Modernism

More and more people move into cities. A modern way of living is more accessible there. Besides abundant car traffic public services of transportation like buses and underground are within easy walking distance. Culture, science and education offer attractive opportunities for learning, working and leisure. Diversity is an additional asset most people appreciate of cities. The chances to live your very own way of life are much easier to achieve and thrive in as in remote or rural communities. “Birds of the same feather flock together “. It is easy to find likeminded people among a million people than among a hundred particularly if you’re a bit off the mainstream or avantgarde. The excitement of birds passing the city can reach the emotional force of Hitchcock’s famous movie “The birds”. Even in the modern world we not quite sure what these creatures are up to. Is it a swarm of drones? Are they out of control? Modernism has brought us many amenities, we have to make sure that we really are still in control.

Berlin Kleistpark 2024-1

Ethics of posterity

We have not inherited the earth from our ancestors; we are borrowing it from our descendants. (native American saying). Adeline Johns-Putra (2019) states this early in her book on “Climate change and the novel.” Her concern is how to think and write about the ethics of posterity. Approaches of ethics in the sense of parental care (for the planet) or motherhood environmentalism do not suffice in view of overpopulation of our planet. Shifting our identity away from toxic production and consumption is advocated in many novels. Science and science fiction offer many dystopian examples.
De Shalit (1995) wrote early on why posterity matters. It is not the standard of living of contemporaries that matters but we should consider ourselves as a part of a transgenerational community. The time horizon of our decisions matters. In pursuing arguments by John Rawls who re-established a contractionalist perspective on justice, we have to include future generations into our contractual obligations. Following this approach we might arrive at Brundtland’s perspective on the ethics of posterity which is called sufficientarianism in opposition to simple utilitarianism. In sufficientarianism we owe future generations a just and decent living or at least the possibility to have similar starting conditions. Shifting beyond the apocalyptic view of environmental disasters Adeline Johns-Putra (2019) brings to the forefront that we have to substantially lengthen  our time horizon both for consequences of climate change and for dealing with it, albeit the fact that most destructive practices operate much faster than the re-establishing of greater biodiversity.
P.S.:Thanks to the curators of the Lese Lounge Staatsbibliothek Berlin for ease of access to the literature.
(Image: Natur & Kultur in “Extreme tension: Art between Politics and Society” Collection of the Nationalgalerie 1945-2000“. 2024-1)

Time6

Time that has passed, is subject to evalution and re-evaluation. Our memories work continuously on various representations of time in our mind. Memory management is one such example. Artist have also coined a phrase for a particular form of time management. “The assault of the present on the rest of time”  Alexander Kluge had chosen this as the title of a movie on film-making and Katya Inozemtseva had chosen this as the title for the exhibition in Berlin 2023-24. Pieces of art may serve as evidence in court as testimony for war crimes. This is one of the challenging issues of this exhibition. The present uses evidence from the past to illustrate what happened. Re-interpretations are part of this process as well. It is not too rare, that in the present a reframing of the past may occur. Some try to alter the representation of the past (crimes committed long ago) as of minor importance. Such intentional misrepresentations represent the assault of the present on the past. It may eqaually be attempted to limit the scope of future options. The diesel engine is not the best technical solution for mobility of 8 billion people living on this planet in 2024. The reflection on time needs to take care of the “back shadow” and “forward shadow” of the present. On the individual level, today’s action might be largely determined by past events, experiences and transitions, but they pre-determine to some extent also future events.
Conditionalities shall occur and accumulate, for some more than for others. Some call this scar-effects, others the narrowing down of options. Life reviews may apply a reframing exercise, sometimes even to liberate yourself from the boundaries of the past to open up new or more future options. The time-space subject which ranges from experience to fiction is the matter of literature and cinema. Some people seem to choose to live in a fictional world for whatever reasons.  Rather than a linear concept of time, the artists appear to imagine time in some form of a spiral: from the present you turn backwards in time to project yourself into the future. Maybe, we are caught up in some unresolved narration of the past, to try another projection into a different future. We see one or many movies grow out of this fictionalisation of the present.
The study of the life course remains a formidable challenge. Testing the reliability of sources to separate fact from fiction has overriding importance. Biographies derived from facebook or instagram entries over decades have to deal with this fictionalisation of the self even more than we were used to from other data sources. The basic challenge of the representation of time throughout the life course, however, remains the same.
Source: Kluge, A., Evans, T., & Liebman, S. (1990). The Assault of the Present on the Rest of Time. New German Critique, 49, 11–22. https://doi.org/10.2307/488371 (Image: Exhibition Brücke Museum, Lea Grundig, Unterm Hakenkreuz: die Hexe 1935, Zentrum für verfolgte Künste, Solingen).

