Archive for the ‘review’ Category

Die Sache mit der Sprache. Oder: Wichtigtuerische Worte?

Friday, June 29th, 2012

In den vergangenen Jahren habe ich mich durch eine zunehmend große Menge an phänomenologischer und philosophischer Literatur gearbeitet. Eines ist dabei besonders auffällig: Der Sprache oder genauer der Wortwahl wird eine enorm große Bedeutung verliehen. Das zeigt sich in unterschiedlicher Weise. So wird in Anschluss an Husserls rigorose Suche nach dem präzisen Ausdruck besonders großer Wert auf exakte Begriffsverwendungen gelegt, die oft für den jeweiligen Arbeitskontext in sehr spezifischer Weise definiert werden, à la „hier soll X also auf die in § 17 entwickelte Weise interpretiert werden.“ Dann gibt es noch die heideggerianischen Wortzauberer. Hier werden gewöhnliche Worte mit besonderer Bedeutungstiefe aufgeladen, à la „das Räumen des Raums leitet das Stellen des Gestells ein.“ Dann gibt es noch die etymologische Aufladung der Worte, in denen unterschiedliche Wurzeln vorgestellt werden und dabei am besten noch die geläufige Verwendung als tölpelhaft vereinfachend enttarnt wird. Doch damit nicht genug. Es gibt noch die erheiternden Bindestrich-basierten Aufklärer, die zeigen, dass die Bedeutung eine Be-deutung beinhaltet, deren In-halt an bli oder auch bla An-halt sucht. Das ist ja alles gut und schön und manchmal regt es tatsächlich zu neuen Ein-sichten an oder erfreut die Leserin mittels eines Einblicks in die verqueren Sprachwelten der Philosophie.

Was mich daran aber stört, ist die überbordende Bedeutungsfülle, das alles-in-die-Sprache legen, der Glaube an die Exaktheit der Darstellung. Das alles ist schon problematisch genug. Aber noch schlimmer finde ich, dass im Vollzug des Schreibens, in der Produktion von Wortverkettungen und im Spinnen von Argumentationsfäden der Glaube im Wort gerinnt, dass die Worte tatsächlich dasselbe wären, wie die Dinge die sie beschreiben sollen. Entscheidend ist hier nicht die Problematik der Repräsentation als solche, sondern die Illusion, dass es das, was man benennt als solches tatsächlich gibt. Es geht mir dabei weniger um die Benennung zum Beispiels eines Steins mit dem Wort Stein als die Bezeichnung philosophischer / theoretischer Ideen mit einem Begriff. Gibt es „Aktanten“? Gibt es eine „Hülle“? Gibt es „Atmosphären“? Gibt es einen „Habitus“? Dies alles sind keine Dinge, die man greifen könnten. Die Worte haben hier keinen materiellen Anhalt. Es gibt keine Aktanten als solche. Die Hülle meiner Dissertation kann man nicht greifen. Der Habitus als solcher ist auch nicht fassbar. Aber oft wird so getan, als ob dies so wäre, als ob es nicht einfach darum ginge, Erfahrungsqualitäten oder gedachte Bilder zu bezeichnen. Zwischen Konzepten und Dingen oder Taten aber gibt es wichtige Unterschiede. Diese genau zu benennen ist allerdings schwierig. Oder ist es unmöglich, weil die Benennung sich eben innerhalb der Worte abspielt? Oder ist das alles doch auch gar nicht so wichtig? Manweisetebennichsogenau…

The Avengers – Whedonesque entertainment without the twist.

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Friday I went to the cinema here in Notodden to watch The Avengers. I haven’t seen any of the other Marvell superhero movies except for the 2003 version of Hulk (which stars different actors than the 2008 version that is integrated into The Avengers). As long-time readers know, I am a fan of much of Joss Whedon’s work – Buffy in particular. But the clever sense of humor and the against-the-grain heroes that keep Buffy from being just another wacko teenager-vampire crossover are missing here. We have a pretty much off-the-shelf superhero story, we have a bunch of characters that are not at all explored – and we have a few funny punch lines, special effects and a decent cast. This is good enough for some evening entertainment but it lacks a certain twist… no real human emotions, nothing unexpected in the story. But still, perhaps you’ll find the Hulk’s handling of his main enemy funny enough to chuckle the same way I did.
IMDb entry | trailer

Hugo – pretty. uninspiring.

