Archive for June, 2006

Siechtum und Geselligkeit.

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Unlängst haben mir die Hexen ins Kreuz geschossen. Nachdem ich erst das Leiden mannhaft ignorieren wollte (einige mitleidheischende Seufzer dann und wann an dieser Stelle mal ausser Acht lassend) und mir Konferenztage sitzend um die Ohren geschlagen habe, musste ich vor einigen Tagen doch die Waffen strecken. Hetze und Hexen sind eine unselige Mischung. Letzte Woche musste ich nämlich inklusive Gepäck doch die eine oder andere Treppe hinauf und hinunter hasten, um noch den Flieger nach Oslo zu erwischen. Das hat meinen gemarterten Bandscheiben dann den Rest gegeben und nachdem ich mich einen Tag lang schon weniger mann- und mehr greisenhaft über den Campus der Universität Oslo geschleppt habe schien es dann doch an der Zeit, Bettruhe einzuhalten und den Bandscheiben und ihren gequetschten Gallertkörpern Zeit zu geben, sich wieder in Form zu bringen.
Drei Tage lang liege ich nun bei schönstem Sommerwetter auf dem Sofa in Kerstins 10qm Wohnheimzimmer. Zur Verwunderung der Mitbewohner, die mich nur dann und wann zur Toilette tapsen hören. Alles natürlich nur möglich dank der großzügigen Fürsorge der Liebsten. Die sich allerdings auch besseres vorstellen kann, als einen seufzenden, pseudogreisen Kerl zu betütern und entsprechend gerne mal das eine oder andere Maß gerüttelter Ratschläge zum Besten gegeben hat.
Soweit so gut, mag der geneigte Leser denken, während die Leserin sich vielleicht fragt, wie es denn um die in der Überschrift angekündigte Geselligkeit bestellt sein mag. Liebe Leserinnen und Leser, diese Frage soll nun, aus dem Bett heraus und auf meinem braven Laptop tippend, beantwortet werden. Heute morgen nämlich hat sich die Gute und Schöne dazu erdreistet, mir den Status des alleinig Leidenden abspenstig zu machen. Erst ein bisschen Gewälze und Geleide, es sei ja alles so komisch und ob das Essen gestern wohl in Ordnung gewesen sei und ratz-fatz eine Heilungsmassage später (verabreicht von Ihrem geschätzten obgleich etwas angeschossenen Autor), gibt es einen Kurzstreckensprint zum WC und Gehuste und Gebreche. Unschön. So kommt es nun, das wir hier das Haus der Siechen eröffnet haben. Noch jemand mit akuten Gebrechen? Immer hereinspaziert, sieche Geselllschaft ist herzlich willkommen!

An innovative approach to visual experience in the city.

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

That is what Lars Meier and I were striving for when working on our new book Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, which is going to be published late this year. To our delight, the publisher has now prepared the website for this book on urban places and their relation to life in the city. We are very happy with the contributions we were able to gather for this volume, because the authors all put a real focus on developing the main theme of the volume in their individual chapters: visual performances – that is, the ways in which what we see, what is displayed in our actions and in material artifacts impacts and interacts with social life, producing contests about social control, hierarchy, and representation. If you are interested in the theory, the methodology, and the practices of implementing the visual in social sciences and geography, this book is a must-have.>

The summer of dissertation writing.

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

There was a lot of work to do during the last four months: finishing the editing process of Lars Meier’s and my upcoming book, preparing presentations for three international conferences and one guest lecture, traveling to the places where the conferences were held and actually giving the presentations, feeling tired after getting back from the conferences and taking a few days to get back into working mode, writing a few applications, and, last but not least, dealing with social welworkfare institutions and our extremely bothersome landlord in Berlin. In all of this time, day after day, I knew that I also have to work on my dissertation, that my dissertation is the one thing that really and importantly must be finished as soon as possible. However, I did not write a single page.
This Summer was my answer to people asking me about when I think I will be finished. Now, summer has officially begun. As has work on my dissertation. During the last three days I typed 2.5 pages per day (line spacing is 1.2) and I intend to keep this speed for the next weeks. If this works out and I take a day off now and then I would be finished sometime in August, I guess. Well, it is not as easy as that, sadly. There will be the concluding ceremony of our post-graduate college in Darmstadt next month – for which I want to prepare a short movie – there will be a christening which I am going to attend, there will be the Gartenfest in August which will take a week and, at the end of August, two more conferences await. Summer ends in September. I think even with these foreseeable delays my dissertation will also be done before the end of summer. To be able to achieve this I will have to cut back on communication and socializing – for which I want to beg your pardon in advance. Keep your fingers crossed for me and we’ll have a very happy Lars sometime in September who will invite you to some major festivities!

Angel-A – Luc Besson and his breathtaking women.

