Don't just do something, stand there

Oct. 25th, 2016 07:03 pm
oursin: George Beresford photograph of Marie of Roumania, overwritten 'And I AM Marie of Roumania' (Marie of Roumania)
[personal profile] oursin

Leading doctors list dozens of procedures that 'give no benefit'.

40 things you can stop doing right now: A group of senior doctors has released a list of 40 procedures it considers to have little or no benefit. Could we apply similar thinking to everyday life?

Some medical treatments are pointless. But will patients want to know?

The truth is that many aspects of life are simply uncontrollable. Ageing, infertility, death and disease – even broken bones – are most often out of our hands. And hearing this news now, post-Brexit, when unemployment, housing and the economy are looking so precarious is an added kick in the teeth. When things are this bad, we want the illusion of control at least.

Partly, I suppose, this is because people feel they need to be Doing Something - is it not well-documented that people expect to come away from a GP appointment with a prescription, which has led to the massive over-prescribing of antibiotics for conditions for which they are not even a treatment. Also, I guess, docs like to feel that they are Doing Something.

I suppose Doing Something may at least be something to occupy one while Nature's Healing Powers take effect...*

I also wonder how much this relates to a society that supposes that you can Fix Things and you should - I was absolutely horrified at that, I think it was Lemsip, ad, that claimed that if you took it you would be able to get into work even with the flu. How bad an idea is that?

I'm fairly sure that there are several things I do less because I see any positive benefit than because a) they are a habit and b) the 'always keep a hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse' mindset that maybe things would be worse without.

*Not that I am advising the kind of Extreme Rest that was involved in Weir Mitchell's Rest Cure rather than a more moderate regime of Taking Things Easy if one is not feeling quite the thing.

Word from the antipodes

Oct. 25th, 2016 09:17 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

I can hear most agreeable sounds of rehearsal that come from the reception room, where Mr G- D- is foregather’d with Miss L-, Meg, and Titus.

But still more agreeable is the fine fat letter I hold in my hand, that comes from my dearest Abby and reports 'em all safe land’d in New South Wales and all quite flourishing. 'Tis exceeding pretty to see Ellie N-'s wondering delight at the beauties of the place – sure she has become a deal less stiff and proper now she comes to know 'em, and the benign climate quite works magick upon her.

But she is still very dutyfull about giving little C- and Tommie lessons in the form of play, and already goes teach the convicts their letters and numbers.

There were a few of their little flock that sadly had somewhat of a relapse during their absence, but the most of 'em have been most diligent, and several made the most usefull observations on various phaenomena.

Sure she is entire delight’d to be back where she may dress for her comfort and for practicality, tho’ she and dear Mr T- have had a deal of invitations in what constitutes Port Jackson society, that quite longs to hear how matters go Back Home. And, she confides, to see her dresst in the crack of Town fashion, that leads the ladies to suppose she must be a great authority in the matter of styles - she can quite hear dearest C- laugh quite immoderate as she reads this.

(As indeed I do.)

They take a little concern that there has been no news from the scientifick expedition, but indeed, when one considers the extreme chancyness of communications once they are quite got into the wilderness, one should not fret overmuch.

The dear twins are now wean’d, the pretty darlings, and she is in some supposition that she may be increasing again: sure, my dearest C-, I can see your troubl’d frown, and I daresay you go wonder are there no spunges in the antipodes, but 'tis entire a delight to me.

She hopes that all those that are dear to dearest C- are flourishing, in particular that most beauteous of infants, and also confides that dearest C- has a deal of contrivances upon hand, for 'twould not be her did she not.

I look up from the letter somewhat tearfull. What a deal of matter I have to tell dear Abby when I reply. I put it into the drawer of my desk where I keep letters that must be reply’d to at length, and go be dutyfull about my other correspondence.

Hector shows in Sandy, that is follow’d in very short order by Celeste with coffee and parkin.

How now, dear sibyl, I apprehend that there are letters arriv’d from the antipodes? Miss N- gave out quite a shriek this morn that I was inform’d came from that good news.

Indeed, says I, they all arriv’d safe and are about the business of their days once more. O, but 'tis such a long way, and who know what may have come since they writ?

Why, do not borrow trouble, dearest C-.

Sure I am a foolish creature, says I.

Sandy looks at me very affectionate and says, he doubts not that the matter troubles the silly creature so because there is nothing that she may have her hands upon to contrive, she must be oblig’d to wait upon events.

You quite find me out, o bello scozzese! Action at a distance is not answerable when the distance is so great. But do you have any news the morn?