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

I don’t get the hype about Martin Scorsese. Every year at the Academy Awards he is presented as if he would be this total genius, a director like no one else. I retain some hope that this undue praise is evoked by him being a nice chap whom people like on a personal level. In that case, I can live with it, even though aesthetically or politically, he doesn’t live up to the hype.

This goes true for the most recent Scorsese film, Hugo, which again reaped a bunch of Oscars. We have a poor orphan, so much for the Dickensian element. But this is not all. We also have a strange world of clockworks and craftmanship, a mysterious automaton and a equally mysterious Gandhi toyshop owner. Of course, the latter soon enough develops father-figure like qualities. No surprise there. Things take a turn for the worse when the movie more and more moves from a story about orphans and automatons to a story about the magic quality of the movies, of early cinema and the wonders it brought to this world. We do now that movie makers like movies. No surprise here. But for me, the shift from the magic of clockworks to the magic of movies felt like a bit of a stretch, there was no real, inner connection between the two.
In any case, there are a few pretty pictures, although less so than I expected after all the awards. I guess the award showers were intensified by the fact that this was a feel-good movie for the movie industry itself – of course members of the Academy like a movie that praises their achievements. In my experience neither the aesthetics nor the story really were moving. Just: moving pictures, some nice ideas, some entertainment.
IMDb entry | trailer

Iron Lady – the individual, not society.

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

In a way, the movie about Margaret Thatcher’s life takes up one facet of her political stance and bases the whole plot of the movie on this one aspect: the role, the power of the individual. Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, is depicted as the daughter of a politically ambitious and conservative father who runs a grocery store. But what else is there, of the stuff that society is made of? We get one or two scenes hinting at the fact that there was a war sometime when she was younger. But what else, other than Margaret Thatcher, or should I rather say Meryl Streep? What do we see about society and its role in Margaret Streeps life? Not much. The one thing that the movie makes clear is that politics (and the upper strata of the economy) are male and that it takes more than a little courage to enter this male, upper class world as the daughter of a grocer. (Ignorance, for example, is helpful.) What we see is a single individual who works her way through resistances and over obstacles. Not one of many women. A strong individual moving towards her goal, ignoring everything around her.

This is nothing new, and we would have expected little else from Meryl Thatcher. But the main problem for me was, that this everything around her remains on the periphery. The miners’ protests, her family, the changing world at large – they all remain in the background, glance off, seemingly unimportant. The sole exception is: a ghost. The ghost of her husband, who keeps haunting the ageing Stratcher, offering charming glimpses at a life that has just passed by.

In a way, as I wrote above, the movie is consistent. It focuses on a person, only showing the world as this particular person might have seen it. I guess this is legitimate, as MT is indeed special. But. In a case where the hero is anti-social and has had a huge impact on the lives of millions of people, I find it relevant to also show this impact, show how it is ignored, where all the filters are set up that such people use to phase out these parts of reality from their view on the world. (Well, we do get a small glimpse on this when the Falklands War comes up – but again only from her limited perspective.)

Other than that, I have to make a disclaimer and tell you that I am not a huge fan of Meryl Streep. This added to my discomfort, as I also saw the movie as building on the star cult around Streep, with a cinematography that too often focused on the great actress, with long shots of her face, putting her in a position to get just another Oscar, or at least the zillionth nomination for an Academy Award – which can then be used in the further marketing of this movie.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Sociosophy with a beating heart.

Monday, February 6th, 2012

I have ogled Michel Serres’ The Five Senses for a long time already. (I must say I am shocked to see that it has been translated into English only in 2008, 23 years after its original publication and 15 years after the German translation.) The title always seemed neat to me, the German subtitle Eine Philosophie der Gemenge und Gemische did so too, and who does not want to demonstrate academic sovereignty with even more Suhrkamp Verlag publications on his or her bookshelf? But it took a reviewer to finally push my nose into the pages of this book – I am writing about fog in an article on absence, and Serres dedicates one of the subchapters of his book to fog…

So today, after reading all the Derrida that this and another reviewer also condemned me to, I finally opened my Five Senses and started to read, my eyes still blurry from staring their way through contorted Derridean sentences. Even before turning pages for the second time, I suddenly realized that my heart was beating loudly. Not just beat, hammer in excitement and anxiety about the next sentence. This is philosophy? I say! Or rather, my heart says: it might be much more than that.

