Dienstag, 16. Dezember 2008

Guilt & Trust

I normally don't talk about books or films I haven't read. But I came across this review of the film version of "The Reader", and I really was puzzled by the reviewer's seeming lack of understanding:

Maybe I'm lacking in moral complexity (or maybe this is a uniquely German story that translates poorly to an American context), but The Reader's central problem (which seems reducible to "I shagged a Nazi") strikes me as a bogus one.
If Michael can say, truthfully, that he knew nothing about his lover's past, doesn't that effectively absolve him of guilt? A lifetime of Fiennes-ian brooding seems a steep price to pay for one summer of unwitting fascistic congress. And even if Michael can't help but feel haunted by his fling, shouldn't others (like the Holocaust survivor he confronts near the end of the film, played by Lena Olin) let him off the hook? Why on earth should a horny teenage boy have to abstain from sex with a willing blond goddess on the off chance she might be SS?

Just by reading the review, it is clear that we're not talking about a one-night stand, but about a relationship enduring a summer long that was deep and meaningful for Michael, even if perhaps not for Hanna. Without having read the book or seen the film, I would assume that Michael's problem is not so much guilt, but disappointment and loss of trust, especially in his own feelings - how could he fall in love with a woman who did such unspeakable deeds? How can he be sure that the next woman he falls in love with, or he simply is attracted to, doesn't hide a hideous character behind a beautiful face?
Even if Michael's reaction, to reject all deeper relationships with women, may still seem exaggerated, I think it's much easier to understand as based on loss of trust and confidence in his own ability to correctly assess other people's character, than as based on guilt by association. It's a feeling probably known to many people who, after the excesses of the 20th century, had to find out that a loved person had perpetrated crimes against humanity in the past.

Sonntag, 21. September 2008

Apocalypse broken

The LHC doesn't create a black hole, it breaks down. That's comforting.
Kein schwarzes Loch heute, der LHC ist leider kaputt. Das ist doch beruhigend.
Люди ожидали худшего, а получилось как всегда.

Donnerstag, 14. August 2008

Personal Progress

Now Cyrillic shows on my website. It shows what a newbie I am - to me, even the Windows "edit your web site in Word" function is helpful. Embarassing.
The only thing that's more embarassing is that I added a poetry section. Don't worry, it's only for bad poems.

Montag, 11. August 2008

My web site

So I got myself a geocities web site to dump my longer writings on. Now I just need to see how I get Cyrillic working there... I started with a piece of fiction (in German) I wrote in, I think, 1999. Prizes to who guesses first which short story was the inspiration.

Geocities? Ja, ich wollte einfach was schnelles, um längere Texte abzulegen. Ich weiß nicht, ob das eine gute Idee war - Kyrillisch funktioniert z. B. schon mal nicht. Liegt wahrscheinlich daran, dass ich so ein Web-Analphabet bin. Für den Anfang eine Kurzgeschichte, die ich so um 1999 geschrieben habe. Wer rät, welche Kurzgeschichte mich dazu inspiriert hat?

Есть у меня теперь сайт на geocities. Пока там ничего особенного нет - кириллица не работает и там только рассказ на немецком.

Freitag, 25. Juli 2008

Blasts from the 80s

Zwei Erinnerungen an die 80er in zwei Tagen - ist das ein Signal, dass ich alt werde?

Donnerstag, 24. April 2008

Alternative lives

Was ist exotischer - in einem Computerspiel zu leben oder ein Jahr im Libanon?
What's more strange - to live in a computer game, or a year in Lebanon?
Что более странно, жить в компьютерной игре или год в Ливане? Решите сами.

Samstag, 16. Februar 2008


I'll start reading "Seven pillars of wisdom" now.
As "Lawrence of Arabia" is one of my favourite films of all times, I wanted to note that down, before I write anything stupid under the influence of that book (the edition I'm reading has an introduction by one Angus Calder quoting modernist literature and trench warfare guilt - sheesh, couldn't you just say that Lawrence was a great bastard who had fun doing desert warfare?)

Donnerstag, 17. Januar 2008

Gute Besserung!

Sometimes, doing term papers is good for something - back during my Slavistic studies, I had to do one on a collection of short stories by Vassiliy Aksyonov, and since then I love his works and his style.
So I'm sad to see that he's been hospitalised after a stroke - I wish him a full and speedy recovery!
Meanwhile, if you know Russian, you can read his Alternative History novel "Остров Крым" ("The Island Of Crimea") online.

Иногда сочиняешь семинарные работы не зря - давным-давно, когда я учился славистике, мне задавали писать об одном сборнике рассказов Вассилия Аксёнова, и с тех пор я - поклонник его творчества.
Поэтому мне очень грустно узнавать, что он попал в больницу; желаю ему скорейшего выздоровления!
Может быть, это повод перечитать "Остров Крым"?