Sleeping

Sleep is a process. That is why it is best to talk of sleeping rather than sleep. There exists abundant research on sleep and more and more acknowledge the process-like characteristics of sleep. The medical literature deals a lot with sleep apnoea, which constitutes a serious health condition. Time use surveys establish links between daily activities and sleeping for example. The social context is another influence on sleeping. Friends and family co-determine sleeping patterns as well. The latest better understood impact on sleeping depends on the use of technological devices before and during sleeping. Smart phones reveal themselves as not so smart if it comes to the quality of your sleep. At least this the result of the study on „bedtime technology use on sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness“. It yet another field in which technology is slowly creeping under our skin and we have to learn how to handle negative side effects before they endanger our physical as well as mental health. Bedtime routines or reading without a screen before falling asleep appears to be a worthwhile way to improve sleeping. Worth trying out again and again.

Calendar Time

We all use calendars to organize our time almost unconsciously. This is helpful to organize and synchronize our time together. Working time, family and individual time tend to use the same time structure to facilitate community. Work arrangements depend a lot on a common method to structure time. The work-life balance hinges a lot on synchronization of calendars and joint time slots. Towards the end of the annual vacation period in Europe the annualized change of calendars is still common practice despite most people going digital. Annual overviews allow to allocate and potentially synchronize calendars for major events or periods (next break, period devoted to learning, family planning etc.). A cleavage that differentiated Europe in the analogous times was that some countries like Germany use(d) chronological calendars running from 1st of January until 31st of December and counting calendar weeks (1-52). Many other countries have long ago moved on to “functionalist” calendars running based on the school year from 1st of September to 31st of August each year. Different planning horizons appear to be the obvious outcome. Whereas the former might focus on the planning of the end of the calendar year 2023, the latter functionalist calendars begin to structure the new year-long period 2023-24 including the next summer break towards the end of the next schooling year.
In France you start end of August 2023 to plan ahead until end of August 2024. This comprises the Olympic games in Paris 2024. Don’t worry, most tickets are sold out already and attributed through lotteries. When people in Germany start to buy calendars for 2024 and organize a printed calendar, this occurs traditionally around Christmas time and New Year’s celebrations.
Specific professions follow their own calendar time. Academic years or accounting years may well differ from the other annualised organisation of time through calendars. Of course, religions have established their own calendars just as migrating birds or French revolutionaries in the 18th century. Meteorological calendars or sensor-based structuring of annual sequences of seasons like in trees, plants or insects add to the impression of the existence of multiple clocks.
A de-synchronisation of these multiple calendars increases the need to coordinate societies within or society and the economy, religion or ecology. I liked my printed calendars over the years. Now I shall print different versions for different countries and functions. I still wonder, if my life got easier or more complex. Probably, it has only become easier to organise complexity and diversity. Clock 6 video

Workation

Take work, take vacation = workation.
Take flexibility, take security = flexicurity.
Take business, take leisure = bleisure, not pleasure.
Blending notions or building hybrid terms is a powerful way to get discussions going or to challenge standard notions of work, security and leisure. At first sight these hybrid notions give the impression of a new, interesting approach to an established narrative. Adopting a new hybrid notion allows to blur the well-defined borders between established definitions. New narratives have their imaginative charm about them, only these hybrid notions tend to tip the balance in favour of work, flexibility and business, most of the time.
Additionally, there is a generational effect to it. Younger generations feel already more at ease with english-sounding new concepts. Feeling part of a new, cool approach to work is catchy. However, do not forget about the second part in all these notions: vacation, job security and leisure are fundamental rights of workers. Health and safety at work and in the medium- and longer- term depend on the latter notions. Sustainability and prevention of burn-out as well as depression hinge on taking time for leisure and vacation. Something nice in the immediate, might turn out to be very costly later on. Shifting costs related to health from employers to employees (or society) at a later time is in the end an unfair deal.
Just try a workation once and you are likely to value a real vacation much higher the next time. Why not do a workation in reconsidering the distribution of work within your household, couple or family. In this sense I am all in favour of a workation for men, most of whom still shun away from a fair distribution of care work at home. Happy Workation!

