Frege and Dietrich Schäfer (1845-1929). -- I am reading the autobiography of the latter: a professor of history in Jena, Heidelberg and later in Berlin. His nickname was "Flotten-Schäfer" since he tirelessly campaigned for more and more battleships for the German navy. He single-handedly prevented Simmel from getting a chair in Heidelberg in 1908 by writing a referee report full of the worst antisemitic slurs. Anyway, looking back, in his memoirs, on his time in Jena, he warmly remembers joint hiking trips with "professor of mathematics Frege". Makes you wonder what they talked about ...
"Pornocracy". -- This is the period in the history of the Catholic Church (904-960) when (allegedly) prostitutes had a decisive influence on the pope's actions. Pope Sergius III started it all. He killed his two predecessors and is the only pope to have (allegedly) fathered a son who himself later made it to the top (Pope John XI). (In our series "odd things one comes across when reading obscure historians of the 19th century.")
Here today, gone tomorrow. -- It's terrible with me: by the time I achieve (with a lot of effort and pain) a modicum of recognition in one field of study, I get bored and feel forced to move on.
I feel ashamed to admit it, but here I go. -- It is only now (in the context of my Simmel studies) that I finally get around to making a careful study of some of Max Weber's key texts.
It is strange. -- The more I read of Simmel, the less I agree with him. But this hasn't lessened my interest in his work: most of the time he is wrong in intriguing ways.
At least I would be in interesting company. -- In recent days I have read so many negative and nasty referee-reports--written when Simmel applied for academic positions--that I am unable to even imagine that someone could write a positive report about my grant-applications.
To get or not to get, that is the question. -- My family and I are waiting for the decision on a big grant. We all feel torn: more time for fun and games on the weekend (if I don't get it), or fame and recognition (if I do)?
"Das Überspinnwebenhafte der Simmelschen Analyse" (the hyper-spider-web-ism of Simmel's analysis). -- I have now worked myself through almost all early-twentieth-century reviews of SImmel's books. Quite a lesson in how to write academic put-downs. I promise never to use what I have learnt!
Going, going, gone. -- I am slowly but surely getting bogged down in early-twentieth-century "Staatswissenschaften" (sciences of the state) and history. Not sure whether I'll ever surface again. Twas nice up there in the light.
Backstabbing, backstabbing, and more backstabbing. -- I really should stop reading (dead) philosophers' correspondence.
In our series: "Questions that keep me awake at night". -- Did the Ancient Greeks or Romans have the equivalent of our tuning forks?
Self-refutation? -- Tonight we heard the Concentus Musicus perform Barock music by Purcell, Vivaldi, Doni, Marini, Falconieri, Froberger, Schmelzer and Couperin. I couldn't help thinking: "Gosh, there is progress in music after all, isn't it?"
Nero. -- I wish there were a recording of his singing while Rome was burning ...
Puzzlement. -- How could a culture as "scientifically-minded" as the Ancient Greeks not invent a musical notation?
Incidentally ... -- If you want a keyhole view of my musical obsessions for a given week, all you need to do is "follow" my playlists on "Spotify". Just saying ...
Liszt is weird. -- The lesser-known a given (piano) piece, the better it is.
Plus ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose. -- These days I am reading a lot about antisemitism in late 19th-century German-speaking culture. It is depressing for (at least) three reasons, best captured in three questions of desperation: How could people back then be so unfair, nasty and cruel? How dare anyone today still repeat the same antisemitic slogans and arguments? And why do so many politicians in our time get away with using the very same exclusionary strategies again other minorities, like Muslims or the Roma?
The End. -- The working week isn't over until I have ordered my "thoughts". I have now.
"From the New World." -- Top on my "playlist" for last week was Dvorak's 9th arranged for four hands on the piano. (We heard it performed live by Miho and Masumi Hio in the Gesellschaft für Musiktheater tonight.) Perhaps even better than the orchestra-version.
Protest. -- I feel (ever so slightly) annoyed when I hear from colleagues that they spent Saturday evening at the Konzerthaus or the Musikverein. Part of me wants to reply: "How dare you -- that is OUR escape, not yours!"
Trump's speech to the NRA. -- (I better not say it.)
Unforseen consequences. -- Some weeks ago I bought a sofa for my study at home. The plan was that, from now on, I would think and read in a horizontal position. It hasn't happened. But still, the investment has its benefits: the rest of the family now regularly comes for naps and relaxation.
May 1st. -- I wish I were celebrating rather than working ...
Call me "pedantic". -- But I like to plan my research activities in advance. And thus I am less than enthusiastic when in the middle of other, much more pressing, work, I suddenly get the idea for a new paper. Especially when the idea requires immediate development.
Note to self. -- Better not read Kafka's *Metamorphosis* before falling asleep. It gives your unconscious funny ideas of what might happen to you while giving a plenary talk at a conference.