Repair is our new mantra. Think of repairing in all domains as of now. Nature is showing us the way how to repair in many ways. Culture is also embracing the shift towards repairing as caring. If we really care about our planet, and there is no planet B, we shall have to repair in many more domains. We are used to repair bicycles, cars, roofs, windows etc. Repairing is never boring. You can improve the performance of a device or building by repairing it, even with relatively small budgets. Isolation of buildings is a good example of investing in upgrades through repairing. Rather than throwing away a functioning heating system repairing it with an energy saving device is enhancing its performance and produces fewer emissions in the short run. Heat pumps are the way forward for new installations. Shifting a sector, heating with gaz, to ensure longer lasting repair and improve options would save a lot of raw materials and CO2 as well. The construction sector has repair work almosts in its DNA, the energy sector will have to make that shift as well. Dare to repair.
… hält besser. So erging es mir, wie den anderen Zuschauenden im Berliner Konzerthaus bei 2 x hören. Eine kleine Fangemeinde hatte sich wieder eingefunden, um zeitgenössischer Musik zu lauschen und sich zwischendurch Erläuterungen anzuhören. Welch eine tolle Gelegenheit, denn neben dem Gespräch mit den beiden Musikerinnen Franziska Pietsch (Violine) und Maki Hayashida (Klavier) war die Komponistin Tatjana Komarova anwesend. Christian Jost moderierte das Gespräch über die Komposition und Interpretation bevor das gleiche Werk „Umhüllt von Licht und Nebel“ erneut zu hören und sehen war. Das kammermusikalische Stück in 4 Sätzen lebt von seiner unaufgeregten Dynamik und dem Wechsel der beiden jeweils tonangebenden Solistinnen. Allein, aber gemeinsam; ruhig, dennoch dynamisch. Dieses Sich-aufeinander-beziehen und gleichsam wieder nahezu meditativ auf sich selbst zurückgezogen komponierte Werk hat einen überraschenden Bezug zu den Biografien der Künstlerinnen. Selten gibt es die Gelegenheit, so nah an diese Hintergründe heranzukommen. Während noch die Tradition der italienischen Oper (auch Mozarts Frühwerk Mitridate) die SängerInnen stimmlich bestens in Szene setzten, vertraut das zeitgenössische Stück von Komarova auf eine zurückgenommene, eher verhaltene Virtuosität. Angedeutet ja, aber eben nur angedeutet und umgehend reflektiert, bescheiden gewendet. Wechselbäder der Gefühle, wie sie Aufführende ständig durchleben, werden nahezu musiktherapeutisch gewendet. Die Hommage an die Verletzlichkeit in der Musik sowie durch die Musik wird mit der Besetzung authentisch vermittelt. Das Stück von Komarova wurde zum Festival Spannungen 2014 komponiert und im Jugendstil Wasserkraftwerk Heimbach uraufgeführt. Der kleine Werner-Otto-Saal im Konzerthaus bot eine für Kammermusik geeignete Atmosphäre für die Darbietung sowie für das Gespräch zwischendurch.
Der bürgerliche Flaneur wird kritisch hinterfragt und erweitert erörtert im Festival DRiFT in Berlin. Das passt doch gut zu dem nötigen WALK und WALKING, welches uns schon alleine aus gesundheitlichen Aspekten von Nöten ist. Die subversive Form als kollektives Wandern, gefährlicher historisch waren die Märsche auf Rom von Mussolini, friedlicher Gandhi, aber beeindruckend erfolgreich. Ostermärche kennen wir noch als Beispiel dieser kollektiven Form des gemeinsamen Gehens und Erkundens, oder doch Beeinflussung oder gar Eroberung.
Die Idee ist alt, die Ansätze in unserer Zeit bleiben eine Herausforderung. Protestmärsche kennen viele Organisationen gerade aus den nicht-regierungs Organisationen (NGOs) und den Gewerkschaften. Präsenz zeigen und seine Meinung äußern, wenn sie nicht genügend Gehör oder Widerhall findet, gehört zum demokratischen Kanon. Eine entsprechende Wiederbelebung und Stadtteilerkundung als “Psycho-geografie” hat historische Wurzeln in Paris und Frankreich. Räumliches Vorstellungsvermögen und Orientierung ist eine Qualifikation, die messbar ist. Eine Stadt erlaufen bildet eine kognitive Landkarte der Straßen und Umgebung. Mal schwer, mal einfach, aber fast immer irgendwie anders.