Usually, I might furrow my brows, sometimes sigh or smirk my way through a book on theory or philosophy. Sometimes I might even smile or find that expression of realization or, even better, of wonder on my face. But a thrilled, beating heart? This definitely is a new experience. If only for that: I must recommend reading this book. I have only finished the first subchapter and started on the second one, but if you might be interested in an example of extraordinary writing in academica, then go out and get this book. And don’t wait too long until you start to read it!

The Adventures of Tintin – entertainment with a weak finish.

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

A new town, a new cinema. Here in Notodden, deep in the Norwegian province, we might have only 12,000 inhabitants, but we also do have a 3D capable cinema that is only a short stroll away from home. So we can hope for a return to more regular film critiques – if the program allows that is… Still, we’ll have plenty Hollywood-style entertainment flicks and Tintin certainly belongs to this category. I do like the comics, and I found the movie to be an adequate conversion to the screen, 3D and all. The first half or even two thirds were actually very nice. Small episodes, chase scenes that were actually enjoyable, a bunch of likable if somewhat shallow characters and, of course, Captain Haddock and his addiction to alcohol as pretty much the only interesting character. However, the movie just went on like that: more chases, more adventure, no development, no conflict. I guess the same is true for the comics, so there is not much to complain about, but in the realm of animated movies, this is not nearly sufficient to even get close to Pixar’s productions. Too bad. But sadly, I do not really expect more from a Steven Spielberg movie, so I at least wasn’t disappointed. You can certainly go see it if you’re into Tintin.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Routes book is out – toilets await.

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Finally the book that accompanies the research project Routes, Roads, and Landscapes: Aesthetic Practices en route 1750–2015 has landed on my desk. You can peruse the table of contents and read the introduction at the publisher’s website.
book cover
The book is in an unusual format, as you can see from the image. The landscape format (haha) works really well for this, as it obviously should. What is even better, we invested the rest of the project’s funds to get the book produced with full color photographs, so that you can see the toilet buildings that feature in my article Stop, rest, and digest. Feeding people into nature in their full glory!

As with all Ashgate hardcovers, the price is much too high for individuals to pay (125 US$). So the best way to get your hands on this volume is to tell your library staff that this is a book that you would like to read and that is relevant for the library’s collection.

Hindernisse in der Übertragung von Wissenschaft vom Deutschen ins Englische.

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Der Linguist Winfried Thielmann hat unter dem Titel Dreamliner in Richtung Scholastik einen interessanten Artikel zu Unterschieden in den Wissenschaftssprachen veröffentlicht. (Es gibt auch ein Buch dazu: Deutsche und englische Wissenschaftssprache im Vergleich: Hinführen – Verknüpfen – Benennen.) Insbesondere die Ausführungen zur unterschiedlichen Gestaltung von Einleitungen waren aufschlussreich: im Deutschen wird in der Regel eher hermeneutisch, am Verstehen orientiert, argumentiert, während im Englischen eher das Überzeugen und der Kontrast zu Anderen im Vordergrund steht. Thielmann zeigt dies an der unterschiedlichen Verwendung scheinbar vollkommen äquivalenter Wörter wie weil und because.
Die Argumentation leuchtet mir ein – so habe ich beispielsweise den neuesten Artikel, den ich zum Peer-Review einsenden will, nach Rückmeldung einer Amerikanerin vom Fach noch einmal stark umgestellt und dabei genau die von Thielmann angesprochene hermeneutisch vorgehende Einleitung zugunsten eines direkten Einstiegs in Was ist hier das neue? geopfert. Obwohl die Muttersprachlerin meinte, dass mein Englisch an sich gut genug sei, habe ich den Text dann auch noch an eine andere Muttersprachlerin zur Sprachwäsche (wie man in Norwegen passenderweise sagt) geschickt – eben weil sich der Gebrauch von Metaphern im Allgemeinen und in Adjektiv- und Substantivkonstruktionen im Besonderen in beiden Sprachen unterscheidet. Hier muss man als nicht-Muttersprachler immer extra Kosten auf sich nehmen und Mehraufwand betreiben. Der Artikel kann natürlich auch nach all diesen Maßnahmen noch so sehr aus einem anderen Duktus kommen, dass er nicht wirklich passt. (Thielmann fasst dieses Problem als mangelnde sprachliche Initiation.) Gleichzeitig kann es natürlich auch passieren, dass der Artikel im Prozess der Übertragung gerade eine bestimmte Qualität verliert, die er durch die Verwendung von Argumentationsweisen und ähnlichem erlangt hat, die eben der eigenen Sprache eigen waren. Alles nicht so einfach…

End of the egg counts & the absence of war.

