Thrilled sadness. -- I have found a final (Viennese) resting place for my mother (who died last week) and for my father (who died in 1980): Grinzing cemetry. I love the place both for its natural beauty and for its illustrious "inhabitants": for instance my "heroes" Gustav Mahler and Thomas Bernhard.
History lost. -- My mother's death last week means that, on her side of the family, I no longer have any relative older than my sister or my cousins. As a result, my access to my past has suddenly shrunk dramatically. I will never be able to learn anything new about my mother, my maternal grandparents, or indeed my own early childhood. (If only she had written a diary, or at least "thoughts for the day".)
Rendezvous with the grim reaper. -- In Vienna, when it comes to burying urns, you cannot just get a “single“ or a “double”. Such “final homes” are designed to house eight. Said the undertaker: “Look at the bright side: you get your own grave to boot.“
Credo. -- My mother's death, and my children's response to it, has once again forced me to think about the chances of an afterlife, gods, and all that. In a nutshell, my view is this. We know but a tiny amount about a minute part of the universe. And we don't even begin to understand why there is something rather than nothing. I draw two conclusions. First, we should follow neither the believers nor the unbelievers. And second, we need not deny ourselves the pleasures of wild fantasy (as long as we are clear that wild fantasy it is).
Ernst Tugendhat... -- ... is one of the very few authors that I enjoy reading in my fifties as much as I did in my twenties.
Pubertarian wisdom. -- "The only person I can imagine marrying is myself."
Not funny. -- I am scheduling a ten-minute pronunciation exercise with my son today: he has got to learn to distinguish between "terrorist" and "tourist". I don't want to get into trouble when I send him off to ask for "tourist information".
The last hour of work before my annual holidays is under way. -- Never has writing a talk seemed harder.
Announcement. -- No Facebook, Twitter or email for the next two weeks, though I will allow myself the occasional "Thought for the Day" (but with the "reply-function" disabled). -- No, I am not worried that I might feel lonely.
First dates. -- There are advantages to (still) being ignorant about much of classical music: it allows for endless discoveries. Today I got acquainted with Mertanen's interpretations of Sibelius' piano sonatas. They will be regular companions from now on.
Tempting fate. -- It's almost 3pm and I have not yet received a single email asking me to deal with some urgent administrative matter. My kind of working day.
Lèse majesté. -- Listening to Bach's cello suites makes me feel tired and emotional. (Fortunately there are always Beethoven's Bagatellen to pull me up again.)
Bar-hopping. -- I am spending a lot of time on it. Some might say "too much time". (There are 138 bars in Beethoven's Bagatelle op. 33 #2. I am pretty good until bar 60.)
"Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła ..." -- Duda has done the first step; I hope he'll have the courage to keep walking.
A model for us all. -- Animal-rights campaigners in China are increasingly successful in persuading their countrymen to stop eating dogs, and to keep the animals as pets instead. I would love to see an analogous move here. Let's go walkies with Miss Piggy and Buttercup.
"Fat-handed intervention." -- I learnt this term from reading around in the "philosophy of mechanism" literature. It refers to an intervention with multiple side-effects. We need that concept for everyday life, especially politics.
When brains grow. -- There is a delightful similarity between babies and teenagers (ours anyway): they sleep for most of the day. Amazing how much I get done when working from home!
Confession of a Jacobin. -- The current hype in Germany about the visit of the junior Mr. and Ms. Windsor makes me cringe.
Dreams. -- Putin made his "Doktorvater" a billionaire. What will my supervisees make of me later in life?
True Brits. -- It's been eight years since we left the U.K. But our favourite cheese still is Cheddar. What's wrong with us?
In two minds. -- Sometimes I curse the workload created by our systems of peer-review. This morning alone I did three referee reports. And I was over the moon when I was finally able to return to reading Simmel. Brilliant man. -- But wait: Wouldn't he be a million times more convincing if he had presented his arguments in a clear and accessible form, and with appropriate references to the relevant contemporaneous literature? Was it really a good practice for him to send his handwritten paper--without any quality-checks--straight to the printer?
Wake-up call. -- I have now done extensive research on how long teenagers should sleep. Result: no more than ten hours, and irregular sleeping patterns (i.e. sleeping until lunchtime) should be discouraged. -- All sounds good to me. Okay, my dearest daughter, it's 10am; here I come. (If only I had a suit of armor.)
"It takes all kinds ..." -- There are living philosophers with twitter accounts dedicated to posting short excerpts from one of their books.
Caught in the act. -- I admit it: I don't always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And yet, I feel deeply disappointed when I discover that one of my philosophical heroes told a straightforward lie. (As when Simmel claimed, in his correspondence, to be greatly admired by Sidgewick and Jodl. Not so, both were scathing when they reviewed Simmel's books.)
"Instanbul". -- And whenever my longing for Turkey gets too strong, I shall console myself with Fazıl Say's brilliant music.