Von Frédéric de Flotow habe ich bisher wenig von seinem Schriftverkehr in öffentlichen Bibliotheken (BnF) auffinden können. Beachtlich sind die Funde in den Pariser Bibliotheken. Neben einem auf Deutsch geschriebenen Brief sind dort 4 weitere, teilweise mit mehreren Blättern im Original erhalten. Es handelt sich dabei um Briefe, die mit Auftraggebern für seine Werke korrespondieren oder Besuche bei Bekannten, die sich meist verschieben oder schwer arrangieren lassen, denn der Komponist und spätere Intendant von Schwerin ist viel beschäftigt. Die zahlreichen Werke und Opern sind eine zeitraubende Angelegenheit, die Inspiration und Imagination brauchen, aber gleichzeitig eine aufgesprochene Fleißarbeit fordern. Talent ja, aber eben auch Durchhaltevermögen und ständige Suche nach geeigneten Libretti. Die Schrift, auf feinstem Briefpapier meist mit traditionellem Wappen der Familie Flotow eingestanzt, ist so klein und feingliedrig, dass mir bereits nach einer halben Stunde die Augen brannten. Ein Brief erwähnt das mögliche Engagement der italienischen Sopranistin Frezzolini an der italienischen Oper in Paris, die doch vielleicht schon die Hauptrolle in der Flotowschen Oper Martha übernehmen könnte. Der Opernchef Calzado könnte ihm (Flotow) doch vielleicht diese Ehre zu Teil werden lassen (Quelle: BnF Flotow, 1958 an Calzado, Notice n° : FRBNF39807946 S.159). Der Komponist schreibt ein fließendes, höfliches Französisch mit den üblichen Grußformeln. Seine Lehrjahre in Frankreich lagen dabei schon einige Jahre zurück. Sprachbegabung verbindet sich häufig mit musikalischen Talenten, was sicherlich von der frühen Zweisprachigkeit befördert wurde. Beeindruckend zu sehen und in einem kleinen Auszug zu lesen.
Forschung betreiben ist meistens das Bohren dicker Bretter. Verständlich, dass das nicht jedermanns oder jederfraus Sache ist. Wer sitzt schon gerne alleine in einer kleinen Zelle und schreibt seine Forschungsergebnisse auf oder liest endlos lange und viel vorherige Forschung? Da ist ein Besuch in Archiven, Laboren oder anderen Datenarchiven schon etwas unterhaltsamer. Forschung ist überwiegend theoriegeleitet. Von Einzelfällen abstrahierende Theorien lassen die Forschenden entweder an diesen Theorien weiterarbeiten oder vielfach irgendeine Form von Daten sammeln mittels derer sie dann die Theorie(n) testen können. Eine Herausforderung an diese Arbeitsweise stellt die rein datengetriebene Induktion dar. Sozusagen der „deus ex machina“ erwächst aus einer hinreichend großen, am besten sich ständig erweiternden, Datenbasis. Wetterdaten, Verkehrsdaten, Krankheitsdaten, Börsendaten und Arbeitsmarktdaten bieten für sowohl für deduktive als auch induktive Verfahren hervorragende Beispiele. Datensammeln in Archiven, beispielsweise Rekonstruktion oder Interpretation eines Lebensverlaufs aus Korrespondenz ist ein klassisches Verfahren von meistens LiteraturwissenschaftlerInnen. Manche Archive belohnen die Forschenden mit Glanz und andere mit Gloria, selten mit beidem. Glänzende Aussichten bietet die biographische Forschung zu Komponisten und MusikerInnen in Paris. In der kleinen, aber sehr feinen Bibliothek der „Opera Garnier“ bin ich zu dem Komponisten Flotow fündig geworden. Es befinden sich dort in der Komponistenakte Zeitungsausschnitte, die 150 Jahre alt sind und ein Büchlein aus frühen DDR-Zeiten, die den Aristokratenkomponist durchaus kritisch durchleuchten. Die Ablenkung auf dem Weg in die Bibliothek und dem Archiv der Oper ist allerdings atemberaubend, also nur für ganz überzeugte Forschende zu empfehlen. Die meisten werden von der Opulenz des Bauwerks so beeindruckt, dass jegliche Forschungsfrage und Theorie „backstage“ verwiesen werden. Selbst backstage kann es ziemlich schön sein.
“Die Kunst der Rhetorik und der positiven Fähigkeit” ist eine kleine Wissenschaft. So hieß es bereits 1475 in dem von Guillaume Rardif veröffentlichten Buchdruck aus dem “Atelier du Soufflet Vert”. (BnF, Réserve des livres rares, Rés. X-1118). Als Teil der Ausstellung zum Buckdruck entnehmen wir 5 wichtige Hinweise für die Kunst der öffentlichen Rede: (1) inventio = (Er-)findungskraft, (2) dispositio = Anordnung, Gliederung, (3) elocutio = Ausdrucksweise, Stil, (4) memoria = Erinnerungsvermögen, (5) pronunciatio = Urteilskraft.
Ein kritzelnder Leser hat mit Bleistift die 6 Teile angefügt. Exordium = Einleitung, Narratio = Erzählung, Sachverhalt, partitio = Einteilung, und schließlich die dialektik mit Confirmatio, Rufusation, Conclusio. Abweichungen von diesem rhetorischen Schema sind noch immer selten. Das galt wohl seit dem 15-ten Jahrhundert schon für Predigten und wissenschaftliche Vorträge. Alles altes Latein, oder was? Die heute übliche “Elevator-speech” folgt anderen Regeln. Die Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie und Flut der Informationen erzwingt viel kürzere Redezeiten. Die Nachhaltigkeit der Botschaft wird anders erzeugt. Bildlichkeit ist Trumpf in Erscheinung und Auftritt. Auch das will gelernt sein. Die Bücher damals waren selbst ästhetische Kunstwerke und dennoch Arbeitsbücher, leider nur für sehr wohlhabende Studierende.
