You may get the idea that nothing much happens with Gangleri.nl, but I can tell you that on the background I am making (trying to make) several improvements. I have been working on some security issues. I read about blog hacks a bit too much and try to avoid that the same thing happens here. Another joy of the internet is of course spam. I have a great anti-spam plugin (which is why you have to fill in a code to comment), but my provider’s email spam protection is not quite what I hoped for. I even deleted one of the contact emailaddresses that got a lot of spam (no idea how it got in their files, since I don’t use it), so if you want to send an email, please always check the “intro and contact” page to see if nothing changed there. For the rest you may have noticed minor changed in the “sidebars” with dropdowns for the “categories” (let me know if the previous way of listing them worked better) and I tried to get rid off the term “categories”, but it seems that I have to change the code of the categories “widget”. Also I have tried to find out why it is that Google has no problems with it, but the standard search function does, with searching for words with accents. When I type “DerniÃ¨re VolontÃ©” in a review and you type “Derniere Volonte” in the search box, you will not find the review. This is the reasons why I use alternative spellings in the so-called “tags” (my “browse”), since I haven’t found the sollution yet. Last but not least, I added a “currently reading” block in the navigation part of the book reviews section. There you can see what reviews are most likely to be added soon. And so, besides a few reviews now and then, I keep working on the background to improve the website.
Of course not entirely unexpected, but the interactive surrounding of this website has risen some things to think about. Before visitors found Gangleri, spam-machines started to post spam in the comments, so I installed a “plugin” to prevent that. After that, not so much comments are posted in any section (safe for a short ‘discussion’ under the Battlenoise book review). Apparently people read and leave even when questions are obviously raised. This is not all that strange either, since I myself don’t often post comments on blogs either. Then there was this guy that started to post enormous stories under one article, but his stories have nothing to do with the content of the article and it started to seem like he wanted to use Gangleri for his own writings. Therefor I unapproved (not (yet) deleted) these long texts and only left one with a link to another website.
Also it seems that people comment under the wrong article. Maybe they read a few of my texts and then just start to type under the last one they read. I can’t move comments from one article to the next, I can just copy them to the ‘right’ article and delete the original. I haven’t decided if that is the way I want to handle it.
To close off, last week I came home and had an email of a comment simply saying “YOU SUCK!!!”. Or course the commentator has every right to think so, but since there were no arguments or any clue why this comment was posted under that very article and therefor there is not much use to have such a comment, I haven’t approved it. I guess I do suck, since Gangleri isn’t exactly a ‘freedom of speech’ website if I moderate the comments like I do, but I guess I will just have to find my way around the subject.
Today I read a short newsarticle that made me wonder. Doctors in Antwerp were operating on a man’s ear. They accidentally activated a part of the his brain that gave him an out-of-body experience. It proves that these experiences could be repeated ‘as often as they wanted’ so to say, they weren’t ‘lucky shots’. The experiences were about 15 to 21 seconds each and made the man feel like he was floating about halve a meter diagonally behind his body. Meanwhile two parts of the brain became hyper active. Does this ‘button’ imply that there is a connection between the body and the soul and that the latter can be ‘forced out’ by use of ‘the button’ or is it simply that the brain misinterprets incoming signals and give an idea of separation? Does the man have out-of-body experiences (does he see his body) or is his system just shaken up a little? A nice point to investigate for a neurologist I suppose! (And maybe also for ‘spiritually minded’ people.)
“Art” a concept that I have some problems with. When I go to a museum, especially one of “modern” or “contemporary art” I always have to think of the idea that Ananda Coomaraswamy had about art. “Real art” in the eyes of Coomaraswamy is produced when an artist raises him-/herself upto the heavens, takes the ‘idea’ down and makes a good ‘copy’ of it in our domain. (Compare the idea to the world of ideas of Plato.) The work of art is something usefull, something that is used in daily life. With this in mind, a spoon is a work of art, a painting in most cases not. So did the word “art” undergo a grave degeneration? Did the meaning change so drastically that art can now be a large piece of canvas painted black or is there something else? In several books Coomaraswamy questions the usefullness and necessity of museums. Why look at things that should actually be used and if the pieces cannot be used, what is the use of them? Does what we call art today still serve a purpose or is art nothing more than estheticism or the result of someoneâ€™s creativity? In most cases it is “look but donâ€™t touch”, now and then something interactive may be made. Also it seems that 99% of the works of art are made to be displayed in a museum, in some public space or elsewhere.
