Friday, April 25, 2008

The Scottish Play

Driving a red Ford Mustang into the summer, I once again find myself playing a part in the grand détour. For two weeks my friend Gabriel is visiting me in America. Following a fast drive down to the blossoming parks of Philadelphia we went into Manhattan for the much-praised MacBeth production at the Lyceum Theater, featuring among others Patrick Stewart.

Set within a joyless, stark environment flooded by Stalin-era military regalia, the play was surprisingly accessible as it progressed towards its existential emptiness.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Now what, Hillary defending small town America?

As the battle for the democratic nomination wears on, hypocrisy knows no limits. Having toured Pennsylvania (due to vote on 22 April), Obama commented on the bitterness there, resulting from years of economic decline, saying:

"And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Neither Hillary nor McCain were late to pounce on these remarks, accusing Obama for being elitist. I somehow find it difficult to believe that Hillary, jetting around earning millions of dollars over the last years, privately nurtures a deeper understanding for these voters. By simply dismissing Obama as being condescending she also missed out on what could have been an important debate on how unevenly America has tackled globalization and what to do about it in the future.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Switzerland

Late evening at Starbucks, reading an anthology on our duties to posterity. A young guy walks up to me:

“Do you work for Johnson & Johnson?”
“No, I am a Swedish philosopher in American exile”
“Sweden? Is that close to Switzerland and all the other stuff?”
“Yes”

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hopper vacations

Though I will have to burn the midnight oil for the coming weeks, Markus and I decided to conclude his time here in the U.S. with a mid-week trip along the Long Island Seashore. In a sense, LI offers a condensed America-experience: from the fancy eateries of Westhampton to the trash flooding the dunes of Rockaway Beach, from the stunning natural beauty of the shores to the endless rows of gas stations and aging strip malls further into the island.

Near Wantagh we drove on a historic section of the coast road, built in 1937 with wooden light poles, leading up to brickstone bathhouses. All empty, making the absence of its eight million annual visitors even more present.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Cool School

This Saturday in Williamsburg was like re-enacted existence. I allowed myself to remain there on the verge between the dreamt and the real; to have pancakes with maple while Tom Waits was playing, knowing that every junction holds a very different life to be led.

It is fundamental that being with different people turns you into a different person. What is worse is to find yourself changing in ways that prevent you from accessing your own personality. Yet, I at least used to be a firm believer in the possibility to “break on through”; to find that Ekelöfian common ground deep under it all. That possibility however requires a willingness to be exposed which seems to be rare in these atheistic times.

Anyhow, the sun burnt away the fog in the best Californian manner. Despite the “burn relief gel” I can still feel it in my skin. After hours in Brooklyn we went to the movies for “Cool School”, a documentary on beat generation artists in L.A. And then again remembrance but this time in a playful manner at L’Express on 249 Park Ave South.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cafe Hausbrandt

Blossoming cherry trees in Philadelphia. A taste of what is to come over the next weeks.

Walking the streets of Philly, Markus and I stumbled upon an iconic image which I have not seen since Ljubljana last summer. Apparently, the Trieste coffee house has decided to open a store in Philadelphia:

This morning I experienced a whirlwind of energy and booked a ticket with SQ to Melbourne for three months in the fall. It felt good to finally decide to cut short my stay in the U.S. By doing so I will keep my American post-doc opportunities intact (since the “two-year bar” will have expired by the time I get my PhD in 2010).

So instead of Rutgers it will be University of Melbourne and hopefully a few conferences such as ERE 2008.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I saw the light fading out

Yesterday, New York greeted me back with a burning train on the E-line (luckily, we all got out safe and sound), a mad car drive down the Van Wyck Expressway and a soft spring evening in Eastern Village.

It is good to have my Austrian friend Markus here. Having worked with the article for Political Studies today, I plan to take tomorrow off and go down to Philadelphia with him.