Ukraine Diary

The gallery curated by Dr. Justyna Napiórkowsak in Brussels has another ongoing exhibition with art work from Ukrainian artists. As before in the exhibitions on the war of Russia in Ukraine, they put a major emphasis on the independence and resilience of Ukrainian art despite the ongoing war. To keep a diary of atrocities, but also survival and resistance to violence by Ukrainians, is a great effort. It stems primarily from artists that struggle to find adequate material to keep working or not to succumb to the participation in active war or military defence efforts. Using soft colours, water colours, has a rather symbolic meaning, after the inundation caused by the explosion of the huge water reservoir on Ukraine’s territory. Producing art in form of a diary, like reporting daily to yourself and the outside world as well as later born persons, has an important historic function, too.
No less than the “Diaries of Anne Franck” comes to our mind when thinking about a diary during war time. Russia’s attempt to eradicate Ukrainian culture is bound to fail. We shall cherish the Ukrainian diaries from the war time now and later. Thanks for reminding us of this collector’s duty to support the artists, writers and people of Ukraine.

Aufarbeiten

Ganz anders als das Verb „reparieren“ lässt sich „aufarbeiten“ verstehen. Beide Verben beschreiben Prozesse, die schon mal einige Zeit dauern können. Manche dieser Prozesse haben eine scheinbar nicht enden wollende Persistenz. Anders als Autos und Maschinen allgemein, können wir Geschichte nicht reparieren, bestenfalls Versuche einer Entschädigung machen. Aufarbeiten von geschichtlichen Ereignissen, Kriegen, Menschenrechtsverletzungen und Unrecht kann viel schwieriger sein. Rechtsausübung von Unrecht, das in historisch gültige Gesetze gefasst ist, gilt als rechtspolitisch wenig angreifbar. Moralische Bedenken späterer Generationen, beispielsweise, sind wie der historische Gegenstand selbst, zu kontextualisieren.
Diese geschichtswissenschaftliche Herangehensweise an historisches Material hat seit einiger Zeit eine zusätzliche verlegerische Heimat gefunden. Der Kugelberg Verlag, Verlag für historische Sozialforschung verbindet einen biografischen Ansatz der Aufarbeitung von Geschichte mit einer organisationssoziologischen Perspektive der mittleren Führungsebene als Funktionselite. Zusammengenommen ergibt sich aus dieser Verbindung von Mikro- und Meso-ebene des Nationalsozialismus eine wichtige Ergänzung der Aufarbeitung der Schrecken und Verbrechen der Nationalsozialisten. Das Büchlein von Dr. Wolfgang Proske „Kleine Herrgötter! Die Kreisleiter der Nazis in Bayern“ ist bereits in der 5. Auflage im Kugelbergverlag erschienen. Die sorgfältig recherchierten Beiträge bauen auf den Arbeiten zu den umfangreicheren 20! Bänden „Täter, Helfer, Trittbrettfahrer – NS-Belastete“ in Bayern und Baden-Württemberg auf. Die bereits mehr als 250 AutorInnen, versammelt in diesen Bänden zu den biografischen Recherchen, vereint ein einmaliges, zu Recht mehrfach prämiertes Aufarbeitungsprojekt von lokalen Geschichtsinteressierten und -werkstätten.
Die Multiplikatoreneffekte solcher „Citizen Science“-Projekte unterstreicht die Bedeutung von „bottom-up“ Vorgehensweisen. Erst die Zusammenarbeit von diesen vielen AutorInnen ermöglicht die Zusammenschau und genügend tiefe Einblicke in den Aufbau und die Funktionsweise der menschenverachtenden NS-Maschinerie. Geschicktes Infiltrieren von allen möglichen Machtpositionen in früher Zeit schnürte das Netz des Terrors immer dichter. Daraus ergibt sich eine immens wichtige Lektion für das Überleben von Demokratien: Wehret den Anfängen! Keine Freiheit und Machtpositionen den Feinden der Freiheit!

Rhetoricae artis

“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.