Printing is a more than 5 century-old industry. The invention of the printing press is mostly attributed to Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz. However, the Asian precursor of mobile type letter printing of Cai Lun of the Jikji dates back to 1377 in Korea. These early masterpieces of the inventors of print can be inspected at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The summary term for this technical innovation by historians is the “age of start-ups”. The procedure for Gutenberg to have 2 financing rounds with his “business angel” Johann Fust, who is later claiming even almost the full rights of the printed volumes, resembles the start-up spirit of today as much as that of the 15th century. Not belonging to the Patrician families, it was very difficult to defend your rights in courts of the gilds. The printers also became a very powerful intermediary themselves. They either sold pre-ordered books or had to take the risk of assessing the market for their product. The editors of today do much the same in the trading world of books and rights of authors and translators. Merchandising products of the church and later churches (protestants Luther Bible) had a particular value to both the clergy and its devotees, not to mention the shop keepers in-between as well. Pilgrimage business was another start-up industry still going strong in the 20th and 21st century and popular in all religions. The early prints and typographs applied are fascinating in themselves, but there is a lot to be learned about the foundation of a new industries that still employs millions of people and is at the origin of learning revolution similar to the one we are living with the digital technologies today. The European languages with respect to printing had a certain competitive advantage, based on 26 letters of the alphabet, far fewer types were needed to print books than the more than a thousand different signs for printing a Korean text. In terms of printing this is cost-reducing and probably you do not need to be able to read yourself to be a printer or it makes proof reading more accessible favouring benefit margins. After all, the age of industrialisation probably had a precursor in the printing industry. The potential of the printing industry was only exploited much later to the full extent. Comparable to “peak oil” we hope to have reached “peak paper” at last as well for the sake of our planet and our own survival.
1900 marks the year of the 5th world exhibition in Paris. The Eiffel tower, built for the 4th exhibition in Paris remains the iconic attraction despite the new architecture that is added to Paris as the Petit and Grand Palais as well as the 1st Metro line. Art Nouveau style adds to already impressive architecture in and around Paris. With the planning horizons of several years in advance of events, urban planning with all its facets of urban infrastructure and architecture becomes much of a defining scientific discipline for decades and for most of the time of the century. Grand urban architecture and design constitute just another form of competition between nation states. Most of them want to show off their imperialist acquisitions and, what they define as “curiosities” at the time.
Habib (2005, pp.502) singles out Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche as “heterological thinkers” who coin major thoughts in the late 19th century that shall influence the beginning of the 20th century right from the year 1900 onwards. “The world should be formed in your image by your reason, your will, and your love! And truly, it will be to your happiness you enlightened men!” (Nietzsche. Thus spoke Zarathustra 1978, p.110). In retrospect from the 21st century we shall doubt this overly positive approach to human intentions and their will to form the world according to their abstracting ideas only. Tensions between technology and society became visible and it took many decades before society became conscious that it is up to society to choose technologies they preferred.
The planning for the Brussel Expo 1910 started right after the previous Expo 1905 in Liège. Protests in Brussels accompanied already the choice of terrain for the Expo, but the governors and shareholders of the enterprise decided 1906 for a site near the “forêt de Soignes”, where trees had to be cut for access to the construction site and for future visitors under local protest. Women workers were present to exhibit the low pay of women in industries. Child labour was documented with shocking images. Around the globe labour movements started to raise attention. In the U.S. the National Women’s Trade Union League (1903) was founded as well as the National Child Labor Committee (1904). “Bloody Sunday” in St. Petersburg (1905) saw the killing of peaceful protestors in front of the Zsar’s palace, which ignited the Russian Revolution of 1905 and the creation of the Russian Parliament. Some of these issues (child labor) keep returning to our social agenda well into the 21st century.
Einstein’s publication of the theory of special relativity (1905) as well as challenges from social philosophy reflects the huge discrepancy between advancement of the sciences and the living conditions of the masses. Social theories and science advances foreshadow the violent turbulence throughout the 20th century.
(Sources: (1) Max Welch Guerra et al. (2023). European Planning History in the 20th Century: A Continent of Urban Planning. Routledge. (2) St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide: Major Events in Labor History and Their Impact, Neil Schlager (2004). (3) Images from I. Van Hasselt(1980) Bruxelles Expo 1910: l’incendie / de brand. J Stevens.
Gustave Caillebotte has done it again. Son of a great beneficiary of war efforts himself. He started with support from his father’s fortune on a painting career. Soon after his father’s death, he joined the group of “alternative artists”, later called the impressionists in France. On the 1.2.2023 the Musée d’Orsay acquired a key painting of Caillebotte for 43 Million € with the help of a donation by LVMH. Where does the hype come from? A catalogue of the exhibition of the painter “Gustave Caillebotte, The painter’s eye” from the National Gallery of Art in Washington from 2015 established Caillebotte again as a key person of the impressionist movement. Rich in diversity of motifs, the painter and supporter of the impressionists (Philantropist) has foreseen the challenge photography could bring to painting. The painter’s eye is well explained by Michael Marrinan (pp.22) in the catalogue. In fact, the spatial depth of the views of the streets of Paris is a precursor to many photographers and movies of several decades later. Caillebotte’s images of Paris depict well the mixed feelings about a daunting city size and the isolation of people captured in their own little inner circles with little communication despite or because of the noisy surroundings. Misty atmospheres allow to focus on impressions. Almost meditative walking in the city is his modern topic. Reflecting on painting as profession versus painting as artist is somehow an impressionist’s sociology of professions. Gustave Caillebotte did not have to paint for money and he was aware of social class differences as son of a factory owner. It did not spoil his artistic view with social facts, but rather tried to reveal the intrinsic beauty not only of landscapes, but ordinary working people. Other impressionists painted beautiful ballerinas, Caillebotte painted workers and sometimes more challenging parts of Paris in his early years. With climate change near Caillebotte’s home in full swing, we shall “adore” the rainy days in Paris even more. And in the countryside, too. The painter’s eye reveals a visionary view of the modern and post-modern world.
