Tag: dissertation

Desk Sitting

It’s a real pleasure to sit at this desk. First of all, no draught. Second, I look up and see over my room to the (clean) window, which is now hidden behind a very nice orangey courtain that gives a warm light, I’d use the German word anheimelnd for it. On daytime I look out in the landscape and have roughly one-third greenery and two-thirds sky.
The dust is actually fought back, but I know that it is only a temporary ceasefire, the battle will go on. À propos dust, I have my old Röhrenradio now in reach. Tomorrow I will open its back carefully and de-dust the innards. The device is roughly seventy (?) years old, I am not sure whether it was opened before, but tubes tend to become pretty hot. And I want to use this radio and listen to the classic station, without the nagging fear of waking up from the smell of a burning old radio, made from wood, textile and Bakelite …
Oh, regarding music – I finally have the possibility to array my stereo and have it running, I am just unsure where to put the loudspeakers. I wonder whether I can get some of these old-fashioned connectors I need since I bought the thing (twenty years ago ?). In the long run it is not okay to just wriggle the cooper wire into the connecting “ports” or how-its-called. I mean, they are made the way they are made for a purpose. Like making sure that a signal is transmitted the best possible way ; “fixing in” some prickly cooper wire is not what the engineers had in mind. And it may be better for the sound too …
All this musical stuff will lead to the necessary re-location of the lps and cds, what means to shift some case boards, what means that books must be taken out, de-dusted & sorted – it will be an active winter …
A very nice result of helping a friend move a bureau is that I now sit in a very comfy chair that is actually made for people, who sit at desks : Bloody comfortable ! No more backache.
Left are my kitchen and the sleeping room. The kitchen window is a disgrace, when it’s really cold in winter I have to shut the kitchen door to keep the chill out. I will clean the whole thing tomorrow, every nook and cranny, and use any little strip of self-sticking seal I have left, to make it shut. I remember when these windows were put in, by a “Hau-Ruck”-gang of workers, who basically gave a damn whether the things were installed correctly, heck it doesn’t fall out, next … expanding foam is a friend …
The janitor was not very happy, because he had the task of re-adjusting and fine-tuning the thrown in plastic windows. I once could bribe him to make this for the one in my sleeping room, it was really too bad back then. The tenants on the other side of the house are really in a bad position, because it is the windy (and stormy) side (in spring and autumn, still to come), and one must make sure that the outpouring flows are open …
My sleeping room will see some changes too. In the end I decided to get rid of all these papers, materials I once collected to write my thesis. It is non-sense to harbour the belief that I’d write that thing. What for ? An academic degree ? Please … If I’d win the lottery and had all my time at my hands, & would no longer be forced to do actual work for my living and spent precious lifetime on this – would I chain meself to a desk for another two or three years to write this damn thing ?
Surely not.
I would work for another year and carefully plan my exit. I would care for another living space and then I’d go travelling, as long as I am able to do this with a working body and a functional brain, so that I recognise what I see in museums, collections and landscapes I really want to be in, together with the humans I want to know & spend time with.
After all I wrote an article about the topic of this hypothetical thesis, collected all materials necessary and it is published, so who ever (if anybody really wants to take this task) will do it, will have to start where I left. If I had money “wie Heu”, I’d finance this endeavour, set up a nice little foundation and let some young people work their arses off on this. It would result in a digital edition of some remote German texts nobody knows today. But I wrote these articles roughly twenty years ago, the texts in question are nearly four hundred years old, so what – ? We do not seem to be in a rush here …
I need the space, the materials / secondary lit etc. are already outdated and hence obsolete, the discussion has went on as I could follow, & throwing out that garbage will perhaps give me the chance to organise the (little) stuff that is really me, my own, its less enough. So enough of this selfish blab. And just because you stayed with me and read until here, a little blues number by Frank TANNEHILL, another long forgotten bloke who did his own thing, & vanished.
Hope you enjoy it.

