Sunday, October 31, 2004

Martin Bucer part I: Reputation

This is the first of three posts on Martin Bucer and his attempts to mediate the Abendmahlstreit. The second will deal with Bucer's interpretations of Church discipline and ecumenicalism, the third with the Conference of Marburg.

Martin Bucer (1491-1551) was probably one of the four most important theologians of the early Reformation. He brought the Reformation to Alsace, establishing Strasbourg as a center of Protestant agitation. He was an early ally of Luther, translating his works from Latin to make them more accessible.

Despite his importance, Bucer's theology has left little imprint on Protestantism (what Americans would call Lutheranism) in Continental Europe. His greatest contribution was diplomatic, mediating between various political powers in order to keep some wholeness, both political and religious, within Protestantism. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Strasbourg was at the center of a contentious political conflict in which the Holy Roman Empire tried to establish firm control over the free German cities. The Reformation was an element that united the cities against the empire, but the cities also diverged in their theologies.. Mayor Jacob Sturm and the municipal magistrates were forced to negotiate with the increasingly schismatic cities while bringing them together. Sturm wanted create a league of German cities to resist Vienna, perhaps establishing a confederation of communities in the style of Switzerland that would be more or less independent from imperial rule. Bucer was an important tool for Sturm. Using his diplomatic skills, Bucer smoothed out the theological differences between the Reformation theologies, finding compromise positions. Sturm gained more leeway in negotiations with other political powers. Furthermore, Bucer helped Sturm to convince German princes to act against the peasants who were turning the Reformation into a socio-political revolt. However, Bucer was just a tool. Sturm and the magistrates ignored his plans to create a "City of God" in which urban life nurtured religious discipline.

Ultimately, Bucer's reputation rests on his failures. He tried to prevent different reformers from diverging too far in their theology and accepting plurodoxy in Christianity. He tried to keep together the Germans under Luther and the Swiss under Zwingli. In particular, Bucer tried to mediate between different interpretations of the Communion that had emerged. The so-called Abendmahlstreit (controversy over the Communion), which continues to hold sway over denominational differences in Germany, dealt with the question of what nourishment the believer and the non-believer receive when they eat the Communion Host. Bucer brought together the major reformers at Marburg in 1929 in order to find a compromise on this question between the two camps. No compromise was found: Bucer succeeded only in ruining his own reputation and theological autonomy. His quest for unity was never appreciated.

Continue reading part II here.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Just enough spark?

I prodded Johno of Ministry of Minor Perfidy into reviewing the music and video of Eminem's Mosh. I think that he produced one of his most insightful reviews:

Instead of recycling all the usual Bush Lied/Halliburton crap bit by bit, Eminem distances himself from pat criticisms of the President by putting those words in the mouths of characters and ties up all the criticisms of the President into one mass, putting the focus more on dissatisfaction in general rather than any one charge. ... Eminem reserves a more unfocused disgust with the way things are going ... and by the end of the video he is leading a grim and angry mob into the street to... go vote.

Eminem-- Slim Shady-- has put together the single best populist critique of the post-9/11 Bush Administration, not that that's saying much ...

Eminem has done something unusual, bridging the gap between protests that are both political (aimed against policies and politicians, attempting to encourage action) and critical (disgust over the political system, a la "God save the Queen", that lead to no particular political program).

Johno, great job!

Friday, October 29, 2004


I will never mistake carefully crafted apathy as actual political participation again.

-- Brdgt from Fear of a Female Planet

The best statement yet.

Political Journey

The last seventeen months have been wild. I signed up for a presidential draft movement. I lived in a foreign country. I registered for a major political party for the first time in my life. I got my candidate in September last year. I fought with a friend of my who supported another Democrat, but we made up.

I talked to people in my area, manning tables with literature and contribution forms. I wore my Draft Clark pin almost every day. I registered voters. I made calls to people, sometimes annoying them, sometimes intriguing them, and sometimes entertaining them. I learned that an effective political message must be simple. I saw the candidates speak throughout New Hampshire. I learned my candidates lines by heart: “... you can't have family values if you don’t value families ... this flag belongs to no party ... .” I talked to people from throughout America who came to New Hampshire to lend their support.

I knocked on doors, showing people flyers I had made myself. I talked to people who, married in other countries, wanted their marriages recognized here. I stood outside in the sub-freezing weather on primary day. How much did my hands and feet hurt from the cold? Sometimes my wife and I huddled in the car to get a little warmth before going back out. We met nice people from every campaign–the Kucinich supporters were some of the nicest. When that ended, I wrote letters.

When the campaign came to an end, I mourned. I stayed away from campaigning for a few months, as did a few of my new friends. Some of those people moved away, others found jobs in politics. I got a John Kerry pin. When I got the courage up again, I started going up to New Hampshire again. I made calls, knocked on doors, and organized files of volunteers.

Here is my vote. It is the personal manifestation of this journey, but not the end. I voted for the man who was accountable and accessible. I voted for the man who understood the world and how to relate to it. I voted against the man who tried to turn the world into a Tabula rasa and failed. And I voted against the man who gave the troops the wrong mission.

I still have things to do. Tuesday I will poll watch. Wednesday I will drink beer and relax. Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Image of Europe

Starchitect-bad boy Rem Koolhaas is causing another stir. His 85-meter long mural in Brussels, The Image of Europe (created for the EU), is unusually inclusive. A Polish parenting association is angry because it includes the Pope with his eyes closed and two men kissing. It also depicts those who are critical or are opposed to the EU:
  • "L'axe du réflexe atlantique: ignoring public opinion in their own country , many European leaders followed America into war against Iraq."
  • Countries that dream of joining the Union, but that are questionably European (Turkey and Algeria, eg).
  • caricatures of major doubters.


Brandon at Siris responds to my Cliopatria post about the disparaging of Massachusetts in political rhetoric. He argues that the senator-liberal-Massachusetts connection is natural. But he argues that the reverse could not be done to Texas (no conservative history) and would be received with anger:
If you ever want to start bar fights in Texas, go in and start calling the natives 'Yankees', and you'll get more bar fights than you can handle.) And I don't really see that redneck jokes about Texas would be all that damaging - Texans make them about themselves all the time - unless they were said by someone from Massachusetts.
I would argue that the triad Texas-republican-fundamentalism is quite strong, not needing a deep history to hold up.

Nevertheless, I am not a native New Englander (I come from that other liberal state, California, that keeps electing Republican governors) , yet I bristle whenever Republican crowds boo to the words "SENATOR. FROM. MASSACHUSETTS." (not quite the cadence of the Comic Book Guy). The continual reaction to those three words reinforces to me that homeland (heimatisch, if you would) perceptions of nation are limiting. I won't grant Massachusetts more credibility in representing America than any other state, but it was one of the first states involved in dialogues from which American identity was created and debated. And looking around at this time of year--the leaves changing, the squash sitting in the fields, the nights getting shorter--I am aware that I am in a region where the symbols and myths of America were created.

Nazi Occult

David over at Barista has an excellent post about the Thule Society, an occult group to which Himmler belonged, and Nazi interest in exploring far flung "ancestors":
It was named after the mythical land of Hyperborea-Thule, which some of the society's devotees identified with Iceland and Greenland, said by them to be the remnants of the lost kingdom of Atlantis. Others claimed that the people of Thule had survived to become a subterranean super-race ...

The SS had another arm, the Ahnenerbe Forschungs und Lehrgemeinschaft ... . Founded in 1935 with Hitler's blessing, Himmler merged it with the SS two years later. The Ahnenerbe's overriding task was to provide scientific, anthropological and archaeological evidence to support the theories of the Thule Society and, in so doing, determine the origins of the 'Aryan' race ...