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I have been subscribed to a blog that presents George Orwell’s diary for almost two years now – it has been an interesting read so far mostly because of its quirkyness. The main thing Orwell wrote about in his diary were accounts of his gardening activity, with special attention being paid to the number of eggs laid by his hens. Slightly entertaining, particularly because of a whole lot of really funny reader comments on the ups and downs of Orwellian egg production.
Recently, things have changed. We are now in the summer of 1940 and Germany has attacked France. Britain is part of the war and the bombings begin. George Orwell provides us with sharp observations about how war somehow remains absent from the everyday lives that he witnesses and participates in. I definitely recommend subscribing to this weblog/historical diary.

A single man – A day of drift.

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Thanks to Lars M.’s special sponsoring, I was recently able to go to the movies in spite of a really tight budget. (I was even able to get some nice treats for consumption during the show!) We chose to see A single man because I really like Colin Firth, who was nominated for an Oscar for this role. The rest of the setting sounded nice too: a single day in the life of a man, stylish early sixties design, a movie that takes its time. All of these promises were kept and I was not disappointed. The work on the colors (desaturated for the moments when Colin Firth was doubtful if the world was actually still worth living in, strongly saturated in moments of aesthetic and emotional fulfillment) might be a bit too obvious, but not too a degree that would make me uncomfortable. The worst thing that I can say about this movie is that I somehow found myself – though sympathetic to the protagonist’s pain – not really moved or emotionally involved. I kept a distance. In a way, the distance might be similar to the distance that the protagonist had to the world around him, to life that had lost its deeper meaning… but I would be surprised if achieving such an effect was intended.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Avatar – Depth without depth.

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I took the opportunity of being back in Berlin for a few days to hop into a 3D showing of Avatar, even though I didn’t have particularly high expectations of the movie. But, as so many others, I decided to watch it to see how 3D cinema is done today and what its potentials might be. It was good to have watched the movie without expecting much from the storyline, the politics, or the characters, because all of these were extremely … flat. Rarely did I go to the cinema to see a movie where the characters lacked any kind of plausible background, the entire plot line was completely clear and without any interesting twists from beginning to end. Well, you could say that this complete lack of surprises was a surprise in itself, but that would be carrying things a bit too far. But, maybe there was one surprise: at one point I felt an emotional involvement even though I was really annoyed on an intellectual level. Maybe this is a hint at how one could see the movie when one does not wear several layers of aesthetic and intellectual doubts – at least I talked to a few people from completely non-academic backgrounds who enjoyed this movie tremendously and really thought that it was a very moving experience.

So back to the original motivation of watching this movie: getting an impression about the 3D thingy. First off, I am not one of those who like to sit in one of the back seats of a cinema, watching from a distance. For me, immersion is a treat. This went fairly ok with the 3D stuff too, but I think it might make watching a bit more difficult because I found myself watching at some detail of the scenery for a bit too long from time to time, thus running the risk of missing ‘the big picture’. But apart from that, I thought that they did a good job with using 3D for this movie. The special effects were nice and sometimes the landscapes were really interesting and beautiful and it was fun to explore them visually. This really adds a new quality to the aesthetics of the movie and can be used for much more than action-related effects. It will be nice to see how this is going to be used in movies that are exciting and touching – I do have some hopes for the next Pixar flick in this regard.
And one last remark: With the strong focus on bodily performance and sensations, I really felt uneasy about the way in which handicaps / handicapped people were portrayed. Instead of ditching the “crippled” body as practically worthless and only frustrating, it would have been much nicer to look the potentials that life in a wheelchair (or any other handicap) has to offer. Instead, this movie took a strong evolutionist/survival of the fittest turn. The use of all kinds of machines was portrayed as a sign of impotence – only the pure body, the handmade bow, and the symbiotic animal were worth anything. And aging or decay? Where were they? We see one dead body, which carries sign of old age, but what do the wonderful nature-bound, and always perfectly performing aliens do when they get old? *sigh*
IMDb entry | Trailer

Upperdog – Being away and being bent back.