Feuer im Wald

Das sogenannte grüne Lunge kann immer öfter ihre wichtige Funktion der Klimaregulation nicht mehr wahrnehmen. Waldbrände begleiten den Klimawandel. Bereits 2018 gab es ein großes Feuer im Wald bei Paris. Im “forêt de Sénart” in der Nähe der Städte Montgeron, Yerres und Brunoy (nahe Paris) hat sich der Wald seit dem Feuer im Hitzejahr 2018 noch nicht erholt. Geld für Reparatur der Schäden fehlt und so lässt die notwendige Aufforstung auf sich warten. Der Verlust der Biodiversität durch den Brand lässt sich schwer bemessen. Brandrodung, gängige Praxis im Amazonasgebiet, hinterlässt auch bei uns mehrere ungewollte Folgewirkungen. Die Bewirtschaftung des Waldes hat die Schäden abgeschrieben, aber Zukunftsinvestitionen lassen auf sich warten. So heizt sich die Region Ile de France eben weiter auf und Millionen Käufer von Klimaanlagen. Die befördern in naher Zukunft das Wirtschaftswachstum, aber beschleunigen den Klimawandel. Wir wissen, dass es so nicht weitergehen darf. Nur der Wille, wirklich etwas daran zu ändern, fehlt an vielen Orten. Weiterso, wenn es kein Weiterso geben darf, ist die Schizophrenie unseres und des letzten Jahrhunderts. Lernen im und vom Wald ist nötig. Das ist unsere Lebensgrundlage.

Bundesarchiv

Bundesarchive gibt es kilometerweise. Auffinden und Zurechtfinden in Archiven ist eine Vorliebe von historisch Interessierten. Eine Soziologie des Berufs „Historian“ muss wohl noch geschrieben werden. Die Pforte, das Gelände und die Eingangshalle des Bundesarchivs in Berlin-Lichterfelde sind für einige einladend, für andere naja, belastend oder gar belastet. Architektonisch an eine Kaserne der 1930er Jahre erinnernd, ist ein gewisses historisches Umfeld eventuell eine Einstimmung auf eine bevorstehende Recherche. Das freundliche Personal hilft unterstützend über die Registrierung und die Orientierung zu den Beständen hinweg. Sofort ist, wie beim wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs, die Eingrenzung der Forschungsfrage von Nöten. Die Findbücher, die sortierte Ausdrucke der elektronischen Datenbank „Invenio“ darstellen, lassen einen die Vielfalt der Archive erahnen. Eine einfache soziologische Fragestellung „Homogamie in der NS-Zeit“, also die Praxis von Heirat von Personen mit vergleichbarem sozialem Status, vor während und unmittelbar im Anschluss an die NS-Zeit, verlangt mehrere Datenzugänge. Konstruktion des Zugangs von Männer- oder Frauenseite. Zentraler Zugang geht zunächst über die Bestandsdatei NS 1 „Reichsschatzmeister der NSDAP“. Aus den nationalsozialistischen Frauengruppen entstand am 1.10.1931 die NS-Frauenschaft. Seit dem 29.3.1935 genoss die NS-Frauenschaft den Status einer Gliederung der Partei unter der Leitung von Gertrud Scholtz-Klink. Der Bestand umfasst 3,5 Millionen Aufnahmeanträge und ist in Berlin-Lichterfelde einsehbar. Neben den Mitgliedschaften sind auch besondere Vermerke zu den Gebäuden und Grundstücken der NS-Frauenschaft (BArch/NS 1 5.2.6.4) bspw. im Gau Berlin dokumentiert (BArch/NS 1 2504 und 724). Eine Lebensverlaufsstudie ist da schwierig zu konstruieren. Ein Geburtskohortenansatz dennoch eine interessante Möglichkeit, eventuell auf die Muster von Netzwerken hinzuweisen. Parteimitgliedschaften, Vereine, Verbünde und ihre Rituale wurden scheinbar der Propaganda untergeordnet. Eine These, die es zu beweisen gilt. Die interreligiöse Andrews Chapel auf dem Gelände (im Hintergrund) lässt dann vielleicht wieder zur Ruhe kommen.

Monitor SDGs7

The complete monitoring of the SDGs of the UN for global development shows a surprisingly large coverage of topics. The search function is indiscriminate of some contradictions or returns the same entry twice like in sustainable industry. However, the simple check reveals frequent and less frequent entries. Entries  1 = Poverty, 6 = Water and 14 + 15 = Life on  Land and in Water received less attention. The agenda for the coming weeks is set.

 