Research into Germanic peoples was not always so far flung. The Nazis used Westforschung (the cross-border study of the region west of the Rhine into Belgium, Netherlands, and northeastern France) to locate people who might be ethnically sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Only a handful of people they discovered were could collaborators.

Any more long-sufferers?

Congratulations to the Red Sox and their fans. Who's next on the redemption train?
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


The pictures of Titan coming back from Cassini are phenomenal.

The Word never saved the world

I've been reading The Production of Space by Henri Lefebvre. Given my interests in regionalism and its relationship to other concepts of territory, it's amazing that I never read it before now. So much of what he writes seems familiar, as if I have worked over some of the same problems that he did (what conceit). Obviously, others have taken inspiration from Lefebvre, and he came to some similar conclusions about the meaning of space as John Brinckerhoff Jackson. Nonetheless, it is valuable to have this comprehensive framework in which to deal with spatial practice (relationship between space and the social practices that both produce space and that are contained within space).

The skinny: All societies produce space; that is to say every society had a unique space that is the result of production and social relations. (Yes, Lefebvre was big on historical materialism. And it ain't dead yet.) It embodies the logic of the society in how objects are arrange within it, it is conceptually divided, people interact therein, etc. Space is the both the product of and the milieu for social practices (we can therefore speak of spatial practices).

Over time, different conceptualizations of space overlap one another, layer on top of one another, especially as modes of production change, further complicating spatial practice. Space, therefore, has a history.

In modern times, the logic of capitalism undermines the historicity of space. It tries to replace historical space with another that is abstract, transparent and malleable to the interests of capitalist production (think science and urban planning).
‘... it flattens the social and cultural spheres ... "
Anything traditional and historical is meaningless and can be replaced to facilitate production and capitalist society. (Again, apologies for the historical materialism.) Yes, the medieval church can be turned into office space. If there is anything that survives from historical space, it is transferred into the realms of artistic representation.

Lefebvre struck me when he tackles the question of whether space can be analyzed in terms of language: can space be read? A good question, especially at the time when he wrote the book (Foucault was between the Panopticon and Victorian sex). His answer is highly qualified. Space contains codes that must be interpreted. The problem is that the relationship between space and the people in it is not equivalent to the relationship between the text and the reader. Space is lived in: people are its subjects, and space forms the context in which their social practices make sense.
"... space was produced before being read ... [it was not] produced in order to be read or grasped, but rather in order to be lived ..."

Any meaningful reading of space must proceed from within.

This is an interesting early criticism of deconstruction versus social practice, and given Lefebvre's hyper-Marxism, it is understandable that he would be skeptical about the extent to which deconstruction could be used. One passage, however, really stands out.
‘I cannot give the word such sovereign merit.' Thus Goethe's Faust, Part I. And indeed it is impossible to put such a high value upon language, on speech, on words. The Word has never saved the world and it never will.
My translation has the capitalized ‘Word'; I don't know if it is the same in original language. It reminds me of Lyotard's essay "What is Postmodernism?": they both problematize the truth as solutions. But why would Lefebvre associate deconstruction with religion? How was it supposed to be some sort of salvation?

This book has lots of great examples taken from the histories of art, architecture and urban planning. I love his analysis of the Bauhaus: the first movement to understand that things (buildings, furniture, etc) and their arrangement cannot be disassociated from their social context.

Sox Impress

I must admit, the Red Sox are playing well. They will break the trend of World Series that last seven games.

They will also continue the trend of wild card teams who win the World Series. Perhaps this is to be expected: the wild card is a team that surges ahead at the last minute to get into the playoffs, so its quality of play has been heightened right at the end of the season.

The Red Sox will also prove me right: the team that defeats the Yankees will win the World Series.

On the other hand, they should have left Martinez in. I think the World Series needed to see a complete game.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Fellow Cliopatriarch Sharon Howard is looking for submissions to Carnivalesque, her blog on Early Modern History.

She wants entries that have to do with the broadly-defined early modern period (1450-1850), which would include the American Colonial Period and the Early Republic. I will try to write something up about Martin Bucer, a Reformation preacher from Strasbourg who endeavored to reconcile the Reformation with Rome and prevent Protestantism from fragmenting.

Check it out and consider submitting something (it doesn't have to be great, but it will help to advance academic blogging).

To gallicize the Muslims

I am very busy today, so I can't pay a lot of attention to this subject. Over the weekend, the French paper Le Figaro gave a lot of attention to a book by French finance minister Nicolas Sarkozy. Describing himself as a practicing Catholic, Sarkozy reevaluates the 99-year old laws on secularism that have been used to justify banning religion from public life. While Sarkozy upholds the loi laïc as a protection for republicanism, he opines that France will need to make some exceptions to secularism in order to integrate Muslims into French society. Sarkozy carries a lot of weight in France--he is expected to become the next head of the conservative UMP--and his opinion will be taken seriously.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

You can never completely leave home

Lifting something from the comments, David Tiley of Barista notes an interesting story related to the Berlin Wall:
I was told this story by a documentary filmmaker. He was doing research in South Australia which took him to interview a German migrant some time in the early 90's. He was filmed in his front garden, which consisted of a bit of desert marked off from an enormous flat plain, with very distant small hills. He had mounted a very large flag pole in the garden, with a substantial Australian flag taut in the endless desert wind. As he spoke he leant casually on a large broken lump of concrete mounted in the dirt. His own piece of the Berlin Wall.

Paglia: power to left, but struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line

How fun could trading cards on major theorists be? Check it out:

Theory Cards (I think I will put them in the spokes of my bike)>

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Fenway Park

In preparation for the World Series, I wanted to write about the two ballparks where it will be played: Fenway Park and Busch Memorial Stadium.

Fenway's history is pretty well known. It is the oldest venue for baseball that is currently used by a professional team. Arguable Fenway is unattractive, but seeing a game there epitomizes the urban baseball experience--you are very aware that the game is taking place in the city, that the baseball game is folding into the urban fabric. The place and design of Fenway is the perfect example of of how baseball defies the conventions of space and place that limit other sports. You can still step off the tram and walk through the crowded streets to get to the entrance. The interior of the stadium is so small that almost any seat is close to the action (but there are bad seats). The Green Monster is infamous--all Red Sox teams are designed around the unusual dimensions of the part and the short, tall left field fence. Ironically, the Green Monster has a practical purpose: preventing people outside the stadium from viewing the game.

Fenway takes its name from the "Fens", now reduced to a stretch of public gardens in the Boston Backbay area. Interestingly, the Fens themselves were not natural: Frederick Law Olmsted , who later designed Central Park in New York, designed and constructed the man-made environment. According to Anne Whitson Spirn:
The transformation of Boston's Fens and Riverway from urban wasteland into urban "wilderness" ... was the first attempt anywhere ... to construct a wetland. It was built over nearly two decades, the 1880s and 1890s, the Fens dredged out of the muddy flats of a former millpond, the Riverway shaped from floodplains fouled by sewage and industrial effluent ...

Everyone at the time was aware of the transformation of a filthy, stinking, muddy mess into the Fens and Ridgeway. Their awareness became part of the social meaning and aesthetic power of the Fens and Riverway. But today these works are widely, and falsely, assumed to be preserved bits of nature in the city, not the designed and built places they really are, daring experiments of engineering, ecology, landscape design and city planning.
The park was designed by James McLaughlin, who would later design Yankee Stadium (perhaps that is the basis for the curse). The first professional game occurred after several delays due to rain. They played against their future rivals:
The Red Sox defeated the New York Highlanders — later known as the Yankees — before 27,000 fans,7-6 in 11 innings. The event would have made front page news had it not been for the sinking of the Titanic only a few days before
I will continue to update this post as I get more info. I will also put up some stuff on Edward Durell Stone, who built Busch Stadium.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Heaven above Berlin

Is Ronald Reagan spinning in his grave? What does he think of plans to rebuild the Berlin Wall?