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Bucket please …

“In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upwardly mobile”

Hunter S. Thompson, The Great Shark Hunt, 1979

I wrote about the great German politicians and persons to be respected, who lately fell into disgrace (here) in MAY of this year 2011, namely the former secretary of war, Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg. Guttenberg is the one, who copied and pasted his whole dissertation; he was promoted to the doctorate by the university of Bayreuth, and summa cum laude became doctor iuris.
He had to be stepped down, and with much fanfare moved with his family to the US, sometime in the summer of this year, if I remember right.
Now we have November. The baronet last week made his first public appearance at the Halifax International Security Conference, where he staged himself as the critic, independent, honourable, conservative.
The public prosecutor of  Hof yesterday announced that the proceedings against the plagiator is discontinued, because there “is no harm” – the defendant has to pay 20.000 Euro to a charity, what is already done. Please note: That means that he goes unpunished, without conviction, ohne Vorstrafe.
Today we have to face “the first big interview” as lead story in DIE ZEIT, a former honourable weekly, head editor diLorenzo unashamed provides the stage for the “aristocrat’s” showmanship.
And as I just read there, in the coming days a book with the whole baronet-blabla will be thrown at us, released in a catholic publishing house.
The hillbillies in Oberfranken really have the effrontery to speak of this cheap fraudster as Lichtgestalt, a shining light for the conservative party. The bloke with not one single word said “sorry” or admitted to have stolen the whole damn text, he always speaks of “a mistake”.
And he’ll get through with this. Impudence wins.

Or, as H.S.Th. put it: The scum is always rising.

I’m too blöd to write a thesis

I am afraid I have to admit here publically that I am dumb as shit.
I keep, wrapped in yellow sacks (pic) (nowadays called “Mix-Säcke”, ahh yes …) the copies I made from articles and source materials for my thesis in the early 90s and following years. I stored it on top of my bedroom closet when I moved in this small appartement. I have all the files I started still sitting on a hard drive built-in this computer, and hope that the upward compatibility still works – not something to be sure of thanks to Microschuft changing formats randomly now and then. I even had a lay-out of the text, a kind of roadmap what to use where.
But to produce such a text one needs time, and no disturbances. The idea that one can do this after the day’s work is nonsense: After whatever you do to make ends meet, you need a beer to unwind, you need to clean your kitchen, you want to be with somebody else, you do not sit down and dive deep into early 17th century literature, politics and social history to create a Lebensbild of your author.
All nonsense. Totally wrong approach. It goes much easier. Just upend your slipbox (nur den Zettelkasten umstülpen ), copy and paste the texts you collected – and Hurray this is it. This is what some people did, who reached high public positions here, in Germany and in Europe:
Herr zu Guttenberg was secretary of war: The University of Bayreuth abjudicated his title “doctor”.
The daughter of the former Ministerpräsident of Bavaria, Veronica Saß, has her title seized by the University of Konstanz.
Silvana Koch-Mehrin, ex-vice-president of the European parliament, stepped down from all political charges, while the University of Heidelberg is checking her thesis for plagiarizing – and they will find enough, that’s for sure.
All these honourable people simply ripped off: They simply copied and pasted, not only one or two sentences, Saß even went so far to copy a forty-page article into her work.
The prize for the most disgusting explanation  goes to zu Guttenberg, he declared, that the “pressure of his family” made him do it.

These people and their careers are just symptoms. I saw seminar works that were built to this muster, from people in the first or second semester. Normally we then had a nice conversation or discussion about the tools, about Handwerkszeug and how to use it – and about my interest in their thoughts, thoughts of their own.
Fuggidaboudit.
You do not need to think: Just copy.
Or as Karl KRAUS (Ger., Eng.) put it: Es genügt nicht, keine Gedanken zu haben. Man muss auch unfähig sein, sie auszudrücken.
(Roughly: It’s not enough to have no thoughts, you also must be unable to express them.)

