Memories. -- One of my two favorite birthday presents last Thursday was an old map of Vienna, beautifully framed. I first encountered this map in David and Celia Bloor's kitchen about 20 years ago (when Sarah and I lived in their flat while they were on sabbatical in California). I mentioned my love for this map to David during their visit here some months ago, and when we said "goodbye", David gave me a copy of that very map as a farewell-present. It was lying around in our study until Sarah had it framed for my birthday. It is hanging above the piano. -- Whenever I look up from the keys or notes, I "see" my old friends in Edinburgh, Sarah, and the wonderful place where I live.
Life in the Shostakovich Bubble. -- One of my two favorite birthday presents last Thursday was "Dimitri Shostakovich: Complete Piano Music", performed by Boris Petrushansky. It's been playing non-stop ever since. Perfect as background for academic reading and writing, working out, and falling asleep. But I am not a total philistine: in the Christmas holidays I hope to find the time for some attentive, active listening, and some background reading.
That special birthday treat. -- I chaired a departmental discussion on the gendered-conference campaign -- and everyone present came on board.
That eternal child in me. -- I still haven't lost the joy of anticipation ahead of my birthdays: What surprise presents will I get? What outing will my family put together to mark the day? (Alas, this time with a delay of a month or so because of my workload.)
Like getting a paper accepted by a major journal ... -- Sunday to Tuesday I was "home alone" with a pubertarian and a lively ten-year-old. I didn't have to raise my voice -- not once. I have no idea how I did it.
The unbearable explosion of doubt ... -- ... the moment you have pushed the "approve submission" button.
Not my day. -- The Social Democrats in Austria lost, and "my" football team in Germany (Bayer Leverkusen) didn't win either. "Things can only get better."
Discoveries. -- Tonight we heard three composers we had never encountered before: Alexander von Zemlinsky, Luigi Cherubini, and Lera Auerbach. Auerbach was even in the audience -- the other two had better things to do. Cherubini stood out for me: I think I can see why Beethoven was so enthusiastic about him.
A new experience we could do without. -- It is a strange feeling to soon be governed by political parties that scare the hell out of my whole family, especially my children.
Broken promise? -- I used to say: "The day the FPÖ takes power in Austria in the day I go back on the job-market".
Kusch's Mantra. -- Don't whinge about having to work weekends in October! Don't whinge about having to work weekends in October! Don't whinge about having to work weekends in October!
"Kurz. Jetzt oder nie." -- I cannot help smiling every time I pass posters of leader of the Austrian Conservatives with this slogan. "Jetzt oder nie"? Okay, I'll have the "nie" please!
"Bewegung." -- Isn't it striking how fascist vocabulary has become part of the political mainstream again? The Austrian Conservatives no longer wish to be a party: they now want to be a "movement". And the iconography of their new leader ... well, I'd better stop here.
Plagues on all your houses! -- Many of my fellow foreigners in Austria feel frustrated about not being allowed to vote in the national election this coming Sunday. I must confess to feeling relieved.
"The Creatures of Prometheus". -- I only learnt today that Beethoven composed a ballett, and that some musicologists claim that with this work Beethoven found his own musical language. -- Truth be told, I am slightly underwhelmed.
You couldn't make it up! -- Letter from the German Tax office on September 28th, 2017:
To: Mrs. Erna Kusch ...
Re: Inquiry concerning legal succession (for Erna Kusch who died September 9th, 2017)
Dear Mrs. Kusch,
Please fill in the attached form, sign it, and return it to us.
With best wishes,
(German-soccer-geeks only.) Play it again, Jupp! -- I am no fan of Bayern Munich. But I love the idea of bringing back the 72-year-old Heynckes as coach.
Ambitions. -- From now on, I'll try to fit all my weekly supervisions into one day (Wednesday). I did a nine-hours stint today. I managed -- just. It would have been easier without lumbago torturing me the whole time.
Teaching philosophical funambulism. -- Am I expecting too much of my students (and myself)? I have been struggling all day trying to write an accessible ninety-minute undergraduate lecture on Harty Field's "expressivist relativism".
Memories. -- I feel very honoured about having been elected, last week, to the "Institut International de Philosophie". Many thanks to the friends who supported me, especially Jure Zovko, Gabriel Sandu, and Ilkka Niiniluoto. It takes me back to around 1995 when I was generously invited to speak at one of its meetings (in Helsinki): I defended a sociological approach to the history of philosophy against Anthony ("The Legend") Kenny. In the front row sat Lili Alanen, Ruth Marcus, Georg Henrik von Wright, Jaakko Hintikka, Dagfinn Follesdal, Sir Peter Strawson, and David Wiggins. I was shakin' in my boots. I felt such a greenhorn.
Just saying. -- The U of Vienna is ranked (by the THE) 165th in the world. Arts and Humanities are ranked 41st.
Idée fixe morbide. -- Placing my parents' urns into their grave this morning, the following lines (from a poem by Max Herrmann-Neiße) kept racing through my mind:
Verfallen ist mein Vaterhaus,
ein Licht geht nach dem anderen aus,
und immer dunkler wird die Welt.
I don't believe any of it -- but still ...
Desmond Clarke (1942 – 2016). -- I am very pleased to see the publication of a volume in his honour. I only met him once (years ago when I gave a talk in Cork). We went for a coffee and discussed philosophy for several hours. He almost made me switch my research interests to Early-Modern philosophy. What a modest, kind and intellectually stimulating man!
I am not ignoring the German elections. -- I just don't think a Janovian "primal scream" qualifies as an aphorism.