– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Category: sometimes I write texts about stuff that happens in my life

Archive for the ‘sometimes I write texts about stuff that happens in my life’ Category

Saturday, July 15th, 2023

(time is) on the wing

I don’t know if anyone is out there checking on here regularly enough to notice, but if anyone did: yes, posting has been scant/not happening for more than a year. Initially for health reasons – until it wasn’t, and then it was for “have to get back into the swing of things” / work / Why So Busy / got out of the habit reasons. Health reasons also means that I didn’t take a lot of photos for a while – or at least none that are meant to be shared here – I do have about 20 unusual angles on a intravenous drip bag (hey, they take a while / I was bored), but I won’t be sharing those here.

Instead, expect lots of Spain and Morocco over the coming weeks.

(I’m making this post stick to the top for a week or two, so updates can be found below it).

Sunday, April 11th, 2021

The Tree Eye


Happy 10th birthday, blog currently known as sibyllogy (and formerly known as Gethe and Goth)!

Here’s to seeing and looking at what will come of you in the coming months and maybe even years!

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Sooo … name change!

As one observant reader has already observed, I have indeed changed the name of this blog. The contents shall remain the same and the old URL still works, but, it turns out, “Gethe and Goth” was a very weird joke that was really only funny if you were in Heidelberg in a certain cafe on a certain day, listening to two different tourist guides and having an apprechiation for the multi-perspectivity hidden behind the mispronounciation of the name of a dead white German male author … so, not really/you had to be there/explaining it got kind of tedious around year three.

A conversation I have had slightly too often:

  1. most folks, on learning the name of my blog, seek to assure me that they think goths are cool, nothing wrong with being a goth, and that it’s great that I am being so unsubtle about it (“even though you don’t look like one, really”).
  2. Cue my explanation that, no, haha, thanks, but it’s not about goths, the name of the blog is just a nerdy in-joke about the manifold ways in which one can (mis-)pronounce ‘Goethe’.
  3. “Oh, you blog about Goethe? That’s interesting. Which is your favourite play? Do you write on him academically?” … “No…No, you see, the blog’s name is a riff on Goethe, yes, but I don’t blog about him … at all”.
  4. Silence. “Oh?” More silence.
  5. “Why the name then?” “Well … (anecdote about tourist guides in Heidelberg) … you see, I just had had this encounter when I started the blog and it’s a kind of a parable about human existence being all about relativism and Foucault’s Pendulum and the place you hang that from and points of view and perspectivity and …”
  6.  … … …
  7. “Oh…”.

Yeah. I still think that once you’ve gone through this whole spiel Gethe-and-Goth is a cool name and that it expressed and still expresses what I wanted it to … but the spiel was kinda long. Also, it’s been four years, and if I haven’t started blogging about relativism and Foucault’s Pendulum and multiperspectivity and different solutions to the same problem yet, I don’t think I will start doing so at length any time soon.

So, Sibyllogy?

Well, still a geeky joke, but this time a riff on my first name in combination with one of my favorite academic subjects – narratology*. And, if I ever release an album, it will absolutely be called Sibyllogy (yeah … like that will happen). (Anthology, narratology, symbology, analogy, soliloquy, sibyllogy, etc :-) ).

*(and no I didn’t want sibology or sibyllology, even though the last two syllables would have matched better).

Sunday, December 14th, 2014

Trois couleurs, driving by


I have a gazillion things that need to be done…

  • – some of them big and some of them small
  • – some of them a ton of grading that I think will be left for the XMAS break (I really really really wanted to NOT be working during an XMAS break for a change, but that was before Washington in February became a thing … so … – it was a nice idea, but it’s not going to happen this year. This year I will be grading ~700 pages of student papers and finishing an article and revamping the KSM webpage and and and…).
  • – some of them very time sensitive and some of them slightly less so
  • – some of them related to DC directly, some indirectly (IE not being in FL/Germany for 8 months), some not
  • – and it’s thanks to Toodledo that I don’t lose track of it all!