When in New York we visited three museums of modern art; the famous MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), the even more famous Guggenheim and DIA: a bit “upstate” in Beacon. DIA: is an enormous factory complex turned into a museum with large rooms. It has some dull pieces, such as circles and squares on the floor of a large room or dozens of almost-the-same Warhol paintings on the four sides of a large room and enormous metal objects. Nice to look at maybe (sometimes), but is this what we call art nowadays? The Guggenheim has an exhibition of Richard Prince. This exhibition goes from too all-American photos of bikers, biker-women, streetcars, etc. to large plates with jokes to sculptures made from car-parts. Here and there these things are come up with nicely, but in general it all was too American for me. When I was ahead of my girlfriend a bit too far, I sat down and started to listen to the audio-set that was pushed into my hands when entering the museum (which I didnâ€™t really want) and heard some of the background of the artist, the exhibition and the ideas behind the pieces that are shown. It proved that the artist wanted to enlarge typical American things as a form of criticism. When listening further the ideas were actually quite interesting and the exhibition became more enjoyable even when I didnâ€™t really like most of the pieces. Also my girlfriend bought a DVD about and including interviews with Joseph Beuys who supposedly has been a major figure and influence in the field of modern art. Beuys had some peculiar and sometimes interesting ideas and obviously wanted to convey a message with his weird installations, a spiritual message even. It seems that afterall this kind of art does have a message, or at least wants to confuse people so that they start to think. The purpose of art seems to have shifted from material usefullness to â€˜mental usefullnessâ€™. The point with many contemporary artists is -though- that you wonâ€™t get the message if you donâ€™t know the idea behind the works. Moreover, art has become a matter of esthetics and taste. While a spoon not necessarily has to be beautiful, a contemporary artist wonâ€™t make it just because of his or her message. Some art-scene-bigcheese will have to like the work in order to bring it to museums and to bring some acknowledgement to the artist.
All in all, modern art is not really my thing. Sometimes there is some amasement, but when I see that most museums of modern art, whether in Europe or America, mostly have the same artists and styles and that â€œmodernâ€ often means 50 years old, I have my doubt about the â€˜groundbreakingnessâ€™ of modern art or even the esthetic value. It seems that what used to be called art, is nowadays called â€œcraftâ€ and what was creativity is now called art. Museums seem mostly to be for recreation and art to provide the people something different from daily life. The way concepts changeâ€¦
So what do you think? Is shit in a can in a museum, art? Is a painting of Mondriaan art? And a painting by Rembrandt? What makes art, art?
We have just been in New York City for just over a week. It was mostly as expected: huge buildings, millions of people, a too-American society (in a way, at least). We have seen the usual things, the “WTC Site” (ground zero), Lower Manhatten with its financial district (huge shiny office skyscrapers) and Battery Park with a view on the Statue Of Liberty (because of the amount of tourists we didn’t take the ferry to have a closer look), the popular modern art museums (MoMA, Gugenheim and DIA up north), Time Square (awfull, but impressive for its amount of people and advertisement), the hip neighbourhoods in Soho and “The Village”, we some some of the major churches (Thomas, Trinity, Patrick’s, etc.), strolled through Central Park (tip: take the Northern half), shopped at Strands and the Virgin Mega Store, etc., etc. You surely need a guide in the city, because it’s not like everything is nicely in an overseeable area and even with the subway you sometimes have to travel long, but I think I’ve got an idea of the city. It’s amazing how prominent the (what I call) hiphop livestyle is, especially in neighbourhoods in Brooklyn that are mainly black (for a short time to come, since they are being taken over by hip white people). Also it is weird to see that there are so many different cultures (Afro, Latin, Hispanic, Jewish, you name it) with all their own culture and their own language, while in my country everybody is more or less forced to be the same) and these cultures mainly live right alongside eachother without much interaction. The latter goes for the city as a whole. Everybody is so stressed and in a hurry, that they don’t even have/take the time to argue or have a fight, so generally speaking, NYC is a very modest city where you don’t have to worry about looking the wrong way to someone. When in traffic, a New Yorker becomes a madman though. Pedestrians wait for that tiny hole in a long line of cars in the middle of the road and just to get on the other side when the sign still says “don’t walk”. Cars zigzag over the streets with massive speeds, avoiding the few pedestrians that did wait for “walk” and if half a second of delay seems at hand, its honking, honking, honking. Honking all day long (imagine that with thousands of police cars, ambulances and fire trucks driving through the town). NYC is so noisy that your ears start to hurt and you are forced into one of the larger parks, or even better: leave town. A city that never sleeps, where you can get anything you want, 24/7. A city full of surprises, but I’m glad I’m just back behind my computer in my own, tranquil neighbourhood.
On page 157 of The Destiny Of The Warrior (see book reviews section) Georges DumÃ©zil speaks about the battle of Thor and Thjalfi with the giant Hrungnir and his clay dummy. In this well-known passage it is said that Hrungnir has a heart of stone, a heart with three corners (or “horns” in the translation of DumÃ©zil) “which then became that of the runic sign called the ‘heart of Hrungnir’.” Often this heart of Hrungnir is taken to be the Valknutr, but DumÃ©zil, in a note, writes the following: “A vertical stroke with two diagonal strokes branching upward from the middle of the vertical, each half as long as the vertical and at right angles to each other; this sign equals hr (van Langenhove).” This can hardly be seen as a description of a Valknutr! But what to make of it then…?
