“Bristrouble” Wrap-Up and Closing

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2010 by jannesr

OK, with a melancholic voice I say: “Bristol time is over.”

This Blog was, like my usual habit, not so much about personal stuff, Bristol itself etc…but more about other things that inspired me while being in Bristol. I am a bad life-story blogger and I could never write a straight-forward public-diary-kind-of-thing.

Well, what the title “Bristrouble” meant, I already explained. But, to offer another interpretation, it also means that even being abroad I have troubles with the standard, bloggy “I am here and see what I do”-Blogpost. For some unknown reasons, I rather write little essays, that are a bit complicated…anyway, that’s me.

Also, in the end I did not blog that often anymore, meaning I had other and better things to do…and that is surely a good sign! It is now 12 posts in total, and this seems much to me, as this means one blog post every 2 weeks (plus some other on my other blog). I did not expect that, and it means that blogging becomes like a habit to me — isn’t this a good sign for some steadiness in my web-activities?

OK, logging out. Good Bye. Check out my other blog.

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Why study Literature? Frustration and Enthusiasm

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 21, 2010 by jannesr

I never expected that I will study something “boring” (that is what we all said in puberty) like *cough* literature. Media, Journalism etc…didn’t we all want to work for television or newspapers at one point in our lives?

Now I am sitting in Bristol and read lots of books, and as I am stuck with an essay, am frustrated about everything and and and…I wonder why I still like studying literature so much. Or better to say: I began appreciating it in the last 5 months (Before, I rather read snippets, theory, essays or literature in the culture parts of the newspaper). Now:  Sitting around, reading whole books, being happy about it like 50:50 of the studying time. 50% enthusiastic, 50% frustrated.

Back in the school days pupils  said — at least in Germany — the subject literature is easy/soft, compared to maths:  one just needs to write some uncertain/vague stuff about 20 of 500 unread pages or so. And now, in university? Some of my seminars are way to superficial and somehow appear to be futile, but we all need a reason to wake up and go to the university. I don’t feel intellectually unchallenged, but sometimes I hear the lecturer’s question “What do you think is interesting in this book” too much. Phrases like “higher individualism in this period”, “The city is a character”, “It’s a vague, ambivalent character/setting/plot whatsover”, “Form and content are linked” are getting on my nerves. There is a feeling of emptiness and futility sometimes. Why do I study the work of a single person (the author) in respect of very abstract theories that don’t seem to fulfill any higher purpose or insight into our society?

Warning: polemic theory following. Maybe literature or other humanities at university fulfil the same role in society than churches and Art Galleries/Museums: Most people go to them rarely (me included), but they simply should be there to have a “good-conscience-institution” somewhere and having the soothing feeling that there is something else than running after money and the next thrill. Isn’t this a bit similar to the father/mother saying to his/her children:

“Yes, you should read Shakespeare, Aristotles…but please don’t study something unprofitable, vague, lazy like literature, politics, history, classics whatever. Study economics, business etc…!”

Literature and arts need to be there, but nobody wants to involve in it. And if, you face depreciation. Recently I read that McEwan (writer of, among other novels, Atonement — this famous movie with Keira Knightly) has a similar perspective:

“You do a soft subject like French or English, you tumble out of bed at midday for three years, you have occasional panics with essays and a bit of reading. But on the whole, you’re on holiday compared to the scientists. When [my son] Will studied biology at UCL, 9-5 lectures, practicals and weekend work meant that “It’s a job – and a whole body of knowledge is being absorbed.” Meanwhile, in Solar [McEwan’s new novel], “I honestly felt a slightly wicked and not entirely defensible impulse to say: it is a lot harder to get your mind around the General Theory of Relativity than to understand Paradise Lost.”

So why are there people like me studying literature, as no money and good job prospects are involved? And not even respect from writers and ex-philology students like McEwan?