Die Oper Stradella von Flotow wurde in 2006 eingehend besprochen. Sarah Hibbert hat ein immer wieder aktuelles Thema: Wie sollten vorherige Stilepochen in der Aufführungspraxis und der Komposition behandelt werden? Die Legende über den Sänger Stradella, der einem Fürsten die Braut ausgespannt hat und deswegen ermordet werden sollte, bietet einen interessanten (sex and crime) Plot. Wegen der Gesangskunst des Verführers, wollten die bestellten .Auftragsmörder den bezaubernden Sänger nicht töten. Tatort ist der Auftritt der Sängers in einer Kathedrale. Fritz von Flotow und Louis Niedermeyer haben beide fast zeitgleich eine Version des Librettos vertont. Es stellt sich nun die Frage, wie denn am besten der historische Stoff aus dem 17-ten Jahrhundert darzubieten ist. Beide Komponisten komponierten im Stil der romantischen Oper des 19-ten Jahrhunderts. Flotow wählt eine stärker historisierende Variante der mittelalterlichen Musik der Stradella-themen in seiner Oper. Die Klangfarben der mittelalterlichen Kirchenmusik passen aber nur schwerlich zu den Erwartungen des zeitgenössischen (1830er) Opernpublikums. Daraus resultiert,en eine spannende kompositorische Aufgabe und entsprechende Herausforderung für die Aufführung des Werks. Darüber hinaus müssen noch Unterschiede zwischen der ersten mehr populären Form der Oper für Paris (Vaudeville) und der später in Hamburg uraufgeführten Version der Flotowschen Stradella Fassung beachtet werden. Historisierung mit Anlehnungen an Gesänge von Palestrina sind nicht der Geschmack eines jeden im Publikum und der Kritiker. Grund genug, in die Opern mal wieder reinzuhören. Den Tenor, die Arie “Jungfrau Maria” singend, hätte ich wahrscheinlich auch nicht als Auftragsmörder töten können. Rolando Villazón ist darin recht überzeugend.
Quelle: Hibbert, S. 2006. Murder in the Cathedral. Stradella, Musical Power and Performing the Past in 1830s Paris. Music & Letters Vol 87 Nr. 4. doi:10.1093/ml/gcl081 (Photos, KS Kathedrale in Meaux, F).
The pandorra’s box is wide open. With ChatGPT applications the discussion has started to use it for more medical applications. As for much research having assistants to support you in routine tasks in your research is a standard procedure. Now the medical profession is also discussing the use of ChatGPT for the boring and time-consuming task to draft reports. The first study, published in the Lancet Digital Health, evaluates in a preliminary form the patient-sensitive form of communication between clinics and patients. Beyond chatbots, which organise information from calling persons, the obvious application is the use of ChatGPT to draft patient clinic letters. The example in the study is the skin cancer reporting. Lengthy reporting back to patients of lots of “hot and cold spots” might be done by AI with sufficient reliability. All depends on the correctness of the data base, the screening and samples taken. The communication between clinic and patient can then focus on other issues. ChatGPT just like neuroflash has its strength in being able to control for the “level” of the language. In addition to the choice of the output language it is possible to use, as it is required in the U.S., an average understanding level of patients. In other words, easy language rather than medical expert language is an option or even a requirement. Anecdotal evidence and the PISA for adults studies show how difficult it can be to talk the same language even if you talk the same language. There is ample scope for improvement and ChatGPT or neuroflash for German applications of AI are prime candidates to fill this gap in clinic patient communication. Considering that our mobile phones (can) do already most of the scanning of skin cancer dots and AI is used in pre-scanning the images and recommends to consult medical expertise, the next step to improve health delivery seems feasible. Whereas the statistical analysis explains 62% of “median humanness”, the score of 37% of explained variance of median correctness is a surprise as the basis of the model to explain deviation from correctness should be as low as possible. Medical data, like many other data, is not simply binary. The way forward is most likely relying on a “human-in-the-loop” approach for some time. A limited human input might reassure many patients as well.