The upper line as three interpretations of the description of DumÃ©zil, the bottom line the two runes that are the H and the R. I cannot think of a combination of these two runes that come even close to DumÃ©zil’s description! Does anybody have a better idea and/or know this Van Langenhove that DumÃ©zil refers to?
However I still am unable to prevent other websites than my own to use images from my server, I did find a way to see what images are hotlinked to (I thought the term was “deeplink”, but “hotlink” as a term results in more and better information). Go to Google image search and in the search field type: site:yourwebsite.com. You will see the images that Google has indexed and under each image you can see the source. If this source is not yourwebsite.com, then you found a hotlink. Of course this doesn’t work with forums that work with usernames and logins (and unfortunately also not with Myspace…), but for example weblogs are easily detected. What I didn’t think of immediately and what is also pretty irritating, is that hotlinks to images on Monas.nl are also redirected to Gangleri. The hotlinker doesn’t get an image, but I do get a hit and a note in my webstats which become a total mess (“referrers” that never sent a visitor through, etc.). Oh well, a result of the overly-public internet. I will look into it some more, maybe the Google tip is something for you if you have a similar problem with your images.
Today I discovered the most hilarious thing. I was looking for something with Ask.com (as alternative for Google) and then I thought to try out how high Gangleri would come out if I looked for something. I wasn’t disappointed by the result, but my eye immediately fell on the line “translate this site”. When I clicked on it, I was directed to an Ask.com page, on which in the lower half -after some waiting- Gangleri appeared, in Dutch! The translation is of course cracky and hilarious with band- and labelnames, musical styles, etc., etc. translated. I had the laugh of the week!! So, if you happen to have a not-English Windows (or Mac), you may want to read a site just as mine in ‘your own language’ with the help of Ask.com.
The theatre season here usually opens with an enormous outside spectacle. I have never been to any, because there are always just a few shows which are immediately sold out. Not this year. The town theatre has plenty shows, inside and the sales do not go too fast. And so we decided to go and see the Spanish â€œtotal theatre groupâ€™ La Fura dels Baus and their show â€œImperiumâ€. It was promised to be a spectacle and it sure was.
We entered the completely emptied â€œPhilips roomâ€ (in the new part of the â€œParktheaterâ€) which slowly filled with hundreds of people, making it pretty crowded already. The show started with actors running through the audience, pushing people away, shouting and waving all kinds of weapons. Then massive pieces of stage started to be rolled through the room and the audience had to make way in order not to be ran over. This happened the whole hour and started to become pretty annoying, because we were not particularly politely asked to go and stand somewhere else (usually there was nowhere to go because everybody had to make way).
The â€˜storyâ€™ can be given in three words: suppression, revolt, war, there is nothing much more to say about the â€˜contentâ€™ or â€˜messageâ€™ of the show. It just acted like a hook to hang on fighting scenes of girls in sexy outfits (topless), stripshows and the throwing with eaten apple, champagne, water, powder, rice, etc. and all that under music at an insane volume. Spectacular, for sure, amusing at times, but personally I found it all quickly becoming irritating and the â€˜storyâ€™ didnâ€™t make things more interesting. The reactions of the audience seem to be from both extremes. Some people completely â€˜got into the storyâ€™ and found it all magnificent, others were annoyed because of their wrecked suits, wet dresses and hurting ears. I myself â€˜got awayâ€™ with all the filth relatively untouched, enjoyed the weird findings and S&M like show and the pretty industrial soundtrack, but overall I am not convinced. There is too much violence, some scenes are rather long, the few words spoken are in Spanish and there should have been more story to it.
Should this text have caught your interest, you can still visit â€œImperiumâ€ in Eindhoven (Netherlands) on the following every evening from 5 to 9 September (none of the shows are curently sold out). Be sure to wear good shoes, cloths that have to be washed anyway and bring ear-plugs.
Indiana University at Bloomington has a Germanic Studies department with M.A. and Ph.D. programs concentrating on older Germanic and Scandinavian language and cultue. Kari Ellen Gade (author of The Structure of Old Norse DrÃ³ttvnÃ¦tt Poetry ) teaches courses in Old Norse language and literature, runes and runic inscriptions, Viking culture and sagas, as well as older Germanic languages including Gothic, Old Saxo, Old High German, and Middle High German.
In this maybe not too pleasent, but highly informative read, from Symbel issue one Michael Moynihan describes the courses in Germanic and Scandinavian languages, mythology, etc. given at American universities late 2006. However the introduction describes a downfall in such courses, I am still very impressed by the amount and variety of studies in the field that can be followed by students in America. The article also makes me wonder what list would appear if a similar investigation was done for Europe. In my own country I know about studies in Celtic language and a bit of mythology in Utrecht, I suppose that programs on the German language has something about Old High German and maybe some deparment of history may have something about Germans, but as specific as in the quote? Of course I never went to university so I don’t have a good insight, but it would be interesting if a similar investigation for Europe would be done, because at least in my country the serious interest of youths surely grows and it would be great if an interested youth would be able to find out where (s)he could turn to to study.