Why, says he, we are successful in getting Mr D- K-'s heir elect’d to the club of his desire: sure it helpt that he is such an obscure fellow that none knew him well enough to get up a blackballing, so all went off exceeding smooth. So we gradually come round to providing for the widow, tho’ sure she will not be able to live very high, once all the debts are paid off.

I have not, says I, had any recent intelligence from her: but sure had she gone murder the dreadfull crocodile at Tunbridge Wells I daresay we should have heard.

I confide 'twould have been report’d upon.

I pour him some more coffee and ask does he go to this antiquarian conversazione where the Marquess of O- will talk upon the Incas?

Indeed so. Of course one has read of ‘em and what a very remarkable civilisation they had before the Spanish came, but 'twill be exceeding delightfull to see some of the objects they made -

- dearest C-, I see you anticipate that I shall go expatiate upon the Incas. Be assur’d, I have sufficient matters to be about that I may not linger in order to do so.

La, says I, so I shall remain an ignorant silly creature.

Sandy looks about the room and observes that there is a fine book about the Incas, that the Marquess of O- has very kindly lent me, lyes upon a low table. Dear C-, keep your protestations of ignorance for Mr W- Y-.

Have you, he goes on, heard about his latest freak? Goes take the laughing gas, that is given out to produce visions.

Sure, says I, he would do better to go lesson himself with Aristarchus, that has made so many stringent criticisms upon his work, and I do not think giggling visions will correct the matter.

Let us hope, says Sandy, endeavouring to keep a straight face, that he does not have visions of swans.

That would be amuzing, says I, sure I am a bad wick’d C-.

I hope that does he read your tale of a daemonick swan, he does not go speculate upon authorship.

Sure 'twould be a wonder, says I, that such a pretty featherwit could string a sentence together.

Why, we may hope that the masquerade continues to deceive him – but I must be about my business, and must not be detain’d by the agreeableness of our converse.

Indeed, says I, sure I must be about mine, I have been so distract’d the morn.

We part with excellent feeling between us.

I am extreme dutyfull and write a deal of letters in which I act the diplomat among the orphanage ladies. I must also contrive some manner of warning Lady D-, that shows some inclination to taking up the orphanage, which is indeed a most deserving cause, but she would be an entire Babe in the Woods among 'em.

But at length I look up, and stretch myself, and take out from its secret drawer my miniature of my precious Flora and kiss it.

And I mind me that I have the most excellent excuse to go visit R- House, for sure all will be pleas’d to hear that the T-s are arriv’d in New South Wales and are well, and I daresay Miss N- would be extreme delight’d to hear of the very fine things Abby has to say about her sister and how well she gets on.

Sure I quite long to see my darlings even if we may not be in triangle.

So I desire Docket to array me for this visit – Docket sniffs, for she apprehends that this means a gown in which I may go be a tiger am I thus desir’d without I damage it too desperate – and take my carriage, into which Hector has very thoughtfull plac’d a box of coals, to R- House.

The footman that opens the door says that the mistress and the master are in the study, and have company.

O, says I, I shall not disturb 'em, I shall go to the schoolroom.

So I make my way to the schoolroom, where Miss N- cannot stop smiling, even tho’ she endeavours to explain certain matters in arithmetick to Quintus, that it seems is having some difficulty over 'em. The girls are busy about compositions. (Josh, I confide, is somewhere with Mr McN- studying the classicks.)

How now, says I, how do you all?

O, Lady B-, cries Miss N-, I have had such a fine letter from Ellie, that is arriv’d safe at Port Jackson and likes it extremely.

And I, says I, have had a good long letter from Mrs T-, that has very fine things to say about your sister and how she goes get a grip on the work that is need’d out there.

O, cries Bess, how are the twins? (sure she was greatly taken with the twins.)

I sit down and Miss N- and I go almost antiphonal to recount the news we have receiv’d – sure, indeed this is entire educational - the exceeding good feeling that there is 'twixt the T-s and Ellie N- - the very great desire of the convicts of the congregation for learning - the flourishing of the children – the invitations into society among the officers and officials and the free settlers that trade and farm &C – the extreme fine climate - the very curious flora and fauna –

She sounds so exceeding happy, says Miss N- with a little joyfull tearfullness.

I take my leave of em and go peep into the nursery, where my darling jewel shows touchingly affectionate, as well as desiring her tiger.

Sure, thinks I, by now any company must have left, I will go look in upon my darlings.

So I go to the family room, and find that Eliza and Josiah are engag’d in a lively conversation about the polish factory with Sebastian K-.

He rises and makes me a most exceeding polisht leg.

Eliza goes ring for tea.

I say to Sebastian K- that I am glad to see him return’d well from his travels and hope they were agreeable.

Indeed, says Josiah, twould be a great pleasure to hear of 'em – Mr K- came on his father’s behalf about some matters to do with the factory – but I think we are all conclud’d by now and ready to hear of his adventures.

