Friday, April 25, 2008

Nerdy nerd

Every last Friday of the month, there's my postgrad seminar. Boring, with compulsory attendandce. After yawning myself to near death, today I decided to arm myself with something to read. Art book for obvious reason, something small for practical purposes. Art books tend to be huge and due to lack of better choice, I grabbed Hiekanen (1).
I sat on the metro and, erm, read. And looked at the pictures, let my thoughts wander and such. After a while I noticed some people looking weird at me. This is a free country so people are allowed to look weirdly at other people so what. Then I heard them speaking Finnish. I would eavesdrop but I needed to get off. From the weird looks I couldn't make out whether they thought me another itinerant Finn or rather a local person with not so practical choices of things to learn.
The book accompanied me through the seminar. Some colleague was talking about iconography of founder legends in Benedictine convents in 17th and 18th centuries. Booooooring. I learned a bit of art history lingo in Finnish, meantime. The Professor (2) had three phone calls during the lecture and didn't have politesse enough to fucking leave the room. Now that's called self-importance.
The other plan for the day was to go to book fair and meet a colleague there. I couldn't reach him on the phone so I went for a coffee, bought saffron (there's a spice place close to school and I took the opportunity since I don't go to school until I have to) and pastries, thought that colleague might be hungry. Took some cash from ATM, got on a wrong tram, got some weirdo looks on my Finnish book from some passer-by Swedes.
I went to the fair, wandered around, greeted a friend, stopped by the stall of Oikumene, the publishing house for smartasses. The guy in the stall diagnosed me: "You want Heidegger's Being and Time, ma'am, don't you." I told him that I have that one in their first edition, in the pale blue wrapper, you know - and gained instant acceptance from the seller and from a random guy who was standing there and reading; remember that I still somewhat look like a dumb blonde. I checked new books, said a few things about how nice their books look (they do) and promised to drop by later.

The Technical University had their little stall next to the huge stall of universities combined. There was something going on, some elderly engineery type was saying something. I stopped and tried to squeeze closer when some lady stuck a cup of wine (I admit it's yucky to drink wine from plastic cups but such is the world) to my hand and then I realized that there's some presentation going on. The engineery type published part III. of Physics in cultural life (3). It sounded interesting so at the end I invested some of my hard-earned money to Part I. which covered Greece, Rome and Middle ages. From somewhere in the crowd, the guy I met at the Oikumene stall materialized. The place was crowded like hell, we stood there waiting to pay our acquisitions and chatted. It turned out that his father is the former director of local botanic garden and that the guy himself is an assistant at the Technical University, at the department of Neutron Reflectography, whatever it might be. "Like x-ray, but with neutrons," he kindly explained. After a discussion on a broad range of subjects, he invited me to some local swamps to check these. I must admit that I rather know swamps close to my hometown so I gladly accepted the invitation.

Nerds of all countries, unite.

Went to buy some books. I've finished De vulgari eloquentia (4) I got at the fair last year, had still some cowrie shells left to spend so I got myself some Pico della Mirandola (5), letters of st. Jerome (6) and some Bonaventura (7). Food for thought for the whole summer.

On the way back, I was thinking. Lately I've been really nervous about my philosophy paper. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to write about something Medieval. I borrowed some books, re-read my Hugh of St. Victor (8), thought about things, invented nothing and became nervous. I have time until September but I'd like to be done with that soon. And the idea wouldn't appear. It's only 20-30 pages, doesn't have to be any research or anything, it just needs to be written and I suppose I can get off with quite some superficiality.
I got that Bonaventura. There's a few things Bridget might have gotten from him. I have a book on her studies and such. Umberto Eco has it (don't have the article at hand, it's among clippings in another home) that dissertation is like a pig, all bits and pieces come to a good use someday. I have that book on women in religion in Italy and there's a few essays on Medieval mysticism and such.
Now, I might have gotten to the dissertation mode.

(1) Markus Hiekkanen: Suomen keskiajan kivikirkot. Suomen kirjallisuuden seura, Helsinki 2007
(2) The head of our department. Also my dissertation consultant. Thinks Medieval art in Scandinavia is crap.
(3) Ivo Kraus: Fyzika v kulturních dějinách Evropy. Starověk a středověk. Nakladatelství ČVUT, Praha 2006
(4) Dante Alighieri: De vulgari eloquentia. Oikúmené, Praha 2004
(5) Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: De dignitate hominis. Oikúmené, Praha 2005
(6) Jeroným: Výběr z dopisů. Oikúmené, Praha 2006
(7) Bonaventura [di Bagnoreggio]: De reductione artium ad theologiam. Unus est magister vester, Christus. Oikúmené, Praha 2003
(8) Hugo od svatého Viktora: O třech dnech. Oikúmené, Praha 1997