I cannot clearly say, but I guess the reason that I discovered the last months might have to do something with a late spiritual discovery. I never had any religious feelings, I think, but if such religious feelings are something like an “oceanic feeling” (Freud/Rolland), then I felt this spirit when reading good literature and being able to recognize patterns and adapting theories (mostly Psychoanalytic, Marxist, Deconstructionist, Postmodernist — my favourite one). It’s a scraping on the surface of a seeming reality and I feel satisfaction in permeating the fog to discover universal truths. It’s the discovery of another world, where I guess every cinemagoer is familiar with (Particularly these days with Matrix, Avatar  and Alice — worlds more real than the real). I don’t like the idea that literature or art is a substitute for religion, but I cannot think of a more suitable metaphor. Literature, of course I need to speak in favour of it, has a higher steadiness in its subversive power. Literature has no institutions (The church for example); though it has a strong influence on mindsets of individuals the danger of institutions abusing literature is lower. Literature is more individual, to use one of these cr*p phrase I quoted above. But now I am ranting…

When I began writing this post 2 weeks ago, I felt I should begin this post with a justification on why to study literature, in comparison to Sciences. But I think there is no conflict between these faculties. I put it as easy and stupid as this: there is a certain output in the world — from financial crashes to great, profitable artistic masterpieces — that simply needs to be analyzed to keep our society innovative and forward-looking.

Thanks to TD for discussion and feedback. Waiting for your comment!

Communication improvements for AIESEC Bristol

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 23, 2010 by jannesr

Together with Neha, another fellow member of AIESEC Bristol, I tried to think of improvements for communication channels, such as Facebook, Twitter as well as collaborative working with Googledocs. These tools are all very easy-to-use and are extremely useful for any kind of organization with little hierarchical structure.

The combination of these tools is key as I am speaking of a student organization that is permanently in flux and responsibilities are changing (And yes, I admit, unfortunately also often unclear).

Here are some points we proposed and try to implement (and did it already to some extent):

  • Twitter is linked to “AIESEC Bristol Work Abroad”-Facebook-Person via Selective Twitter Status. Invitations to meetings and conferences show up on Facebook Status and on the @aiesecbristol-Twitteraccount. This Account is also a substitute for an AIESEC-Bristol-Homepage (there is none) and if interested people google “AIESEC Bristol” they find the Twitteraccount and see what is going on. This is a simple step towards an extension of external marketing!
  • I promoted to work with googledocs, as unfortunately lots of planning is done via Facebook-messaging or the ****-Facebook-Wall. Collaborative working/Projectmanagment is easy with googledocs and many people already have a gmail-Account. BUT I am aware that this is the trickiest part: to make new members (lots of people from AIESEC-Bristol are!) aware that AIESEC is partly quite professional, and YES, a Facebook-message is an easy thing, but if more and more people join a certain project, Facebook-based projectmanagement becomes messy and very inefficient.
  • …with the aiesecbristol@googlegroups.com mailing-list it is also possible to share googledocs with all the members of the mailing-list. This can be used when organizing T-Shirts (I mention T-Shirts, because organizing them always turned out to be quite messy for AIESEC-Hannover, as well as Bristol) or for applications to events (simply by sharing a spreadsheet or form). 25 people are on the mailing list so far, and it should be used exclusively the next weeks. Millions of mailadresses in the recipient-field is OUT!
  • Also, with this mailing-list/googlegroup it is possible to reach all members easily and share other network or not-network-related issues, offers, events etc. — a market place!

Check out the presentation of this AIESEC-meeting from almost a month ago. The Layout is a bit messy, I admit, but hope you can get the gist.

(Click on image)

DarwinAir

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 30, 2009 by jannesr

I had some good flights with RyanAir and believe in The Economist’s thesis that low fare airlines do much for the emergence of the “I am citizen of the European Union!”-feeling. Booking months in advance and travelling with little luggage helps to save money and thus quite narrows europe.

