In case anybody is worried whether I have been affected by the record breaking floods currently affecting Germany and much of central Europe (The Atlantic has a photo gallery here), I’m far from any potential flooding and safe, though some of the places I have photographed in the past are currently flooded or about to be. And technical equipment for which I’ve translated manuals and written ad copy is currently being employed for flood relief.
Sad: Scottish writer Iain Banks has died of gall bladder cancer, aged only 59. I enjoyed his novels and though I’d known he was ill ever since he announced it back in April, I still hoped that he would manage to hold on a little longer.
There’s also another literary death to report, albeit one that was long anticipated, for German writer and critic Walter Jens died aged 90, after battling dementia for almost a decade. Walter Jens was a member of the Gruppe 47 of German postwar writers (other natoable members were Ingeborg Bachmann, Günther Grass and Heinrich Böll). He was a translator, critic, professor of rhetorics at the University of Tübingen and – as it turned out late in his life – had been a member of the Nazi Party like so many others, though he claimed not to remember. Maybe he truly didn’t – he was suffering of dementia after all – or maybe he just preferred to forget. His son Tilman – who wrote a book about his father’s illness, one of many popular dementia memoirs that came out in the pst few years – actually linked his father’s dementia to the wish to forget the Third Reich. Personally, I think the younger Jens is full of shit – you don’t profit from your Dad’s illness. And yes, I’m kind of annoyed at myself for writing more words about Walter Jens than about Iain Banks, though Banks meant more t me personally. But then, most of my readers already know who Banks was.
More departures: Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith has announced that he will be leaving Doctor Who after the 50th anniversary special in November and the 2013 Christmas special. I can’t say that I’m surprised considering that Matt Smith has been playing the Doctor for three years now. Now if they could only regenerate Steve Moffat as well, considering that he has been more responsible for the current sorry state of the show than Matt Smith.
The Wall Street Journal has an article about the popularity of Amish romances, that is romance novels, usually inspirational, set among the Amish community. I find the inspirational romance subgenre quite fascinating from an anthropological POV in general.
While on the subject of living close to the land, The New York Times has an article about grafting, the practice of placing the sprouts of a plant such as a tomato plant, apple tree or rose onto the root of a different variety of the plant. As a child, I was utterly fascinated by grafting ever since seeing a report about it on the TV. And so I ran my own grafting experiments. Of course, none of them ever came to anything, largely because I hadn’t understand that the plants had to be the same species and thus grafted different species onto each other, e.g. roses that my mother had cut onto the roots of dandelions or ribwort plantains I dug up in the meadow next to our house.
At Amazing Stories, M.D. Jackson explores the influence of Czech Art Noveau artist Alfonse Mucha on genre art. I’ve been a big Art Noveau fan in general and Mucha fan in particular since my teens, so “You probably don’t know his name” evoked a “Hell, of course I know who Alfonse Mucha was.” response from me. Still, it’s a very good article and an appreciation of an artist who never really got his fair due.