Alexandra Hildebrandt, the head of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, wants to re-erect a 140 meter section of the Berlin Wall from pieces saved by her husband. The plan is controversial in Berlin. Many residents see it as a crass attempt to attract tourism: the museum already employs drama students to stand around in East German uniforms to have their photographs taken for 5 euros. (Recently, the students protested Hildebrandt’s efforts to cut their jobs by wrapping themselves in toilet paper.) Others complain that there would be something artificial about the new wall: it would not be in the actual location where the wall stood.

Even before it was erected, Berlin was an unnatural space. Although it appeared to defy the division between East and West, both BRD and DDR used it as a show piece to prove the superiority of their respective ideologies. The Wall made those divisions concrete. The space around the wall was a landscape of graffiti and desperation. It was where Wim Wenders’ lonely angels wandered in search of human contact in Wings of Desire, and where Hansel started his journey to transcend the boundaries of gender in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

When it was taken down, West German went to great lengths to erase all evidence that Berlin was ever divided. Banks and department stores were built on the ground where it stood. Federal ministries erected new buildings as the government moved from Bonn to Berlin; a few East German buildings were employed, but only for practical reasons. Capitalism announced its triumph over ideology by displacing the evidence of Communism.

Tearing down the wall did not erase all barriers: it destroyed evidence of divisions that still exist in Germany. East Berlin is still different from West. A walk along Unter den Linden, the long avenue that runs through the city, reveals drastic differences. The east is an area of cheap housing for immigrants and the less affluent. New development goes to the western parts of the city, and the east maintains then look of a communist metropolis (similar block apartments buildings of the type that are being torn down in other European cities). As I have mentioned before, Germany itself is divided socially along East-West lines. People in the “former East Germany” have suffered greater economic hardship, and political extremism (both left and right) is more popular than elsewhere in Germany. There is ill will between the two Germanies: the East Germans don'’t feet that those in the West have ever understood them, only wishing to remake them. The film Goodbye Lenin revealed how the Reunification was an invasion of West German values. Socially and culturally, the wall defied its own destruction.

Without the Berlin Wall, Germans cannot reflect on the meaning of the traumatic decades of separation. People who come to Berlin no longer come for the legacy of Prussia and the Hohenzollerns, but the Cold War. Tourists look for the wall, searching out obscure sections of the city where the work of bulldozing was not completed. As Anne Whitson Spirn put it in 1998:
Forgetting the past can be foolish, and attempts to reinvent it may even be dangerous: in Berlin, traces of the wall are being rapidly and systematically expunged, denying and forfeiting an opportunity to come to terms with a tragic past.

Planting the symbols of capitalism on top of the site of the wall did not unite Berlin. Even though the wall lacks physical existence, the divide persists. The site of memory now buried under spaces for finance and commerce, and those who look to mourn can have their pictures taken with art students.

There are similarities between plans to rebuild the Berlin Wall and to construct the Freedom Tower on the site of Ground Zero. These were both places where battles took place in the heart of an urban landscape, even thought the former simmered while the other exploded. The destruction of the Twin Towers allowed for questions about how to use open space to revive the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan–financial space or communal development. Even now, Tower 7 of the World Trade Center is being rebuilt according to its original designs by its original designer. The memorial site is a largely abstract space next to the defiant, monumental skyscraper entitled Freedom–--word that takes on less certain meaning with every day. At least Ground Zero will acknowledged the veritable remains of a virtual war, and hopefully the contradictions between spaces for memory and finance, for city and nation, for community and war will be worked out.

The Right Attitude

The headline from the Daily Hampshire Gazette: BRING ON THE CURSE!!!

Normally I would pick the Cardinals over the Red Sox (especially because of the Jim Edmonds factor), but if there is ever a year to confront ghosts ... and not appease them ... this should be the year.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fan of Conscience

I am glad to see that (former Angels CF) Jim Edmonds was the hero of tonight's game between the Cardinals and Astros.

I spent two innings as a Red Sox fan of conscience, sending any good luck vibes I could in the wake of the A-Rod idiocy. It looks like the Red Sox are on their way.

Convivencia comes to an end

The hope that Muslims in Alsace would find some accommodation with school authorities has been dashed. Two girls have been expelled from two lycées in Mulhouse (southern Alsace) for wearing veils and bandanas as a sign of religious devotion, and two more cases are pending in Strasbourg (via Talk Left).

Alsace does not operate under the French secular laws that prohibit religion in public schools. There is a special regime that allows religion to be taught in Alsatian schools for Christian denominations and Judaism, and there are plans for Islam courses. School officials in Strasbourg have been lenient applying the law concerning religious dress because of the special circumstances in the région. Not allowing veils will probably bring about a reconsideration of special regional laws, and probably to the benefit of the national government.

Update: The original law against the veil (loi de 15 mars) specified that religious attire was prohibited. The students attempted to meet the law half way, wearing bandanas as a means of keeping their heads covered in lieu of "Muslim veils". Education officials ruled that the bandanas had taken on religious significance because of their constant use and because they cover the entirety of the scalp. The ministry of education considers the bandanas to be an evolution of religious symbols.

Don't stop them now

If the Red Sox lose tonight, especailly after the incident when Rodriguez slapped Arroyo's arm in order to make him drop the ball, then there truly is a cruel god.

What was A-Rod's hypocritical response after the game:
Rodriguez said after the game that he probably should have tried something different than slapping the ball from Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo. "Maybe looking back, I should have just run him over,'' he said. "When I tried to reach the ball, the rule goes against me.''

Torre was worse:
"Randy Marsh was closer than anyone else, and it looked like there were bodies all over the place,'' Torre said, referring to the fact that first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was near the play. "There were a lot of bodies in front of me, so I can't tell you what I saw. I was upset it turned out the way it did for a couple of reasons.

"First off, they said Arroyo was in motion, too. It's not like he was standing there. And there was also a player on the Red Sox who was in the line who didn't have the ball, which can be an obstruction play."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The "F" word and the "N" word

After coming down hard on Greenway's piece over the weekend, I have changed my mind. It is now appropriate to use the words "fascism" and "Nazism" when analyzing American politics. When any political movement believes that it has the arrogance of will to make radical transformation to our political institutions, we must question them in the harshest terms.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Hell had better start freezing over

After two epic, late inning victories with home runs by Ortiz, the Red Sox had better win ... lest half the state collapses.

Outside the "tumbled-down walls"

Perhaps most scholars would agree that many of the narrative in the Bible are based in reality if one squints: some are actually several real events that have been tied together, the reality is inaccessible because we cannot understand the language completely, the magnitude some facts have been exaggerated over time, etc.

The Book of Joshua is one huge puzzle. No archeologist has found evidence of a rapid military takeover of the Levant by an invading/migrating people. In particular, the walls of Jericho did not collapse in a military siege, and the city of Ai was already ruined when the Hebrews arrived. Instead, the archeological record shows a benign process of transition. During the thirteenth and twelth centuries BC Judaic practices (especially dietary) gradually spread throughout the settlements in Canaan. As a Jew it is a relief that my ancient ancestors cannot be called occupiers, but it is puzzling that the Book of Joshua could be so wrong.

One of the explanations is interesting because it deals with issues of frontiers and decentralization. Canaan had come under the control of Egypt around the 16th and 15th centuries BC. The New Kingdom was an aggressively militaristic power--Egypt had come out of a period in which immigrants (Hyksos) had become an alternative society within Egyptian society. The New Kingdom kings resolved to prevent foreign influences within Egypt by projecting force outside of Egypt--they engaged in wars with neighboring powers in Asia as far away as the Euphrates.

In the Levant they set up clients states: Egyptian governors with small garrisons ruled through native vassals. The cities became sites of power in which local Canaanite aristocracies controlled peasants. The power of the aristocracies depended on their relationship with Egyptian governors. This system of indirect rule stabilized Egypt's Asian frontier for several centuries.