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Milla Jovovich was wonderful in The Fifth Element, Natalie Portman was strangely enchanting – and young – in Léon – The Professional and now Rie Rasmussen makes me marvel at the other gender. As always, Luc Besson shows what many men dream of (at least sometimes, I would guess): a woman that is more attractive than they would ever imagine to be in their company but also a woman that is open, accessible, and full of trust in you a male actor with which you can identify. Or at least with whom you dearly want to identify, since he is so intimate with such an otherworldly being. This is what makes this movie a special experience to me.
In addition, I enjoyed the leading male role in Angel-A. Rie Rasmussen’s beauty (which is more than just looks) and Jamel Debbouze’s deer-like eyes work together perfectly. Nonetheless, the script is not exactly perfect. The main characters sometimes talk too much, taking the depth out of the pictures. In addition, some of the turns in the story are a bit too obvious for my taste.
However, the images were beautiful and evocative and I liked the way in which Luc Besson paid homage to Wim Wenders’ Himmel über Berlin – a movie that also offers beautifel yet remote images of a city, telling the story of a painful bridging of the distance between living, experiencing, and dying mortals and remote, superhuman angels. I enjoyed the movie, its pictures, and its characters very much. However, you should be aware and not build you hopes too high, particularly if you’re not that much into Luc Besson and his emphasis on strange aesthetics.
IMDb entry | Official Movie Site with Trailer

X-Men: The Last Stand – no distortions.

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I was hoping that the third part of the X-Men series would disappoint me less than the third part of Mission Impossible. Admittedly, this is not a very high-flying hope and to my relief it was fulfilled. Although I feared the worst, since the director has changed to Brett Ratner. Well, we did not have to suffer actors such as Tom Cruise, which helps a lot. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, both solid actors, and also the main character Hugh Jackman as Wolverine along with the rest of the crew do their jobs as decently as they did in the first two episodes and, in contrast to Mission Impossible, the special effects department along with the screenplay writer did not fall asleep during the production of the movie. An enjoyable movie if you liked the first two parts, definitely good enough if you are looking for an entertaining action movie to load into your DVD player and also offering some pictures splendid enough to fill a larger screen.
IMDb entry | Trailer

Hotel, City, Maghreb.

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

To give you a first impression of my experience of life in a conference hotel in Algiers, I recorded a brief video clip with my mobile phone – I recommend paying attention to the sound also.

Algiers as seen from the Hotel El-Aurassi. Cliplength 43 seconds

PS: The webserver did not deliver the video clip with the information that is necessary to interpret the video data type – this has been fixed now. If you still have problems seeing the clip, please e-mail me.>

Ibn Khaldûn – Reception at the rim of contemporary German sociology.

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

Coming back from Algiers, I just realized that I haven’t yet put the abstract for my presentation in Algiers online.

Germany’s colonial history is often neglected and the ties between Germany and the Maghreb, the former Ottoman Empire and the Arab world in general seem to have faded out of the academic disciplines that are not explicitly dealing with either the Islam, North Africa or the arab-speaking countries. References to classic non-western scholars are rarely found and if people talk or write about them their value
sometimes seems to be only anecdotal. This talk will focus on the places and persons who bring Ibn Khaldûn into German sociological discourse. The obstacles that have to be overcome while carrying Ibn Khaldûn into the realms of accepted academia are manifold: the ignorance of non-western academic traditions has already been mentioned, knowledge about the history of the Maghreb cannot be expected from German students, the two German translations of the Muqaddimah are incomplete and out of print (one of them has been published in 1992), the established canon of sociological works tends to start with Auguste Comte, and including an Arab scholar into a syllabus might be regarded as irritating or even suspect. However, there are also several factors that make Ibn Khaldûn a compelling subject for sociological study in Germany: general interest in the Arab world seems to be rising, the number of people with an Arab background or of Islamic confession who find their way into academia
is growing, and post-modernist theory may have strengthened the position of “alternative voices” in sociological discourse. How do protagonists of Ibn Khaldûn cope with these obstacles, what are their resources and why do actually take the step and include Ibn Khaldûn? Based on German texts on Ibn Khaldûn and interviews with
several sociologists, this talk will analyze the images and usages of Ibn Khaldun and trace the ways in which German sociologists appropriate Ibn Khaldûn.

Some more information may be necessary: Three days ago I presented a paper on the international conference called Figures d’Ibn Khaldûn – Appropriation, usages (Arguments). The conference was sponsored by the Algerian Ministry of Culture, and the opening speech was held by the Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika himself. I will post another entry soon – the conference was very interesting and it was my first stay in the Arab-speaking world!>

Good Night and Good Luck – Best smoke of the year.

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

First, an apology: I am really lagging behind in the blogging business. It seems to me that since I did not have the opportunity to write on my dissertation for several weeks I do not feel it would be legitimate to write for fun. At least I think that is part of the explanation…

It is quite a while ago that I saw Good Night and Good Luck. Actually, it was at the Ryder film club in Bloomington during my stay in the U.S. of A. this April. I rarely have the chance and the money to go to the movies these days, but this one was definitely worth it. David Strathairn was a breathtaking cast for the role of the broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow. Seeing the way he smokes, feeling his sincerety in look and in holding his cigarette – this alone was an experience you should not miss. If only smoking wouldn’t cause cancer… it is a sensual delight, isn’t it? However, the rest of the movie is also very much worthwile. The casting and acting is excellent, the story enthralling and the screenplay works out well too. This is definitely one of the best movies to come out of Hollywood in a long time and I can only recommend taking the time to see it. Even if you are not interested in the way the anti-communist threat seeped into every little bit of American culture during the McCarthy era. For me it was crazy to see that someone like McCarthy – just an American senator after all – was able to tap into the anti-communist feelings of a select few, build on them and use them to terrorize a whole population.
IMDb entry | Trailer