„Erudite“ austere wrote.
The word „eruditio“ literally means to bring someone out of his/her raw state; „rudis“ meaning „raw“ and „red“, the praefix „e(x)“ out and the suffix „ditio“ from „dare“, what in this combination can be thought of as our „to do“ – literally to give or to bring. In summa: to bring out of the raw. The erudite is a refined person, an educated one. Am I this?

Yesterday I attended the first meeting for the new semester in a small university. We were more teaching personal (the head, her assistant, two temporary lecturers (a collegue and me, Lehrbeauftragte), two students as tutors: 6 persons) than students (5, two coming by after nearly an hour) – they gathered in the cafes in the old town centre …
I met a young man whom I know to be near the end of his studying. I asked him whether he has a theme for his final work. He asked me about a certain area in the northern part of Bavaria and – being born there – I could tell him that it was terra incognita, because after the war the inner-german border put this area to nowhere – the world had an end there and no ethnological research was done for at least 40 years.
He smiled and told me that he would specialize in this area and pick some „material“ theme, like house-building or clothes or something like that, because these theoretical, scientific ideas would be too „unmaterial“ for him.

At this moment I felt like a relic, a remnant, something left over from a feast. Old. He will become a specialist, he will do good work because he learned the trade, what means that he attended the seminars and learned the methods, got an insight in the literature and learned to help himself within „the business“. He will finish his study, get the degree and he will „get a job“, maybe at a museum in the area. Do not get me wrong: I am delighted for him, he does nothing wrong, he will make a living from what he studied.
That’s not it.
It is all different from my idea of studying, from my life and everything I have done. It is absolutly different from my idea of science, especially from a science that deals with something like „culture“, „Vergleichende Kulturwissenschaft“ (Comparing science of culture) as some modernists once called the good old „Volkskunde“ – all is today summarized in the „European Ethnology“.
I studied because I fell in love with thinking – and I am still. I have no regular job and I am living on the brink of bankerot. I am no specialist for a certain geographical area or for something like – pottery.
I know how to lead a museum, a group, a project – I have done this – and I know how NOT to do this. I know a lot about authority. It is given to one and if it is used for betrayal once it is gone for ever. I can use it. I never wanted these experiences. I always wanted to read and write and think. Give a lecture from time to time. About the 16th and 17th century in Europe, geistes- und kulturwissenschaftliche Abteilung. Again: Do not get me wrong: I do not complain or lament. Things happen.
But this young man … Clean, polished, smooth, self-confident, awake – yes … Taking his alcoven, finding his nieche: He will be a good craftsman.

Arrogance is one of the deadly sins. I know.

At official appointments I am the one in the caramel suit.

What is Culture to you?

I invite everybody to drop by the “culture-blog” to leave a comment, a thought, what ever answer to the question:
What is culture to you?

I set it up today, because I will have the first session of a seminar dealing with “cultural theories” in the late afternoon and thought it to be a good idea to ask the (blogging-)world about its idea of “culture”.

I would like you to help me to make this site known by linking it and posting a notice on your blog – let us see what comes out of it!

Return to normal

Easter full of sun, blossoms and scents, what a joy to be alive.
Back to the desk, reading, writing, going on.
Now I am an official resident of this community, I was handed the village-calendar. On one of the photographs I found the house I live in. Playing with “google earth” I could find the car I used on the parking lot.
Back to work, searching other people’s ancestors.


Here we go again. I tried to phograph out of my new kitchenwindow, but the results were thus disappointing, that I did not want them to be seen by anybody! Maybe in the evening, when the sun sets on the other site of the house. It is amazing to see how old habits survive in new surroundings. For example I ritually put on my watch, ring, wallet, handkerchief or put them in diverse pockets – but where to put them in the evening in the new room? I remember watching my father doing his preparations for the day in a similar way and I thought that I would never do such a ridiciulous thing! But rituals structure the flow of live that otherways would be without form. The weekend saw me transcribing letters from the 19th century Germans in America wrote to each others. The “originals” I had were grey photocopies, but amazingly it worked. I can not always be such a good original as the 16th century billing I worked on before. Here you see a cutting from it.

Mr. Telekom did fix my telephonline, not my private net-connection … Ah yes.