Menschen

Im Bundesarchiv in Berlin sind einige Fotos zu einer Variante der Vermessung von Menschen ausgestellt. Nicht nur in den Kolonialregionen wurden Menschen zu rassenideologischen Studien vermessen. Die Kurzbeschreibung dazu und die 2 Bilder reichen, um diese scheinbar wissenschaftliche Praxis zu dokumentieren. Zurecht wird auf den Skandal mit der weiteren Verwendung dieser Daten bis 1981 hingewiesen. Es gab Kontinuitäten von Wissenschaft die heute noch erschrecken lassen. Kritischer Umgang mit jeglicher Art von Daten gehört zu dem Curriculum guter wissenschaftlicher Praxis. Diese darf nicht vor ethischen Fragen Halt machen, auch wenn das die weitere Verwendung der Information blockiert. Der Kinofilm “Der vermessene Mensch” hat dafür erneut sensibilisiert. Ethnologen und Ärzte wurden vielfach in den Dienst von Ideologien gestellt oder haben sie willentlich vorangetrieben, oftmals aus persönlichen Beweggründen. Skandale in und um Archive gehören zur Weltgeschichte, wie die geschichtliche Erkenntnis selbst. Mediale Verbreitung und Bestätigung von Klischees werden schon lange verurteilt, aber mit wenig Erfolg, wie der Deutschlandfunk Kultur selbst berichtet (Link Sendung Fazit). Die Kitas und Schulen haben ihre Hausaufgaben ebenfalls schlecht gemacht (Link). Wo ein Wille ist, ist meistens auch ein Weg, aber wenn der Wille fehlt aufgrund von Stereotypen wird sich wenig ändern.

 

Repair 2

Ever since the visit to the exhibition “Care, Repair, Heal” at the Martin Gropiusbau in Berlin the image of flying protheses rests with me. Repairing the human body is feasible in many fantastic ways. The inner wounds, however, are less visible and sometimes hurting even more. In recognition of the thousands of victims again in the Russian war on Ukraine’s territory and the atrocities causes by mines to injure humans, we have to assist in caring, repairing and healing. This has not changed since the Great War or the Nazi-induced mass murder and mutilations. Humanity is unable to bann such landmines despite international conventions trying to achieve this.
The strong image produced by the protheses as clouds in the sky (Kadar Attia) remind us of the lasting effects of war. Images we had associated with the mutilated soldiers and civilians of the 2nd world war, many still around us in the 60s or 70s, are coming back to Europe. Writing about the 20th century, Aurélien Bellanger described in words a similar traumatising vision of flying protheses in his story of the lonely poet and philosopher. We cannot repair history, but we can work towards reducing useless additional suffering. It is part of the absurdities of our world that technology has created masterpieces to assist us and reduce suffering, but at the same time technology is applied to create the worst suffering as well. Rather than thinking of this relationship as 2 sides of the same coin, I prefer to hope for dialectic evolution towards a better synthesis solution using enforceable international law. Yes, I still have a dream! …

Technology

Over the 20th century technology has pushed forward in many fields. As there were huge investments needed the public campaigns to support new technology without much further reflection of potential consequences have pulled many western societies into risky technologies. Except the Club of Rome there were very few to question the naïve beliefs that technological change will make societies rich and potentially even more equal. The recent report “Climate Inequality Report 2023: Unequal Contributions to Climate Change” has debunked both of these claims. More flying across the planet, particularly short city hopping, has allowed few persons to reap the benefits of the jet-set world, but contributed to climate change in excessive quantities. This is a fact when we compare major world regions among each other as well as within each country. It has to be the wealthy countries that have to shoulder the biggest share of the costs. It has to be the wealthy that pay higher contributions for their pollution. Society has to reign in technology more than ever before. Moreover, we still have to get the income and pollution distribution organised in a better way. It is not only an implementation challenge, but the major question of the 21st century to repair the damage largely caused throughout the 20th century.

20th Century

The 20th century has told us many lessons. History does not repeat itself, but it appears that new variants of old themes keep coming back. Slowly passing the century like a movie in decades instead of episodes, we witness socio-emotional tides. The first decade, the 00s intensify the beginning of urban planning and social revolutions. The 10s show the arousal and subsequent extinction of masses of people in trenches. The 20s were described as the Carefree Twenties. In the 30s we observed the rising tides of fascist organisations followed shortly afterwards by the disastrous 40s. After the Shoah and the World War the 50s were fabulous viewed from the U.S. and Western Europe. The 60s propagated sex, drugs and rock n’ roll spreading across continents. The wild 70s became almost inescapable through the continued rise of mass media. The 80s were depicted as the colourful 80s as the 2 previous decades had set the scene for psychedelic colours. The 1990s have been coined as the gay 90s by some. Coming out as a gay person became easier and Western societies more sensitive and open to diversity. The back cover of the recent publication by Aurélien Bellanger “Le vingtième siècle” (The 20th century) speaks of the book as “roman polyphonique virtuose”. I look back on the 20th century as “polyphone” in many respects. It would be an illusion to believe we can only keep the nice sounding harmonies without the tensions or dissonances.