Source: Stephen R Ali, Thomas D Dobbs, Hayley A Hutchings, Iain S Whitaker (2003). Using ChatGPT to write patient clinic letters. Lancet Digit Health 2023 https://doi.org/10.1016/S2589-7500(23)00048-1
12 Jahre nach der Kernschmelze im Atomkraftwerk der technologiebegeisterten Japaner stellt sich immer noch die Frage nach der Entsorgung der verstrahlten Reste und Kühlwassers. Laut eines Berichts und den veröffentlichten Bildern zu dem Kernkraftwerk Fukushima staunen wir über das weite verseuchte Umfeld und die riesigen Lagerstätten für den verstrahlten Abfall. Geothermie, Wasserkraft, Windkraft und Solarenergie könnten auf der Fläche sicherlich riesige Mengen von nachhaltigem Strom produzieren. Das hatte bis vor 13 Jahren niemand denken oder aussprechen dürfen. Heute nach 18.000 Toten und vielen Folgeschäden durch Krebs und geschädigtes Erbgut wird der Unsinn weitergehen. Da sind sehr starke Interessen am Werk, denen es nicht um Menschenleben geht. Atomkraft, koste es was es wolle. Die Einleitung eines Teils des verseuchten Wassers ins Meer ist wohl bereits erfolgt. Noch mehr wird folgen müssen. Über die Fische als Teil der Nahrungskette werden Menschen dann mehr Radioaktivität aufnehmen. Das war schon so mit den Pilzen nach Tschernobyl. Fukushima bleibt ein abschreckendes Beispiel weltweit, da helfen jetzt zum 12. Jahrestag ein paar Solarzellen als Trostpflaster wenig. (Bilder aus ARD Tagesschau 11.3.2023. Auch bei uns ist es leider schmal Glück gewesen, dass nichts Schlimmeres passiert ist (Link Radiobeitrag DLF 2023-4-17)
The animation festival “Anima” in Brussels is a good chance to catch up with new trends in the field (teasers). AR and VR animation is taking the first few time slots there as well. As much as it is important to allow visits behind the scene in opera houses, it is part of our common knowledge to understand the creation of animated films. This pedagogic mission is taken seriously at “Anima”. Taking the example of the animation “Un amour de cochon“, with several farm stages where Babs and Oink are exposed in the original small scale production scenery for the animation. However, it needs a lot of professionals to let a story come alive (Images below).
The short AR films represented seem to get carried away with futuristic city and landscape designs, which you experience in 360° turning your head with the heavy headset. Beyond the futuristic, historic or folkish settings chosen, the intended message, narrative or story is key. A metaverse immersion experience alone is tedious, if there is not a strong emotion or message connected to the immersive images. Sitting at the bar in front of a virtual drink is a bit dry, but the Paul Klee experience conveys a terrifying message. Totalitarian regimes use unimaginable brutality in wars and against their own people and artists. This has not changed. Animations catch specific (younger) audiences and therefore we surely will have more of this kind of imagination become real, or virtual or a real virtual experience.
The self portrait is a timely topic for an exhibition of photography. As part of the European month of photography (EMOP), the PhotoBrusselsFestival offers a good overview of what photography deals with in the 21 century. The Korean cultural centre (KCC) in Brussels has a long tradition to serve as an exposition in the centre of Brussels (Sablon) and is joining this year’s photo festival. The 2023 photography festival has the “Self-Portrait” as a guiding theme. Rather than entering the debate about “portrait chosen or portrait endured” (Photographica 5,2022) the self-portrait has more degrees of freedom in it. Even if it is apparently a choice to portrait oneself, there are ample examples, where the urge to produce a self-portrait is part of a wider concern for fundamental issues.
The exhibition of 5 artists from Korea at the KCC invites us to reflect on the pervasive self-portrait practice all around us. The self-portrait is not only a tool of self-reflection, which has a long tradition in art (just think of a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer of himself), but self-portraits are also pervasive on media and social media today. Additionally, the self-portrait is a powerful tool of thinking and imagining yourself at various stages of the life-course. For centuries it had been a social or political privilege to have your portrait taken. It still is to some extent, but only if the person taking the photograph, has a special reputation. In a market difference to the selfie, the exhibition of artists in the KCC highlights the process of self-reflection that is part of creating the portrait as well as the ensuing reflection by the spectator. In looking at the self-portrait of the photographer, we might involuntarily deal first with our own perception of the image. Danger, dreams, fantasy, sorrow, pain, self-assertion and reconstruction of the self, all these themes come to mind when confronted with the self-portraits of the 5 artists (Bae Chan-hyo, Jeong Yun-soon, Lee Jee-young, Ahn Jun, Choi Young-kwi).
KCC director Kim Jae-hwan names this collection, curated by Seok Jae-hyun, “An odyssey of images leading to self-re-flection”. In referring back to the protagonists in novels from Hermann Hesse, he points our attention to the “unique journey through images as they find themselves”. To embark on the journey visit KCC in Brussels, ask for a copy of the catalogue or start by reading the title of the exposition: “Who Am I” – it is apparently no longer a question after the journey. Is it for you? More reflection on images and photos here.