Twould be a pleasure, says Sebastian K-.

We sit looking at him like children that hope for a story.

oursin: Photograph of small impressionistic metal figurine seated reading a book (Reader)
[personal profile] oursin

The book has always been a sign of status and refinement; a declaration of self-worth – even for those who hate to read:

The contrast between an 18th-century woman reading a book and a teenager gazing at her smartphone illustrates the different ways we construct identity through reading

I think he's either ignoring, or ignorant of, a very long tradition of frenzied moral panic over women readers: are they reading?! ('tes flying in the face of nature'); what they're reading (novels, any/novels, trashy, depending on period); how they're reading (because a teenager gazing at her smartphone couldn't possibly be accessing the riches of world literature, could she?)

Also, was Virginia W dissing on the Common Reader? did she not consider herself (one of those uneducated daughters of educated men) a Common Reader rather than an elite critic?

Elementary 5.03

Oct. 24th, 2016 04:43 pm
selenak: (Holmes and Watson by Emme86)
[personal profile] selenak
In which Sherlock's affection for Gregson is given a heartwarming outing, he turns out to share Norma Bates' way of thinking on at least one issue, and we get continuity on Joan's Mafia geekness, but the true question of the hour is: did Joan just hint she'd be okay with a Sherlock/Marcus/Joan threesome?

Read more... )

(no subject)

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:41 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Happy birthday, [personal profile] innocentsmith and [personal profile] intothespin!

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

I go visit Lady N-: 'tis alas no weather to take her driving: 'tis cold with a chill rain that sometimes turns to sleet, but 'tis agreeable to go see her and observe how much interest she finds in the matter of furbishing O- House.

O, she cries as I enter her chamber and find her, with Selina’s assistance, perusing some samples of wallpaper, quite the most amuzing thing.

Really, my dear? says I. Say on.

She smiles and looks for a moment like a naughty child, and says, her husband the Earl came talk over with her this matter of how skittish our dear Nan goes over this fine propos’d match, that he does not see how she could have any objection to, and can I not bring a mother’s advice to the matter to show what an excellent thing it would be.

Why, I say to him, she goes on, 'tis entire pity you did not open the matter to me before you disclos’d your intent to her, for I could then have prepar’d her mind for it, given her maternal counsel about the benefits of a suitable match. Instead you have fright’d her by putting it to her so sudden, so she goes act like a nervous filly, 'tis entire understandable.

Oh, says he, indeed I will mind of that when it comes to her sisters. But meanwhile, might you endeavour to bring her into a better frame of mind? Sure this volatility of hers gives the Marquess some concern and I am in great fears that he may cry off.

I laugh somewhat immoderate, and Selina, that has been about curling up in my lap, gives me an affront’d stare, and jumps down again.

Indeed, says Lady N-, 'tis quite the comedy. She then looks a little melancholick and says, she sometimes feels most entire envious of her girls when they come in and tell her about when they go to the play with Her Grace.

I give a little grin and say, alas, I confide that amateur theatrickals are not quite the same thing.

But sure, she says, it keeps 'em busy and out of mischief: 'tis excellent to see how they continue practice while Miss A- is in Harrogate.

Why, says I, 'tis most exemplary and perchance I should offer go see how they get on some time.

My dear Lady B-, they would be quite ecstatick! Most exceeding kindly of you.

Sure, says I, I feel some responsibility for the matter.

We go convoke a little over wallpaper.

There is a noise outside the door and a sound as of scuffling, and then the door opens and quite tumble in two young gentlemen and Lord Geoffrey, follow’d by an older fellow.

O, cries Lady N-, holding out her arms, my dearest U-! and Eddy! sure I did not expect to see you this age.

They both go make exceeding affectionate to their mama, exclaim that she looks extreme well, sure they have a deal of matter to tell her and presents when they unpack their trunks.

But, my dears, do you not observe that I have company? – they both stand up and put themselves a little more in order – Lady B-, may I present my sons Lord U- and Lord Edward?

Enchant’d, says I, extending my hand and making a curtesy.

Once these introductions have been made, Lord U- turns to Lord Geoffrey and says, sure I thought this was just one of your exaggerations, you dog.

He and his brother go punch one another in the shoulder and scuffle affectionately.

The older fellow clears his throat and says, he fears this boisterousness will upset the Countess.

'Tis an entire delight to have my boys back safe and in good spirits, says Lady N-, but, Lady B-, permit me to introduce Sir C- F-, that is U-'s godfather and has very kindly bear-led U- and Eddy about the Grand Tour.