Egyptian imperial power declined in the 12th and 11th centuries BC: its resources dwindled (especially gold from Nubia); the length of reign of kings shortened; there was corruption. With the contraction of power stability on the Asia frontier destabilized.

The theory of decentralization proposes that the weakening of imperial power also weakened the influence of the vassals-aristocracies over the peasantry. Some peasants escape the control of the cities and established their own settlements outside the sphere of power of the aristocracies. These communities established new social and cultural norms that contradicted Canaanite standards. In particular, they emphasized social equality within the community (there was no aristocracy).

If the theory is credible, the takeover was a benign process occuring against an imperial power.

England did not transport everyone

Geek Lethal over at Ministry of Minor Perfidy has this great find for anyone interested in early modern English prisons:

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey is now online with 100,000 indexed, searchable trials dating from the late 17th century through 1834. Some of the original texts appear not to have survived the centuries well, to the point of illegibility, but you don't have to read them to use the site. The Proceedings have been around forever in some form or other, but I cannot overstate the utility of having them together, accessible from anywhere, and searchable.

He also pull up a few interesting entries from the Proceedings, including this one:

Alice Randall was tried for keeping a disorderly House, and entertaining Evil-disposed Persons therein. The first Evidence Swore, that he went to the House one Evening, and being up Stairs, the Prisoner brought him a brisk young Girl, who presently had the Impudence to pull up her Coats, and laying her hand upon her Belly said, Here's that that will do you good, a Commodity for you, if you'll pay for it you shall have enough of it; with that he took his Cane, and gave her two or three good daubs (as he called them); she was found guilty of the Indictment

Sunday, October 17, 2004

200th Post

I will try to stay away from the PC today in order to get some work done. Here is a collage by my wife (with some strategic chewing from bunny Tuivel).

Posted by Hello

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Common Sense from the Right

Andrew Sullivan has this to say about the gay daughter flap:
The Cheneys didn't respond to Jim DeMint's gay-baiting in South Carolina, or Alan Keyes' direct insult of their own daughter in Illinois. They have not voiced objections tio a single right-wing piece of homophobia in this campaign or the anti-gay RNC flier in Arkansas and West Virginia. But they are outraged that Kerry mentioned the simple fact of their daughter's openly gay identity. What complete b.s. In the short run, this hurts Kerry. Prevailing disapproval of homosexuality means that most people regard mentioning anybody's lesbianism as an insult and inappropriate. But long-term, the Republican bluff has been called. The GOP is run, in part, by gay men and women, its families are full of gay people, and yet it is institutionally opposed to even the most basic protections for gay couples. You can keep up a policy based on rank hypocrisy for only so long. And then it tumbles like a house of cards. Kerry just pulled one card from out of the bottom of the heap. Watch the edifice of double standards slowly implode. Gay people and their supporters will no longer acquiesce in this charade. Why on earth should we?
And this from a man who was vehemently opposed to liberals, but who is desperately searching for a reason to vote for Bush.

Again with the Germans

HDS Greenway wrote an article for the Boston Globe that compares the foreign and defense policies of the Bush administration with the eagerness of German nationalists to prove their ascendancy to the world:

One has to wonder if, among those discontented intellectuals of the Bush administration, there was not a similar impatience with America's "belle epoque," the decade of peace and plenty between the end of the Soviet Union and 9/11. Some of the Republicans close to Bush today called themselves "the Vulcans" after the Roman god of fire. Did they perceive a moral decay and a lack of imperial will in that brief, fin de siecle age of Bill Clinton, whom they despised? Did they perhaps see in the sloppy Clinton White House, culminating in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the modern equivalent of an Oscar Wilde age waiting to be swept away by the harder values of the right?

Did the German plans for war in 1914 and the German dream of spreading Kultur to other nations by force have their echo a century later in America with the pre- 9/11 plans to invade Iraq in order to spread democracy and American Kultur to lesser breeds without the law? If so, then the assassination of the Austrian archduke in Sarajevo in 1914 and Sept. 11, 2001, provided both sets of narcissistic idealists with the crisis they needed to put their plans into action.

It's good to know that Germany continues to be the historical whipping boy of politicians and commentators. They are so evil that it is easy to hate them, and to love to hate them. Imperial This comparison has some value: Sept. 11 could be used to trigger transformations that are not directly related to the war against al Qaeda: to remake the world based on American interests. And Bush's vision of American democracy appears to be rooted in the soil, much as German Kultur.

Germany was, however, not a democracy spreading its values around the world, and when we take that in to consideration, the lessons that Imperial Germany offers are limited. Furthermore, there are major differences between America and Imperial Germany that make abstracting from this comparison another two to three decades impossible. Even though I am no fan of the president, I believe it is wrong to leave such comparisons open ended.

Better comparisons to ponder are those democracies and republics that found themselves in a succession of wars in order to control the hostility around them. The Pelopenesian War show Athens attempting to asserts its domination over Greece, failing to come to terms with the complexities of politics in the ancient world and watering down their own democracy. Rome used warfare and expansion to control the kingdoms around them, creating men so powerful that the republic could not contain them--creating an empire so immense that is was destined to be corrupt. And the French Revolution proved to be a endless and restless struggle to prove the truth of its civilisation, internally and externally.

In all these cases, the war outside the state impacted the internal order of society, leading to either profound transformations of democracy or quests for social and cultural purification.

Note: I intend to update this post with more specific information over the weekend--it feels more like a work in progress.

Friday, October 15, 2004


I got back an acceptance for a paper presentation. It had a small note to help me with revising the paper: my abstract is a little convoluted. Yes, I guess it was. I tried to substitute a few catch phrases, like lieux de memoires (sites of memory), in order to get within the 250 word maximum. The paper will deal with the administrative reports about Alsace-Lorraine which talk about how the regional institutions left over from Germany could be dismantled. I also plan to look at the statehood movement for District of Columbia: it seems to me that the city is a battleground for national policies despite the interests of the residents.

The Language of la Republique

Historians of France love to discuss the territoriality of French nationality. The core of their argument is that French nationality/citizenship is based on where someone is born rather than whether or not one’s parents are citizens. Anyone born in France is a citizen; anyone born in any former French colony can repatriated after living a period of time in France.

By comparison, Germans are, by definition, the offspring of other Germans. They can be naturalized as citizens and give that status to their children, but being born in Germany does not confer citizenship. Rogers Brubaker has brought new emphasis to the differences between the two nations policies, claiming certain advantages for France.

Studying regionalism in Alsace shows how overblown the notion of territorial French nationality. When it was returned to France in 1918, the government kicked out people whom they considered to be insufficiently French or patriotic. This included Non-Alsatian Germans and native politicians who worked too closely with the German government (notably Schwander, mayor of Strasbourg and the last Statthalter, who was born in Colmar.) Mixed Alsatians (one German parent, one Alsatian) were viewed with suspicion but allowed to stay.

Even more, the Alsatian accent was viewed with suspicion. As I have written before, Paris sent few bureaucrats who spoke either German or the native dialect. French was the language of citizenship, and those who spoke it were locked out.

This was the attitude of the republic since the revolution. When the territory of France expanded to include parts of Germany, those territories were allowed to send representatives to the legislature in Paris. Few of them spoke French well–these representatives were local businessmen, not scholars who regularly conversed with intellectual across Europe. If they knew any French, it was crude. The write Chateaubriand reacted negatively against these new French citizens:
The natural extension of an empire is hardly fixed by geographical facts, as one could say, but by the conformity to mores and language: France ends where one no longer speaks French. ... These citizens of Hamburg and Rome who corrupt our language in the Senate, who do and should justly hate us, have led our ruin as a people, just as the Gauls and the other subjugated nations destroyed the fatherland of Cicero as they entered the Roman Senate.
Chateaubriand’s statement is a big problem. Many Frenchmen did not speak proper French at the time. That would be the work of much of the nineteenth century: teaching the children a standard national language. And it would work against the Alsatians in the 1920s when they could not speak French–their nationality was degraded.

