there’s nothing I’m not supposed to have in there. Things I’ve never bought I of course check in the store, but even mainstay staple products get checked before I open them. Which, yes, is a bit silly and possibly a bit paranoid, and sometimes awkward when I’m staying with people that bought these things for me and where I know, I know that they understand about the things I’m not supposed to eat and that they have never bought something that it turned out I could not eat and and why don’t I trust them? And its not them I don’t trust, or at least not any less or more than myself –> see double-checking things I myself bought. This double-checking is just something I trained myself to do when all of this was new and bewildering, and its worked and better safe twice than … . But still, yep, totally a bit paranoid.

 And then there are days like today, where all that paranoia suddenly becomes vindicated, and if I hadn’t checked, what do you know, I’d not be posting this here right now.

Enter ALDI NORD Fruit Smoothies, stage left. The “cherry-banana” version, to be precise. Which, for the months that I’ve been bying them, contained banana, cheery, grape and blackcurrant, and which I’ve been bying so regularly that I’ve stopped checking the ingredients in the shop, and only check before opening and consuming the thing. And, what do you know, phew, thank you, slight paranoia – nice safe!

For, without any fanfare, fuss, sign, announcement of a changed recipe or even the slightest redesign of the packaging, what product features apple as a main igredient now? I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two don’t count. Yep, the “CHERRY – BANANA” snoothie. Nice job, ALDI NORD. NOT. And since I did not check the ingredients in the store, guess who now has a fridge full of the things that I cannot drink? Yep, that’d also be me (the cherry-banana ones always go really quickly, so stocking up when there were some available was always thing to do). I”ll try taking them back tomorrow, but I don’t have much hope. And I’m really more annoyed about the principle and underhanded secretiveness of the thing than anything else. Happy to not have ingested it, of course, but also really annoyed – not so much about the recipe change, but at the sneakiness of it all.


Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Happy Birthday, G&G!

So, Gethe-and-Goth turns 1 year old today, and if that does not call for a little omphaloskepsis, I don’t know what does. (And it is, possibly, maybe, an excuse to take a break from this paper I am trying to finish writing, which is being unwieldy right now and will profit from some time spent away from it. Shh! It will!)

The advertent reader will of course notice that there are postings on here dated days, months, and indeed, years before April 10th, 2011, but all of them are backdated imports I made a year ago, so that this blog here would not start out completely empty. So they existed elsewhere on the net, but not on here – and not for public consumption, but rather logged for a specific circle of people only, all of whom had to be allowed to see them, and pretty much all of whom I knew/know ‘in real life’ (how is this here not real life? It’s real life, too!) as well. Indeed, for everyones’ convenience, this blog still cross-posts there (to LJ), and LJ is indeed where most of the commenting activity happens, as most people simly know and read me on there, and its easier to keep track of a great many people all in one place on there.

If you look at the mission statement on the right here, you can see that I thought I’d do different things with this blog than I actually ended up doing – post more about academia and academic articles I came across, and possibly not so much about everyday life. Indeed, photos (which turned out to be a major pillar of my updates) are hardly mentioned at all. (Time to revise that mission statement, maybe…after y’all have had a chance to read it the way it is right now, if you want to).

It’s been a really good experience, though – sometimes a bit boggling when looking at the search terms people find this page with (the top 4 for April so far are “underwater statue in key west florida” – “sibylle machat” – “red sand” and “horses ears”. I have nothing on underwater statues in key west (though I read there are some in the waters off of Key Largo, which I had no time to go and snorkle), but the rest actually make sense for once, even though they might not yield what people are seeking).

But I know I had some discussions (with some of you!) last year about the pros and cons of public content on the internet vs. the profession one is in and general privacy etc, and for me, so far, it’s working out – it’s like everything else, practice advertency and ponder what you want to share and what not, and then only put on here the things you would not mind everyone seeing. And it’s been fun to get comments from people I only know via this website, or to keep in touch with people one has met but once or twice. I also still really like that its hosted on my ‘own’ server/webspace, and not elsewhere on the net.

The name … I still love the name, but I admit that yes it does indeed make people think I’m a Goth, which I am really not. :-) So maybe I ought to do more with the multiperspectivity/ineluctable modality of the visible and everything else that the name really stems from. Or possibly write some stuff about Goethe after all, because that’s the other thing people ask me about, and I mostly say “yeah, read his travel writings from Italy. He writes some lovely things about ruins!” (Yep, my PhD blinders, let me show you them!) Or, hmm, ask me what a ‘Gethe’ is. So, the most easily deductive name, it is not. Oops.