Today, so far, I’ve caught up on all the tiny wiggly bits that I did not get to last week and/or were scheduled for today. I’ve done all the work-work that needed to be done today (or that I am willing to dedicate time to today … I’ve worked so many weekends recently that I didn’t want to do what didn’t absolutely need to be done today … I’d rather have a full Monday and a slightly lazy Sunday). The non-work things that still need to be done today are photocalendar! and write1000+works!. So, better get to that then… .

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

The sky in Latvia in April was very very intensely blue, wasn’t it?

I should be asleep (it’s 11pm already), but I’ve spent the last 3 hours digging through endless paperwork (it’s all sorted now, though, so yay) that I needed to look at before Thursday, and as tomorrow will be a “leave at 7:30am, return around 10:00pm” day it had to be done, well, today – still some bits missing, but I hope that’s simply because they’re in my office at the EUF. And now I am waiting for a sync to finish (8 mins to go) and so am using those 8 min to post here.

I don’t have very much to relate, however, as things are mostly a random assortment of business and things. Between classes, project lit papers, book reviews, a presentation I am giving next week, a paper I need to finish, and the Really Long List of things that I need to do so that I can go abroad for 8 months there’s not much time for catching ones’ breath or thinking long an winding thoughts – or writing long and winding postings. I really want to write up why I think that Coming Home is an unfortunately weak book, and yet why I am glad for that even though I am annoyed by it, but that will have to wait for another week or two (or ten, or … maybe never get done at all).

As it is, I get to spend my days talking about poetry and prose and narrative situations and drama (session 2 on The Crucible tomorrow; today’s IntroLit session was all “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “A Sudden Story” re-writes) and history and culture and … it’s a good term, classes wise (and in general).

And, uh, yes, I might have ordered the “complete text of Walden” litograph. It’s going to go on one of my office walls, and hopefully going to be awesome. (But, c’mon, it’s Walden :-). Their “Collected Works of Emerson” graphic is v.amusing, but I resisted! (“I am a transparent eyeball!” (Yes, I know, eyeball.)))

My ‘normal’ to do list stands at 44 items, my (separate) DC one at 59 (down from 114). Eeek.

AAAND my sync is done.
À bientôt!

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Restrictions – I

So, the thing is:

I am really glad we’re not limited to shooting photos onto film anymore. In fact I for myself and my photography really don’t get the whole “yay let’s go back to shooting the oldfashioned way, because it is so much harder and consequently artsier and superior and …”. I don’t. If that is how other people feel, then I am totally happy to let them feel that way and do it and I am not going to judge anyone for doing that* … but it does not hold any appeal for me. Not because I don’t understand about sometimes wanting things to be harder, as a challenge, but simply because I really don’t see sense in spending money on doing something with older, inferior equipment that I can also do with my newer, superior equipment – for free (well, now that I own it).

I do, in fact, have my old analog camera sitting in a box on the shelf, together with what remains of my (by now really old) stash of film rolls … I am told that one can do artsy things with them, but so far my motivation to actually do anything with them has been zero. It might lead to strange results, I know, but so far that has not enticed me enough to do anything about it. I might, some day, or I might not, but from where I am right now I can definitely say that, when it comes to photography, I have embraced the digital age – and am loooving it!

What I do understand is the need to sometimes put restrictions/obstructions on one’s artistic ‘space’, to challenge oneself by putting limits on the technological possibilities one has to work with. It is something I quite like doing, as well as seeing what restrictions other people place on themselves and what they then come up with (in the old analog days there were many natural limits – if you had put a b/w ISO 400 film into your camera, that was what you had to work with for the next 24 or 36 shots; if you only took one roll of film with you on holiday, you had 36 shots you could take, etc.).

Today, of course, these limitations are gone – you can alter the ISO as you see fit, a 64GB card will hold thousands of photographs, you can see photos (and delete photos you don’t like) the second after taking them … all of which is awesome and has definitely contributed to making me as fond of photographing things as I am right now (I used to like doing it in the ‘old days,’ too – I used up 12 rolls of film on our 1994 trip to the US, and still like some of the photos I took back then, but man, it was also totally a) expensive and b) restrictive and c) annoying).

