Here is a taster:
Prokofiev's piano sonatas (as interpreted by Matteo Valerio). -- These days they are my constant company: at the gym, on walks to and from work, and in the office. My favourites are the second movement of No. 2, and the first of No. 6.
Here is a taster:
Upon re-reading Feyerabend's AGAINST METHOD. -- If only I could write with similar panache!
Gap. -- Timothy Williamson's 2016-paper on "abductivism" in philosophy never even mentions Bas van Fraassen's 2002-criticism of that very method in analytic metaphysics. I would love to see or read a debate between the two men on this issue!
Sopron. -- We went on our first Sunday outing in living memory, and returned to one of our old favourites. We discovered a small museum in the town centre, dedicated to the memory of the Jews who lived here until 1944 (when they were sent to Auschwitz). Beyond words.
Icon of vanity. -- I am currently reading Wolf Lepenies' wonderful little book Auguste Comte: Die Macht der Zeichen. It portrays the father of positivism as a forerunner of the "iconic turn". Maybe so. I am taking away something else, too: just how how utterly pompous, vain, and ridiculous Comte was.
Nomen est omen. -- Today, nineteen years ago, Sarah and I went on our first-ever date. We saw "Life is a Dream" in the Edinburgh Festival.
Next assignment. -- Preparing twelve undergraduate lectures introducing and defending epistemic relativism. For my sins.
Whorf. -- How in the world could someone become so famous on the basis of so little actual research?
That feeling of emptiness. -- When you have finished writing a grant-application and know you now have to wait for ten months before hearing back from the agency.
All is well that ends wells. -- There is little that matches the joys of reading the excellent undergraduate dissertation of a student who had dropped out of university -- only to return a year later.
Enigma. -- My mother lacked all sentimental attachment to things: I did not find a single romantic letter amongst her belongings. (Not to worry, there will be plenty of those in my [electronic] Nachlass.)
"Make sure you take the time to mourn." -- Well-meaning friends and colleagues keep saying this to me. I think: "Don't try this with three young kids, an ERC project, and a professorial chair. Bad idea."
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).
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.“
Memorial service. -- The priest finds exactly the right words for the occasion. Which means: he does not use my summary. (He does not say how angst-ridden her life had always been.)
Cologne. -- The place where my mother spent many happy moments of her adult life. In later years, she was a regular at the opera. And she loved the cathedral. We light a candle in her memory.
Aachen. -- We take the children to the place where my mother was born. The highlight is our lunch in the "Postwagen", a medieval restaurant just outside the town hall. My grandfather was a travelling salesman and not home very often. To celebrate his returns, he would often treat my mother to lunch at this place.
Where to begin? -- The priest conducting the memorial service next Monday asked me to give a personal account of her life. He wants to make it the basis of his sermon.
Brutal. -- My mother's old-people's home gives us exactly three days to clear her flat. We grab a few books, photos, crockery and cutlery. No time to organize a furniture transport. I would have loved to take home my parents' writing desk.
Too late. -- Non-stop driving all day, trying to get to my mother.
In two minds. -- How can you apply for a grant when the chances of success are around 0.01? In my case it requires a form of schizophrenia: I have to radically dissociate the knowledge of the chances from my grant-writing self. (Somehow this comes naturally to me. Should I be worried?)
Harry Collins. -- I am reading his GRAVITY'S KISS (2017), about the detection of gravitational waves. A page-turner if there ever was one, and a worthy conclusion to his trilogy on the subject.