Sir C- F- and I look at one another and both give a little private smile; for, some several years since, we spent a most delightfull summer together at Brighton. I make him a curtesy and he makes me a leg. He then looks again at Lady N- and I confide he has a very chivalrous devotion towards her.

Indeed you are looking well, Lady N-, he says, but who would not when you have such excellent company?

Lord U- and Lord Edward go perch beside their mother on the chaise-longue.

Why, says I, this is a family reunion, sure I should be leaving.

There is some clamour that indeed they would not drive me away, but I am determin’d, and say I will return another day to talk over the matter Lady N- and I were about.

Lord U- notes the wallpaper samples and says, what, has Papa finally been persuad’d to a redecoration?

Lord Geoffrey snorts and says, is the moon blue? I confide 'tis for the furbishment of O- House.

Sir C- F- remarks that indeed he had heard that Lord Anthony had succeed’d as Marquess and 'twould be like that he would be opening up O- House. But he takes a little surprize that Lady N- is bother’d over the matter.

He then glances at me and I see him speculate that perchance I go marry another Marquess, and adds, tho’ Lady B- shows a fine appreciation of Lady N-'s taste -

And, blurts Lord Geoffrey, 'tis hop’d that 'twill be to Nan’s liking, that still goes dither over this proposal.

Both his brothers start speaking at once: I apprehend that they have not yet heard about this intend’d marriage.

Really, says I, this is family business and I must be gone.

Sir C- F- escorts me to the door and says he is delight’d to see me in such fine state. Indeed, while they were in Prague and afterwards they heard a deal about Lady B- from my great admirer young Mr K- - an excellent fellow, exceeding good ton.

He then sighs and lowering his voice, says, he confides that the Earl is still the same nip-cheese about domestick expenditure?

I nod. 'Tis not just my own observation, then?

Alas, no, I have been friend of the family these many years and have endeavour’d to bring him to a more generous practice.

Dear Sir C-, says I, why do you not come and take tea with me – or I have some exceeding excellent port in my cellar – for I see that you are a great friend to the family and indeed one sees that there are certain matters that perchance an old friend might contrive to improve.

When my carriage comes round, he looks at the box and says, what, is that Ajax, that rode so many winners?

Indeed, says I, was oblig’d to give up the turf.

And is that fine fellow Hercules – no, Hector? – still in your service? Sure Sir B- W- was most put about that his intend’d prizefighter had found other occupation.

But indeed, he says, you have risen in the world. I am entire delight’d for you – tho’, 'tis true, I am most glad that you have not been oblig’d to go write your memoirs to supply your retirement.

O, fie upon it! I cry, 'tis exceeding poor ton.

The tales you might tell – he goes on with a smile.

Silent as the grave, says I, tapping a finger to my lips.

He looks out of the window and says, still the same charming house? Would have thought you might be found in state at B- House.

O, says I, I daresay you heard the shocking tale of the present Marquess, the intending bigamist and incarcerate lunatick? that was living there in entire squalor until he was convey’d to that fine madhouse in Sussex.

He laughs and says, sure he has been being a country gentleman these several years and seldom hears the on-dits of Town. Does he look at the newspapers 'tis to see how fat-stock prices go.

We go in and he greets Hector very civil. I desire Hector to bring port, and some tea for myself.

Sir C- looks about my pretty parlour and says, why, is that not good old General Y-'s portrait of his bibi? Had it in his trophy-room at his fine place in Surrey: those were fine bachelor parties.

Comes Hector with port, follow’d by Celeste with tea and what I observe to be currie-puffs.

O, so you still have that fine cook?

I explain that Seraphine is now marry’d and in Milord’s employ, but that Euphemia, that is marry’d to Hector, was school’d by her in the culinary arts.

We sit vis-à-vis by the fire. He sips his port – most excellent, he says, you must tell me your wine merchant – then gazes into the fire a little and says that indeed he is concern’d for the poor Countess.

One sees that you are very fond of her.

He sighs and says he had hop’d to marry her, but her parents were extreme eager for her to marry an Earl’s heir. And in those days he had not become the penny-pinching wretch he later show’d.

Does not pinch pennies over everything, says I. Spends a deal upon his hobby-horse of botany and hortickulture.

Indeed, says Sir C-. But 'tis a delicate matter to point out a fellow’s miserly ways and the hurt they do to his family. Sure 'twas entirely my pleasure to take the young fellows about a Grand Tour, in my position as young U-'s godfather; but I confide 'tis not my place to go provide a fine comfortable invalid carriage for Lady N-, much tho’ I should like to. 'Twould look somewhat particular.

Indeed, says I with a sigh, but your sentiments do you a deal of credit. I am now become quite an intimate of the household, and go about to see is there anything I can do –

He gives a little laugh and says, sure, he recalls certain contrivances when we were in Brighton.