Attention to conformity reveals that nationality was not limited to where one was born. These were now French territories, the people de facto citizens. Territory was only the beginning of citizenship: there were expectations about how citizens cultivated themselves. The Frenchman had a specific comportment, one inscribed in mores and language.

Cambridge Museums

Wednesday my wife and I took an impromptu trip out to Cambridge to see the museums at Harvard and to buy some books. The Sackler Museum had a visiting exhibit of Netherlandish, Dutch and Flemish drawings. Many of the works focused on Biblical themes, others on landscapes and scenes naer het leven (“close to life”: authentic representation). Their were a few drawings of banditry from Esaias van den Velde. Banditry had become a popular subject in art during the wars with Spain; they reflected political tensions that occurred after the partition of the Low Country.

There were also a few drawings by Jan van Goyen. He is becoming one of my favorite landscape painters. His subjects tend to be very direct–topology and geology dominate rather than the people. He seldom painted a narrative, and the people were always small in comparison to their environment. If there is any charateristic feature of his painting, it is the huge sky that takes up most of his scenes.

Sackler’s permanent collection consisted of art from Persia, the Far East, Antiquity, and India. Some of the most impressive works were from the Shahnama (Epic of Kings), a work about conflict between Persian kingdoms. I took the opportunity to take some photos of works, perhaps for use in my spring class in Western Civ: devotional deities, clay pots, funerary portraits

We toured Fogg Museum in a short one hour. Special exhibits dealt with printmaking and sculptural sketches by Bernini. My wife fell in love with the roomful of Gustave Moreau paintings.

After getting a quick bite to eat, I bought some books I have been looking for:
  • The Fate of Place by Edward Casey, a look at how spatial concepts have evolved in the history of philosophy.

  • Discovering the Vernacular Landscape by John Brinckerhoff Jackson, a theoretical look at studying landscapes.

  • And Cities and the Wealth of Nations by Jane Jacobs, which explains how cities are larger than the nations they inhabit, tied to one another and acting as the engines of economic growth.
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Thursday, October 14, 2004


One of the most intelligent voices in the blogsphere, Geitner Simmons of Regions of Mind, is taking a hiatus. He will use the time to research and write his book about the American South and West. His weekly insights will be missed, but the eventual book will more than make up for that. Hopefully he can take some inspiration from this landscape of the Rocky Mountains by Albert Bierstadt. Posted by Hello

"I'm not so sure it's credible to quote leading news organizations ..."

Do it, dude! Come on! There are only three major news organizations, and two of the three Kerry mentioned can't be CBS. Go ahead, insult them!

Well, GWB avoided making one mistake. Debate number three was a sequel of number two, although moderator Bob Schieffer conducted the affair as if it were a tough interview rather than a debate. I am sure that voters learned nothing other than how to repeat the candidates catch phrases.

Kerry played it safe. I am surprised he mentioned Mary Cheney, but I am more surprised that the media keeps bringing that up. [On edit:]However, it is not a taboo subject on the campaign trail: Dick Cheney talks about it openly when talking about the proposed constitutional amendment.

GWB proved he could not talk about jobs ... he kept changing the subject. Yes, education affects jobs, but GWB failed to deal with the structural problems of employment in the country. Furthermore, he might have insulted some ex-IT people by claiming that education would help them out. Had GWB promised to close outsourcing loopholes, he could have turned everything around.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Home photos

I have a bunch of photos to post from Keen and my local area. The Hello client has put them in the wrong order for some reason. Anyway, this the the church in Keene. It is at the center of town at the end of a long shopping promenade. Posted by Hello

Turns the leaves to flame

Autumn is my favorite time of the year in New England. Winter is dichromatic; summer is monochromaticaly green--too much for a colorblind person. These are photos from the walk my wife and I took around Mount Holyoke College.

Finding writing geometry in nature.

And a little impressionism.

Fishing/Duck Butt!
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More Keene

These are photos from Keene--start above with the church.

This art-deco office building stood out among the colonial style buildings.

What Spirn would call a landscape of production and waste.
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The Strasbourg Model

Whenever I try to convince people of how wonderful Strasbourg is, I always mention the tram. It is a beautiful, futuristic dome that glides through the city effortlessly through intersections and pedestrians. I am no longer alone in my admiration: Brussels is looking at the Strasbourg tram as a model for reforming its own urban transportation.

If I gush about the Strasbourg tram, the Brussels tram was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. The cars are old and make lots of noise. The underground stops are caving in. Yesterday a tram rear-ended another in an accident that wounded 21 people, 3 seriously.

So far, the Brussels officials are not convinced that the Strasbourg model can be adopted as a whole. In 1990 mayor Catherine Trautmann convinced business owners, despite their reserve, that they would benefit from expelling car traffic from the center of the city. In combination with the attract design of the cars themselves (by Belgian designer Phillippe Neerman) the inner city opened up to foot traffic, leading to a commercial revival. Alain Flausch, however, notes that the existing rail lines in Brussels cannot be reformed (my sense is that they go around the center of town rather than through it). The best that they might learn, other than the industrial design lessons, is how to bring together the political and commercial will to undertake an ambitious reform of transportation.

Monday, October 11, 2004

A Little Respect

The NY Times reprinted jokes from Rodney Dangerfield in yesterday's edition. This one seems appropriate for this blog:

I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great-uncle fought for the West

The Kid Brother (Lorraine)

One of the most annoying problems for me in my dissertation is that I must continue to talk about Lorraine in order to talk about Alsace. Everyone knows that they are somehow linked together, “Alsace-Lorraine were one of the tensions that caused the first world war”, but they were not a natural unit of any sort. Nonetheless, the continuing association of the two regions reveals interesting properties of regionalism: that regions overlap and that in order to understand regions, we must understand how they network with one another. (Note: I had actually started this post in the context of dissertation week, but I got sidetracked.)

Alsace and Lorraine were both part of l’Est, the eastern parts of France that were some of the last territories to be conquered and incorporated into the kingdom in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They were separate provinces in Old Regime France, administered by a different corps of bureaucrats. There were several major reasons that they were not one territory in the Old Regime. First, the Vosges Mountain Range separates them from one another, as it separates Alsace from the rest of France. Second, Lorraine was its own duchy with a developed central government, whereas Alsace was a collection of loosely associated towns and cities. Three, the incorporation of both occurred as the result of different wars–the times of incorporation were different, the terms of incorporation were different.

If Alsace and Lorraine had ties to Germany, they did not bring them together. Alsatian tied to Germany were more extensive: Swabia across the Rhine, the Pfalz and Rhineland up the Rhine. Lorrain ties to Germany were weak and local. They were based on its proximity to what is now called the Saarland, and they were based on local commerce along the Moselle River.

There was a legacy of German language and culture, but it was much weaker in Lorraine that it was in Alsace. The bishopric of Nancy acted as a force for promoting French language. German speakers found that they lost economic and social opportunities: many migrated from France to the Americas, becoming the foundations of the “German population” of the United States. Increasingly the German population was either assimilated, moving to the major cities of Metz and Nancy (or even to Paris), or more isolated, becoming more rural and hugging the border with Germany.

By 1870, just before the Franco-Prussian War, there were no foundations for a territory of Alsace-Lorraine. Lorrains did not go to the University in Strasbourg, even though it was second only to Paris. The cities across the Vosges did not compete with one another. In fact, they felt little of each others’ influence. If there were any competition, it was between Nancy and Metz, as the former became more important for government and education than the latter.

