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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 05:20pm on 28/08/2011 under ,
I'd much rather be looking Into magic right now, but here's the essence of a ten to fifteen minute talk I am to give my german class tomorrow about society 1790 to 1815, during which time romanticism was happening in Germany. Which is the exact same stuff we're doing in history, so it's rather pointless, but anyway.

because even though I will not like talking about this for four school hours in a row with elaborate literature analysis, I do actually enjoy having written down a short list of what happened when, just for the information. (I am so sick of school and how long everyone takes to say anything right now).

1790 Germany (or rather german Länder) were not modernising much due to the fragmentedness of the different jurisdictions limiting the economy and due to the old feudal social hierarchy.
then the French Revolution happened and Napoleon invaded, making various monarchs realise they needed to reform to prevent revolution. they centralised and reorganised administrations (and took land from the clergy).
prussian Reforms, In 1807, in response to Jena and Auerstedt, which I ought also be writing history homework about right now too.
Abolished serfdom, guilds, instituted education, military conscription, which all leads to less importance of class.
And industrialisation because of farmers being freed up.
after 1815- population growth which the economy could not keep up with. And it ought to be mentioned a German Confederation was established at the Congress of Vienna. (the Holy Roman Empire ended 06).
by 1835 it started industrialising though, especially in mining, metal, and machinery.

there, now I just need to elaborate for 10 minutes.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 07:57pm on 27/08/2011
i wrote earlier (or maybe I didn't and just assumed it) that it's rather difficult because of all the sensory stimulus from the outside before much moreore than from the inside.
Upon reading some more of Paradise Lost I realised it probably really helps to be blind. Turns one's gaze inwards and towards the divine (writes Joseph Campbell in The Hero With a Thousand Faces concerning Tiresias, I think, in any case that thought got into my memory from somewhere). John Milton was blind, and he's got this whole cosmology and history laid out in his head, with heaven and earth and hell, which he sees as clearly as other people see the real world.
otherwise it might help to be otherwise isolated, if one were to sit in a blank room for ten years one might end up mentally living in a mythological cosmology permanently too. Mine might solidify, right now I have the nine worlds model and the three worlds model and science all not getting along.
Not that I really need that to happen, for my mind to turn inside out, I'm fine reading books occasionally.