Spring2023

Spring has sprung, a little bit early in 2023. On the 16th of March in the vicinity of Paris, where Caillebotte designed his impressionist garden. It is still 4 weeks until Easter. The spring flowers will hardly survive until then. Hence, we prepare for an early summer, nice because of less heating, but the vegetation is suffering in the region due to the lack of rain. Hay fever for millions of persons will start early this year as well. The damages from a fire in the nearby forest “Sénart” from 2018 have still not really disappeared. It is expensive and needs a lot of workers, equipment and knowhow to avoid the same old mistakes of planting mono-cultures of trees again. When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.

Caillebotte

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.

Flotow Stradella

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).

History

Approaching history with a personal touch is a powerful way of attracting persons into learning about others and themselves. The use of some personal belongings as part of a “history box” can be the beginning of an historical journey into the 30s, 40s, 50s or any other decade. It is an empowering tool for learners of all ages. Digging deeper into personal histories, societal constellations and societal change becomes alive through tiny little things. Communicating about these artefacts blends old and new narratives, just as much as the life courses of the “common woman or man” with the celebrities of the time. “Getting personal” is the hype in the time when social media want to define our life though endless nudging. Reflecting on origins is not what we tend to do, PhotoAPPs create retrospects for us, take it, or leave it. History is catching up on us. The fashion world reinvents history on a seasonal basis. After all, a bag is a bag is a bag. Or is it different from the one a person took to Auschwitz.

Alkoholismus

Alkohol ist eine Droge, da Alkohol abhängig machen kann. Die Bewusstseinsveränderungen können beachtliche bis extreme Ausmaße erreichen. Das wissen wir alle und zwar seit Jahrhunderten. Mäßigung bei Rauschmitteln ist nötig, aber schwer erlernbar. Etwas Genuss ist gesellschaftlich nicht nur toleriert, sondern gewollt zur Förderung der Geselligkeit. Zu viel Genuss beeinträchtigt meistens andere und wird dann zu einer schwierigen Problematik. Ärztinnen, Psychologinnen und andere Heilberufe stehen oft hilflos, wie auch das nahe familiäre Umfeld, vor dieser Situation. Selbst neuere Studien weisen darauf hin, dass die Versorgung dieser Patienten (UK), bestenfalls in der Hälfte der Fälle als gut einzustufen ist. Die Studie zu Großbritannien beschreibt gleichfalls die Krankheitsgeschichte und -versorgung als „eskalierende Tragödie“. Für die meisten anderen Länder liegen keine wirklich guten Daten vor, die weder einen Handlungsbedarf noch auf einen gesellschaftlichen Gestaltungswillen hindeuten würden.
Die Radiosendung zum Thema „Umgang mit Alkoholkranken“ und die Initiative von Sänger Max Mutzke, „Kindern suchtkranker Eltern eine Stimme geben“ beschreibt eindrücklich die generationsübergreifende Bedeutung von Alkoholkrankheit. Alkohol ist eben nicht nur das Problem der betroffenen Person. Ein ganzes Umfeld ist betroffen. Das Problem wächst sich meistens aus zu einer Problematik für das weitere familiäre Umfeld, Freundeskreise und ArbeitskollegInnen. Es ist erstaunlich, dass wir seit Jahrhunderten keinen anderen Umgang mit alkoholbasierten Rauschmitteln gefunden haben, als alles erlaubt oder alles verboten, außer der Altersbegrenzung für Kinder und beim Autofahren. Der Maler Bruegel sah das wohl ähnlich. Den St. Martinswein kann sich heute jeder im Laden um die Ecke selbst kaufen. Mäßigung im Umgang mit Drogen ist nach wie vor ein schwieriger Lernprozess, für Einzelne (Jordaens – Der König drinkt!), wie für die Gesellschaft. ( fast betrunkenes Video Alko VLC Bruegel MRBA Bruxelles.jpg zur Bildexploration).

