Help me, Rory!

Yes it would have been too easy, just become healthy again, feel strong, check out, re-arrange and move on, it’s no Hollywood-pic here. I was with a very old man today, and had not the guts to talk with him about death. One last book is what he wants, and he wants me to do it. He wants me to finish it when he dies, what is imminent, because his strength is shrinking, his ability to write becomes smaller and smaller, the pain in the worn joints greater and worse. His eyes changed. You know it when you see it. His birthday is in this month, open house, yes a lot of people will attend in these two hours – “just look and drink, no gifts” – it will be a nice get-together, even a kind of party. The last one. I know him for some years now. Under other circumstances I asked him some direct questions he answered very clear. I guess that is why he kept me around him, he could easily have other people doing things for him, writing, a little research, ah bah … he wants to talk. And I backed out. I feel ashamed. He obliged me.


Get out!

It’s SUNNY! Clear sky! Blue!
Time for a walk.
There is still ice over the puddles.

A kind of early butterfly!

In German the name is “Weidenk├Ątzchen”.

Just an ordinary Feldweg, a lot to discover.


How to start?

How do you start your day?
English breakfast and half-a-bottle-of-champagne? Igor-like with loud bonk-bonk-noise you call music? A swig-o-booze for the warmth? A sandwich with grilled swine? Cereals?
I am curious.

I get up not before nine o’clock, because the world is in color then; I need coffee. To prepare good coffee you need coffee-powder made from coffee-beans, not too fine, a little rough. One big spoon put in that thing: What is the name of this?

Is it a colander? Add a tip of salt; pour over hot water, directly into the cup; enjoy. Have a glass of water with it. Two of that cups and the day is your friend. The first look into the web, reading the news. Then bath, clothes, off to library, bureau, desk, whatever …

In earlier times part of breakfast was the first cigarette, selfmade or filter, my mother used to have Peer 100, I was on Gauloise, before they went weak and used brown tabaccos … But it’s no fun to cough out your ass in the morning; I’ll always remember the taste of filtered coffee and virginia tabacco, liked Camel a lot but couldn’t use it anymore after two years because of the perfume they put in; best virginia was in Sweet Afton but nobody bought that here or Nil, so I went to the locals Rothaendle or Reval that is, black tobaccos, and it was satisfying. For the afficionados of my age: Schwarzer Krauser was too heavy even for me!
Today the smell of cigarette smoke triggers a lot of memories – and I learned that I can not stand it at breakfast time – it makes me vomit.

Breakfast is coffee and first information. Quiet. Undisturbed. It’s a ritual I need more the older I get – I feel uneasy and disturbed when this routine is off the rails. After that holy hour I am ready for anything, be it heavy thinking at the desk or babysitting, working the library, going to an archive, writing, reading, speaking – but without that hour and this two cups I am ready to kill you with every drip of acidic misanthropy I am capable of, I can get real mean.

How do You start the day? What are your rituals? What makes you going? What kills your good mood? What keeps you going in the morning? Do you have coffee – and how do you prepare it?
I would like to hear.


Picture it – 17th century

Sorry, Orson has left the building.
Being ill can have advantages. For example one can read through all the books that lie around, unnoticed now, once it was so important to get this by library or “Fernleihe” … as “Bildwelten des Wissens”, Kunsthistorisches Jahrbuch f├╝r Bildkritik, Band 2,2, Berlin 2004. Titel of this volume: Instrumente des Sehens, edited by A. Fischel. Here i found a small article that grabbed my whole attention: Vermeer and the Problem of Painting Inside the Camera obscura by Philipp Steadman (76-86).

Jan Vermeer is a Dutch painter of the 17th century (1631-1675), who lived in Delft. The English wikipedia-article is not as detailed as the German one, and omits in the description of his life the small but important fact, that Vermeer was elected Dean of the St.-Lucas-guilt for several times in the 1660s and 1670s. The guilts were an important tool for the bourgoise self-administration in a medieval and early-modern town. They did not elect an unimportant poor “Hansel”, but it was an authoritative position and the keeper surely was expected to represent from his own means, and not on the costs of his fellow-masters. We re in a fully developed capitalist society here. Nevertheless he died poor and his widow had financial troubles, maybe the war between France and the Netherlands 1672-1679 played a role. He seemingly did not sell very much pictures on the marked but worked for customers and patrons.
His oeuvre is small, not more as 37 (some say 35) pictures are today adscribed to the master’s hands. He is famous for his small, detailed interiors. You have the feeling you could step in and have a talk and a glass of wine with the people. On this site you can dive in Vermeer’s world. And if you want to fly over the 17th century Delft, have a look here.

Of course the old masters used tools, and the knowledge of the camera obscura is old. But until now I did not know that Vermeer’s use of such a construction is not just a strong suspicion, but has to be seen as a fact. Here is an interview with Steadman about his book and the reactions on his theses and finds. And as I can see now there is no clear rejection by the “specialists”. In the small article that started my search Steadman says that Vermeer could have handeld color within the camera, directly on the canvas. It would be possible to do it, he built the thing and tried it out. There is picture of an elderly man inside the camera booth. I would like to know whether Steadman was able to reconstruct or give details about the lens Vermeeer used.

Writing about Vermeer is incomplete without at least mentioning Han van Meegeren, the master forger, again the German article being much more detailed.
Today van Meegeren’s work is a collectible for itself and he was honoured with retrospectives of his oeuvre, like Konrad Kujau later, who came to fame because of the Hitler diaries, but was an excellent painter and master-forger in his own right. Ironically forged “Kujau’s” were sold on e-bay some years ago … I liked Konny, he died 2000. Oh, and Orson: Here.