Sunday, August 03, 2003

I have less than two weeks before I am reunited with my wife and all my pets. I cannot wait.

Discovering my dissertation research part 13

August 1: What the hell is this big mess of old letters?

This was a mildly productive and very uninteresting day. I went to the archives. I saw nothing of the landlady, although I heard her early speaking to Rene. At the archives I looked over a few things. I did not find anything breathtaking. One deposit, Mallinckordt, was almost completely restricted to public viewing. It consists of about 100 files. Most of them are the families work with charitable organizations and Mallinckordts exploration of genealogy, for which he amassed the records for 250 families. It also contained his business correspondences. What could be so controversial? I could not tell you. Only 7 of these files are accessible to the public. I tried to look at one of them: the personal correspondences between the parents and the children. I was not certain of what I would find. A huge box was brought out to me. Inside were three large packets. Inside these packets were every manner of letter, greeting, and well-wishing imaginable. There was no pattern to the file. Some letters were tied together, and they generally corresponded to the person who was receiving the letters. Other than that, it was a free for all. I would guess that there were two thousand letters from a ten year period. And they were so uninteresting. Anyway, as I was trying to get one of these old packets open, one of the assistants came over and said that he would have to open it for me. But upon further reflection, he did not think that it would be possible to keep the file in order if I did. Things were bound together with bows, etc. He called down one of the heads. He looked at the file and said that, while the file is public, it is unavailable for technical reasons. Someone would have to catalog it in the future. I looked at a few letters and decided that they were of little interest for me, and agreed that I did not need to read the letters. Was I the first person to try to look at these?

The historian who was helping me out came over to talk to me. He would be going on vacation for a few weeks and would not see me again (too bad: he was very nice.) We talked a little history, about how the research was going, about his vacation place in the Eifel.

I left the archives early. I rushed back to the apartment to pick up my clothes. A quick wash in Nippes, back to the apartment, watch a little TV, and take a stroll in the evening. Nothing special

August 2: Eating for two (meals) in Bonn

I had seen flyers around Cologne for a concert that would take place in Bonn. It would be a concert of world music. Two of my favorite artists, Bratsch (gypsy-klezmer fusion from France) and Rabih Abou-Khalil (a jazz oud player from Lebanon) would be playing among others. Cologne and Bonn are very close together; it is possible to take a streetcar between the two, but I would take the train. I had not seen or heard the landlady the previous evening or that morning, and I assumed that she left for the weekend without telling me (I was later proven wrong.)

I arrived in Bonn by 11. I would have earlier except that I was confused by the myriad of changes to the train schedule and missed several good opportunities to leave. I first tried to get to the tourist office. I followed the arrows. However, I ran into the Muenster. I looked inside. Lots of good Baroque artworks. I started to look for the tourist office again. Ooh, neat fountain. I found one of the Baroque palaces and look around (not very interesting, the building has been converted to offices and offers little but its structure to the viewer.) Oh, there is where the concert will be. Are these arrows leading me anywhere? I realized that I was walking in circles, as per the signs that were posted. I never found the tourist office, but I saw something of Bonn in the attempt

One of the reasons why I wanted to find the tourist office was because my Rough Guide did not put several of the sites on its map of Bonn (although it could have.) I figured out how to get to Schloss Poppelsdorf from the description in the text. There is a long green that leads up to the garden. I offered shade from the otherwise hot and slightly muggy heat. The Schloss was built by Clemens August in the mid-seventeenth century. In the early fourteenth century the Cologners kicked out the archbishop from Cologne. Although the city was technically the seat of the archbishopric and the citizens recognized the religious authority of the archbishop, the refused him political power (he was a prince bishop as well as an archbishop; he was also an Imperial elector and voted for the Holy Roman Emperor) and they physically kept him out. This was known as the Cologne Liberation. Ever since the archbishop made his home in Bonn, ruling over a large arch diocese. By the seventeenth century the Cologne arch diocese had become the play thing of the Wittelsbachs, the ruling family in Bavaria. Archbishop Clemens August was more interested in politics and world affairs that in religion, making him an uninspiring religious figure. He spent much of his time perfecting his skills in falconry. The palace was another Baroque structure with a nice courtyard. Much of it had been turned into space for the university and held no further interest. The grounds had wonderful gardens that were open. There were nice streams. There was also a large greenhouse, but the heat was already overbearing.

I tried to find the Robert Schumann house without luck. Schumann was one of the two great composers to have come from Bonn (the other being Beethoven.) I could not find the building. The description in the guidebook was inadequate; this is where a better map would have helped. My search did lead my to see some great houses.

I rushed back to the center of town. The concerted would start shortly; I wanted to fill up on some liquids before I stood out in the sun. Bratsch was the first band to play. I bought an album of theirs several years ago. It was called “Rien dans les poches” (nothing in my pockets), and the “o” was a ten centimes piece. They were inspiring. They played for one half hour, two klezmer pieces, one french folk song, and some Eastern European dances.

It would be another hour before Abou-Khalil would play. I went to Cassius Gardens, a vegetarian restaurant near the train station. I had to fill up on food (I am eating for two meals now.) Also, I needed vegetables. Since I have avoided cooking meals my diet had become dominated by the starchy, cheesy, salty, and chocolaty food groups. They had all sorts of good stuff. My favorite was the sauteed chard hearts. I need to make that for Karen and me when I get home.

I ran back in time to see Abou-Khalil. Karen introduced me to him when she bought his CD for me. He plays a type of jazz backed by band instruments (including tuba instead of string bass) with Middle Eastern melodies. His performance was stellar. He has added someone who does throat singing, which added to the already complex textures. I found a place that served a koelsch that I had not yet tried–Kurfuersten Maximilian. It was good, but I think that it was a bit strong for koelsch. It was too fizzy.

I did not feel like staying around for the rest of the show. I took a train back to Cologne. I bought a CD (Ernst Bloch for 5 euros.) Late in the evening I ate some ice cream.

August 3: Why am I here?

I planned to see a little of Cologne but to do nothing strenuous. I bought a train pass for the next week. I have to go to a suburb called Pulheim to go to the archives of the Landschaftsverband, which is a self-government organization. I went to Osho’s (you know, the cult-hippy place) for their brunch. It was good food. After that I went to the Historical Museum of Cologne. I had been there the last time. It is not special. The one in Dusseldorf is more extensive and exciting. I just wanted to take pictures of some of their collection for my records; maybe I will find them useful for my research.

I went east from there. I came across a church that houses the remains fo Adolf Kolping. He was a Catholic priest who started the Catholic social works movement and who oversaw the organization of Catholic trade unions. The church also had the tomb of John Duns Scotus, whose dedication to Catholicism has given the English language a word for muddled thought–dunce.

I thought about going to the Museum for Decorative Arts (it is a good collection) but I did not want to stand around a whole lot. I went to the old city and drank a few glasses of Koelsch. I went back to the apartment to watch my Star Trek

In the evening the landlady asked me a few questions. When would I be leaving? How have I been calling home, with a calling card? Why are you always here over the weekend? Why don’t you go anywhere? Why don’t you cook in the kitchen? (These were, of course, related questions. I can’t go anywhere because I must eat out all the time because you are so obsessive.) Then she turned her attention to the recycling. There is a wire basket hanging from the wall into which were are supposed to put things that can be recycled. I try to bring something with me from this basket every day. She complained because I took some plastic bottles for which she could have received 25 cents for a returned deposit. I think that this was too much. If she wants the deposit, she should not put the bottles with the things to be recycled. I cannot determined her intentions with this. Besides, I am certain that I would be blamed for the accumulated clutter anyway, so why should I care!

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