year after year after year …

…  it is also the time for essential questions .., and they are asked, advertisements guided us and academics, the good boys and girls of the profession at least, ask the correct questions — concise, limited on what is answerable, guided by a clear method and ethics: publish or perish … . and of course the essential questions of our economy (and social quality, of course), can be put in simple ways – it is all about
Artificial Christmas trees have gained an increasing market share, causing concern to natural Christmas tree producers. Primary data was used to test a hypothesized sequential probit model of buyer characteristics. The model predicted the probability of using or displaying a Christmas tree, then if a use decision was made, the probability of displaying a natural tree. The people who are likely to display trees are Christian, practice other secular Christmas rituals, have children, and spend Christmas at home. Those who use natural trees are younger, white, have a higher income, and live in a single-family dwelling.
One is wondering if some people or an entire profession or even academia may miss the point …
… but then again, one can see, there is good reason for in-depth research, helping us to enjoy our meal … – so before you are off for the Christmas dinner, here is the way to make even more out of it.

Merry Go Around

Yes, it is the time of the year again … – the time to get easily mixed up, or mixing up things and times when Mary goes around, making us thinking

Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me but I could’ve sworn

Merry Christmas I meant …, it is the time of joy and happiness … and of giving. Where we do not give to the “loved ones”, we make donations to … to those who are not loved, not by anybody, at least not by us, taking the liberty of buying our peace of mind … – ploing, ploing … the cents drop into the charity’s tin, one piece for “them” and piece for “us”, for our peace of mind.

Marry Christmas, join in … walking around the one morning, a few days only left to the holy day my mind could be in peace, I was “safe” so to say – it was too early for the collectors of the good, the good collectors and could be wondering, while my thoughts wondered around: SALES, SALES, SALES … clearly telling us to join …, now even for the special price: reductions … reductions of prices here, reductions of the income and worming conditions of those who produced the commodities … somewhere on the globe … . It is that part for the party who truly is homo oeconomicus, buying without warm thoughts of the loved ones but with the true thoughts of the times: look for the best offer, be rational actor on the market.

Merry Christmas … –

It is about entering the new temples:

The archetype of that particular race in which every member of a consumer society is running (everything in a consumer society is a matter of choice, except the compulsion to choose – the compulsion which grows into addiction and so is no longer perceived as compulsion) is the activity of shopping. We stay in the race as long as we shop around, and it is not just the shops or supermarkets or department stores or George Ritzer’s ‘Temples of Consumption’ where we do our shopping.[1]

Merry Christmas … – I see, while walking these early hours of the day, those who are waiting for the charities collections being opened for them …, those sleeping rough in so many entrances of those shops that will later open their doors for the pre-Christmas sales …, yes, many of those shops have something for everybody …, even if it is only the sheltered areas that offer some comfort for the night.

– I feel a bit like ridiculing myself or the matter, but still “I have to do it”, the wee bit I can: and I carry the bag, instead of allowing the noise, coming from the comfortable “4×4-suitcase”, disturbing them even more – or is it about hiding myself, hiding the comfort, the comfort of having slept in a hotel-bed …?

Merry Christmas for those who are protected from all this for instance in London’s noble corners:

for the price of a house in Heritage Park you will buy your entry to a community. ‘Community’ is these days the last relic of the old-time utopias of the good society; it stands for whatever has been left of the dreams of a better life shared with better neighbours all following better rules of cohabitation. For the utopia of harmony slimmed down, realistically, to the size of the immediate neighbourhood. No wonder ‘community’ is a good selling point. No wonder either that in the prospectus distributed by George Hazeldon, the land developer, community has been brought into focus as an indispensable, yet elsewhere missing, supplement to the good restaurants and picturesque jogging courses that other towns also offer.[2]

– all this

entrusted to hidden TV cameras and dozens of hired gun-carrying guards checking passes at the security gates and discreetly (or ostentatiously, if need be) patrolling the streets.[3]

