Science Politics

We tend to believe that science is independent of politics. Even if the individual scientist does research and studies free of immediate political influences, there are many ways in which politics has an impact on science. Sociologists refer to Max Weber as a prominent figure in the “Werturteilsstreit” that claimed the need for science to be conducted beyond political interference. Karl Popper is another reference in this respect who proposed the positive science approach which starts from theory, hypotheses and testing in the sense of identifying false statements, hypotheses and underlying theories. Modern science is also linked to publications of results. This has become an industry of its own and it is sometimes quite surprising to see the lengthy delays that scientific results get published. One example, Jackie G. Schneider and Julia Macdonald (2024) had to wait 3 years until their paper finally appeared in print in a scientific journal. This paper was received by the Journal in February 2021 and published only in 2024 in the 2nd issue of the journal but online in January 2023! Reports in Nature on difficulties of Indian, African and Chinese scientists to get their work done and published are alarming as well. Further regionalization and departmentalization work against the fundamental principles of independent science and scientists. It is a big issue of international cooperation as well.

Example of Lichtenberg Figure

Paper and Pastel

Sometimes the art is in the material. At least this could be a rapid conclusion of the exhibition presented in London at the Royal Academy of Art in 2024-1. From the informative Catalogue the importance of material is demonstrated. The ease of taking your equipment with you, like a sketchbook and out into nature have been an important feature of the impressionists’ movement. With artists challenging traditional techniques of painting and paintings as such even the apparently less noble material as paper had become a statement of being different from the established art academies making use of more noble materials. The impressionists made a convincing point with their additional use of materials accessible to all. Capture the moment and capture your very own impression of it. This is one way to immortalize the emotion and essence of the scene. In the catalogue of the exhibition I spotted “The Swimmer” drawn by Caillebotte with pastel on paper. Freezing the moment, freezing the motion and emotion is evident here, too. Testing different materials is part of the journey to find your artistic impression, expression or materialization of imagination. The ways and means are manifold.

Royal Academy, 2023: Impressionists on Paper. p 32

Widmann

Jörg Widmann hat seinen Einstand bei den Berliner Philharmonikern als „Composer in Residence“ gegeben. Die Schwester, Carolin Widmann interpretierte das Violinkonzert Nr. 2 von Jörg Widmann als Solistin. Das war ein ganz besonderer Abend. Die Widmanns haben doch tatsächlich gemeinsam die Einführung in das Programm des Abends mitgestaltet, eine ¾ Stunde vor dem Konzert im großen Saal der Philharmonie. Mit Begeisterung haben die beiden Geschwister von der gemeinsamen Zeit der Entdeckungen rund um die Violine in ihrer Kindheit erzählt. Damit wird die faszinierende kindlich, unschuldige, nahezu naive unbedarfte Herangehensweise an das Instrument verdeutlicht, die so charakteristisch ist für den Anfang des Violinkonzerts. Die Entdeckung eines Klangkörpers (vom einzelnen Instrument bis zum Tutti) geht aber rasch weiter zu einer Demonstration der vielfältigen Gefühls- und Virtuositätsregister der Violine. Paganini lässt grüßen, könnte man meinen.
Kaum klingt eine virtuose Passage an, da hinterfragt der Komponist die eigene Begeisterung. Ist das nicht einfach nur Akrobatik, um dem Publikum zu gefallen? Zweifel stellen sich ein und etwas Distanz zum gefälligen Wohlklang. Reflektierte Virtuosität, der Soziologe würde vielleicht auch reflexive Virtuosität als kompositorisches Element verwenden wollen. Notation von Musik und Klängen hat seit dem wohltemperierten Klavier relativ feste Vorgaben. Daran hat sich Jörg Widmann zu 98 Prozent wohl gehalten. Die anfängliche Erkundung des Klangkörpers Violine lässt sich aber nur anders notieren. Innovativ, mit mehr Raum für Interpretation in der Aufführungspraxis. Das betonte so auch die Schwester, die nun wirklich dem Komponisten sehr eng verbunden ist. Interessant war daher ihr Kommentar, dass diese Anfangsstelle für sie gleichsam die größte Herausforderung darstellt.
Die folgende „Fantasie für Klarinette solo“ von Jörg Widmann passte daher gut zu dieser Erkundungsreise von Instrumenten des Symphonieorchesters. Die Klarinette hat in allen Musikepochen und Stilrichtungen ihren Platz behauptet. All diese Anklänge lassen sich in dem Solo, welches der Komponist selbst dargeboten hat, wiederfinden.
Nach dieser aufregenden Reise durch die Jahrhunderte der Musikgeschichte stand die „Reformationssymphonie“ von Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy auf dem Programm. Spannend war die Umsetzung „dieser Art von Teufelsaustreibung“ (Worte von Jörg Widmann) mit dem „2. jüdischen“ Satz und dem „3. protestantischen“ Satz der Symphonie in denen Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy seine beiden Wurzeln in den Gesängen und Liturgien in Andeutungen aufnimmt. Mit Klängen und Fängen der ausgehenden Romantik wurden wir in den weiteren Abend entlassen, samt Eindrücken aus der Ausstellung zu der Entstehung (60 Jahre) und der Architektur der Berliner Philharmonie und dem Scharoun Ensemble (40 Jahre) der Gebäude einschließlich der Stabi West. Das Mendelssohn Archiv hat in der benachbarten Stabi West einen kleinen, feinen Ausstellungsraum mitten im großen Lesesaal. So haben wir einen umfassenden Rundblick und Ausblick genießen können, die dem Kulturforum in eindrücklicher, dennoch unaufdringlicher Weise, eine hervorragende Stellung einräumen.
(Image: Jörg Widmann jenseits des Schattens von Furtwängler 2023-9-9)