I put on an innocent expression.

Frankfurt Book Fair II

Oct. 24th, 2016 09:03 am
selenak: (Kate Hepburn by Misbegotten)
[personal profile] selenak
The Frankfurt Book Fair always ends with the Peace Award of the German Book Trade, which is handed over in the Paulskirche, St. Paul's, a secularized church which is one of the few places reliably prone to make me go sentimental in a way related to my country of origin. It's our big might have been: the place where the first German freely elected parliament took place in 1848, working on a constitution that never was, because the 1848/49 revolution was aborted and instead we got the Empire and lots of Untertanengeist (subject mentality).

Anyway, the other reason why I'm prone to feel sentimental about the Paulskirche is that listening to the winners of this award usually is thoughtprovoking and moving. This year was no exception. It went to Carolin Emcke, who as opposed to some earlier winners (Susan Sontag, David Grossman, Svetlana Alexejivich two years before she got the Nobel, etc.) probably isn't known outside of Germany, but deserves to be, because she's fabulous. Journalist (first war correspondant, then columnist for several of our major media outlets), writer, activist; at least one of her books is also published in English (Echoes of Violence. Letters from a War Reporter. Princeton University Press, Princeton / Oxford 200), so you can check it out. She's also openly gay, and while she's not the first Peace award winner to be so, she's the first who made this a part of her acceptence speech; more about this in a moment.

One main reason why she got the award is that in this time of the public discourse going down the drains and hate speech becoming more and more acceptable for main stream politicians to use, she keeps writing on against this without letting herself be goaded into bashing rethoric as well. An early example of this was the first thing I've read from her, a meditation on the RAF and how to approach terrorists, by which if you're German you don't mean the Royal Air Force but the Rote Armee Fraktion, or the Baader Mainhof Group in English; this to MS. Emcke was no abstract subject, because her godfather, Alfred Herrhausen, was killed by them, and her description of the day it happened and the day after in the essay capture the numbness of shock, the devastation, so incredibly well that you feel it all over again.

Heinrich Riethmüller, the President of the German Book Seller's Association, who'd given such a moving openining speech on Tuesday evening, quoted both the poet Rose Ausländer and the philosopher Hannah Arendt in his concluding speech, both of whom of course in their time refugees and intimately familiar of what hate and nationalism can do. (I was briefly taken out of the mood by him referring to Odysseus as "literature's first refugee" whom we wouldn't know about if Homer hadn't written , though, because it makes my inner myth lover protest. Odysseus doesn't really fit the bill, Mr. Riethmüller, because his ten years gallivanting around the Mediterranean post war in Troy happened with the knowledge that he's got a kingdom awaiting, and they mostly were due to having pissed off one of the gods, Poseidon. If you really want to make a refugee comparison to survivors of the Trojan war, I'd go for the Trojans. Yes, I like the Odyseee better than than Aenead, too, but Aeneas and his followers to fit the bill: survivors of a city destroyed by war which they can't return to, seeking a new home.) The central idea of Riehtmüller's speech, which the laudator of the event, Seyla Benhabib, then evolved was how language - and the context between violence and language, violence and lack of language, which Carolin Emcke has written about - is instrumental to any hope we might have for change.

Seyla Benhabib - who as opposed to Ms. Emcke has an English language wiki entry I can link you to - took as her opening image Paul Klee's Angelus Novus and Walter Benjamin's famous interpretation of same, and related this directly to Carolin Emcke's writing in what was to me one of the most memorable descriptions of the day: "Even if, as Benjamin says, you can't put together again what was destroyed, you can redeem/release/deliver" - she used the word "erlösen", which means all of these in German - "it by telling its story. Carolin Emcke has the gift of naming issues and narrating them in such a way that the silence in which violence, cruelty and torture cloak themselves is broken apart."

Then it was Carolin Emcke's turn. And she started with a joke which at the end of her speech she returned into, turning it into a great reallying call in anything but a joking manner: "Wow," she said, "so this is what it looks like from up here, from this perspective", going on to mention how she used to watch the ceremony in the Paulskirche and the speeches each year from childhood onwards, first from the tv and then from the audience. Then she got serious, talking about the various way identity is constructed - religious, national, even musical - at which point you could feel the audience be just a little complacent and nodding along, when the first zinger happened; the referred to an (in)famous occasion in the 1990s when Martin Walser was the award's recipient (you can read about the controversy here) and, quoth Carolin Emcke, the Jewish members of the audience like Ignaz Bubis had to sit there and listen to a speech "in which the terrible suffering of their own family was reduced from a crime against humanity to a 'moral club'". Talk about defining identity.