Why do people criticise Ryan Air? You might feel like ‘budget-cattle’ and the old ‘romantic ideal of flying’ is finally destroyed (particularly disgusting at Ryanair: This 25cl Wodka in little plastic bags for 5 Euro). Flying becomes like the rides in rotten busses  in our childhood.

But hey, it’s cheap. And why is it so? RyanAir puts some pressure on airports and preferably takes cheap and small airports. But another point is the fees that RyanAir charges for STUPID (Sorry, I mean temporarily stupid, as everybody is sometimes) customers that carry too heavy or oversized luggage (30 Euros penalty). Or if you forget to Check-In Online (40 Euros penalty).

Ryanair says very clearly what you have to do IN CAPITAL letters and Bold type and at least two times (on their webpage and their emails). So to actually get a penalty you have to be very stupid, dizzy, drunk, or whatever.

I met such passengers, forgetting to check in online (3 people, makes 120 Euro for Ryanair) and developed a theory: I guess there is some calculated kind of Darwinism at work à la the most stupid customers pay for the many ones that do everything right and pay very little. Off course, this is a cynic thesis that implies in its ultimate consequence: “You are stupid, or too lazy to read, so you pay for that and are NOT worth travelling around europe for such low fares. And you pay for the ones that were clever/made an effort to read.”

Analogous to the survival of the fittest thing, possibly disgruntled customers that were charged heavily because of their mistakes are selected out (means: they don’t fly with RyanAir again) and thus make flying more expensive for the ones that read everything properly. So ultimately there is no survival of the fittest anymore, if the stupid ones are missing to make flying so cheap for the clever people.

I wonder whether Ryanair has a calculation on how many “stupid customers” they need for every flight in order to finance the passengers that do everything right. If they have such a calculation I say thank you too every stupid/lazy RyanAir passenger to subsidize my flights — and a particularly happy year to them!

Death of the Artist — “School of Saatchi” TV-Review

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on December 15, 2009 by jannesr

This BBC-Programme “School of Saatchi” promised to select one “great young modern artist”, as all these casting shows promise to pick the next big singer, model, actor, hairdresser (another BBC-Format soon), politician, designer, cook etc.

Charles Saatchi is a well-known art-collector and advertising agency founder (Saatchi&Saatchi — Guiness, Toyota etc., even operating in Germany). And an owner of a London-based art gallery:

With the subject of modern art I found it worth watching this Saatchi-School the last month. And now,  I finally understand the phrase/title  “The Death of the Author” (Roland Barthes) — or in this case, the death of the artist.

With all the impressions on the artists’ persona, weaknesses, emotions, I personally cannot enjoy their art or even think about it anymore. This winning “School of Saatchi” Tree-Trunk thing was good, but the experience of it as a piece of art is ultimately spoilt. Isn’t it the case that the piece of art should speak for itself?

If we look at Da Vinci as the work of a madman (an example of Barthes), because he cut his ear of, we don’t gain any insight — the biography of an artist makes art to look at them as a piece of the artist’s personal history:  Somehow interesting, but nothing more. The biography interferes with any approach of the viewer to find his own truth, or as Barthes writes: “the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author.”

Why does Charles Saatchi puts himself in the position of a mastermind, Big Brother like figure (because it is often mysteriously stressed that he does not show in public, he only speaks through an assistant) or the elevated carreer maker — which strongly shows the big hypocritical gap of the art world between the patronizing, authoritative art collector (that is: the money giver), and the individual, insight-searching, lonelyhard-working artist. The worship of Saatchi in this programme is definitely over the top: “He is soooo big!! Does he ectually exist???”, this is what the narrator implies in ever series’ introduction.

This concealment of identity is something we know from Banksy (always secretly working, as in his “illegal years” with Graffiti”) which leads to the contradicting effect of people actually searching for the person and his biography then, although the original message probably was: “Please look at my art, not at me!”