The urge to program human language originates for some in the quest for better explanation or understanding, for others in the improvement of communication. Both approaches have witnessed rapid evolution in recent years. Based on linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics or neuroscientific advances, the potential of knowledge creation and communication has risen due to computational models and applications to linguistics. ChatGPT3 and Neuroflash allow us to play around with the commonly available AI-applications. Construction of a linguistically informed Glossary of political and social ideas is a specific application case. In addition to the subject/object list we may add predicates or verbs to link subjects and objects. For this purpose, we construct a basic alphabetical list below which draws mainly on action verbs and is embedded in the socio-cultural environment of the sciences in general. A categorised list of verbs, like the one from Purdue University, is helpful to draw on several relatively distinct fields. With perspective on labour market or societal relevance the list focuses on verbs related to skill sets: administrative/managerial; communication; creative, information/data; caring/helping; efficiency; research; teaching/learning; technical. The categories are not mutually exclusive and may well be supplemented by additional categories like relational skills and transformational skills. Computational psycholinguistics (Crocker, 2006 pdf-file) differentiate the “principle of incremental comprehension” (add one word at a time) from the “concentric theory of complexity” (start from complexity to specificity or vice-versa) and the “deductive sentence processor”. ChatGPT is built on the incremental approach, supposed to be the fastest and probably a more reliable computational approach. We could just attempt to use the other approaches in the simple ABC glossary of subjects, objects and predicates to test for the possibility to build no-nonsense short sentences using random choices as starting points. The Oxford handbook of psycholinguistics highlights in the final chapter the theoretical alternative of connectionism (p.811). Symbolic computation construes cognition as mental states that are symbolically represented. The sequence of operations then runs from one representation to the next one. However, the connectionist model operates more like a neural network and proceeds with the parallel processing of notions, relations or patterns. A list of predicates or verbs might do the trick: Chose a subject, chose a predicate and an object to start playing around: Subjects: action balance corruption democracy enterprise freedom god health imagination joy knowledge law memory nature optimism policy question repairing society time union value war xeno yinyang zero.
Predicates: applies broadens creates directs establishes forms generates helps induces jeopardises keeps likes moderates needs opposes prioritises qualifies represents strengthens tests uses varies weighs x-outs yields zigzags.
Objects: freedom god health imagination joy knowledge law memory nature optimism policy question repairing society time union value war xeno yinyang zero action balance corruption democracy enterprise.
New research on the fabrication of writing allows to debunk some of the received ideas about writers as living and drafting in a solitary space. However, the facts frequently show something different. In the journal of the BnF (images 2022), (Chroniques des la BnF Nr. 95 p.9 pdf-file) the BnF makes transparent the creative cosmos of Marcel Proust (Exhibition closed). From correspondence and other influential images, we learn about the “fabrique de l’oeuvre”. Far from writing his books from front to end in a linear fashion, Proust drafts “isolated sequences which he mounts, demounts and regroups sometimes even years later. These clippings of text are arranged by him like a patchwork, a collage rather than following a linear progression. Just peeping into the writer’s studio, drafting style and “paperoles” is fascinating. What a mess, some would say. What a huge imaginative space he has been living in, despite being reported to draft most of his work while actually being in his bed (Lire Magazine 12-2022). Beds are not always for sleeping, only. Today’s start-up enterprises frequently start from home, a century ago Proust demonstrated a lot can result from a very tiny physical space, but an enormous space in mind.
Syntax is just one of the categories of linguistics. Carl Lee Baker (1989) wrote a whole book 500 pages on just English syntax, can you imagine. I like his modesty in the introduction stating that English syntax is just a subfield of linguistics (p.12). Other languages have different structures, some might be very different from our ways to communicate even. The ways how animals or plants communicate is an exciting subfield of linguistics, psychology and biology (Carrie Fidgor, Pieces of Mind). The SPO structure of sentences is only one simple way of constructing sentences. Syntax is much more complex. The sociological aspect of linguistics and syntax lies in the “acceptability judgements”, which are present once we establish rules and sort phrases into correct or incorrect sentence structures. Norms and standardisation as well as authority to decide on correctness becomes an issue. Countries used to many dialects or multilingual populations are confronted with these issues on a daily basis. Linguistics as basis of communication is continuously present even in the mental structure. Bilingualism, tri-lingualism and their effects on minds, competences, behaviour, culture and societies are own thriving research fields. Building a sentence or a phrase, following Baker, is built around a head and their complements. Such minimal phrases are comparable to what we coin in a simplified manner the subject-predicate-object structure of a sentence. The definition of the nucleus of the structure of a sentence is also about conventions and acceptability. Staccato speech and rap-music are examples of forms of speech, which are often considered beyond the normal. Computer voices are becoming more normal as we are faced with chat bots all around us now. The image below reflects the simplified “representation of syntactic structure” (p.48 The Cambridge grammar of the English language 2002 review here). To play around with “Clause”, let us analyse the clause: I bought a shirt; I wonder what I bought. You know what I mean Klaus, it is a clause, or is it Dady gone gaga = DADA?
Linking information, explanation and entertainment is the power of the world wide web. The tool used for this is the hypertext format of texts and media in general. Wittgenstein was already dissatisfied not to be able to show the steps of his thinking more explicitly. In the “Tractatus logico- philisophicus (Link to pdf-file de/engl” he uses the a cube (5.5423) to explain that we see to different facts depending on our point of departure of our vision. Try it with the logo of www.schoemann.org you should realize how our vision swops from one way of viewing the cube to another. The white corner is once in the front of the cube and appears to be in the back, when you move your vision further up. In general this leads us to be careful with the choice of our point of departure, not only for our vision. Context, some say background, is important to determine starting points. Adding the hypertext markup language to a document, like in a blog entry, allows readers (+algorithms) to see the cognitive structure surrounding a text as well. Potentially as a reader you enter into a multidimensional space with each blog entry. Any encyclopedia, glossary or index has an apparent alphabetical order to entries, but the links between the multiple entries remain hidden at first sight. With use of hypertext this has changed and each entry is turned into a 3-dimensional space, for example. Additionally, all entries have different numbers of links to other entries including dead-end entries. With the structure of links it is interesting to learn about the self-referencing just as much as about the disciplinary locus of a text, chapters, a book or a library. This helps to still see the forest despite all those trees in front of us ,or we see the geological structure of the mountain while in the middle of the forest. Happy travelling in our new knowledge space!