Next, she spoke about being queer, and this was when you felt a part of the audience sit up and another, who'd been ready to nod along to the general "nationalism and hate speech evil" message, be uneasily reminded of their own prejudices. Because yes, we've had a vice chancellor who was openly gay, but good lord, we're far from being no discrimination paradise. Carolin Emcke talked about how she was quickly disabused of the notion that falling in love with another woman was in society regarded as a private matter that only concerned her and her partner: "It is a truly weird experience that something so deeply personal should be so important to others that they claim for themselves the privilege of entering our lives and take rights and dignity from us. As if the way we love matters more to others than too ourselves, as if our love and our bodies don't belong to us but to those who oppose to pathologize them. There's a an inherent irony here: it's as if our sexuality serves less to define ourselves but them. Sometimes the obsession Islamophobes have with the headscarf appears quite similar to me. It's as if the headscarf means more to them, who never wear it, than to those who chose to."

Her detailing how sexual identity is treated culminated in this passionate appeal: "So we're allowed to write books which are taught in schools, but the way we love is supposed to described in school books according to the wishes of some parents only as something 'to be tolerated' and most certainly not as something to be respected? We're arrowed to speak in the Paulskirche, but not to marry or adopt children? Sometimes I wonder whose dignity is damaged here: ours, as we're declared to not quite belong, or the dignity of those who want to reduce our rights? Human rights aren't a zero sum game. Nobody loses theirs if they're given to everyone."

(Go figure: our right-oriented meda like the FAZ predictably reacted to this in their commentary with 'we're with you about how hate speech is bad, but did you have to mention all this queer stuff?' Reminded me of the conservative reviews of The State versus Fritz Bauer last year , which: Bauer noble, Nazis boo, but why did the movie have to keep mentioning that Bauer was gay? Which is exactly why Ms. Emcke has such a point. See, that's why I read the left wing SZ instead.)

The last third of her speech was devoted to a dissection of "the climate of fanaticism and violence currenctly pervading Europe", the revived dogma of "the 'homogenous' people, the 'true' religion, the 'original' tradition, a 'natural' family, and an 'authentic' nation: "No, they probably don't stand in the streets themselves and spread terror, these populists and purity fantastics, they don't throw fire bombs into refugee shelters with their own hands, don't strip Muslim women of the hijab or Jewish men of the kippa, they don't hunt Polish or Romanian Europeans, they don't attack black Germans themselves - they don't hate and hurt on their own. Sie lassen hassen. (Hard to translate exactly, because "They let hate" doesn't mean the same thing, nor does "they make hate happen".) They deliver patterns made of resentments and prejudice to the public discourse, they manufacture racist product placements, all these little vicious phrases and imagery used to stigmatize and to take away dignity, used to humiliate and attack people.

"They manufacture racist product placements" sums it up exactly. If you've noticed the repeated mention of the word "dignity", btw, this is not least because the preamble to our constitution, written with the Nazi experience directly behind us, starts with "Die Würde des Menschen ist uinantastbar" - "human dignity shall be inviolable". Against a patriotism that excludes and defines itself by being against others, Carolin Emcke suggested "Verfassungspatriotismus", patriotism defining itself by love of the contitution. I thought that was a marvellous idea, and evidently so did our head of state, President Johannes Gauck, who was in the audience and who later at the post award lunch said in a short speech of his own that he was sick of all the hate speech in the name of patriotism (no wonder, given that he and Chancellor Merkel were shouted at as "traitors" in Dresden at this year's national holiday): "Ich bin ein Verfassungspatriot." ("I am a patriot of the constitution.")

The question of what to do in these times: "Keep starting again", said Carolin Emcke. "We can always start again, both as individuals and as a society. (...) Nobody can do this alone. It needs all in a civilian population. Democratic history is created by everyone. A democratic story -" the German word for story and for history is the same, "Geschichte" - "is stold by everyone. Not solely the professional narrators. (...) Freedom isn't something you own, it's something you do. Secularization isn't something finished, it's an eternally unfinished project. Democracy is no static certainty, but a dynamic exercise of how to deal with uncertainties and cricitism. Being a free, secular, democratic society is something we need to learn. Again and again. By listening to each other. By thinking about each other. By mutual respect for the diversity and individual uniqueness. And not least by allowing each other flaws and offering forgiveness. Is this hard? Oh yes. Will there be conflict between various practices and convictions? Absolutely. Will it be difficult at times to balance different religious practices and the secular order? Definitely. But why should it be easy?
We can always start again.
What do we need for this? Not much. A bit of Haltung" -
that's another hard to translate word, as it can mean morale, poise, bearing, conduct - "a bit of laughing courage, and not least the readiness to change the direction of your gaze now and then, so that it happenes more often we all can say: 'Wow. So this is what it looks like from this perspective.'"