Charles Saatchi and this programme celebrates his anonymity very exaggeratedly. I looked at a book by him in a bookstore, just containing some largely printed interview parts of him with pictures (I think it was that one) and I got the feeling, that he exactly knows how to create a persona-cult and sell his books — as his roots are in advertisements.

So finally, the programme is a subversive, unintended critic of the art market and the figure of Charles Saatchi. It does nothing for art and its appreciation. Just some Saatchi-celebration, and some submissive young art students with repetitive introductions.

About Business Ideas, and the Beermatchallenge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 28, 2009 by jannesr

The UWE Bristol, or better to say the Students Union and the Idea Factory from the Uni, started a Business Idea Competition: www.beermatchallenge.co.uk

I had a coffee at the Students Union bar with a friend, and we discussed about that challenge, as I wanted to write something on my beermat and have a positive impact on society win some of the prizes.

Here is the discussion, as I remember it, or rather: As it suits this blog entry best and as I want to remember it:

—————–

A: OK, I just filled out the beer mat, but I think my idea is boring, it just contains the buzz words “Fair Trade”, “Social Business”, “volunteering” etc. It is sooo difficult to find new Business Ideas…

B: Yeah…In my home country a succesful business idea was producing trash bags…so one needs to study economics or so and find undiscovered market demand.

A: …this Beermatchallenge suggest that business ideas are found when drinking beer, or in a relaxed atmosphere. I think it is extremely important to be open. There is no “NO!” when I suggest a new idea, there is only “Yes, and…”

B: Then let’s build another web-community…

A: Oh no, …many people simply have the idea to start new communities, new platforms and so on. We are so spoilt and trapped in our Facebook-“Community, everybody likes everybody, let’s connect”-world…so we  don’t find any new ideas, or if, one doesn’t make money out of it.

B: OK, you just broke your own rule of and stopped the creative flow! Be positive! Everything existed before, you just have to make it better. Take Google for example.

A: You’re right, I think they were successful because the usability was high and the other search engines were too complex. Google started with something relatively simple…

B: By the way, I hate this new Microsoft Word…It is too complex and has functions NOT ordered according to priority. But I am distracting…

A: Maybe the best best idea if you have NO idea is to start a Business Idea Competition…this is probably the idea the Students Union had.

—-end of coffee, end of dialogue—-

It may sound cynical, but I think the Beermatchallenge is another attempt to set up a nice webpage, another Twitteraccount, waste some money on the prizes (and this is quite a lot: Cameras, Computers…). I would not worry, but I guess this is students money!

And I think this is particularly true for this Beermatchallenge because there are no events around the challenge, no discussions etc. Hey, Students Union, finding a Business Idea is not like klicking on funny ideas (Probably written when drinking beer, off course) to start a funny Flash animation (the only guy that made a good job: the Flash animator). It’s a long process. It’s not klick and go as on Amazon.

Anyway, please don’t throw away my Business Idea mat. I still want to win some of the prizes.

Stuff Brits like #2: German Precision

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 1, 2009 by jannesr

One can buy “Beck’s Vier” here in Britain. German precision at 4% — it says. So exactly 4%, which is a bit lower than the German standard I think. Hey, but it’s precise! Of course, Germans don’t care about the percentage of alcohol: 2%, 3% or4%: it should be PRECISE, please.

I still wonder which marketing nerd got the idea of calling a beer brand “Vier”. And I have a hard time imagining how it sounds like when Brits pronounce it — yelling it in a drunken state to the  barmaid . Anyway, advertising for beer whith the exact amount of the alcohol —  does that mean that Brits drink this lovely German beer only for the effect and not because of the taste?

That, of course, would be an affront on Germans Art of Brewery. Dear Brits,

please enjoy our beer because of the purity (which is rare for your brands, as I see on every can), and not because you might feel better if you are precisely drunk. Thank you.

At the moment http://www.becksvier.co.uk/ does not work. I guess that’s not German’s precision.