Once upon a time, not at the Opera de la Bastille, but next it, in a small theatre called Théâtre de la Bastille, the fairy tale of “Giselle…” was performed. The world-famous ballet Giselle (Karlsruhe Programmheft) is still amongst the most frequently performed magic piece of classical ballet. What is it about? In short: sex and crime. Yes, and it sells well.
Francois Gremaud tells the classic story of excitement, love, deception, death, regret, haunting and memory in a concise and witty fashion. The exemplary dancer is at the same time the narrator of the story as well as the critic and art historian accompanied by a 4 musicians strong orchestra. The educational piece with a “womanxplainer” on stage is great entertainment, full of references, why it is still okay to like the piece in spite of its fantasy-loaded content. Modern dance (Cunningham, De Keersmaeker) has decoupled or emancipated movement from music. In classical ballet, at least, you still know what comes next and this is aesthetically appealing for most people. Besides Wilfried, no he is not part of the “Wilis” (could be an interesting variant), but in the ballet there figures “Hilarion”. He is not hilarious at all. Splendid entries are from Myrtha (close to Martha, but not quite the same) and, of course, Giselle, when she leaves her tomb and turned into a “Wili”. Then there is Albrecht in a pas de deux with Giselle, swirling between earth and space. Aldi dances like mad on impulse from Myrtha, but Giselle vanishes nevertheless. End of story, or is it? Giselle is a Wili and Aldi is the wally. Maybe the story could be retold like in the film “Billy Elliot – I will dance”, which is an emancipatory tale where dance is the liberation rather than part of the dooming fate.
Francois Gremaud with the astonishing performer and choreographer Samantha van Wissen have created a version of Giselle that is musical, aesthetic, funny and critic. For those who enjoy an epic theatre version of Giselle including its “alienation effects”, referring back to Berthold Brecht, will want to read the script as well, kindly distributed as a gift after the show.
Employment is back on top of the agenda. Not as we used to think, though. Previously unemployment had dominated societal concerns. Now it is the lack of persons seeking or available for employment. What has happened? The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated the need of persons qualified to work in the health sector. From health care and urgency care, we are short of personnel in all these fields, everywhere. Then we discovered the role of essential services and the need to equip crucial infrastructures like ports, transport, shops, schools and ambulances with service persons resisting despite work overload. Larger cohorts leave employment to retire, some even early due to illness or burn-out. Additionally, war is back in Europe. Military personnel is in high demand again, drawing largely from younger cohorts. The need for conventional weapons. long thought to be oblivious, is forcefully back on the agenda.
Growth potentials are everywhere. However, these pre-modern facts encounter a population in the western democracies that insists on new approaches to employment. Beyond hard and soft skills, recruiters seek atypical skills, competences and trajectories. A parachute jump from an airplane, cooking and dining experiences, caring spells, periods in self-employment, all are directly or indirectly relevant for employment and teamwork. So, what is your specialty? Collecting stamps? Surely you are able to spot tiny differences in images with specific content. Fake news and fake image detection or video surveillance is in high demand, just try an application and discover the employment potential of your MAD skills. Sounds crazy? No joke. Skill needs are everywhere, just give it a start again and again. Read a serious newspaper regularly (here LeMonde 19.1.2023) for inspiration.
Deconstruction is a powerful tool or even method. Beyond imagineering, deconstruction in the literal sense means take to pieces. In most cases a physical object consists of several objects or parts. By deconstruction we attempt to understand the whole object as the sum of its parts. Before a new product or design is created, many scientists, engineers and artists start to deconstruct existing artefacts. Understanding how the object is assembled, for example, allows you to play around with pieces and maybe come up with an alternative way of constructing the object. The architecture of “deconstructivsm” has left us fantastic buildings. In furniture design there are also nice examples of deconstruction. Paris is a good place to study deconstruction (Explained), perhaps many still read Derrida there. It is a fruitful method beyond its engineering sense for example in law, literature or many other social science disciplines. If you are not mad yet, visit the MAD in Paris to see examples of deconstruction or construct your own deconstruction. Both have a dialectic relationship to each other anyway.
Action words are in other words called action verbs. Each complete sentence has one. Hence, they are part and parcel of the basic construction of sentences.
