Archive for Wien

Der Kunst ihre Freiheit [and the scare of the nude]

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2018 by xi'an

A poster campaign advertising for several exhibits of modernist painters in Vienna, including major paintings by Egon Schiele, has met with astonishing censoring from the transport companies posting these advertisements. (And by Facebook, which AIs are visibly too artificial and none too intelligent to [fail to] recognise well-known works of art.) Not very surprising, given the well-known conservatism of advertising units in transportation companies, but nonetheless appalling, especially when putting these posters against the truly indecent ones advertising for, e.g., gas guzzling machines and junk food.

Die Zauberflöte

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2017 by xi'an

Attending Mozart’s Zauberflöte last week at the Volksoper Wien was a great reward for taking part in this (somewhat gruesome) grant evaluation! The atmosphere was relaxed, with loads of families and (very well-behaved!) young children [all siding for Papageno!] And the opera was given from a 2005 production, with a fast-paced orchestration and a great female singer cast (as opposed to the last time I saw the opera in Sceaux, when the Queen of the Night had botched her major arias!), if less so on the male singer side, Papageno excepted. (Sarastro barely audible in the lowest notes…) The three boys were fantastic as well. (As usual, I find the plot  incomprehensible, with Sarastro and his cult (and the kidnapping of his daughter) as despicable as the Queen’s moral pressure on Pamina…)

When running towards the Donauinsel in the early morning the next day, I saw this poster and realised the same Zauberflöte was played in another Viennese theatre, which is amazing, given that the Staatoper will also give it next December. Or not if considering that a part of Vienna’s attraction is this rich music scene.

für die menschen Rechte! [Volkshilfe].

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2017 by xi'an

Kürbissuppe trilogy

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2017 by xi'an

Gaußplatz [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , on September 22, 2017 by xi'an

snapshot from Vienna [jatp]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on September 21, 2017 by xi'an

Berlin [and Vienna] noir [book review]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by xi'an

While in Cambridge last month, I picked a few books from a local bookstore as fodder for my incoming vacations. Including this omnibus volume made of the first three books by Philip Kerr featuring Bernie Gunther, a private and Reich detective in Nazi Germany, namely, March Violets (1989), The Pale Criminal (1990), and A German Requiem (1991). (Book that I actually read before the vacations!) The stories take place before the war, in 1938, and right after, in 1946, in Berlin and Vienna. The books centre on a German version of Philip Marlowe, wise cracks included, with various degrees of success. (There actually is a silly comparison with Chandler on the back of the book! And I found somewhere else a similarly inappropriate comparison with Graham Greene‘s The Third Man…) Although I read the whole three books in a single week, which clearly shows some undeniable addictive quality in the plots, I find those plots somewhat shallow and contrived, especially the second one revolving around a serial killer of young girls that aims at blaming Jews for those crimes and at justifying further Nazi persecutions. Or the time spent in Dachau by Bernie Gunther as undercover agent for Heydrich. If anything, the third volume taking place in post-war Berlin and Wien is much better at recreating the murky atmosphere of those cities under Allied occupations. But overall there is much too much info-dump passages in those novels to make them a good read. The author has clearly done his documentation job correctly, from the early homosexual persecutions to Kristallnacht, to the fights for control between the occupying forces, but the information about the historical context is not always delivered in the most fluent way. And having the main character working under Heydrich, then joining the SS, does make relating to him rather unlikely, to say the least. It is hence unclear to me why those books are so popular, apart from the easy marketing line that stories involving Nazis are more likely to sell… Nothing to be compared with the fantastic Alone in Berlin, depicting the somewhat senseless resistance of a Berliner during the Nazi years, dropping hand-written messages against the regime under strangers’ doors.