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

The title pun of Upperdog is not the most witty thing that I have ever encountered in cinema. It does its job though, since it hints at some of the drama that guides the plot of this movie. Should I face my past even if it is so much worse than the present and does not seem to have anything to do with the now? Should I face the underdog side of me, now that I am part of the upper class? In this film, a passionate affair of the upperdog with a real underdog, a migrant who works as a housemaid for the Upperdog’s parents, is needed to get things into motion.
For me, some parts movie were a bit like the title: a bit too close to the cliché to be really convincing. Maid = passionate affair. Adopting parents = cluelessness about their kid’s real emotions. But luckily, things are a bit more complicated, since there is another plot of almost equal importance, one that involves a Norwegian soldier returning from Afghanistan, where he killed an innocent. He is haunted by nightmares and the anti-war campaign in his home country and he too needs a woman to face his past and take his destiny into his own hands. Writer and Director Sara Johnsen is presenting two male characters that are completely different – on first sight. But a closer look reveals that they are both caught in different kinds of machismo traps, one as a successful and ruthless alpha male, the other as one who wanted to serve the good by taking up arms.
It is difficult for me to say why this movie did not really convince me – the leads are doing very decent or even good jobs and the two plot lines do not seem to be overly dramatic. But somehow there was no spark for me. Well, maybe that is not true – the scenes between the alpha male and the housemaid provoced some reactions in me (I was affected by their exploitative nature). It is difficult for me to make up my mind about this movie – and I guess that is why I would still recommend watching this movie. It raises some interesting issues – but not because of the bland conflict lines, which we all know too well, but because some of the characters are not very easy to place and it is not clear who could be a good guy here and why…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Che: Part One – Too many people.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I have seen this movie a few weeks ago, but forgetfulness and a lack of enthusiasm postponed the writing of this review considerably. I’ve never been such a huge fan of Steven Soderbergh even though Hollywood treats him with the reverence paid to a real, critical intellectual. I guess I never found his movies particularly engaging. Sadly, the same is true for the first of two films about Che Guevara. Although I really like the very manly Benicio del Toro, the movie did not take enough time to create some emotional attachment to the Che as he plays him. Maybe the camera is too distanced, maybe the story is told in a way that is too factual. But maybe it was just because there were so many different people who flitted in and out of the picture, who seemed to be important revolutionaries that probably everyone on Cuba knows by name. But for me they were just that: names and faces that appeared, seemed significant, but then never turned up again. This left me somewhat confused and distanced. Other than that, the story of the cuban revolution is interesting, of course. But the movie neither suceeded intellectually, i.e. it did not do much to enlighten me about the structural forces that set the revolution into motion, nor did it suceed emotionally, because I did not feel the engagement of the protagonists with their mission. One thing I liked though: it was the somewhat cold way in which the revolutionaries (and, of course, the military) dealt with human losses. Regardless if they are traitors or if they are old and trustworthy comrades: the guerilla war kills, and there is not much time for grieving. The revolution must proceed. The inevitability of this and the emotional detachment that might be necessary to keep it moving was striking for me in an almost Brecht-like way. I guess I will also watch the second part of this movie, but my expectations won’t be particularly high.

IMDb entry | Official Movie Website

Slumdog Millionaire – Splendid storytelling.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

