Musical traditions. -- We have recently heard a lot of Russian classical music (Rimski-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky), performed by famous Russian orchestras. Last night our attention shifted to nineteenth-and-early-twentieth century French composer. The Vienna Symphoniker under Bertrand de Billy played Berlioz (excerpts from “Romeo and Juliet”), Ravel (Concerto for piano and orchestra in G-major; with Jasminka Stančul), and Franck (Symphony in d-minor). All was flawlessly and originally performed (as far as a layperson like me is able to judge). -- But I cannot deny my Eastern-European roots (on my father’s side): I’ve got the Russians under my skin!
Memories of New Zealand. -- I taught in Auckland for three months in the summer of 1993. My visiting position was funded by the department's richest student, a German-born retired businessman who wanted to learn about Heidegger and his legacy. I'll never forget the helicopter flights to his country house at the Northern tip of the island. We flew slalom through the mountains. At our destination we took a bottle of champagne down to the beach and ate oysters (alive!) straight from the rocks.
Fraunhofer Institute for Mathematics in Kaiserlautern. -- Very much looking forward to my talk there next Tuesday (on relativism, of course!). I have talked to a good number of scientists over the years. And I have always found the mathematicians most willing to give unconventional ideas a fair hearing. Is that because they aren't constrained by empirical data? -- Go figure ...
This speech makes me want to pack our suitcases and head for NZ. --
Relativism and epistemic virtues or vices. -- This will be the topic of Maria Baghramian's and my talks at the Joint Sessions in Durham next year. I am really grateful to Maria for suggesting this theme. It is making me think of relativism in altogether new ways.
"Philosophy and Psychiatry." -- For the past three years I have organised summer schools in Dubrovnik (on relativism). For the next three years I help put together summer schools in Vienna. Here is information on the first event:
In our series "Must-Read Papers." -- For years I have struggled to understand Carnap's "Principle of Tolerance". Today I finally "got it"; and all thanks to Florian Gib Steinberger's marvellous "How Tolerant Can You Be? Carnap on Rationality" (PPR, 2016).
Impossible musical contrasts. -- All too often I do not understand the combination of pieces in classical-music concerts. Last night was a case in point. How can you play music from "Swan Lake" right after Prokofiev's second piano concerto? That's like combining Paul Celan with Wilhelm Busch, or Adorno with (censured).
Yefim Bronfman. -- And the St. Petersburg Philharmonics performed Prokofiev's second piano concerto in the Musikverein last night. It was so perfect and touching, I had tears in my eyes when they finished. A former colleague sat two rows in front of us, and kept shouting "Bravo" so loudly, I felt embarrassed. -- But he was right!
Kid in a candy store. -- That's how I feel when going through my collection of musical scores, deciding which piece to learn next.
Powerpoint. -- Thank God for it! My pubertarians are SOOOO grateful for teaching them how to use it (effectively). (They seem genuinely surprised that I had a skill they'd like to have, too.)
Can philosophy help protect us from barbarism? -- I am dumbstruck by how many of my colleagues are inclined to self-confidently answer "yes."
Chinese Whispers. -- One of our students recently asked me: "Am I right to think that you are also an active pianist?" --I choked ...
Green with envy. -- Today I received my first-ever email from a
"Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. ..."
I feel utterly humbled. -- If only I had worked a little bit harder ...
Upcoming attraction. -- Yefim Bronfman plays Prokefiev's Piano Concerto no. 2. Next Saturday in the Musikverein. Can't wait!
What? -- No live transmission from the Senate Judiciary Committee today? How are we going to spend our evening? (Thank God for the Musikverein; we'll hear Fedoseyev conduct the Tchaikovsky-Symphony Orchestra: less drama, but still ...)
Big mistake. -- I don't have too many regrets about my past. But I could kick myself for having waited until the fifties before taking up the piano!
That magical moment. -- When I have mastered all the technical challenges of a given piano-piece, and begin to work on the "interpretation" (if that is the right word for my clumsy attempts to make it all sound roughly okay).
Quite a week coming up. -- One workshop Monday-Tuesday, another workshop Thursday to Saturday. And Wednesday two admin meetings, two supervisions, and a retirement-party. Looking forward to it all, but ... when will I be able to play the piano?
That sinking feeling ... -- ... when you return to a paper-draft, after a week-long break, and are unable to identify the argument.
The latest stage of my Chopin-craze. -- I wish I knew someone who can teach me how to dance the mazurka!
What I love about working on van Fraassen. -- It forces me to read up on authors I do not normally encounter: from Meister Eckhart to Bultmann, Clausewitz to Keegan, James to Priest. Exhausting--but rewarding.
In two minds. -- The approaching term triggers conflcting feelings in me: regret about having to reduce time for research; and relief that I can, with good conscience, reduce the time for research.
Paul Hindemith, Sonata no. 2 in G major. -- My musical discovery of the week.