Monday, January 08, 2007

Notes from the Holidays

1. The cheap European airlines have a distinct Eastern-Bloc feel about them. Most of the air-crew seems to come from Poland; in their drab uniforms and gloomy faces they point to the emergency exits, looking like Party members about to be purged (but probably it has more to do with their very low wages). In addition to the dubious allure of the one-brand-empires (you can buy tasteless easy-snacks on your easy-jet flight with your easy-credit-card) you have the heavy and vulgar self-propaganda; trumpets calling in your ears upon landing: Another Flight on Time! Since the latest five-year-business-plan was announced, 90% of xxx-air’s flights have arrived on time! It’s funny: I thought capitalism was supposed to be different, glamorous, you know.

2. CocoRosie have taken over the world; at least over its i-book-users population. The global apple-powered avant-garde likes the spooky, quirky feel of their thin voices. I’ve heard ‘Noah’s Arc’ first in Melbourne a year ago, and became addicted immediately; since then I’ve heard them played by friends in Tel Aviv, Paris and now Germany. There is a special face people put on when they play them. You probably know it, or you’ll have to find out for yourself.

3. Europe’s way of dealing with the depression of Winter Solstice was to multiply it by making it the main holiday season. Family-related anxieties, shopping marathons, food-and-alcohol over-indulgence and lots of fire crackers, combined with the bleak darkness of early winter, make it into a real end of the world experience. Coming from a country where Christmas is a non-event and New Year’s Eve is just a reason to go out, I’ve always viewed with fascination the roller-coaster feeling of the Christian festive season. Nothing I knew compares to it: the Jewish High Holidays in late summer and Passover in spring are, of course, a fine source of family anxieties, but they have neither the existential edge caused by the cold and the darkness, nor the frenzied spiral of shopping and consumption.

4. On return, I was questioned by the immigration officer on my studies. It was eleven at night and I’ve had a long day, which included driving in the left lane in the wrong country with almost catastrophic consequences. To avoid complications I said as usual ‘PhD in History of Art’. It’s not really what I do but it sounds obscure and harmless. For this officer, however, it wasn’t enough.

But what exactly is the subject of your thesis, he insisted. Are you looking at a specific style, such as Pointillism, or a period, like the Baroque? And what is your argument?

I stared at him with disbelief.

‘Modern visual culture’ I mumbled.

‘That’s a bit broad’ he said.

None the less he stamped my passport and allowed me back into the country.


Electric Sadhu said...

Maybe he suspected you are a member of the subversive BPA (Baroquian Pointillists' Army)?

نیکی said...

man! I just wrote you a long-ass comment and then it disappeared when I tried to log in. Now I dont have the energy to reproduce my witty remarks...

hope all is well with you.