I haven’t seen most of this year’s Academy Award nominees, not even Slumdog Millionaire, which won more Oscars than any other movie during this year’s ceremony. Now that I am slowly getting to watch these movies I hope that all of them will be as good as this one. I have expected a flashy movie with a Hollywoodesque tear-driven story set in some really poor foreign place where people wear lots of colorful clothes. And in a way, you could describe Slumdog Millionaire like this. It remains a story with a good ending, it sticks to quite a few stereotypes (regarding the distribution of agency along gender differences, for example), and it is very entertaining.
But it is also more than that, maybe even much more. The way the story of the main protagonist is told is quite beautiful. Like Sheherazade from One Thousand and One Nights, our hero has to save his life by telling stories. But in difference to the Arabian Nights, the stories are all about the hero himself, they tell us how he became who he is now. And they also encompass a love story. The movie works so well because it is so well produced: the editing changes between fast-paced and detailed, the soundtrack can quicken your pulse to fit the energy of the movie, the places, people and outfits have been selected extremely well – this was one of the first times when I could really understand why the Academy distributes so many Oscars to a single film: all elements fit together, pushing the whole enterprise onto a much higher level. Watching this film has been a charming, exhilarating and moving experience – more so than I expected. I definitely recommend watching it in a cinema if you have the chance. This is not the greatest movie in years or even for this still young year (see the entry below on Let the right one in). Nonetheless, it is an extraordinary movie that speaks to the heart and the senses in its own, touching way.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Låt den rätte komma in – The innocence of loosing your innocence.

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

When I saw the trailer for this movie I thought: this is a pretty neat idea. A girl of twelve years is presented as one of the epitomes of sin: a vampire, even worse, a dirty vampire, who licks bloods from the floor of a crappy room. Whose blood is it? The blod of an angel: a blonde, young, Swedish boy with blue eyes and a slight nose trickle. This is the constellation that is being developed in Let the right one in: a vampire girl who looks like she might have a migrant background and a local boy whose life and character are more complex than one would expect from his face – complex even before the arrival of Evi, the creature who drinks the blood of human beings. The film is moving in a very slow pace. Long takes show the faces of the protagonists. They show the places they live in. They show their interactions. Set in a gloomy winter atmosphere, the really well-cast, charming and at the same time frightening characters encounter each other: talking, bullying, playing and killing their way through night and day. The film succeeds at giving almost all characters more depth than one would expect in a horror or vampire flick. It is definitely more than a simple genre movie. It allows one to identify with all of these different characters and their problems – both small and mind-blowingly huge problems. This movie got me really involved, charmed, amused, shocked, frightened, and all of the time deeply engaged. It is a love story that tells us about how we can loose our innocence while maintaining it. About how we maintain our innocence by giving it up. You should definitely go and see it – if you can cope with the spilling of blood and some disturbing juxtapositions that this movie is not afraid of showing. In its heart, it is a very tender love story.
IMDb entry | Official Homepage / Trailer

Feuer aus den Schützengräben.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

In einem kurzen Essai zur Einleitung von Merleau-Pontys Phänomenologie der Wahrnehmung habe ich zu Anfang meiner Beschäftigung mit der Phänomenologie geschrieben, dass ich befürchte, in das Feuer disziplinärer Schützengräben zu geraten. Das ist nun passiert. Im Sinne des Rechenschaft Ablegens auch und gerade über die dunkleren Seiten des wissenschaftlichen Alltags will ich hier nicht nur von positiven Rezensionen berichten.
Der Beschuss kam aus unerwarteter Richtung: von Seiten phänomenologisch orientierter Sozialwissenschaft und also nicht von Vertretern etablierterer Theorierichtungen. Die Besprechung stammt von Jürgen Hasse und ist in der Geographischen Zeitschrift (95: 105-106) abgedruckt worden. Die Werbung, die mein Verlag aus der Rezension von Jürgen Hasse herauskondensiert hat, hat mich vorgewarnt: Die Frage nach der Rolle der Materialitäten in der sozialen Welt kann nicht wichtig genug genommen werden. Sich diesem Thema gewidmet zu haben, ist Verdienst des Autors. Mehr Lob als das ist leider nicht zu finden… Aber ich schätze die Arbeiten von Jürgen Hasse eigentlich, weshalb ich mich hier auch noch ein wenig mit dem Inhalt seiner Kritik auseinandersetzen möchte. Dazu ein beispielhafter Absatz:

Phänomenologie kann nicht ohne saubere Begriffsarbeit gelingen! Das zeigt auch der Gebrauch des am Verständnis der Astronomie (!) orientierten Begriffs der »Konstellation«. Als Konstellationen werden nämlich die untersuchten Fähr- und Bahnhofsräume beschrieben. Der Begriff der Konstellation betont Einzelnes einer messbar-relationalen Ordnung im Gefüge anderer Dinge und menschlicher Körper. Der erkenntnistheoretische Effekt des Konstellations-Begriffs ist die denotative Isolierung. Ein solcher Blick passt nicht zur Methode der Phänomenologie, die Zusammenhängendes verstehen will und darin jedem erkenntnistheoretischen Atomismus entgegentritt. Die Dinge und Menschen ganzheitlich zusammenhaltenden Bedeutungsgefüge wären mit dem Begriff der »Situation« sicher wirkungsvoller zu analysieren gewesen.