 My craft has definitely benefited from being able to take 10 or 20 or even 100 different shots of the same object, varying angles/exposure/ISO/apperture … something that was FAR to expensive to really continuously practice back when having a 36 shot roll of film developed cost you more than 10DM. So whenever people get all nostalgic I, in a reflexive twitch, remember how much pocket money I invested into buying film and then having it developed and think “You people want to go back to this? Really? Well … have fun, but I’m going to keep lovin’ my sweet little thing of a digital camera”.

But, yes, restrictions: useful! Make you think! And work! And things hard! Are something I semi-regularly set myself.

For me, honing my craft is both about using all the possibilities my camera gives me, as well as sometimes putting restrictions on myself to really work with what I learned/keep a look out for specific things.

And putting restrictions on your craft is quite easy in the digital age, too.

Foto 11.10.14 11 33 27 Foto 11.10.14 12 56 49 Foto 11.10.14 12 57 39

Restrictions – I:

  • – AF-S Nikkor 50mm 1:1.8 lense
  • – Apperture MUST be set at 1.8
  • – 512 MB flash card (which gives me a grand total of 14 shots)
  • – all 14 photos must be taken
  • – all 14 photos must be posted
  • – no altering the physical environment (that is generally a restriction I put on myself)
  • – no editing (other than batch downsizing and watermarking)


The other 13 photos are below the “Read the rest of this entry…” cut:
(taken on the walk to and from the grocery store)

(I am least happy with the pumpkin one, my favourite one is the one with the pine cones. What about you?)
(Any thoughts, questions, feelings, feedback, restrictions you want to give me/share?)


Friday, September 5th, 2014

Gainfully Cheated


When paying for something today, I got this coin back when I should’ve gotten a 2 € coin. This is a 10 Baht coin, and as it is only worth about €0,25 I have technically been cheated out of €1,75, but as I now own a coin I have never had before I feel as if I’ve actually gained something.

Friday, May 30th, 2014

Should it not be called ‘Water’ instead?

So here is a half-pondered thought I am just going to leave you with:

During the welcome reception at the ‘Imagining Earth’ conference we got to talking about the different denotations and connotations the terms Planet, World and Earth have … and the following tidbit came up: considering a) what we know about exo-planets, b) what we know about the other solid-state planets in our solar system, c) what the Earth looks like from space, and d) what makes life on this planet possible and this planet stand out from all the other planets we know … … … should ours not be called ‘Water’ (instead of ‘Earth’) ?

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Spaceship Economies

Spaceship Economies

When I bought the desktop some months ago, as a photo-editing machine, I also raised the desk in my office from sitting-at height to standing-in-front-of height, and so far I am really happy with that decision. I also try very hard to keep it as clutter free as possible, so that I can spread out whatever project I am currently working on. My desk at work is full of stacks of paper, and whenever I try to ban them all into their respective folders and files my efficiency goes down, as I then spend too much time tracking them down and need to write myself reminders so I don’t forget about any of them – at home, I seem to be able to think better when everything is filed away in its place. I think it has to do with the fact that a TON of things are always going on in parallel at work, and that most of the things there are far smaller in duration than the things I tackle at home. I spent most of today, for example, working on my paper for the conference I am going to next weekend – something I could try to do at work, but would have a hard time getting done there, as too many tiny yet more urgent things always pop up and distract me. Which is also the reason why I am making it a point to (usually … well, sometimes) not read my work email on the weekend. Not because I am not working on the weekend, but because I need to think the longer thoughts, then.

My long thought having been thought for the time being, I shall now go and finish reading one of the BA-theses that I am first grader on. It is May, so their slow trickle has become a bit of a flood, and I don’t want to get behind. I also pondered going for a walk, as it is quite nice out and I only walked to the polling station today and back, but I want to watch the election forecasts at 6pm, so I think I’ll skip the walk today.

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

“In case you haven’t heard,” I said, “Gabe was on the Capella.”

I know that I have been remiss in posting regularly, which is

a) mostly due to things having been really busy at work, b) but also with my laptop being increasingly unwilling to put up with all the demands that I am placing upon it, software wise.