Also: 23’077 people in 366 days. Eek. That’s more than 60 per day – not taking into account people reading on RSS feeds or on LJ. Thank you all for visiting, and I hope you find what you seek and have a good time looking around! (The pageviews are even more mindboggling – on April 4th alone this blog had 1’372, not counting spiders.)

I’d say “let’s do another challenge for the anniversary!” but seeing as I’ve not complete the 5-month-thing yet … I’ll just say: if you want to add a photo challenge to that one, go for it! I’ll get around to them all again one day soon-ish, I hope. (Once this paper is finished. And that one. And possibly that other one. And … ;-) ).

Also: if there’s anything you want to see me blog about (more), speak up!

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Testing the new Camera I

saturation and coloration are kinda strange in this one ... I have less bizarre shots, too, but I kinda like it. Still, not sure if its a good sign when the camera does things like that... .

Since it was sunny today (with some scattered clouds), I thought I’d take the outdoor/unterwater camera I bought from ALDI last Wednesday out for a trial run to one of the local beaches. And, well … I think it performs ok for the amount of money it cost, probably – I have very little reference to base that assumption on – but I’m somewhat cautiously pessimistic. It remained perfectly watertight in the surf and below the surface, but there’s quite a long delay between one pressing the “take the photo now! Now! NOW!” button and the picture actually being taken – and the button is also not very responsive and needs to be pressed quite hard in order to take a picture (a second or so later) and so it is really hard to know when the pressure has been enought and it will eventually get around to taking the picture. I actually half suspect that my camera came with a faulty trigger button, so I’ll take it round to ALDI again on Tuesday and see if they can exchange it, as there is literally zero give to the button at all. Possibly a broken spring, or whatever the mechanism is.

Add to that that, what do you know, hands go really numb kinda quickly in 5°C / 41°F cold sea water and me not actually being able to see whether or not the camera was taking a picture (I kinda drew the line at submerging more than hands and feet), taking photographs became something of a thing of chance more than of careful deliberation (I also have a lot of photos of receding waves, but none of waves actually breaking right in front of the camera – if I keep it, I shall need to learn what precisely the amount of delay between pressing the trigger and the photo being taken is, so I can time things better).

If I keep it and/or it can be fixed or exchanged, test #2 shall be conducted in the Campusbad, probably on Tuesday. We’ll see.

Also – three days from now this blog turns one year old, and it’s at 22’801 visitors. That’s, uh, a lot more than I expected, especially with it being mirrored over on LJ and reads there doing nothing for the counter on here! Thanks y’all for stopping by and stuff!

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Photography – dans l’eau!

My suitcase arrived yesterday and just I found some time earlier today to scan in some of my better underwater/in the water photographs, one of which you can see up there right now. And, hmm, I might have bought a ‘proper’ underwater camera yesterday, since it was a special offer at ALDI, and I want to do more underwater photography (it’s still a pretty basic camera, but I figure if I really take to it and level up my skill set some I can also level up my camera eventually … we’ll see). So now I need to, you know, find underwater things to photograph!

For now, I’ve made an ‘underwater’ album and added it to the other photo albums that are already online – and I need to spend the next four days finishing my Martin Luther King article. Eep. So that’s my plan for Easter. What is yours?

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Jupiter has moon’s what?

Favourite teddy bear, which he is holding hostage?
Same rough proportions?
Penchant to dream?

Tell me, what does Jupiter have, that belongs to the moon?
Creative answers merit postcards from Flensburg, or some such things… . :-) (Or should I write thing’s?)


Argh, dear Kennedy Space Center, A R G H.
No apostrophe with the plural!


Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The distance I travelled

Where I actually went (not every place is marked by a letter, but a good many are - and this is totally not the road I took through Alabama, but it would not let me put in the Talladega Forest - I went by backcountry roads, alllll the way down from Huntsville to Enterprise ... it took a while (think Huntsville - Gadsden - Auburn - Enterprise, rather than Montgomery and Birmingham)).

Since the question has popped up more than once: total distance travelled, according to the odometer readings upon pickup and return: 2’816 miles.