The annexation brought the eastern part of Lorraine, including the city of Metz, to Germany where it was combined with Alsace to make the Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen (the territory of the Reich of Alsace-Lorraine). Just as they did not love the annexation, the Lorrains (or Mosellians) were not fond of the union with Alsace. More French, they were treated more harshly. Major coal families from the region moved out, such as the de Wendels (one or two members tried to return, but they found working under German laws to harsh). Moreover, Metz and Lorraine were considered a forward area against future wars with France, so priorities were placed on urban reforms that would accommodate large armies. Tens of thousands of soldiers were stationed in Metz, overwhelming the native French population. As Metz was militarized, Alsace received economic advantages and Alsatians were treated better (if not well). The Germans made one improvement: they saved the university, making it a decent regional institution.

Lorrain politicians worked with Alsatians in a number of areas, but when Alsatians looked for accommodation with the German government, the Lorrains formed their own bloc of Catholic politicians that would continue to protest the annexation.

The French fetishized “Alsace-Lorraine”. Technical, both provinces had ceased to exist by 1870. They had been split up into administrative départements, and three of the four départements that had made up Lorraine remained in France. But the lost territories were treated as if they were one piece. Political tracts critiqued the treatment of “Alsatian-Lorrains” and maps of France featured a blacked out area where “Alsace-Lorraine” had once been.

After the war, the name Alsace-Lorraine presented problems. The territories were not returned to the original French structure of départements. They were placed in a transition in which the French government took over the old German administration. In essence, Alsace-Lorraine remained as a unit even as French officials were trying to untangle them. This leads to a confusing nomenclature used to describe three former départements in different contexts: “of Alsace-Lorraine”, “of Alsace and Lorraine”, “of Alsace and of Lorraine”; and those that try to distinguish these territories from “French Lorraine”: Alsace-Moselle. Each name has a slightly different meaning, and I have to keep this in mind when doing my research.

Coming back to France, Lorraine experienced many of the same problems as Alsace: the French officials who took over the administration were arrogant and spoke only English; they were accustomed to rights and privileges that had no equivalent in French law; they were afraid of secularization of public life. Consequently, Lorrain politicians (like future Euro-saint Robert Schuman) advocated radical decentralization and deconcentration of power. But when Alsatians pushed for the maintenance of a regional regime of Alsace-Lorraine, the Lorrains rejected the notion with verve. On the one hand, they wanted nothing to do with Strasbourg or Alsace–they had monopolized political power and economic opportunities. On the other, they wanted nothing to do with regionalism, and they wanted to return to the territorial and administrative structure that attained in the rest of France.

In the eyes of the Lorrains, there was nothing that attached them to the Alsatians except the decades of tyranny. They wanted their association to die. However, it was no longer a simple question. The Germans had moved institutions in Metz to Strasbourg. The power of Strasbourg continued to suck in the Lorrains. Furthermore, the power and influence of Metz had increased over those same decade, and Metz was struggling against two hegemonic cities. However, a regionalism developed around Nancy that would become a more influential force in Lorraine. The French poured resources and emotions into the remaining départements, building the city up as a counter-example to German annexation. Furthermore, the area developed its own tradition of defensive militarism. Metz returned to a Lorraine with a powerful Nancy that was monopolizing power on its side of the Vosges.

In essence, the people of Metz and the surrounding areas were given a choice of surrendering to Alsatian regionalism or Lorrain regionalism. They responded by trying accommodation with Nancy, splitting regional institutions, merging their universities, etc. This has been an uneasy relationship, sometimes leading to intense disputes whenever France wants to build a highway or airport. And Metz has not escaped the influence of Alsace. Metz is at the confluence of two different regionalism, both of which developed because of historical peculiarities.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

"Distinct from the North"

Last week I got a little hot under the collar, insisting that Americans make to much of the geographical party divisions and their possible roots in the Civil War. I reposted at Cliopatria (at Ralph Luker's request.) I also want to bring up the comments from Geitner Simmons of Reigons of Mind (emphasis mine):
One of the curiosities is that Southern Republicans exert such influence on the modern GOP even though the South is a relative newcomer to the party.

In the book, I'm going to write about how some academicians and politicians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries argued that the South and the West were de facto colonies of the "North." That was a theme that William Jennings Bryan sounded in his presidential campaign of 1896, for example. Although he lost, the Electoral College map shows that he nonetheless did carry both the South (not a surprise for a Democrat in that era, of course) and the West; an image of the map is here

As many people have noted, in an interesting switch, the states won by Republican McKinley in 1896 roughly mirror the base of Democratic strength in present-day presidential contests. Meanwhile, the states carried by Democrat Bryan are now bastions of GOP support at the presidential level.

Constructing a political alliance between the South and the West was only a pipe dream among certain politicians and intellectuals. But the theme of the two regions as distinct from the "Northern" norm is an important one that forms a central focus of my studies.

I should note that posters at Cliopatria mocked my phrase "yankee cracker", two terms which were the opposite of one another in the original context. As I admitted over there, I grew up in Los Angeles, and we complained about the Okies, a term which denoted refugees from the Dust Bowl, but which we used to describe anyone we considered to be insufficiently urban.

Canvassing in New Hampshire

My wife and I canvassed a rural area of New Hampshire today, and it was a rough experience. This was not my first experience at canvassing, and I expected that I would be received better than I was. I canvassed in January for Clark. Everyone I spoke to was talkative and nice, even if they were clearly not voting for Clark. I preferred canvassing to getting on the phones. Going into this work, I figured it would be even easier now: there are only two campaigns trying to contact people, not ten.

First, I should say that New Hampshire looks nothing like it did in January. Of course, the winter campaign was harsh, and the ground was covered with snow. Right now, the leaves are turning--it is near the height of the season, and the temperature is more temperate. The land was also clear of political signs. In January, every space was packed with signs for the political candidates, especially signs for Howard Dean. There are few signs now: driving north into the Keene area, we count less than thirty for both candidates.

The area that we were assigned was just north of Keene. It was a village nestled in the hills and along a small river. Most of the fields looked marshy. In one spot we saw an outhouse in one of these marshes, something which we could not understand. Most of the houses were either on the state highway that cut through the valley or on steep dirt roads that cut through the hills.

The houses did not have visible numbers–perhaps two inch high numbers that could not be seen from the road 150-250 feet away. Even the mailboxes contained little information. Furthermore, they were so far apart that it was impossible to walk between them–we had to drive from house to house. For three hours we crisscrossed this small town, missing the houses and not really sure of where we were.

The people were not friendly. Were they anti-Kerry? It is hard to say. When I announced myself, people usually reacted by saying that they were uncommitted and that they did not want to talk about politics AT ALL. In essence, I was refused before I could get in a kind word. However, some of those same people gave me an earful of how fed up they were with the political process. And I stood there like a dope, listening to them, hoping for some opening that would allow me to talk about the candidates. They would not let me talk about politics, but they used me as their political psychoanalyst.

What were my results? I don’t know how many houses I assigned, but there were a few I could not find. I received several refusals before I could identify my intention. They could not have known what I was doing because I wore no buttons that affiliated me with one campaign or other. However, my attire might have been an issue: a pastel blue, long sleeve shirt with a grid texture, grey slacks and black loafers--I stood out.

A bunch of people said they were not interested in talking to me after I announced my intentions. Three women were undecided with hostility, and said they would make up their minds nearer to election day. However, I realized in that their hostility for politics was more directed at Bush than Kerry, and I think they will end up voting for Kerry. Still, I had to mark them as a "3" (parlance for an uncommitted voter.) Finally, two women were enthusiastically pro-Kerry--both marked as "1". Technically, no one said they were pro-Bush, but the hostility made knowing difficult.

Considering how isolated these houses were, the residents probably wanted to live in isolation and welcomed no one. But they also live in a state in which politics can be most intense, especially since they have the "first in the nation" primary.