It’s still working fine, but it is getting a bit long in the tooth, and, well the more photographs I take the more data I end up with, and the more time I spend taking photographs the more various and diverse my gear somehow got, and so did the computer programs I got interested in using*. And as I bought my laptop for both its (lack of) size and great stamina**, running tons of high demand programs all at the same time is simply not something it copes with well.

So, almost a month ago (see: work was BUSY) I bought myself a configured-for-photo-sorting-and-editing-PC, and today I took a break from writing an article to finally do something about that blank piece of machinery that was simply sitting in my office***.

Transferring and installing programs was surprisingly easy****, and even programs that are no longer available as stand-alones (I am looking at you So Hard, Photoshop CS6) or have since been re-released in a newer iteration (everything else, really) could be installed without much trouble (well, I had to chat with a [really helpful] guy in India, who resolved my Photoshop issues in less than 5 minutes). Audible keeps downloads of all the books you ever bought with them, ever, available for your downloading pleasure, just in case you might possibly manage to delete one (a service which I have had to actually rely on more than once), Adobe, while perfectly willing to tell you what you bought from them when and what your license key for said program is, will in no way let you simply re-download that same program anywhere on their website at all.

But now all the essentials are installed, and looking at photos has become a joy again, rather than a chore, and so, while my week is filled with meetings – grading – writing tons of MA KSM documentation – finishing an article – talking to students about term papers and BA and MA theses – and lots of various and sundry other work related things, I think I might sneak the odd 10 minutes of systematically going through the last three months’ worth of photos in here and there (maybe).

My uni is sending “love to Moscow” for the duration of the Olympic Games, for which a different artistic expression of the right to love whoever you darn well want to***** without thugs coming for you in the middle of the night is presented on our homepage every day, so if you want to, check them out!


* one to sort the photos with, one to batch edit them with, one to regulate distortions, one to combine HDR photos … and then there’s Photoshop.
** and, well, its backlit keyboard
*** the first name that came to my mind and continued my somewhat vague system of naming tec-that-needs-a-name/identifier (I generally am not in the habit of naming inanimate objects) after bits-of-fancy-future-machinery (more often than not spaceships) and that I hadn’t yet used was Capella – I hope that that does not mean that the computer will one day vanish into hyperspace to [uh, actually, SPOILER]******, though.
**** Well, I am still waiting for my Windows 7 key to arrive, so am technially running a trial version of Windows right now
***** consenting adults and all that
****** also, I want that story.

McDevitt, Jack. A Talent for War. (quoted from memory, so the wording might not be word perfect. Also NO IDEA what page number.)

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

In the Ruins of Civilizations

In the Ruins of Civilizations

So, I have been – rather insistently and in fact, quite rightfully so – informed that I have yet to published more than a blurry photo of a box of books containing copies of In the Ruins of Civilizations (and which was only on twitter). This lack of a post is not due to the fact that I don’t want to write anything about my book, but rather that I always had this vague plan of making a really concise and yet well-written, shiny and comprehensive blog post about it, eclipsing all my other blog posts. Which, yeah … good luck with that. All my precision and conciseness and tweaking of sentences and passages and words and structures and … stuff … seems to go into my academic writing, and when I post to my blog I just … I don’t know … post to my blog? In a more meandering and rambly and slice-of-life kind of way?

(And so much for conciseness, I hear you mumble…).

But, yes, there’s this book. Which is also my PhD. That I wrote. And defended. And that then got published. And came out back in March. And which you most likely missed out on, newswise, as, like I said, all I did was tweet a photo of a box of books, as term had just started and things were reeeally busy and I wanted to make a powerfully eloquent entry.

This is what the back cover has to say about it:

Post-apocalyptic novels tell stories set after a global catastrophe has led to the ‘end of the world’. But only in the rarest of cases does the ‘end of the world’ actually mean the end of the planet (or even of the human race), and it is on what remains after the end of the world that this book focuses on. What is left of the world from ‘before’? How are these remnants depicted and how do survivors interact with them? What influence does the state of the physical world have on these interactions? How are these processes narrated, and on which narrative level?

