Dienstag, 14. November 2017

Sonntag, 27. August 2017

Andreas Paul, "Von Affen und Menschen"

Reposted Goodreads Review:
Ein sehr guter Überblick über die Forschung zum Verhalten der Primaten (einschließlich von uns Menschen) und über verschiedene evolutionstheoretische Erklärungen. Sehr positiv ist, dass der Autor immer klar anzeigt, inwiefern Ergebnisse und Erklärungen durch Beobachtungen und Experimente gestützt sind. Das Buch ist verständlich und lebendig geschrieben.
A very good overview over the state of research on primate behaviour (including us humans) and over the various evolution based explanantions. It's very positive that the author always indicates clearly how far results and explanations are based on observations and experiments. The book is written in a comprehensible and lively language.

Sonntag, 23. Juli 2017

Norbert Wolf "Malerei Verstehen"

This is a re-posting of my Goodreads Review. The review is in German - I assume most pepople interested in a German introduction to painting are more likely to read German than English.
Это - краткая рецензия немецкой  книги - введения в живопись. Так как я предполагаю, что человек, заинтересованный читать такую книгу, знает немецкий язык, данная рецензия - на немецком. 
Das Buch ist eine Einführung in die Malerei, nach Sachgebieten geordnet (Farben, Farbe contra Zeichnung, Prozess des Malens, Gliederung der Bildfläche, Malerei und Raum, Bildgattungen, Malerei und Gesellschaft, Malerei zwischen Illustration und Abstraktion). Leider werden viele Themen nur sehr kurz angerissen (z. B. Farben, Maltechniken) - der Autor zählt ein paar Schlagworte auf, ohne zu erklären, was sie bedeuten. Es enthält auch zu wenig Illustrationen -  so wird eine Wandmalerei von Matisse über zwei Seiten hinweg diskutiert, aber es gibt keine Abbildung im Buch.
Teilweise sind zwar Illustrationen vorhanden, so werden z. B. die Fresken Giottos in der Arenakapelle in der Gesamtansicht gezeigt (Abbildung Nr. 15), so dass sehr schön die Einordnung der Fresken in den Raum zu erkennen ist. Aber Wolf diskutiert auf S. 89 auch die Komposition eines Ausschnitts aus dem Fresko, der auf der Abbildung nicht erkennbar ist.
Manche Themen, wie "Malerei und Gesellschaft", leiden weniger darunter. Aber um den Anspruch des Buchs zu erfüllen (Klappentext: "Ob Kunstkritik, Vernissage oder Museumsbesuch: Mit 'Malerei Verstehen' ist man immer gut vorbereitet"), wären detailliertere Erläuterungen und mehr anschauliche Illustrationen notwendig gewesen.

Freitag, 30. Juni 2017


As I've recently been reading a lot of Babel, I just had to think that's how the Red Cavalry would have approached maths.
В последнее время я читал много Бабеля, и увидев это, я подумал что вот так конармия бы рещила математические проблемы.

Ich habe in der letzten Zeit wohl zu viel Babel gelesen. Jedenfalls ist mir hierzu als erstes eingefallen, dass dies die Art sein muss, wie die Reiterarmee mathematische Probleme löst.

Samstag, 3. September 2016

A Clockwork Clocked

I had put off reading "A Clockwork Orange" for a long time. It's a book that has become part of common cultural knowledge, and the things I knew about it - the ultraviolence, the nadsat slang - didn't really entice me to read it. That despite the fact that I liked what else I've read by Burgess - "One Hand Clapping" is a very funny read, and "Language Made Plain" is the one book I'd recommend for a popular introduction into the history and workings of the English language.

But then my daughter left her edition of "Clockwork" behind when she went off to study recently, and I started reading. And I didn't put it down - well, almost, I interrupted reading maybe once or twice.

It turns out that the ultraviolence, while taking up a substantial part of the book, is described not too gorily, and then we're probably nowadays too used to graphically described violence - the book contains less blood and gore than the average episode of Game of Thrones. And the violence is not gratuitous, but again, it's a well-known fact that good and evil and the role of choice betwen them are central topics of the book.
The nadsat - a slang containing a large part of Russian - was also less of a hindrance to understanding than I had assumed. As I speak Russian reasonably well, some of it grated and felt unnatural; gloopy for "stupid" sounds natural, but a lot of the loaned verbs didn't look like natural candidates for loaning and their English adaptations feel forced. But on the whole, it gives the book its very own flavour. Some of the words escaped me for quite some time, simply because the adaptations in English don't sound much like their Russian originals. I only understood in the middle of the book that horrorshow is Russian хорошо, and even more embarrassingly, it took me until the last pages to get that lewdies "people" is not derived from lewd, but Russian люди.

Now you ask, this is all faint praise or no praise at all, so what kept me hooked? It's the voice, the language, the way Alex (the first-person-narrator) talks.  It's enchanting, taking you along on the ride, making you want to find out more about the character. He has a great lot of negative traits and for his actions he'd deserve contempt or hate, and in the chapters after his treatment he's quite pathetic, but still the narrating voice is like a tasty drink that I couldn't put down. The only other narrator who can capture me like that is Isaak Babel, who also knows how to tell horrible tales with a voice that you don't want to stop listening to.

And despite the fact that the book's content has become a part of popular culture, the ending still was surprising.

Freitag, 25. September 2015

Colours of the Past

A great post at Poemas del Río Wang about colour photos shot by Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky in imperial Russia before the First World War. I didn't know that colour photgraphy did even exist back then, all I had seen from that period were originally black-and-white photographs that have been coloured by hand. These photographs make the time look so much nearer and closer! Thinking of that period, I would normally have Sepia toned images in my head, or maybe simple black-and white, but these photographs have the look and feel of photographs taken in the 1950 or 60s, like the slides of trips across Germany and Italy that my father used to show to us.
The surviving collection can be found at the U.S. library of congress.

Dienstag, 1. September 2015

One man, one vote

Well, it's one woman, one vote, and it's a funny story.