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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thoughts After Hearing an Accordion Being Played On a Boat

I was cycling home from work with a small detour, because I had done an interview for my research project in the west of town. So I decided to take the route along the waterside of the lake that lies between the town and the village where I live. Although the weather was great for sailing, there were not many boats – it is always rather quiet on this particular lake.

One boat was anchored not far from land. Three people were sitting on deck. When I passed the boat, I heard the sound of an accordion. Looking at the boat I saw that it came from one of the people on deck. I could not hear whether the guy in question was playing a song, and which one; I just noticed the to my ears always slightly melancholic accordion sound.

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Writing - Again

Okay, I will have to admit it. I have given it up. I have given up reading Aaron Fox’ Real Country (see my blog entry from April 3d 2011). I guess I have read about one third of the book but then started reading a book on the Bosnian War (My War Gone By, I Miss it So, by Anthony Loyd – well written thus far, horrible, and for me impossible to personify with the author because I cannot imagine why someone wants to see war with his own eyes) and have not yet re-opened Fox’ book.

Basically there are two reasons why I stopped reading Real Country. I already wrote about one of them: the horrible jargon written in much of the book. I recognize much of the jargon as coming from the direction of Cultural Studies, a field I am not specialized in and feel not attracted to although I am slightly curious about what they actually have to say. But whenever I read something from this field, I stumble on jargon – when they write about identity it is always about “negotiating identity” but in at least ninety percent of the cases it stays unclear what exactly this “negotiating” is: who negotiates? With whom? And about what exactly? What is the difference with “constructing” an identity? And why is that difference so important?

I feel like I am encountering a problem the famous Dutch professor in Russian Literature Karel van het Reve describes when he talks about the people doing “Literature Studies” (“literatuurwetenschap”, in Dutch): it is not so much that he does not want to know what they write about, but it is kind of physically impossible for him to read their prose – he keeps losing track of, and interest in, their message. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Toying around

I had a rehearsal with my bluegrass/Irish folk band this week. We did it in broad daylight, because we needed some pictures for our website (yet to come) so that people who have heard our performances (yet to come) can check us out. Yes, it is quite a futurologic thing, this band, but nevertheless, there we were, on a Saturday afternoon, rehearsing in the private pub which is part of the house of one of the band members. And because the rehearsal was in the afternoon I took my wife and kids, and so did some of the other band members.

So while five musicians tried their best, five kids aged 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 were running around and occasionally some of them sat down in the pub (fun to write such a sentence as a father) and listened for a while. And when the rehearsal was finished, the boys aged 3 and 6 were building their own party in the pub, strumming their little guitars, while the girls aged 2 and 4 jumped around (indestructible gender conventions).