And with that elegant return to the beginning of her speech, Carolin Emcke ended it to everyone jumping up and applauding her for eons.


Oct. 23rd, 2016 09:16 pm
oursin: Frontispiece from C17th household manual (Accomplisht Lady)
[personal profile] oursin

No Saturday breakfast rolls, as I got in too late from the book-launch to start making them.

Stayed in Saturday evening, and I cooked a meal: starter of asparagus healthy-grilled in olive oil with kiln-roasted salmon flakes; then partridge breasts panfried in butter, served with rosemary jelly, with round green beans roasted in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with bramble vinegar, baby pak choi stirfried with star anise, and Ruby Gem potatoes roasted in beef dripping.

Today's lunch: plaice fillets in samphire sauce, served with sticky rice with lime leaves, sweet sprouting cauliflower roasted with garlic, and leeks healthy-grilled in avocado oil and splashed with elderflower vinegar.

Bread: I was actually looking for wholemeal flour yesterday in Waitrose, but there appeared to have been a run on it, but they did have own-brand strong brown flour, and as it's been a long time since I've seen brown (as opposed to the Full Wholemeal) flour anywhere, I got a bag, and made some up today. Quite nice.

(no subject)

Oct. 23rd, 2016 12:36 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday, [personal profile] chalcedony_cat, [personal profile] diony and [personal profile] em_h!

A most romantick tale

Oct. 23rd, 2016 11:27 am
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
[personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan

I go to O- House to see how matters come along and to see the Marquess and find how his matters come along. I find him in the library, where, the chimneys having late been swept, a fire is lit, that is indeed somewhat of a necessity at this season. I therefore put down my muff and remove my tippet.

The Marquess remarks that 'tis a finer library than he remember’d, and do I see anything that I should like to peruse, I am entire at liberty to do so and to take it away to read at leisure.

Sure you have found me out, says I, I am a bookish creature. Is there, perchance, some volume upon the Incas I might read?

He replies that his own books are still packt up, but he confides that there will be space here for 'em. And once he has unpackt ‘em, he will go send me some suitable work.

And, says I, I hear you go talk to the antiquarians about the Incas.

Indeed, he says. Should you like a card?

I smile and say, sure I already have one, there is a Fellow of their company sent it me, very civil of him.

He says that there are scholars that know a deal more about the Incas and the other peoples that flourisht before the Spaniards came, but he has acquir’d some fascinating objects and can say a little to the matter that may be unknown more generally.

Now we have exchang’d these civilities, I go tell him about my endeavours to finding servants for his household.

He sighs and says 'tis very good of you, Lady B- - have not been in the habit of keeping an establishment, and would desire to have all in order for my dear Hippolyta.

I take out my memorandum book and say, and that is another thing I must think on, she must have a lady’s maid: for I daresay that Brownlee will remain with her mother and sisters.

(I take a thought that perchance Connolly would be agreeable to leaving her place with the dreadfull crocodile. I do not think Jennie is yet like to be sufficient advanc’d in the mysteries of the profession to be preferr’d.)

He clears his throat and says, he apprehends that Lady Anna is in some concern about going about with her sister during the Season badly dresst, and 'tis yet another imposition, but, do you, Lady B-, have any notion how one might contrive about the matter? Indeed I should like her to enjoy herself.

Why, says I, I have also been somewhat puzzl’d in the matter, but I am in some hopes that when Lord U- returns from his Grand Tour, which cannot be long now, he may be able to bring it about.

Ah, indeed. Very proper.

I go on to remark that he will require a valet himself.

That I think I can come at, says he. There is one of the servants at the club has been tending to my needs in that respect, and has expresst a desire to go into private service.

There is a knock upon the Library door and comes in Hector, saying that the work is coming along better than he anticipat’d, and they understand what they are about.

Is there nothing else that requires attention, says I, perhaps, Your Lordship, you would like come sit in my own cozy parlour with tea, or perchance some exceeding excellent port that I have lately add’d to my cellar, and we might discuss these matters more comfortable.

That would be agreeable, says he.

Hector goes make sure the fire is smother’d, and we go to my own pretty and warm parlour.

The Marquess says that he is sure that my port is quite excellent, but tea would be entire pleasing. 'Tis not the yerba maté that he grew accustom’d to in the Americas, but 'twill serve.

He goes look at my bookshelves, and also scrutinizes my china, Sir Z- R-'s portrait of me in my rubies, and my mementoes of dear General Y-.

Comes in Celeste with tea, crumpets, and parkin.

O, says I, this is quite the feast!