If we had not done this area, probably no one would have. I was given two choices: a town that was far, and this town which was close. I should have been alarmed that such a close town was still available, but we arrived late and I wanted to get to work. Later, someone told me that when they canvassed in the same area earlier in the year, they spoke to two women who were pulled away by their husbands, saying that they did not want anyway filling their wives' heads with ideas.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Tired ... Can't Write

I will try to post something interesting soon. I have been volunteering at the office of Presidential Candidate X in Hometown, in the southwestern corner of the State of Battleground. Tomorrow we canvas ... fun (or not).

As for the debate, I was disturbed by President Bush's last answer. It was a softball, a chance to humanize himself. Instead he attacked his questioner.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bilingualism is our future ... teach the children Alsatian!

I have posted both of these for an interested interlocutor. This map of Alsace shows the diversity of dialect in a small territory. Indeed, there are different strands, depending on how each area relates to the German world.

Cartoon telling people to preserve the Alsatian dialect. The young boy asks in French, "Grandfather, why are there not more storks in Alsace?" (The stork is a regional symbol.)

The response in dialect: "When the storks fly over Alsace, they hear French spoken everywhere, then they think that they have not yet arrived and they fly on."

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

A Habsburg Saint

The last emperor of Austria-Hungary, Karl I, was beatified last week. He is the first in a line of (what I would call) Euro-saints: symbols that the Vatican will use to convince EU constitution writers that Christianity has been critical to the making of Europe. (sorry, but I cannot judge his religious life.) Robert Schumann and de Gasperi are also candidates for beatification, and probably sainthood. John Paul II called Karl a friend of peace and the model of a Christian politician.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

So, we are still fighting the Civil War?

Glenn Smith at Blog of the President has this observation about partisan divisions on the basis of geography:
Even after four years of punditizing the blue state, red state phenom, it's been too little noticed the extent to which Republicans have revived the old Confederacy. Accurately, the fight is once again between the Blue and the Gray, not the blue and the red.

Little noticed? Perhaps not in the world of political activism, pundits have not played the your daddy was a slave-owner/yankee cracker cards. However, historians have noted how north/south divisions have perpetuated themselves by shifting into different fields of political conflict, from slavery to states' rights, labor relations, economic policies, foreign intervention, works programs, civil rights, internationalism ... until we get to our current division. And we use the legacy of slavery to draw critical (sometimes partisan) attention to Southern politics.

Calling the red states a revival of the Confederacy is a bit much--indeed, Southern Republicans advocate types of cultural unity that have no equivalent in American history (no one will like it when I say this, but it resembles the Jacobin instincts of French republicanism). Perhaps what is interesting is that the divisions between north and south have been politicized and that people are choosing where they live on the basis of their political identities. This view is further problematized when historians consider that civil rights, the most recent contentious debate about racial equality, was a debate within the Democratic Party as well as in the public sphere.

But this model does not explain everything. The most obvious thing is the redness of the Rocky Mountain region. Geitner Simmons is exploring the relations between the South and the West--he might have some explanation of the strength of the Republican Party in the West. I also think that both parties are thinking of ways of reaching across the north-south divide, looking for charismatic politicians that can capture the imagination of people in hostile territories. On the left, John Edwards and Wesley Clark are examples; on the right, Mitt Romney, Rudi Guiliani and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Johno, About the Sauce ...

Johno tries to manufacture theoretical victory out of the landscapes of mourning in both Cleveland and Boston. Yes, shifting from Heimat to terroir was clever.
I prefer to think of my Ohio roots as a terroir more than a Heimat. Terroir implies who I am is infused with and informed by Ohio and yet I also carry an identity that is my own besides. Your German-stylee homeland word is a little more freaky-sinister. To me at least, "Heimat" implies that I am the sum total of my Ohio roots, umbilically connected to the place. If that is true, how in the world do I still have all my teeth? I like the dandified French food connotations better, myself.

Had he read my Augé post from yesterday he would realize how weak he is in his terroir. Ultimately the local significance of his Red Sox will lose its specificity and become part of meta-history: how another team became world champions! Besides, the terroir is already weak sauce ... it has more import when discussing regional culinary styles. That is to say, it will tell us how your goose is cooked!

Johno, you did trade up on the sauce: drowning your sorrow will be more efficient with a Sam Adams than any Cleveland swill.

Non-Place (Augé II)

Local and localized are merely a nineteenth century manifestation of what Marc Augé calls supermodernity: the perceived acceleration of time, the perceived shrinking of space, and the direct attention given to the consumers as individual has undermined understanding of place. Into the flux moves non-place:
spaces of circulation, distribution, and communication where neither identity, relation, or history may be apprehended.
Supermodernity causes a number of excesses. Time moves so quickly that it is difficult to get one’s bearings in history. Distance is so easily surmounted that one loses the sense that territoriality and space have any reality. And the individual becomes the point of reference for the distribution of information–what I want to hear, what my opinion is, what type of news satisfies my curiosity–and not that of culture or the group .

The individual loses solid symbols that helped him or her to belong to the community. Instead, there are references (allusions?) that are not specific to any community–in fact, they can be applied to all communities. Writing these thoughts in the early 1990s, Augé probably did not realize how quickly the conditions of supermodernity would spread. His ideal of supermodernity was the global city–clearly anywhere can experience the same malaise through the internet.
The paradox supermodernity culminates in non-places, where one is neither [at home] or [with the others.]

Non-place substitutes for place in our spatial perceptions. We are neither at home or completely alien.

Despite the loss of place, individuals strive to recreate feelings of community and interconnection. Furthermore, they must strive to invented a sense of place and community where it does not exist and believe in its permanence.
This is the price of survival ... they [the invented places] are minimal forms of localization–we might call it emergency localization ... we must keep in mind that, in this context more than elsewhere, what is temporary is lived as if it were definitive.

This is a bleak vision of nomad identities for a world that is still largely sedentary. However, I must bring this back to regionalism. The community–the local, as Augé calls it–was never the sole place from which we gained out spatial perceptions. Place is not where identity exists. While place is where our expectations of the world are formed, any place is also a meeting ground for conflicting identities. Furthermore, I sense of place is not limited to our horizon. Our perceptions always extend beyond the visible landscape in order to see spaces that are kind of like our own. Our regional perceptions are not affected by supermodernity in the same way as our sense of place.

A LIttle CW

I think I have read every article on the baseball playoffs, and conventional wisdom suggests that the schedule in the AL works against both Angels and Red Sox.
  • The Angels would probably beat the Yankees (with some difficulty).
  • The Yankees would probably defeat the Twins (handily) and the Red Sox (narrowly).
  • The Red Sox would probably defeat the Angels (narrowly).
I still believe that the road to Red Sox redemption must go through the Bronx--victory in the World Series means defeating the Yankees at some critical moment. But the schedule works against the Red Sox, who will more than likely face the Yankees, their most difficult opponent.

The Angels will face their most difficult opponent first rather than hoping that they might be eliminated by another team. Of course, I do not think that wild card teams would normally faced the winners of their own division.

My prediction: the ALDS will be won in the fifth game, eighth inning on Manny's glove and Chone's legs.

I'll be back later with more baseball and Johno bashing.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Political Dr. Seuss

A former colleague, Ron Lamothe, has a film about the political cartoons of Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. PBS will carry it on October 26. Congratulations!

Battle for the Weisshaus

Officials in Berlin had planned to rebuild the Hohenzollern palace in Berlin in order to make it into create a symbolic home for the German chancellor, something like a German White House (or some other use). The palace was in East Berlin, and the communist regime took it down and replaced it with a more modern building, the Palace of the Republic. In their zeal to restore old buildings, Berliners believed that the Hohenzollern palace would be looked upon as a national symbol. This was a stupid idea--in my opinion the Hohenzollern palace was not symbolic of anything during the Kaiserreich. It was no lieu de memoire (site of memory).