Judging from the 40% of the words which are making any sense to me at all, Paradise Lost is a genius book. I don't think I need a translation, I just need to reread this a few more times.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 12:00pm on 27/08/2011 under , , ,
This morning I read Hoffman's Der Sandmann. How do I feel about this, besides awfully nerdy for having done my schoolwork first thing in the morning and way ahead of schedule?
It is a nice (and rather short) story. And it makes sense to me, although my teachers will impose some much less interesting and more didactic interpretation on it, and then ruin my liking for the story by making us write long boring tedious essays about their interpretation. So I had better write down what I think of it now:
Yes it is clearly all in his head,but that doesn't make it less real. The sandman stole his eyes = his father dying made him deluded and permanently dreaming. I think eyes and sleep are a theme in this because his mind sees things differently, and that's the problem. And then he just gets so frustrated nobody believes him, Olimpia never seems to think anything herself and Clara also doesn't say anything which is meaningful to him either, that he thinks they are automatons, which is the logical thing for him to suspect, given his fear of alchemy and experiments he'll blame that for everyone else seeming a bit off.
There, done. I can't write an essay about that and I really don't want to, what's fun about this is that it's so simple and logical in it's own way that that's all the interpreting I want to do. I am going to be so bored and annoyed at german class.
I like stories with automatons, robots, artificial humans, homunculi, alchemy, etc. in them, and this one also agrees with me that people are mostly just machines and pretty much indistinguishable anyway. This reminds me that the whole artificial life thing didn't begin with Frankenstein (this story was published two years earlier) and that the whole robot thing didn't begin with Metropolis. There are probably earlier stories for me to read involving people that run on clockwork (which is fascinating and creepy and is bound to be a theme in literature as a response to when society suddenly started running on clockwork) and alchemically created people.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 05:29pm on 26/08/2011 under
So that poem praising romanticism which I was internally violently disagreeing with: it first asserts that people must not systemize and categorise but rather let thinking and I imagination mix. Which is all very well,but the next line states that only then will all that is wrong be cleared away.
It just frustrated me, that it suddenly turned around and called the thinking part of everything absolutely wrong, and asserted that there is a truth to be found. I think I'm too postmodern for this argument (although I'm still not sure I'm applying that word correctly). I am so bored of direct discussion in literature of emotional vs rational, it is so overused. And it is all the same to me:
Emotions are a much quicker and more generalising version of thinking, religion is protoscience, machines are very crude forms of organisms, cities are something like a fungus...
So I get bored of arguing religion vs logic, or computers vs brains, when they're all indistinguishable from a certain point of view and we should instead be thinking of what logic there is in religion or how we can make computers more like organisms.
That being said I have nothing against the romanticism, dream logic is just thinking that is too efficient and complex to follow, but apparently it spews out the right result in the end, because humans do stay alive and society stays alive. Whatever people's brains are doing when they're not making simple understandable sense works mostly, except we don't have the brainpower to understand it, which is too bad. I don't think like Freud that the subconsciousness is to disturbing and dangerous for us to know about it, I don't think it's stunningly complex either, I just think we don't have just a bit more metathinking and analysing power because we survive just fine without being aware what's going on there, in fact it's probably distracting to monitor one's own brain processing everything, and our reasoning skills didn't develop to help us monitor our mental maintenance systems for our entertainment and enlightenment, they developed so that we have another tool for figuring out how to not die and how to have our species not die. I suspect all the thinking were conscious of doing is the back-up tool, being the newest and not entirely essential.
Off-topic: can anyone mentally turn their skull inside out? That instead of the world being the outside and the brains being the inside, your thought mechanism are the general background while the world is a cavern within that which you look into and make adjustments to the inside of? It's not quite solipsism, since the perceived world is still separate and autonomous and mostly outside of one's control, just not as important. Since I can conceive of it it must be possible with just a little bit more mental flexibility. Ideally a person ought to be able to shift it like a reversible figure optical illusion, but a lifetime in "normal" mode probably makes it more difficult to switch one way than the other. Or maybe some people or most people are in the other mode and I don't know it. And of course a persons insides are objectively smaller than the world. Nothing that a lifetime of living in a culture where the assumption is that thoughts are more important and true reality wouldn't solve though.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 05:09pm on 26/08/2011 under
So now I am back to writing something daily, I hope. Because really, how hard can it be to have one thought each day? I usually do, but I'm usually at school whileI get enthusiastic about random stuff.
In theory, I think this ought to help me keep upa general level of thinking and productiveness rather than taking away my work time (because I don't actually use much of it to work right now). This is also the reason I just volunteered for an extra german project, which might turn out to be sort of stressful.
This weekend:
Frankenstein, this might be my absolute favourite book at the moment.
Germany in 1780 to 1850 or somewhen, because that's what I need to do a project about anyway.
Romanticism, my reaction to an hour of german class on it (as usual it was to get disproportionately angry and frustrated because I think the author of an old poem is being quite unoriginal and dense and Is missing the point entirely and should not be celebrated for it just because it sounds grand).

Other stuff to do soon:
1805
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 04:03pm on 28/07/2011 under
Things I am so unaccustomed too that it's sort of creepy:

-dystopia, the variety with oppressed masses and capitalist oligarchs. (Looks almost identical to the variety with oppressed masses and communist oligarchs)
-silent films
-German. Dramatic, grandiose, philosophical-sounding german narrational texts.
-a cultural trend in acting where people are very emotional and dramatic and practically climb all over their conversational partner. All the time.
-there has got to be some biblical metaphor going on here.
-an overdose of (german) 20s art, clothing, architecture, etc. styles.
-impressive orchestra
-creepy huge industrial machinery

I am suffering the era-specific equivalent of culture shock with this film. Which makes it so much more interesting than anything contemporary. (Current trend in acting is towards exaggerated expressionlessness, which isn't inherently worse, in fact if I were form the 1920s I'd be quite astounded by that too.)
I just started watching this. There's going to be robots.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 03:25pm on 27/07/2011 under ,
Still reading short stories by Isaac Asimov, and they're still great.