Time5

The social sciences deal with time either as part of social theory and as part of social measurement in the broadest sense. The entry of time in “The encyclopedia of social theory” (Ritzer, 2006, p.837-41) reminds us that since the age of Augustinus, believing that time is a God-given concept, we have evolved with Kant’s notion of the “Ding an sich” that time exists within our experience, but also beyond our experience of it. It is Durkheim who sees time as a social institution and raises the issue of a social construction of the concept(s) of time. In the process of civilisation, Nobert Elias leads us to think of time as an evolving social process which allows us to reach higher levels of civilisations. Despite wars and other backlashes, the basic premise remains an eventual improvement on previous situations (Time 3). The phenomenological method applied by Husserl points at the “inner time consciousness” of persons, which finds its literary expression for example in Proust’s writings.
In addition to time as the object of social theories, we find frequent implicit use of concepts of time as a component of social theories. Life courses, social change, social mobility, social integration, learning, all these concepts are conceived with “time stamps” attached to the them. Their temporality, i.e. location in time and space, durations, sequential orders and interlinkages form huge fields of research. Whole societies have attempted to define when is the “normal”, “right” or “best” time to do something for the individual or the society as a whole. Social desirability is linked to time and space and varies accordingly. The 1960s probably were a decade where the questioning of social desirability was most obvious.
Social measurement of time and the location of social phenomena in time leads us to the empirical field of studying time or the treatment of time as a basic dimension in and of social processes. “The encyclopedia of social measurement” (Kempf-Leonard, 2005) list the sampling of time as a basic entry to the topic. Frequency of sampling, (yearly, quarterly), level of sampling (person, household, region, country), repeated surveys (prospective, retrospective) of same person or rotating samples of persons have their specific strengths and weaknesses. Analytical methods rely on the concepts of the measurement of time. It seems to be a fair observation that (Clarke and Granato, 2005, p.836) the future of time series analysis lies in the linkages to theory. After all, the 2 worlds of theory and empirical measurement are linked through the concept of time, despite the tendency to abstract from it or assuming a large overlap in the concept of time (and space) referred to. Clocks seems to be ticking differently in different places.
Image: Dali Paris. R. & N. Descharnes Salvador Dali Sculptures & Objects. Eccart. Ref. 615, page 238.

Time4

»Tempus fugit» (Latin proverb) time is flying, or time is escaping us. This is a classical quote. Students of Latin come across it in language acquisition.  “Carpe diem” make the most of the day, others responded. Some even raise it to a dogma of their existence. Whereas in classical times, time was more likely to be perceived as a linear concept (v = s x t), modern concepts discuss time as “acceleration” a nonlinear concept (a = v x t = s x t²)  or higher order non-linearities even (time³). Social time is embedded in such concepts of time. At some moments we perceive time as running very slowly, at other instances as running fast or accelerating. The synchronisation of time for friends, a couple, a family, lives, within a society or between societies is the big challenge. We tend to use calendars to synchronize our time acknowledging that time might be running at different speed for different persons. We have invented rituals of synchronisation like celebrating birthdays, departures at work, retirements or relative to seasons, with corresponding seasonal greetings. In between these events time fluctuates with different speed for different persons. Commonly in a kind of superficial objectivity, time is running in the same second-, minute-, hour-, day-like fashion, but considering activities or experiences, the same time span is widely different across persons. A lot of intergenerational conflicts have their origins in this non-synchronicity of time across generations. Bernard Guy (2018) reminds us of the link of time and space, as in the equations above, common in classical physics, where we could replace s with the change of coordinates of 2 GPS-signals. This space – time relationship complicates our simple reference to time. We have become used to think in time zones across the planet or within continents, however, our imagination is a bit stretched by imagining others sleeping while we are terribly busy on the other side of the globe. Global production and logistic processes have integrated the time and space framework for just-in-time delivery and optimisation of processes. As mankind we are still having a hard time to think about time and spend years “à la recherche du temps perdu” (Proust manuscript image below, BnF Paris2023).
Guy, B. (2018). Parler d’accélération, c’est aussi dire comment nous comprenons le temps. Dans : Nicole Aubert éd., @ la recherche du temps: Individus hyperconnectés, société accélérée : tensions et transformations (pp. 111-123). Toulouse: Érès.