To my satisfaction, the project is dead. On the one hand, the German economy will not allow for the expensive restoration. On the other, no one seems to be acting on it, and Berliners might be satisfied with the status quo. Trust me. Berlin does not need another overbearing work of architectural historicism.
There is not going to be a rebuilt Berlin palace. Merely uttering these words seems to significantly increase doubts that the royal palace will indeed ever be rebuilt. Blame for this cannot go to Germany's financial situation alone. The enthusiasm which flared up three years ago when the Bundestag decided to recreate the Hohenzollern palace in central Berlin was long extinguished before the financial crisis enforced a two-year delay.

... it seems there is no yearning for the building to be brought back to the Schlossplatz, the palace square, aesthetically important for the city as it is.

Supporters of the project hoped the palace would become a symbol for the city, similar to Dresden's Frauenkirche church. But the royal palace doesn't seem to contain the sort of symbolism that Dresden's church embodies.

Ironically, the shell of the Palace of the Republic, on the other hand, has captured the imagination of Germans. Over past months it has become a popular location for exhibitions, theater and other cultural events despite its current skeletal state. “Volkspalast,“ or People's Palace, read the new letters on the shabby facade. The reopening of the space for cultural events attracted not just Berlin's art nomads, but also a number of older guests who can remember what the building looked like in its heyday in GDR times.

And while the demolition of the Palace of the Republic is scheduled for next spring, the artists who now occupy the space hope the demolition will be delayed until reconstruction starts on the royal palace - and that might take a while.

[Aside: I never thought a piece of crap like the Palace of the Republic would be valued.]

Today is a good day (rhetorically) to die!

Johno, your Heimatsmannschaft is at home in Ohio, bombarded by campaign advertising as they stare at their navels. Your love for the Red Sox is just psychic transference: if you are going to embrace six decades of impotence, why not nine?

But, even in defeat, I will have the last laugh. The Angels have been redeemed. For the Red Sox, the road to redemption leads through the Bronx. Honoring the ghost of Ruth or prostrating oneself before Ted Williams' frozen head will not help.

The Local and the Localized (Augé I)

Recently I have had my head in a lot of theory--lots of new stuff about geography, landscape, and the anthropology of place. The works I have read--de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, Edward Casey, Spirn, and the stuff about critical regionalism--are inspiring. However, they are not as interesting as the historical stuff I usually post. Nevertheless, this blog is partially about my dissertation, so any one up for some theory?

French anthropologist Marc Augé analyzes the relationship between local groups, the spaces that they inhabit, and the administrations that would order them. The state administrators in the modern era (his targets are the nineteenth-century French ethnologists) dispersed throughout the territory of the nations to understand what was going on in the local. They studies villages and communes, looking for the processes that took place and examining the hierarchies and power relations. They used their findings to relate the local social context to developments in national life. In essence, the local became representative of the national, and this approach still survives as "micro-history."

Augé asserts that social scientists were not interested in learning what made the communities that they studied unique. Consequently, they denatured the specificity of the community:
... ethnographic study in France ... developed in opposition for the folklorist tradition by localizing research and envisaging its object as a totality.... we can say that in proximal ethnology, the localized approach triumphed at the very moment that “locales” began to disappear.

Localized rather than local: this is how social scientists, especially those serving the state, approach the community. Their goal is not to understand the specificity of the community, but to make it fit with national political life. As a result, the interaction between the community and the nation is confined to this reductive analysis. The local is not recognized in political discourse, only those facts that are relevant to the localized perspective.

Augé asserts that the local, having been localized, must transform itself. Indeed this tends to be the case: every time a new territory is articulated, minorities are produced that do no fit therein.

Augé's model is intersting, and I agree with it, but where does this leave the region as a place? The social sciences tended to bypass them, and ignored them as a result. Anything that was meaningfully sub-national could be analyzed at the localized level. But as I have said before, a place is not the equivalent of its pieces--it is more than the sum of its parts. The region is an invisible elements.

Time for a Rally Monkey

The Angels are in the playoffs, the champions of their division for the first time since 1986. And they are in the playoffs with an interesting cast of teams.

Of course, the perennial appearances are made by the Yankees and Braves. The Red Sox also regularly subscribe to the post-season series, but this will be the first time that they will face the Angels in the playoffs since the 1986 series, which had calamitous and suicidal consequences. And the Cardinals are also in, the team that the Angels might have played in 1982 had they not imploded in the last three games of the ALCS against the Brewers.

More importantly, this is the closest we have come yet to a Freeway Series between the Angels and Dodgers. The closest before was in 1982: the Angels won their division, but the Dodgers were eliminated on the last day of play and the Braves won the western division.

What are the Angels chances of making it to the series? Hmmm. I would have preferred that they play the Yankees before the Red Sox (I am sure Red Sox fans feel the same way). The Yankees were still struggling with AL West teams this year while Boston found some magic key to dominating them after the All Star break. Furthermore, the Angels' bats have been on the disabled list all year.

But it is not hopeless. The Angels' bullpen is awesome: several commentators have noted that the relief pitchers can turn the last three innings of every game into dead ball, and that relief pitching makes the difference in the playoffs. And then there is the Rally Monkey--is it inconsequential or insurmountable.

For the next twenty-four hours there will be a bounce in my step, a smile on my face, and a hello for everyone I see. After that I am the most hated man in New England, and old friendships will be cast aside. Who needs friends when I have baseball? Who fears un planeta californiano?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Tuivel says: FREEWAY SERIES! Posted by Hello

Friday, October 01, 2004

Critical Regionalism

In the 1980s a few architects and theorists were disappointed with the direction that architecture was taking under the influence of postmodernism. Rather than unveiling the historicity of style in their designs, postmodern architects became another avant garde that produced designs that mimicked classical style.

Critical regionalism was the response. Focusing on the relationship between building and its location, theorists Kenneth Frampton, Alex Tzonis and Liliane Lafaivre looked at how architecture can mediate between regional particularities and global culture:
the concept of regionalism here indicated an approach to design giving priority to the particular rather than to the universal dogmas.

The most coherent and central description of this movement comes from Frampton’s essay, “Toward a Critical Regionalism: Six Points for an Architecture of Resistance.” Design should draw inspiration from the region that it inhabits:
The fundamental strategy of Critical Regionalism is to mediate the impact of universal civilization with elements derived indirectly from the peculiarities of a particular space.

Frampton does not want nostalgia for folk styles, an acritical revival of vernacular architecture. In fact, Frampton gives more preference to how the architect deals with the irregularities of the physical landscape rather than how he or she employs local culture (“layering into the site the idiosyncrasies of place find their expression without falling into sentimentality”.) The architect should enter “a dialectical relation with nature”, taking clues from the topography and avoiding bulldozing in order to flatten space. Frampton also recommends using top-lighting and exposing the elements of construction, speaking more of the relationship of the building to its space. (Of course, vernacular architecture also took its cues from the physical landscape.)

Although critical regionalism is a theory of architecture, it says something important about the potentials of political regionalism. No place can become culturally frozen in time, yet values need not be displaced in the process of nationalization or globalization. Regionalism ought not be a defense against the world, but a means of managing contact therewith. Certainly, there is a variety of approaches to regionalism, not all of which are about cultural preservation.

"Osama bin Laden attacked us"

The debate was painful to watch for Bush's performance--in an area that should have been his strongest--talking about a world that is of his making. Kerry was remarkable for his clarity and demeanor. He missed opportunities to damage Bush. Terry Holt has been running around saying the Kerry is inconsistent for wanting allies in Iraq and bilateral talks in North Korea. Perhaps Holt does not realize that the only country that has any leverage over North Korea is China--do we need to empower Beijing more, or is it enough to have China finance our debt?