Damn Dust

Ah bah, why must be there so much dust on, under and before my bookshelves ? Diving behind the sofa, the chairs and the old kitchen table leaves me covered in dust-bunnies. They smell awful.
I search for a “technologisches Lexicon” that is less a lexicon but more of a bibliography ; it’s originally published in the 18th century and re-printed once, and only once, and I have by sheer accident got a copy. I have used it before and it’s a very worthwhile source, a bit ignored or less known. I will dig it out tomorrow, armed with a hoover.
Why do I visit the ugly places of my appartement ? This afternoon I met an old friend, who is working on a doctoral thesis since Noah was given the first idea of an ark. She’s in her sixties now, and when I started to work seriously for my MA, I think she already was given the task by our venerated Doktorvater. He is well over eighty now, alive and kicking, but it would be a good idea to present the book at his eighty-fifth or so. It would be difficult to find another prof who would be able to promote her, yes it’s a bit of a specialty. I may have mentioned her here already. She is paper-thin and suffers from constant payne ; now and then she finds a working combination of medication and therapy and then writes like the devil. She already gave me a whole chapter two years ago, but it was right out of the middle of her work and I could not do much with it. After some discussion, thinking, re-thinking, further research, she now gave me the first chapter – Hallelujah ! – and I can read from the start : Looking for “jumps” or “breaks” – when one is so long working on a subject it’s easily possible to make logical mistakes and f.e. put something forward as assumption, totally clear for oneself, but absolutely illogical for the reader. The forty pages come with two very large files of materials,  some books, handwritten annotations, and yes there is a doc-file with text in different colours – full program. She already has a readable, ongoing and continuous text, but I will look for her annotations and take care that all this is mentioned in the text, and what I can not verify or other things I have to say, will be written under a line. She will take this together with her revised version and will use my suggestions or not ; my job is, as saied before, to see that it has a logical structure. In the end I have to draw some lines and limits – and astoundingly enough she thinks I can do this.
She’s a damn good researcher, has worked for very good collections and museums, dealt in antiques, and had to dig through a ton of family nonsense. While I silently buried my idea of a doctoral thesis, she stuck to it, God what a stubborn lady. But as most good researchers, there must be an end to the hunting, results need to be put together, a picture must be drawn, the pieces all have fallen in their places. Time runs through our fingers like sand, at one point all collections are visited, all objects are seen and inspected, all the effort flows into a footnote on page 37. I only hope she can relax when the book is printed and done, when it’s accepted as thesis, and she finally receives her instrument in the university’s church. Today this is a kind of festive event, I was given a sheet of paper in a seminar room in ’91, but at least the Dekan had bought a round of the university’s good wine.
It was very good to see her this afternoon in the library. I have to do something for the weekend, diverts me a bit from feeling flat and useless. “Vita brevis, ars longa” (Ger., Eng.) – to close the circle of this post – the Greek original of the Latin phrase says “βιος βραχύς, τέχνη μακρή / Bios brachys, techne makre”, life is short, the art [techne] stays ; it’s all Handwerk, craft, handcraft, craftmanship : Not theory, but what we do.

23 thoughts on “Damn Dust

  1. I have been ‘doing’ today and not thinking. One day someone will have to pile it all into a couple of skips and take it away.
    I like cleaning, it always makes me feel more in control.

  2. Skip ? Like in Bauschuttcontainer, MsScarlet? I still hope that I finally can live in a shed in the woods – and when I kick the bucket I want to be put on the old wooden table, the books and papers all stored around, and the shed being burnt to the ground. when done properly it’s all gone without a trace.
    Cleaning is nice, but not at my own place. I devotedly clean at other people’s places, but can not do it in my appartement – except the bathroom, possibly because I’d have died already without my bathtub. But hoovering around here or dusting just seems to be not worth the effort.

  3. Oh Z – sorry, you commented while I looked for pictures of skips.
    It will be some work on the text, but it IS an interesting subject after all ; all the effort is justified (as it was hmpf’n’something years before, and is now), and right at the moment I have nothing better to do. It is also a bit like the last connection to a time of my life, to the institute that was, all this … like finally bringing together some loose ends. What reminds me to phone another Lady in the coming days. It’s a bit of a clean up, and I never would have anticipated to find me in this role ; maybe it’s only a projection anyway.

  4. Blinds? I suppose you could cover the windows with blinds!
    But, I do like clean windows. Difficult in this weather and they will have to wait. Glass cleaner or white vinegar/ water inside, detergent and water on the outside… and one of those squeegee things.

  5. “Blinds” was the first word I wanted to use – but my dictionnaire did tell me something different – silly thing.
    Clean windows are great ! After doing all wrong and trying anything under the sun I found Unger’s Liquid – best thing you can ever have. Used with an Abzieher it beats nearly anything. Easy, fast, doing no harm to (my) skin.
    I seriously think about doing jobs as household help, at least something I have an idea bout.

  6. I wish for your friend many payne free days, weeks. I’m not surprised that she trusts you to edit her work.
    I too have many dust bunnies. Oh well.. I might start naming them.

    Life is short, art is long, eh?