60s

Make love, not war”, is a summary slogan of all sorts of protests that have moved the sixties. With the spread of television impressive images caught attention no longer just locally, but almost across the whole world. With the inauguration of political debates on TV between Kennedy and Nixon, reaching millions of persons at once and images travelling borders faster than to translate text, spreading of new ideas and political actions was more rapid and more emotional. Commonly the 60s are described as the sex, drug and rock-n-roll period. But there is much more to it. Yes, the sex revolution got started and access to, as well as experimenting with, drugs became more widely spread. Music became a defining moment for young people from teenage years onwards. After Rock n Roll from the 50s, came the rock music and pop culture, which were able to bring together huge crowds of several hundred thousand party-goers. The Woodstock festival and hippie gatherings became a defining moment mainly for the young. Older generations still battled for affordable housing and the “Great society”, as a large-scale anti-poverty program was called.
The phenomenon of the Beatles co-defined the 60s. The Beatles captured more than just one generation with their popular songs and iconic style. Mary Quant, attributed to have designed the mini-skirt, equally co-defined a period with a visual provocation to conservative life-styles. In parallel, the sixties saw the civil rights movement grow, Black Power succeeding with peaceful actions more widespread attention, leading to the abolition of openly racist practices. The peaceful movements and happenings, however, had to face the deadly attacks on J.F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King during the 60s. The whole decade was influential in the field of education as well. Based on a new spirit of altruism and happiness combined with, but also beyond religious feelings, new forms of living together, sharing and the common good were tried out. Anti-authoritarian educational practices were influential beyond the 60s.
Books covering the 60s are manifold. In addition to Arthur Marwick’s impressive, multi-faceted volume “The sixities”, I enjoyed the book by David Burner “Making peace with the 60s”, especially his approach to burn some received wisdoms about the 60s, namely the restriction of it to those 10 years. “The withering away of philosophy”, the beginnings of postmodernism and a theory-driven or conceptual approach to the decade, amongst other topics, is the merit of Fredric Jameson (1984, p.192). “The 60s without apology” is a programmatic title well worth thinking about seriously as the editors and authors did.
Besides the ecological disasters of the 60s already, (nuclear, oil and wars), Mini Cooper cars, Lava Lamps as well as Blow or Ball Chairs, Barbies, Frisbees, Brigitte Bardot and Pippi Longstocking (Patricia Massó, 2010), all were dressed to impress. “The 60s without apology” by a group of editors nicely summarises the review of the 60s and their lasting effects on us, for better and/or worse. 2 generations later in 2023 youth is again threatening mass mobilisation in France as depicted in LeMonde 4.2.2023. It is a kind of “déjà vu experience”.

Time3

The evolution of time is fascinating as research topic. Both in theoretical as well as empirical approaches. Beyond the precise measurement of time and the use of time in measuring working time, which intensified during the industrial revolution, we witness continued struggles over the length and the organisation of working time. The 30+X hours week working time could be reorganised into a 4-days week to improve work-life balances for millions of people. The effects are not only on employees directly concerned, but also on their families and/or households involved.
The changing perception of time (as being short of time) and its evolution over time needs huge surveys collected over time (known as “Time use studies”). Inequality over the life course remains an issue with a persistent gender bias. Unhealthy and excessive overtime work is still a problem, usually negated by upper ranks in hierarchies.
Let us start to imagine different concepts of time to maybe one day overcome the shortcomings of our current understanding and use of time. Usually, time is considered a linear concept, one day follows another day and so on. Time, depicted as an arrow or a horizontal axis in graphical representations, is helpful for most processes we observe. If our aim is to explain a social process which evolves over time, we could perceive time as running with different speed in, for example, urban and rural areas of the same country. The liberalisation of women or peace movements evolved or spread with different speed in different regions. The 60s became known for many women as the decade when the control of reproduction allowed different life styles. Concerning reproductive behaviour and divorce rates a break in series compared to previous periods is observable, reduction of reproduction and diffusion of divorce throughout societies. Instead of continuous time we might speak of discrete time, in for example decades like the 60s, 70s, 80s. In retrospect “social time” seems to have passed faster in one decade than the other. We might also imagine time as growing exponentially as time². Taking into account the slowing down and successive rise again of evolution over time, the time trend might look like a rising wave (time² + time³). In econometric models testing of such hypotheses is feasible, although it is more difficult to convince reviewers of an alternative theoretical model of time.
An investigation of trends of democratic behaviour over time would need to adjust for the potential and sometime measurable return of undemocratic practices for periods. A depiction of such “social time” of democracies as an upward rising line with periodic relapses is a plausible theoretical framework. Trajectories of inwards or outwards spiralling processes are already fairly complex trends for the process of democratisation as the phenomenon to explain or the modelling of a time trend to explain the level of democratisation reached so far. Challenges of time frames for independent and dependent variables in social processes might be questioned altogether to claim that time is a spurious occurrence of events much like a process of a so-called “Brownian motion” also named white noise. In fact, not being explicit about the concept of time applied in social analyses amounts to a severe neglect. Examples of such neglect are certainly all those cross-section studies, still pervasive practice, in social sciences or opinion polls. The linear concept of time, as a chronologically processing arrow of time, is a convention useful for synchronisation of action. However, this synchronisation is already debated more forcefully with more persons being unsatisfied with the use of synchronisation as a tool to regulate our “social time” and social processes. Time zones, summer and winter times challenge our day-to-day perception of everybody living at the same time, speed or intensity. Bedtime for me, wake-up call for others, or vice versa.