Books

Some say, a book is a book, is a book. This is to reiterate the lasting effect a printed volume might have. Many books are a form of a documentation of facts. Creative writing in whatever form finds most of the time some way into a format of a book. For centuries books have facilitated the diffusion of myths and stories throughout societies including translated versions of the content. 2 aspects are constituent here (1) form and (2) content. Annual book fairs receive most attention for new content within more or less the same rectangular format. There are, nevertheless, interesting variations of the form to be discovered as well. Traditionally book binding was the art that gave shapes to the content. Images in form of film are yet another representation of the book content. All this is “dealt” with at the Frankfurt book fair #fbm23, particularly in form of dealing in and with copyrights. New forms of delivery of content, online or as e-book, have added to the variety of books. Pay as you go or as abonnement with monthly delivery is the old and maybe fashionable new way to digest abundant content. People trust in books. The format as book in general seems to remain an authoritative form to present content, irrespective of the truthful or fictional kind of the content. The more we live in insecure circumstances, the more we tend to be willing to hold on to a pile of paper nicely woven or clued. It is still a very powerful tool to guide imagination for all ages. It allows us to learn at our own rhythm as far as we are willing to go. We are, or seem to be, in control of the process as well as the likely outcome. And yet, the spice of life is the surprise. Book it.

Put People First

Put people first is a natural claim of human beings. We tend to abstract from the fact that we implicitly rely on a sufficient biodiversity for our survival. Therefore, the natural claim to put people first has many preconditions itself and severe implications. The most obvious implication is related to our world of production and consumption. We need to build an economy that serves its people rather than one that uses up human resources and discards people to an inferior rank of importance. Externalising health and safety at work to save money in the process of production will only cost society much more later on. This needs to be part of the balance sheet of companies not only “national accounts” or relegated to some health statistics hardly known to the public.
Put people first in consumption, has come to our attention recently. With energy prices rising due to Russia’s war on Ukraine territory we have learned that energy prices may be grossly distorted. Firms’ versus consumers’ energy consumption became a thorny issue. Even legislation, like in Germany, that put people’s energy consumption before companies’ consumption of energy became subject for debate.
Same issue with artificial intelligence. Let’s put people first here as well. Discriminating use of language or biased conclusions due to wrong data input to train AI is not acceptable as excuse. AI may serve humans in their work or leisure, improve production lines through error detection or early onset of disease, but it cannot replace the human verification of a just or otherwise justified human intervention. Humans are not perfect, never will be either. This is a tough rule to teach the algorithms that guide AI. Put people first has a strong interpersonal or solidarity element enshrined in it. This is what matters, now, in the medium term as well as the long run.