Jürgen Hasse hat selbstverständlich völlig Recht, wenn er sagt, dass der Begriff der Konstellation – insbesondere in der Art in der ich ihn verwende – nicht zur Methode der Phänomenologie passt. Situation wäre in der Tat das passendere Konzept. Aber eine der wichtigsten Lehren meines wissenschaftlichen Arbeitens, meiner Auseinandersetzungen mit allerlei Kritischer Theorie, Konstruktivismus, Linguistic Turn und den Post…ismen ist, dass eine theoretische Einseitigkeit nicht nur in vielerlei Hinsicht fragwürdig ist – weil sie immer bestimmte Aspekte ausblendet und weil sie Unstimmigkeiten einfach ignoriert oder als nebensächlich abtut –, sondern weil eine theoretische Einseitigkeit darüber hinaus auch weniger produktiv ist und gerne zu vorhersagbaren Ergebnissen führt.
Selbstverständlich macht es wenig Sinn, Begriffe und Theorien einfach bunt ineinander zu würfeln. Die Einhüllenden Materialitäten waren ein Versuch, die Chancen einer Kombination und Konfrontation unterschiedlicher theoretischer und methodologischer Vorgehensweisen gezielt herauszuarbeiten und unter ständiger Reflexion und Selbstverortung und in Auseinandersetzung mit dem im Feld gesammelten Material zu zeigen, was sich wie kombinieren lässt und wo die Grenzen solcher Kombinationen sind (zu den Grenzen des Konstellationsbegriffs siehe beispielsweise S. 135-136 und die Gegenüberstellung zum Begriff des Gemenges auf S. 259-264).
Ich werde natürlich nicht aufhören, dieses Ziel zu verfolgen und wahrscheinlich werde ich in Zukunft zwei Wege verfolgen: in einigen Publikationen radikal und pointiert Unterschiedliches zusammen zu führen und in anderen Publikationen besonders vorsichtig und abwägend zu argumentieren. Beides hat seine Vorteile und beides wird bei unterschiedlichen Leuten auf Zustimmung und/oder Ablehnung treffen. Es wird natürlich auch weiterhin Leute geben, denen beides nicht passt. (Ich habe den Eindruck gewonnen, dass es hier auch eine Art von generationsbedingt unterschiedlicher Rezeption gibt.) Glücklicherweise bereitet mir sowohl das vorsichtige Argumentieren als auch das Poltern Freude beim Schreiben. Noch glücklicher schätze ich mich allerdings, dass die Rückmeldung, die ich sonst auf mein Buch bekommen habe, so positiv und mich bestärkend war.

Max Manus – Norwegian identity in film.

Monday, January 12th, 2009

A man on his own – but not alone. Fighting invaders first in Finland (the Red Army in the Winter War) and later in the capital of his home country: the German Nazis who occupied Oslo from 1940 to 1945. Max Manus is one of the biggest productions of Norwegian cinema and it keeps filling cinemas in Norway and stifling public discussions about the Norwegian resistance movement. It depicts one of the most famous actors of the resistance movement, Max Manus, focusing mostly on the sabotage acts that he did together with the other members of the Oslo-Gang. Max Manus is very much the prototype of the Norwegian male: an adventurer, a man who is not too dependent on others, a man who travels through nature, who suffers pain without much ado, and a man who is adored by women and the king. But he also is a man that has a hard time to control the inner turmoil that he is experiencing. The main actor, Aksel Hennie does a good job of portraying the man and his conflicts – it becomes clear that his war experiences are a source of attacks of depression and alcohol abuse, that his love to a married woman is difficult to handle, and that his friendships are as important as they are vulnurable – because he knows that many of his friends will or did die in the fight against the invaders.
The rest of the movie is also well done. Good camera, nice settings and a solid plot that seems to be pretty close to the real life events. The Germans, mostly the local Gestapo officer Fehmer, played by the attractive Ken Duken, are portayed in a way that makes it obvious that the writer and the directors did not want to fall into a Nazi-cliché or into German-bashing. This aspect would have been even more more plausible if more would be shown about the occupation. The way the story goes now, it does not tell a stroy about the victims of the occupation, about the ways in which everyday life changed (or didn’t change), and about those who collaborated with the NS regime. Nonetheless, the movie is certainly worth watching – both from a historical and an entertainment perspective. I haven’t been too gripped by the story or the characters, but I think that this is mostly because I had to read the Norwegian subtitles all the time. Since I am still a very slow reader in Norwegian and an even worse listener, much of my attention was focused on keeping up with what is being said instead of breathing the rich atmosphere of the film.