We sit down vis-à-vis by the fire, and the Marquess says, speaking of feasts, he purposes to hold a small dinner-party – of course it cannot yet be at O- House, but he hears good report of the private rooms at M. Duval’s eating house for the quality, do I think that would answer?

Quite exceedingly, says I.

I suppose, he says, could not be arrang’d in time that Admiral K- might be among my guests.

Does he go to Harrogate to see Lady J-, by the time he returns I am like to suppose that the Admiralty will have his orders and he will be off post-haste.

Excellent fellow that he is! says the Marquess. Tho’ sure I was very surpriz’d to hear that he had marry’d Lady J- - tho’ one apprehends that she is a most excellent woman –

O, entirely!

- but when I was with him in the West Indies, he spoke a good deal of the finest woman in the realm or out of it, and I suppos’d that did he marry, 'twould be to her; that is, to you.

Oh, I have quite the greatest fondness for the Admiral, it is a most antient affection, but I could not think that marriage would answer. I am a sad timid creature –

That is not the character you are given at R- House!

- the flattering weasels – and I confide would not do well on shipboard. Nor do I have the talents that would serve in managing the fine property he inherit’d: whereas Lady J- has a fine hand for such matters. They are remarkable well-suit’d, and I daresay you will have heard the very romantick tale of their meeting when he was a poor young lieutenant?

The Admiral mention’d, says I (for I am a true daughter of Eve and rul’d by curiosity), that he was of an impression that you had suffer’d some tragedy of the heart while you were in the Spanish Americas?

The Marquess looks into the fire and says, somewhat of the sort, and that was indeed why I was like to take a prudential approach to matrimony, because I thought that I could not feel such emotion again –

- but sure I was wrong!

There is somewhat of a pause, and he says, 'twas an episode quite like unto some novel. While I was about plant-hunting, I was attackt by some venomous creature – did not even see what 'twas – became quite delirious and indeed do not recall how I got there, but I stagger’d onto some remote estancia, and the fellow who own’d it took me in, and had me nurs’d by his servants until I recover’d.

And gradually I came back to health, and naturally I was exceeding gratefull to him for this care.

He had a daughter – his only child – what they call in those parts mestizo, for her mother had been his Indian mistress, and he quite greatly doat’d upon her, and had considerable concerns about what would be like to happen to her did he dye.

While he was a fellow in the prime of life, he had some affliction of the heart that was fear’d might take him off quite sudden. He desir’d to leave his fine property to her, but her sex, her mingl’d race and her illegitimacy he fear’d would bring her great problems did she not have a trustworthy man to stand by her. He had also, I know not how, gain’d a very elevat’d notion of the character of an Englishman, and I was, as 'twere, an answer to prayer.

And indeed, his daughter – Inès – was a very fine creature, tho’ of course I was not permitt’d to see much of her at first.

I should perhaps mention, he goes on, that I happen’d to be carrying certain documents with me, that could have caus’d a deal of trouble both for those who sent them and those to whom I took 'em, did they fall into the wrong hands. And when I had come to myself, I found that the package had not been restor’d to me along with my clothes and such possessions as I had not lost during my delirium.

I do not think Don Hernando – that was his name – had any leanings to any side in the conflicts then raging – his estancia was indeed remote and he may have thought that 'twas all a storm that would blow over and not touch him. But he quite apprehend’d that these documents were a very persuasive business for me. Without ever being direct, he indicat’d that did I marry the fair Inès, I might then proceed upon my journey with 'em, with the understanding that I would return.

So I agreed. 'Twould take some time for the business to be put in hand, and once we were formally affianc’d, I was able to have some communication with Inès – we would ride out together, for example, attend’d by a groom. I became increasingly prepossesst with her: she had had education at the hands of nuns and was an intelligent inform’d young woman, rode most exceeding well, could shoot -

But as we grew to know one another, I came to understand that she was perhaps even more reluctant for this match than I had been, and at length I discover’d that she had a passionate desire to become a nun, a desire encourag’d by the Mother Superior of the convent wherein she was educat’d. Did she manage to get herself within their walls, they had a deal of influence to keep her there and obtain any dispensations necessary for her to take the veil.

She said she would go extract my package from where her father had conceal’d it, would I accompany her to the convent. She had allies in the household would provide us with horses, supplies, &C.

By this time I had an entire passionate admiration for her, but I could see that altho’ I think she felt a friendship for me, 'twas not love, and her devotion was given to her vocation.

So – o, there were alarums and excursions, but I deliver’d her to the convent, made my own escape, deliver’d my package to those it was destin’d for –

And once a year, he continues, Sor Catarina, that she is now nam’d, writes me a letter.

I sigh and say sure 'tis a most romantick tale.

But, he says, I find another and different romantick tale has come to me.


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October 2016


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