Thursday, July 21, 2011

In life we search, and some of us find

Once again, you may have noted, we’ve hit one of those work-related vortexes that has sapped us of either time or inspiration for broadcasting our thoughts and grievances to the world. This may change soonishly (if so, though, on the other side of an upcoming vacation), so please, dear readers, don’t abandon us completely. There will be some interesting stuff on the other side of this silence.

There have, obviously, been no shortage of things worth commenting on in the last few weeks, from the Women’s World Cup to the Euro crisis, though I have to admit not having a great deal original to say on either score (either than, respectively, ‘wow!’ and a series of incoherent, anguished screams).

There is, however, something far more important that I wanted to note today: our tenth wedding anniversary.

This seems hard to believe, as it feels like not all that long ago that we gathered with a few friends for a small, low-key ceremony in the charming registry office in Trier where we tied our particular knot. (Said office is found in the 11th century ‘Turm Jerusalem’ (Jerusalem Tower) which has in its foyer, as I recall, a first edition of Das Kapital in a glass display case...Marx was a hometown boy, you see.)

I didn’t, in fact, understand a great deal of the ceremony (I had only arrived in Germany a month before and was somewhat ill-prepared, linguistically); however, I made sure to say ‘Ja’ at that point when all the German-speakers in the room looked at me expectantly.

That, it seems, was enough.

When I think about what we (and the world) have been through since that day, I find it makes me want to sit down and take a few deep breaths, as it has been quite extraordinary. (Though it’s all gone rather better for us personally than for the world at large.)

So, I just wanted to say -- before the whole world, now and forever -- that there’s no one with whom I’d rather walk through this life than the wonderful woman I found so many years ago (or who found me, I’m not so sure any more).

Happy anniversary, my dearest wife, partner, friend and lover.

Hit it George...

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

On a defensive note

A few weeks ago I was both inspired and irritated by Stefan Collini's review in the LRB of John Hall's intellectual biography of Ernest Gellner (unfortunately the article is only available online to LRB subscribers): Inspired because reading it made me want to know more about Gellner's "critical rationalism" (of course I had heard of him, but he's not exactly amongst the usual suspects cited in your run-of-the-mill textbook, anthology or Super-Extra-Short Introduction favoured by the discerning academic publishing house these days), irritated because Collini made Gellner appear like some kind of intellectual klutz insensitive to the higher forms of theoretical thinking (such as Oxford linguistic philosophy).

I reckon it's the weather: The London Review has been unusually mean and cantankerous recently.

So I was glad to find R.W. Johnson write in defence of Gellner in the latest LRB:

[Gellner]generated, to a degree unequalled by any other social scientist I have met, a feeling of "look, what we are doing is trying to figure out how the modern world works and this is a deadly serious task, in fact it is the most serious thing there is." He was never really off duty. Collini sounds a little too English to feel quite comfortable with that Germanic intensity and seriousness.

Granted, in the day and age of the Guttenberg-syndrome, references to "Germanic intensity and seriousness" may sound a tad inappropriate (if not ironic), but of course one can always go back to one's roots.

Friday, July 01, 2011

On Chesil Road

For work reasons, I spend a fair amount of time in London, and whenever I'm there I spend a fair amount of time along Euston Road (largely because the British Library and St. Pancras Station are located on it).

The Wife and I have come simply to refer to it as The Worst Road in the World, as it is perpetually jammed and loud and crossing it can take what seems like an eternity if you wait for the lights (like good Germans do) or like some kind of crazy death-defying stunt if you don't.

Hence, I rather like this plan:

From 22 September the installation White Sound, created by the American sound artist Bill Fontana, will fill the street with the sound of the sea and the unique beach, an 18-mile long pebble bank which is part of the Jurassic Coast world heritage site.

Now, if were possible to navigate Euston Road with one's eyes shut, this would be perfect...