To answer these questions, In the Ruins of Civilizations concisely covers the history and appeal of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic tales and then focuses on four post-apocalyptic novels published in the 21st century – Margaret Atwood’s Oryx & Crake, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Bernard Beckett’s Genesis, and Robert C. Wilson’s Julian Comstock – a story of 22nd Century America. Its theoretical approach is based on the work of ruin theorists, analyses of the depiction of non-functional objects in literature, ecocriticism, socio-geographical readings of landscapes and wildernesses, as well as on theories of narrative levels, narrative communication and space in narrative. It shows that the interplay between narrative structures, world constructions, corporeal objects and physical realities forms the fundamental embodying locus of post-apocalyptic novels.

It was published by the Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, and if you really want one, you can get a copy there. (I mean, that is, I’d be delighted if you wanted one, but it *is* more a book for the McCarthian scholar and ecocritics and P-A geeks and people interested in ruin theories than for, I don’t know, the fluffy chillaxing afternoon escapist reader).

And that is that – I don’t usually post about my academic writing/life on here much, but here you go.

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Something True

Indochine tickets!

So one of the things I’ve been challenged to photograph – and the thing that has really been giving me trouble –  is “something true.” My blog, in its conception and name and description, if not always in its postings, is supposedly all about things often not being as ‘true’ as they seem, about how things and their perception always depend on one’s point of view and previous knowledge and experiences. … and so I spent the odd five minutes or so, when out photographing, looking for any abstract ‘true’ thing that I could photograph. And found none that I liked.

So I finally decided to take the easier way out, and to go for something concrete and solid which is, at this moment in time in which I am typing this, true. The ‘something true’ here is that I got two concert tickets (which I really wanted to have) for Christmas from my parents and will thus – always barring unforeseen circumstances &c – be attending two Indochine concerts in France in late February. The tickets weren’t a surprise present – the tickets went on sale on some Monday morning at 10am in November and I asked my dad to sit in front of the computer and to try and get some for me, as concerts were going to sell out quickly, most people need to work at that time of day, and I could not be in front of the computer at the time … and he did. Also, before all this could happen, I had to apply for and get days off as well. But I did, in the end, get the tickets themselves for Christmas. And so the plan is that I shall be in France in late February, and will finally get to see Indochine in concert.

So, as far as plans go, this one is true. And hence, voila, a photo of “something true.”

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

The roads of summer’s ending

I haven’t been posting very much – besides photos I took over the course of the last couple of months and that were stored precisely for times of a dearth of new input, and that one can set to auto-post at certain times – because I’ve been spending the last weeks in libraries mostly, and most of what I’ve been looking at are books and computer screens (either online journals [libraries with access to the MLA or JSTOR or EBSCO or even LEXIS-NEXIS Academic, how do I love thee, let me count the ways … it must be so convenient to be able to simply log into these resources whenever one wants to, I cannot imagine… *sigh*] or my own comptuer keeping a log of what I have read and browsed [dear humanities friends, we really ought to start putting abstracts in front of every article we write, yes?]).

But today was a) Saturday, b) sunny and c) I really needed some fresh air in my face and brain, and so I took some hours off from the research-and-thinking grind (am right back on it now) and so here are some photos from today’s excursion. I think this is it for exciting side-trips – I’ve got to be back in Flensburg by the start of October and there’s so much research and thinking still to be done that I don’t think I’ll get it all done, no matter how hard I try (argh) (thinking takes time). I really really need to figure out a way to access academic journals etc from Flensburg, otherwise I think my career is that much closer to being doomed, simply because not having any/needing to travel places to get it makes the playing field that much more unequal, without anyone taking that factor into account (my collection of library membership cards, let me show you it). And its really frustrating, to boot*. (No, we really don’t have any. Trufax.) (There’s got to be a way, right? [Cue academic despair, since it isn’t like I haven’t been trying to find one for the last five years. Unsuccessfully.]) (Yes yes, whine whine on the highest levels, I know. Still: research, kind of essential for my job.) GRAH.

