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Oct. 30th, 2003

Slept for eleven hours, dreamt about snakes before waking up. My sister and I were in Maishofen (or rather its dream variety). Garage door not working, broken horizontally, giving way and denting the the car when I tried to close it. There was a snake, Ma* said it was a Ringelnatter, not sure if this is at all likely. I chased it away and it almost got run over by a random person biking by. When it slithered into the grass on the side of the road I thought there was something odd about it and realised it had two tails. Then there were two or three other snakes, rolled up in the yard, apparently sleeping, but raising their heads when we gave them a closer look, and then we looked at the next house and there were lots and lots of them, big ones, crawling up the wall, getting into a first floor widow. Suddenly you almost couldn't put your foot down without stepping on one. We rushed inside, but the interior of the house was suddenly changed, too, the staircase very narrow, labyrinthine, we almost didn't make it up to our apartment with our bulky baggage.

More dream fragments, but nothing definite. Weird. Me trying to get somewhere, but not being able to find my way at a very complex crossroads, lots of confusing, contradicting, nonsensical roadsigns...

Did nothing much all day, wallowing in lethargy.

And I just slept another four hours and am still? again? feeling tired. Strange dreams again. Weird. :: shakes head :: That, or it's time for hibernation. :: sips coffee ::

Achaemenid art: I started out as an classical archaeologist (i.e., the boring Greek & Roman stuff), but dabbled quite a lot in near eastern history and archaeology during the research for my diss. The Achaemenid kings created an empire that at the hight of its power stretched from Asia Minor and Thrace to India, from the Black Sea to Arabia and Egypt. They ruled from the mid 6th to the mid 4th century BC, when Darius III lost to Alexander the Great.
What is so intriguing about the Achaemenid court style is that apparently is was practically created from a scratch to fit the needs of the new empire. It is related to earlier Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian imperial art as well as other local traditions, but has a distinct style and iconography of its own, which, after a short period of artistic experimentation under Kyros, emerged more or less full blown under Darius I and Xerxes, and was copied almost unchanged until the end of the empire. The art of seal-cutting gives a little insight into the process of its development, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions, not the least of which, who actually designed the iconographic program of the Persepolis palace.
(Persepolis photographs on the site of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago)

Anton Hanak: Austrian-Czech sculptor, 1875 - 1934; focusing on the human figure, often symbolic subjects. Love the way he used classical prototypes, but turned them into something quite personal and new.
('Der brennende Mensch')

Ejnar Nielsen: Danish Painter, 1872-1956, symbolist; rather severe, minimalist style, bordering on the bleak; came across his work on my vacation in Copenhagen this summer.
('The Blind Girl')

Greco-persian art: :: cough :: The ill-fated diss subject. Basically the art of the western satrapies of the Achaemenid empire - Asia Minor, Thrace, The Black Sea region, the Levant, where local traditions, Greek artistic influence and Persian-influenced subjects were merged with varying stylistic and iconographical results. The term has never been defined very clearly and is being used for describing both style and subject. I was considering a system of catalogisation primarily based on political/administrative units, because the stylistic approach didn't seem likely to yield many or satisfactory results, but well. Apparently not happening.
(Daskyleion excavations)

Martin Kusej: Austrian theatre (and recently opera) director. His interpretation of 'Hamlet' (Salzburg, 2000) forever spoiled me for all the more conventional stagings. Stark, beautiful images, very intellectual approach.

Norbert Elias: Sociologist 1887 - 1990; 'Die höfische Gesellschaft' ('The Court Society') and 'Der Prozess der Zivilisation' ('The Civilizing Process') were recommended to me by Prof. B* for my diploma thesis, but beyond that changed my world-view quite a lot. Consciously thinking about history not in terms of human will, decisions and actions, but in terms of systems and processes ... it's a bit like i imagine people must have felt when they learned that the Earth wasn't the centre of the universe, after all. Having your priorities, the sense of your own importance re-arranged rather forcibly. Does this sound stupid? (I guess it probably would have happened as a result of growing up anyway, but still...) By implication introduced me to the concept of cultural relativity, too - sometimes I still find this difficult to deal with - not so much the part about keeping an objective distance, which is quite easy, especially when applied to history, but the one about deciding when to take a personal stance on contemporary issues.

Russian painting: Self-explanatory, really. Mostly focusing on the later 19th, early 20th century, though, The Wanderers, Russian Impressionism, Art Nouveau-influenced Artists like Mikhail Vrubel. Some earlier 19th century painters like Karl Briullov. I have to thank M* for introducing me to it - the job does have its occasional benefits, too.

Yasar Kemal: I can't believe he is on no one's interests list. Great Turkish writer; born 1923 in a small southern Anatolian village. Influenced by the oral literary tradition of the region, great style, dramatic, intensely poetic, funny, political, often all that at once. The only thing I regret is I can only read him in translation.

It's 1:35 am, I guess I should go to bed.. ? :: blinks :: Sleeping at odd hours during the day always upsets my internal clock.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2003 10:47 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you did this; it's so interesting and I really liked the painting of Ejnar Nielsen's you linked to.
Nov. 7th, 2003 10:36 am (UTC)
Thanks... I *think* I originally saw it on your friends-list.

BTW, sorry... I just realised I never replied to your last comment - I was convinced I had, but apparently not. I was going to say, thanks for the tip, I wasn't aware there might be a physical problem - I may look into that.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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