  7. I’m a gonna kill them tomorrow, hehe …
    Life is short, and the “art”, the “techne”, the ongoing dealing with it, never stops. In the Renaissance we all became “artists” : Everybody who deals with the seven artes liberales, den sieben freien Künsten, is an artist. It survives in the Geisteswissenschaften, as opposed to the natural sciences – they think they have models and maths and all, and can count and compute – and if the model works, nature will work along. what is utter nonsense, because nothing where something like “spirit” is involved works according to a formula : Der Mensch lässt sich eben nicht berechnen, nor something “super”-human. The most sophisticated formula for human behaviour tilts, because of “a something” : Best Rezept for crime~ or Geheimdienstromane.

    The art never stops – everybody must invent it for himself anew ; every single one must f.e. reach the state of “Aufklärung” for himself – nothing can be befohlen or verordnet : The personal enlightenment is a job that can not be outsourced. School, philosophy, whatnot – all tools, thinking must be done by the subject. In this sense the art, ars, never stops. It must constantly be re-invented.
    That is a terribly European, Renaissance-centered idea. The medieval artes septem liberales lead into the artes humaniora. In other parts of the world the development went in other ways, what results in a clash of values – not “cultures”, this 90s book was aimed into another direction. Values, like “life”, “being human”, “independence” – ach, Foam, of course you can make your own list.
    The joke is that the values are not that different, all over the world ; after all, there are humans involved.

    Norma – call me Helga now.
    I’ll obey.
    [But you’ll have to ask XL first.]

  8. I have every admiration for someone who can complete a thesis–and I am well aware of the way that it can take hours, days, weeks, to think of the material and the correct way to write the “footnote on page 37”. I got two years into my PhD, spending whole days over one paragraph, before I ran out of money and enthusiasm. I also don’t think that I have ever had a single original idea, so I couldn’t really contribute to my subject much. I still hang around my old University, and go to conferences, etc., but I enjoy everything more now that I don’t have to analyse it to the nth degree

  9. I hope your friend continues to hang in there and completes the degree requirements!

    I have a friend who took 22 years to earn her Bachelors degree in accounting. She started full-time, but after getting married shifted to on-and-off part-time whilst working full-time and raising three children. We were all so proud of her.

  10. One either has the money for it, then lacks the time; or one has the time, but then needs money. I liked the research part the most Looby, and did too much there. Looking at the material today makes me realize that it’s hopelessly outdated. The whole thing would need another approach. Ach was soll’s …

    That is persistence ! I am pretty sure that she will finish this work, schmutzig Hase LX. I only hope that our prof will still be there to take her exam.

    I hope the Waschlappen will not be too cold, Schaum mit Waschlappen. Sometimes I can’t hold back the ink, sorry.

  11. I just want to hire someone to come and do it, but that isn’t going to happen! I guess I’ll just do one thing every day and hope on Sunday it still looks lovely! xoxoxox

  12. Very impressive bookshelf.
    I guess a mop could take care of the dust build up? That’s how we clean, sweep with a broom and mop with a wet mop-cloth.
    That poet I worked with, he said he writes for posterity, so that someone a few generations down the line can read and wonder…
    Your PhD friend is inspiring.

  13. Yes, step by step, Savannah. The first step will be to locate my vacuum cleaner.

    Only a question of perspective, Austere : When you stand in front of it it is much smaller.
    I simply neglected this room, it’s time for a basic cleaning. I do not want to use something wet on the wooden floor, but I do mop up the other rooms that have linoleum or tiles.
    I do not know, Austere, but does not any author write for the actual, the current publicum ? Every author, as any other artist, needs applause – now. Some need it more, some less ; but even the most humble author, writer, poet, painter does not want to go unnoticed and count on the applause of the posterity only – it’s as unsteady (or even more !) as the recognition by the contemporaries. And a “thing to wonder about”, a Wunderding we do become naturally for those who’ll follow us – like those before us are for us now: “How could they ?” “What were they thinking ?” These questions may be asked in several divers tones.
    And yes, this lady is inspiring ; I will start to work on her text soon, today was full of mundane things, tomorrow will be packed too, but nevertheless I will finish this chapter at the end of the week. I am really looking forward to her book. I think it will be last major work where I helped a bit.

  14. [sorry, XL, loud]

    First we win the lottery

    I have to admit that I do not fully understand the last number, sorry for any inconvenience. BTW I toyed around with the idea of writing seriously about H. Kornmannus again. Sometimes it is so tempting to wander back into the 17th century. Perhaps historical “science” is strongly connected to escapism. I wonder whether that was brought up in any historico-philosophical essay … Perhaps people like HUIZINGA simply had enough and tried only to escape ? Maybe there is a “fed-up-factor” in historical science ?

    HEY – if this is the next big thing in intellectual circles and you read it in TLS/LRB – you heard it here first !

  15. And one more for the old times – back from 1978. Sorry, it’s loud too. Interestingly some nice live versions were still to be found two years ago, they may possibly be still around, but are not given in the results’ list anymore.


    Exactly !
    What reminds me of Eggs Actly and Mr. Natural. Sorry Laut XL – I down my beer and have a last (forbidden) cigarette, and crawl on my habersack. I got up in the ddm [forgot the code for the Copyright sign] (8:30) and it’s three thirty now. Tomorrow up early again, the usual. Things btw look a bit better here, last days were a bit tense.
    Here’s one last loud vid, two noisy old fuckers. Ah, make’m three, sorry.
    (Alternative would have been King Crimson’s Peoriamorgen wieder.) BTW ViewpPure now and then does not like me, hence the yt-links ; see you soon.

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