The question here is: Who “examined” these works of genius? Who waved these people through the whole process of promotion ? Who decorated them with the holy title?
And besides the academic perturbations, these people are symptomatic for a whole generation of politicians, who absolutely lack any kind of virtue, modesty and honourableness: They are proofed beliers, thieveries and defrauders. They reached high positions, earned a lot of money and “took responsibility”, for whatever – what the heck!
Guttenberg was at the right position at the right time, he is very good in self-marketing, a political impersonator. Saß, ach forget it. Koch-Mehrin has the intellectual depth of a puddle, and – as Guttenberg – was transported into her position because of the proportional representation of the parties: One of the so-called “liberals” must be vice-president. And there was nobody else around: So – just do it Babe!

Something is wrong. In the academic practice, in politics, in the society. On  national (German) and European level. Liberty (whatever it is, at least a dangerous word) is replaced by whateverism. And we already see the weakest societies, as Hungary f.e., becoming an easy prey for the all so easy solutions. No wonder that John Paul II becomes a Saint.

Vanity

Came across a man who calls himself in a publication “Dr. des.”. Never heard about that academic title or university degree. Comes out that he wants it to be read as doctor designatus.
Whow.
Doctor from the latin verb doceo – I teach – means teacher. Ammianus speaks of liberalium artium doctores, Sueton of doctores sapientiae: teachers of the liberal (free) arts or teachers of wisdom. The grade or title is received from an university: You follow a regulated course, normally you write a thesis and have an examination that can take up to two hours or more; if you did it all with success, the university gives you a paper on which it confirms that you did it all according to the rules. It is an “akademischer Grad” and there are legal regulations about it.
I know the doctor jur[is], teacher of the laws; doctor med[icinae], teacher of medicine; doctor phil[osphiae], the teacher of knowledge, and the doctor rer[um] oec[onomicarum], the teacher of economical things: There is no doctor designatus.
It is silly. Like the students in higher semesters that call themselves cand[idatus] phil[osphiae] – a vain mockery.

The old magister artium is about to vanish and will be replaced by B.A. and “Master of Arts”.
Okay, anything changes; but it is not about latin names – it is about the idea of study. The new “Masters” follow a class-like, schoolish system with “points”, that are added at the end. That is not study, that is school. That is something to be found at the German “Fachhochschule (FH)”, where all the engineers come from, and maybe it is good there. It is not the idea of the university as it was created and “institutionalized” by WIlhelm von Humboldt, who actually founded what we called later “die deutsche Universität”. It was meant to be a free (liberal) space for people to think, to be creative, to form themselves – not to be another classroom!

The Alma Mater was a pretty bitch two times: First in the thirties when she allowed all her Jewish children to be expelled – she simply shut up and did not say a word. Heidelberg was the worst place. Second time was some years ago when the “Habilitation” was abolished, a specialty here. And bang a whole generation of people stood out there and asked themselves what they had done all the years, while working on to get this kind of grade. Hand in hand with that came a shortening of the “Mittelbau”, the positions literally “in the middle” between the professors and the students: All the assistants and “Akademische Räte” and “Oberassistent” that did the work: Cut’em up! In this time the professors kept quiet – not ONE single voice was to be heard: Their position was strengthened and fortified.
Today these people are smallish Gods – again – and if this god is an asshole … you can do nothing about it. Professor comes from profiteor, to speak out openly, in public; it means that you are a public teacher, “to profess” is in the word’s spectrum.

It depends on the individual, its dignity and worthiness. And a study aims to the development of this individual, it’s ability to think, understand, create. The aim can not be to push as many people as possible in a short time through some curriculum, so that they are ready for the “holy” “market”, for the big nonsense, for making money and profit. And nothing else. The idea of Humboldt was to give them the tools that enable them to think for themselves and not make them re-produce: That is the difference between school and university.
And doctor designatus is just so eager to get a title, that he imagines one of his own. Go, buy one.