IMDb entry | Trailer

Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Americans in exotic Europe.

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

This may well be the best Woody Allen of the new Millenium. I have always enjoyed Woody Allen’s dialogues, his movies are always starring people who are not only beautiful but who can also act, and I always leave the cinema with this happy post-Woody-Allen-movie-smile. All of this is also true for his latest movie. But this one does more than that, it gives insight into the strange relation of Americans to Europe with it’s art, culture, and it’s relaxed, non-puritan attitude. Both female main actors have fantasies about what they are, what they want, and how all of their self-indulgent selves should work in the Old World, with its strange, backwards, fascinating, and arrogant inhabitants. Both women are quite different, but their problems intersect in many intriguing ways.
Somehow, I enjoyed the fact that this movie did not star Woody Allen or somebody who acts like s/he is another face for Woody Allen – and maybe this is what makes this movie even better than Scoop, the last European Woody Allen movie. In addition, both Rebecca Hall and Penélope Cruz have scenes in which they make breathtakingly strong performances. I really enjoyed this movie, which you certainly can see on the big screen. If you should somehow miss it, then I would recommend getting the DVD – even if you’re not that much into Woody Allen.

IMDb entry | Trailer

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace – Fastfastfastfast.

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

The New Bond continues. But it is not the same. After being robbed of his love, beat and broken, Jamens Bond, played by Daniel Craig, rushes onward. He aims for vengeance. Not in a bloody rage way, but in highly controlled, incredibly fast-paced way. The first twenty minutes or so were dazzling to say the least. I sat a bit too close to the screen in one of Europe’s largest cinemas (the Colosseum in Oslo), and I was almost overwhelmed. Although there will be a few pauses now and then and the whole movie gets a bit slower afterwards, the second New Bond is still different – and much faster – when compared to the first New Bond. I found this to be good, because it shows that the director has not closed the file on this successful movie series. In the first New Bond, which you really should see before watching this one, the character is introduced and his more or less complex personality is developed. In this, second New Bond, the character that has been established is let loose, or, put differently, he sets himself free.
The cast is good enough, Daniel Craig ultra-icy, the two women that he deals with more than attractive, the villain evil in a very french way. The design is excellent, firstly, because it is omnipresent but subdued, and secondly, because it is all about grit. Or sand, to be more precise, because this Bond is desert-themed in many ways. As always, you should really take care to be there on time to see the full opening credits – watching them made me happy.
Be prepared to deal with a very fast-cut, high-action movie. I really liked this Bond. It was maybe a bit less good than the first New Bond, but then I had little to no expectations when I went to see that one and pretty high expectations for this one…
IMDb entry | Trailer

Hellboy II: The Golden Army – More silly than sound.

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Since I knew it would be difficult to recruit co-watchers for this movie (intellectuals and their problems with action movies bla bla bla), I entered the cinema on my own, replacing company with too much popcorn. This flick is not as purely fantastic as the intriguing Pan’s Labyrinth, for which Guillermo del Toro won an Oscar. We are confronted with some strange and beautiful pictures here too. But there is much less of a story and there is also less time to develop the main characters. I was somewhat bored by silly jokes and superhero-fist-fights when there finally was at least a bit of deceleration and the main characters had a few moments of their own, hanging out, being frustrated, in love, and confused.
I surely do hope that this will change when Guillermo del Toro works on The Hobbit. More time for magic moments and strange stories than for brawls, please!
IMDb entry | Trailer