“The purpose of an active verb is to create a clear, concise sentence. By using an active verb, you can eliminate unnecessary words and make your writing more direct. In addition to making your writing more concise, active verbs also add punch and clarity. They can make your writing more interesting and persuasive. Additionally, active verbs can create a sense of immediacy which is often useful in persuasive writing. When it comes to writing, there is nothing more important than using strong, active verbs. Not only do they make your writing more interesting and engaging, but they also convey a sense of confidence and authority. In addition to being more descriptive, active verbs also add a sense of movement and action to your writing. Rather than simply stating that something exists, you can use active verbs to show how it exists. For example, rather than saying “there is a chair in the room,” you could say “the chair sits in the corner of the room.” This may seem like a small change, but it can make a big difference in how your writing comes across. Finally, active verbs can also help to set the tone of your writing. If you want to convey a sense of wit and humour, then using playful, lighthearted verbs is a great way to do so. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for a more serious tone, then using powerful, authoritative verbs will help you achieve that.”
After the 3rd sentence this blog entry (Link) has been written by the artificial intelligence app “Neuroflash”. They promise that it is not just copy and paste, but rather written following some instructions I gave like title, table of content, style and then selected among several choices. It makes sense to me, although it is just like many other textbook entries I have found on the web. It may well serve as an introduction. Lazy journalists, priests or lawyers in case they do little research will be replaced soon by AI, who else, who is next? Big brother drafts the brave new world for us already.
A for Action
The A is everywhere. A is the beginning of the Alphabet, Google is our new Alphabet, we just have not realised it. A simple A-rating in investment is not good enough, AA or AAA is the goal. All this calls for ACTION. Do not be stopped in your action by reading on “Action theory” by Parsons, Rational action is the basis of most economic reasoning before the behavioural turn of economics. It is commonly acknowledged now, that rational action might not always be as rational as we want to believe it is. “Frame selection” as theory to explain our choice of action is fashionable in the social sciences. Transforming values and intentions into actions is a big challenge. Many jokes turn around this issue, like intentions to get up early in the morning. Find out whether you are an actionable leader. You should have at least a few “actionable items” on your to-do-list. Of course, Microsoft recommends actionable items to improve our productivity while spending hours on emails.
Well, early philosophers already distinguished between “vita contemplativa” and “vita activa“. A lot is about finding the right balance here and Hannah Arendt’s differentiation of active life in labor, work and action. She puts emphasis on action as a way to distinguish ourselves from others. The same thought might lead to very different actions. Hence, acting on one’s belief or values could lead to very different policies for just 2 persons. Action Artists perform even in inaction. We are back to basic questions of democratic procedures as a form to moderate between different opinions or possible actions. Lots of other A-words come up now: ambiguity, anxiety, alienation, affirmation, affect, affection. In Greek, A might be associated with Apollo, In German with the famous “Angst”, but French is overriding all this with “Amour”.
Z for Zero
Zero is more than just a number. Originally the Zero=0 was a simple placeholder for higher order numbers. The concept of 0 is useful in calculus. The digital revolution is based on 0 – 1 systems. Beyond this, there is a philosophical sense to it as well. Think of nothing, black holes, empty space, “ground zero“. Emptiness might not be empty at all, as for those filling your empty space (ets) with an empty—log. In Philosophy the nihilists or nihilism reached a lot of prominence. “God is dead” leaves us with a void that asks for alternative solutions. Beware of simplistic answers. Study the origins of democracy and the need for freedom of expression as a basis for new concepts based on fundamental values.
“Zero”, the group of artists in “Zero foundation” have made a significant contribution to the development of art in post-war Europe. The catalogue of the exhibition in Amsterdam and Berlin 2015 inspires imagination beyond today. Time passes on to achieve zero-emissions. Zut alors, the last Z-word to finish the countdown 3-2-1-0, I guess. (P.99 zero catalogue 2015)
T for Time
“The times they are a changing“, end of blog entry T.
We live time forward, but we seem to understand it only backwards or in retrospect. Towards the end of each year, it is common practice to look back and review the last 12 months. Then we imagine what will the future be like. Our concept of time is past, present or future oriented. In classical physics we reflect this with a depiction of time on a linear axis. However, modern concepts of time include Einstein’s relativity theory, whereby in 2 different places time may run with different speed. Similarly, quantum physics allows that the causal relationship between 2 physical states is no longer observable in a logic that follows linear time. A particle may exit in 2 states in parallel. Hard to imagine, maybe, but demonstrations of these effects are found in textbooks for pupils already. Our grasping of the world around us is enhanced through scientific rigour.
Story-telling also plays with time frames. Analepsis and prolepsis are common techniques constructing a story, a film or any form or narrative. We tend to perceive chronological time even as boring. Our memory is also playing tricks with us on time scales. When was …? Additionally, we have multiple clocks ticking away. Time to submit a report, pay taxes, until the next medication or the psychological concept of “time until death”. Strangely enough, depending on which ticking clock we focus most, our behaviour is likely to change. Mobile time management tools have been created for centuries for us to handle all this jazz (call them a watch). They all have not changed our concept of time, only the precision to measure and cramp more activities or the same one faster into our daily life. Happier since? Test your self-efficacy, more general than time management! Try meditation to slow down the pace, use an app!? I started to clone myself with a virtual presence to experience the quantum effect of my life. Podcasts are played with 1,5x the normal speed now. Rhythm and music are the remaining traditional metrics of time. Even there, John Cage’s piece “silence” managed to abandon the time reference, partly at least. Okay, time is up, next letter, please.