Thursday, July 10, 2003

Discovering my Dissertation Research Part IV

Day Eight: A little more Dusseldorf

I began the day, as I will most, taking the train up to Dusseldorf. The landlady is gone for several days,
which is welcome relief for me (and perhaps Rene, although he has said nothing) because she tends to
be obsessive-compulsive. At the archive I tried to get down to more interesting work. I would delve
into some of the files that looked particularly interesting. I would have bad luck in this matter. The first
file that I ordered, which detailed the extra-parliamentary meetings of the Rhenish representatives, was
non-communicable it was forbidden for me to see it (I will have to look into getting some sort of
special permission.) The second, which concerned the revision of the Cologne Landkreis (something
similar to a county) was either boring or illegible; most of the documents were water-damaged. The
third file was more interesting. It was a police file about unrest and demonstrations from 1922 to 1924.
The twenties are, to some extent, the heart of the paper in that they are part of NRW history that is
most familiar to Americans: the Great Inflation and the French occupation of the Ruhr Valley. (In short,
the French attempted to take over the steel factories and the coal mines in order to take from them
what Germany owed in war reparations; the workers refused to produce anything, but the government
kept paying them with bills that had no backing in order to keep them loyal, which brought about the
decline of the Reichmark.) I have not yet read through the entire file. In fact, I have not yet left
December 1922, still two weeks before the French attempt their power-play. What was interesting so
far is the rioting and plundering that occurred before the French arrived. I'll have to keep reading to
see what happened and how useful this might be.

I left the archive after 5 hours of work (I also looked through books to get ideas for files to look at.)
Afterward I wanted to walk around the center of Dusseldorf, see a museum, walk through one of the
parks. The first stop was a brewery (somewhere my mother is shaking her head.) I stopped at one of
the smaller Alt breweries, Schumacher (located near the Koenigsallee, with all the fashion shops, and
thus in a very busy area), and their beer was really good still bitter and dark, but with a sweet
aftertaste. I restrained myself from having another. (Many of the breweries have no real seating that is
for cafes. Instead, they have high tables that come up to elbow level, perfect for leaning against.)

I decided I would go to Schloss Jaegerhof. It had been recommended as an example of Baroque
architecture. Getting there I would have to walk through the Hofgarten, which I would explore later in
the day. I was underwhelmed by Jaegerhof it was not particularly large, the grounds were cris-crossed
by roads, and their was no markers indicating the importance of the building or how it should be
viewed. The inside had been turned into a museum for Goethe; none of the original interior decorations
were present. I suspect that the walls had been painted over to a flat color. Instead, the interior was
simply a museum, and not one that was particularly compelling. It had papers, books, and paintings
from Goethe's collection. It had works, dramaturgical and scientific, from Goethe's friends. It had
some pieced dedicated to the historical performance of important roles as well as a collection dedicated
to the psychological examinations of the "Weather complex." I like Goethe, but not that much, and the
museum demanded a familiarity with his works that neither I nor most Americans have. Besides that,
most of the collection consisted of paper letters, books, illustrations. Boring.

Dusseldorf is known as the "garden city." Not that it is particularly green or environmentally conscious.
Skyscrapers and the needs of business rule more than the defense of nature. However, the garden city
should not be confused with the "Garden State." Dusseldorf gets its reputation from its parks. I visited
Hofgarten, one of the first. It was designed and created in the eighteenth century based on French
gardens. I enjoyed my stroll through the park. There were plenty of ponds and small lakes with ducks,
geese, gander, ... . The trees were well-placed so that there was just enough shade to keep cool.
There were several interesting sculptures. There was nothing overwhelming about the park, it was
simply well made and relaxing.

I returned to Cologne by 6.30. I uploaded some photos. I went in search of a jazz club (the concert
was too expensive, and the later show, which was free, started at 11.30.) I returned to the apartment
and made myself some dinner. (I had to remain mindful of the landlady's compulsions, making certain
that I used as few items as possible and cleaned up prodigiously.) I drank some koelsch and went to
bed. Karen called me late at night.

Day Nine: Slowing down

My knee started giving me problems. Every now and then I get pains in my right knee that make it very
difficult for me to walk. At least once I spent a whole day in bed because I could barely move.
However, my knee never gets so bad that I must go to the hospital. There are usually two solutions:
rest or walk more.

I doubted that I should go to Dusseldorf. In Cologne I know my way around, I could call a cab, I
could be home easily. I would have stayed in the apartment, but there were things that I had to do (like
pay the real estate agent.)

I took the subway down to Rudolfplatz to look for the real estate agent. I carried my computer with
me in case I changed my mind about Dusseldorf. I found the building easily, but I wasn't sure which
office it was. The building was six stories high, and it had only a staircase. I climbed up each level and
looked around for the realtor's office. I reached the top floor and had found nothing. I asked in at a
law office, and they directed me to the second floor. The realtor's office was unmarked (I don't know
how they expected to be found.) I knocked. They invited me in rather formally. I paid, they gave me
a receipt. That was it. Such personal service!

As I left the realtor's, guilt set in. I could take the day off to rest my knee. I would still have to do a
few things before going home, like buy groceries. But I had no files to look at and analyze I would not
be doing any work, and I might not still be able to walk the next day. So I went to Dusseldorf, back to
the archive. I used my digital camera to take pictures of interesting papers (just about anything that was
remotely interesting.) The thing is pretty useful: I got 60 good photos of pages in great detail.

After the archive, I went to get a beer. I needed to relax. I stopped at another one of the breweries,
Zum Schluessel. The tables at the breweries are tall and are designed to lean against rather than sit at.
There is, it would seem, a proper pose that one must adopt. One leans against the table with the arm
that is opposite the street. The forearm is completely on the table, not hanging over, and no one leans
only against his elbow. The other arm is often draped over the first, but it can be used to gesture and
point, and to pick up the beer glass. The body should be turned toward the street, the head should be
slightly inclined. The weight of the body and the forearm should be on the arm that is resting on the
table. The foot opposite of that arm is often on one of the crossbeams at the base of the table.

When I got back to Cologne, I ate at a local pizza place I did not feel like cooking that evening. The borccoli on it was bitter, so I did not like it much. I
spent the rest of the night, at the apartment, puzzling over the picture I had taken at the archive (the
pictures were clear, but I had not accounted for what I was taking pictures of. I had to read through
them to know what I had.)

This weekend, I promise that I will go somewhere interesting. I swear.
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