But ANYWAY, no posting about academic despair, posting of nice forest scenery! Here, have another one:

*Don’t get me wrong – its not as if we in FL don’t know the problem exists, or that it is a problem – there simply isn’t enough money to buy access to these databases … and I am really grateful that I DID get to go away for a month and do research, and our library really does all it can.
It’s just … other people have these things at their fingetips *all the time …* – and explaining why you are in someone’s library and would like a library card and that yes, it really is kind of necessary for your work … gets a bit tedious. Also the pitying/condescending air some people get. “We do good work up in the North,” you want to exclaim emphatically, “and that we kind of do it with our hands tied behind our back makes it not worth any less!” (It’s, well, like having a INT -2 stat caused by some artificial obstruction to make up for – it’s not a natural -2 on your stat. So don’t treat it like that, more priviledged library dudes! [Not that one should if it actually were.])

Saturday, August 11th, 2012


Happy Birthday to me,
this cake is dairy and gluten free,
my presents below you can see,
there’re the Olympics on TV,
happy birthday to meee! ;-)

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Summer Reading (this title is misleading!)

Misleading not in so far as whether or not we’re going to have anything resembling a proper summer up here (I am typing this sitting on my living room windowsill, with the window open and the sun shinging on my legs, so today is definitely the fourth truly summer-y day up here this year [the other three were over Pentecost]), but rather that the books I will mention here shall undoubtedly only constitute a very small part of my summer reading – the for fun, non-fiction, not directly concerning my work/academic disciplines part. And might not all get read during the summer either, depending on work and other reading. But I am determined to make at least some of them summer reading! In fact, I’ve already started.

Among the various and manifold small sub-jobs I have in our department, one of them is to be our library liaison – which mostly means that I get a lot of book catalogues sent to me or passed on to me by other colleagues, I round robin them to my colleagues asking if they want me to order any of the books in them for the library, keep an eye out for more generalist books that we could use, and then get in touch with my (wondeful) contact person at the library telling her the books we want. An effect of this job is that a lot of publishing houses and book distributors have me in their mailing lists, and thus I get a lot of emails about books not relating to our field and general book offers, as well. And every year in the early summer, I get an email from the Oxford University Press* about their ‘summer sale for private academics’ (or some such title), where they sell books to said ‘private academics’ (IE not to uni libraries/institutions) at super reduced prices (up to 80%). And always a lot of other books that manage to intrigue me – and so, every year, I set myself a spending limit and then buy books about things that sound interesting. I usually put one or two of the more expensive but truly centrally interesting and academically relevant-to-my-subject must-have books in my shopping basket first, and then I sort the list by price and look for things that sound a) fascinating, b) accessible (I have learned since first doing this that, when it says ‘for the advance student of mathematics’, one better heed the warning …) and that c) get decent reviews else-net. I usually end up with a mix of maths and science theory, archeology, history, philosophy and linguistics. You can see this year’s haul depicted on the right.

I started reading Symmetry and the Monster this morning – and while I am still not sure what precisely ‘the Monster’ is, I’ve learned a lot of fascinating things about cubes, octagedrons, icosahedrons and dodecahedrons in chapter 1 alone. We’re into Évariste Galois’ work on the grouping of permutations right now, and, puh, I’ll need to let this all settle for a bit before reading on – I am at the stage where I get what the text says, but don’t yet truly get what it means, in an application-oriented kind of sense.

Incidentally, needing to take a break is good, since I’ve promised the afternoon to image-use inquiries and getting-the-PhD-ready-for-publication-work.


Oh, and an update on ‘la grande expérience’: reading your guitar tuner upside down is confusing. Also, what kind of bad idea was this? It’s not only that hands need to do different things now, it feels like I am trying to re-wire my brain at the same time! The first hurdle is definitely – as expected – a steep one. But intriguingly so. I shall persevere (for now)!


* Dear other UPs and publishing houses out there, mine is an equal opportunity shopping spree, so if you have serious offers like that, mail ’em round. :-) (Uh, next year?) If you spam me, though, no business from me!