"Galley Slave":
In 1957 it apparently seemed plausible that in the future we'd use a humanoid robot for the purpose of proofreading texts (on paper) for spelling, punctuation, &c.
Why not a computer?
"such a machine would require the galleys be translated into special symbols, at the least, transcribed on tapes. Any corrections would emerge as symbols. You would need to keep men employed translating words to symbols, symbols to words. Furthermore, such a computer could do no other job. It couldn't prepare the graph you hold in your hand, for instance".

Seriously, I only just realized that all only slightly old texts would have to have been proofread by people and then reprinted. Life without word-processing programs...
And they didn't have keyboards? They couldn't have typed something into a computer as simply as into a typewriter?
Now we can just scan texts and have the computer interpret the letters as letters, how cool is that? With really tiny devices that do unimaginable amounts of other stuff too.
So cool. Seriously, I am not calming down about this, in fact I'll continue being all like "Look people I have a tricorder, in real life, except even better!"
(We couldn't make holograms by putting tiny toroidal (?) magnetic fields into midair until it glows? Well probably not, I don't know much about this, wrong gas or something, or we'd be doing it. I want holograms and I'm out of ideas on this.)

Also I'd like to know whether widespread spellcheck has caused the development of neologisms, variant spellings, etc. to slow down, but I suppose we'll have to wait a few decades for that, and of course there's other possible factors for any acceleration or deceleration of language development which might be happening right now.
The & is a ligature for "et", and I don't think any new ligatures will spontaneously implement themselves either, just stuff like texting shorthand, which is different, because it's only new uses of preexisting symbols.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 01:20pm on 22/07/2011
Never tried any.

Reasons for getting a subscription for getting one a month:
-it will guarantee I "read" one book each month
-about the same price as an actual book would be
-less effort to read, obviously

Reasons against:
-I already have a problem of trying to read 15 books at the same time without adding more
-cannot take notes in them, but then again I survived without writing in books just fine before I got an ereader
-I have no idea whether I like audiobooks

Because in real life, people (or at least a whole lot of people I know) trying to read to me is the most annoying thing ever and generally makes me want to punch them.
Also I find most narrators to have incredibly awful voices, especially the "calm old man" variety in children's stuff, who just sounds so condescending, and slow. The narrators in commercials all make me want to scream too, it's probably on purpose to get attention though. But maybe they don't use the most awful voices they can find for adult audiobooks.
I hate people talking slowly, it makes me so angry. At this point it's safe to say most anything makes me angry, so I maybe I ought to get over it by letting them talk to me about interesting stuff. After all I can choose what those voices talk to me about, and when, and in what language.

So I'll just try one...
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 12:09pm on 21/07/2011
I knew that whole making a list of all the books I've ever read was good for something: I suddenly remember what I was so busy reading all my childhood. And the list is suddenly 14 books longer, and a timeline doesn't look like I only started reading at 10 anymore.

So 6 years ago I thought I had read every single one of them (and that I was too old to read about talking mice anyway). Not anymore, turns out there's been a new one yearly. So that's some more stuff which is probably epic which I just have to read. Very long list, that, I want to nail my kindle to my hand so that I get some books done sometime.

What have I've read lately: Good Omens on one train ride and Tongues of Serpents on the way back. Both rather entertaining. The war seems to have escalated itself to a global conflict. Which means I want the next book.
All those books I'm currently in the middle of, I start to feel bad for the characters because I've let them for example stand around at a sort of awkward party for the last few weeks. And there's a trope for that:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TethercatPrinciple
Or I might just have a bit of a book addiction.
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posted by [personal profile] jay_walk at 12:19pm on 13/07/2011
Next map )

Yeah, ports on this one for some reason. So the second coalition wasn't until 1805 and not much happened in between except minor territory seizing and trade blockades & intercepting between Britain and France only? That's the impression I have right now. Also small conflict on land in Spain/ Portugal (?).

The War of The Third Coalition: map with tons of stuff on it, next time.

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