Dear Mary, my little Christmas celebration that morning: a coffee and a Simit: the latter from a small shop, its smell lifting my spirit which was admittedly a bit drowsy after the nearly 20 hours flight and the 3 hours sleep that I got before heading on. It was a real Simit – it reminding me of the campus-restaurant I visited every morning when I worked many years ago at ODTU-university in Ankara: so nice to get them immediately from the oven, “baked with love” and brought to me with tenderness. And yes, I enjoy the espresso – the “Italian coffee” that can be bought every where now – machine-made, admittedly that is what it was also in the bar, around the corner of my Roman domicile …, and I don’t know exactly the difference between here and there – perhaps it is simply in the mind, defined as mindset by the way we stand here and there in the queue … – the shop here a kind of corridor, inviting to move faster; the counter in the bar inviting to slow down, to take a breath in the small group standing, mixing, chatting … – the difference between express-o and espresso …

And while enjoying both, I return with one thought to Salzburg: the very local shops in the Getreideasse now pushed aside, away even by the global retailers that unit the colours … – does this thought come to my mind because I see one “speciality bakery”, with the one stall …, now having a second stall … and perhaps …

A bit later I have time, sitting in the train for the last leg of the journey … Merry Christmas …, no high-speed train but a local train, inviting to adapt to its speed: slow down … it is direction to Leipzig – and I remember the delicious roles we got every morning when I studied there, in a country that does not exist anymore, not anymore “as such” … .

– I am listening to Rousseau, the audiobook of his Confessions, the text reading in book 1:

I never thought money so desirable as it is usually imagined; if you would enjoy, you must transform it; and this transformation is frequently attended with inconvenience: you must bargain, purchase, pay dear, be badly served, and often duped. I buy an egg, am assured it is new-laid- I find it stale; fruit in its utmost perfection’tis absolutely green; a girl, and she is tainted. I love good wine, but where shall I get it? Not at my wine merchant’s — he will certainly poison me. I wish to be universally respected; how shall I compass my design? I must make friends, send messages, come, go, wait, and be frequently deceived. Money is the perpetual source of uneasiness; I fear it more than I love good wine.

Christ, what a mess … – Merry Christmas, Marry Christmas, Mary Christmas …

Merry-go Round


[1]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 73

[2]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 92

[3]            Bauman, Liquid Modernity: 93

Noël – l’éloge de la religion

C’est de l’opium que tu fais prendre à ton peuple, afin qu’engourdi par ce somnifère, il ne sente pas les plaies dont tu le déchires.

Sade, Donatien Alphonse François, 1801: Histoire de Juliette, ou les Prospérités du vice/Cinquième Partie

The Big Formula – and a “look between the windows”  – or a Pre-Christmas Story

I walked back from the library where I had been working during the day – a few days before Christmas 2014 – elaborating a formula that makes it possible to formulate (of course, no formula can calculate) schemes of (dis-)integration of societies – I left my scooter near to the office, so I have to walk down the Via dei Condotti, one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Rome, at this time of the year probably also one of the busiest places in town although many are here just for window shopping, the displays full of surprises showing that the world is a stage, and lost its sense.

It is not often that one sees it, that I see it (may be that I am not often enough walking through the city): a more or less young man, a man in “his best years”, obviously foreigner, migrant, being dragged by another man – “private security” is written on his jacket. That he has to look after his bike while dragging the other along the street does not make things better. A few people turn around … – few people turn around, watching the scene. – What could one do, what we see is most likely legal, according to the letters of the law.

A few meter further: one policeman, one policewomen, their car standing in the way, but still leaving enough space for a large Merc to pass and turn from one of the side streets into the narrow mall; enough space for the not smaller BMW that follows. I am not aware of a sign that limits traffic here but even of their would be –

Wound for a wound, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth

Leviticus 24:20

But here it about something else:

sign for a sign

And of course it is telling – it is also part of the formula on which I had been working – that we find this division of labour between private security service and police, executing sovereign tasks.

Via dei Condotti, one of the most luxurious shopping malls in Rome, at this time of the year probably also one of the busiest places in town although many are here just for getting absorbed by the window dressing of our societies.

Yes, plural as it is only by accident that I see it here; there are so many other places like it, and many more…