Saturday, April 19, 2014

Footnotes, Or, Oh, That Hegel

I have been reading, with much interest, Not I by Joachim Fest. I have been distracted here and there by the footnotes. These can be very helpful, as when they identify German poets and writers little known to most of us in the English-speaking world. They can also be a bit odd, something I noticed with a footnote on page 102, which explains a board game of naval strategy, the text  being
later we replayed historic sea battles from Salamis to Trafalgar and Jutland.
The note reads
These are major historical maritime battles from the Greeks via the Napoleonic Wars to the First World War; to Germans it is the Battle of Skagerrak, not Jutland.
Now, given that Fest's memoir is largely about his life under the Third Reich, and about his decision to become a historian, it is fair to assume that most who buy the book will have some interest in history. Those who have enough interest in history to spend $17 and tax on the book seem likely to me to have heard of Salamis and Trafalgar, if not Jutland. Is the footnote in effect an apology for the translator rendering "Skagerrak" as "Jutland"? I'm not likely to find out.

On page 387, discussing the collapse of the Weimar Republic, Fest writes
Consequently, broad but fickle sections of the population, who were essentially well disposed  to the republic, believed themselves to be threatened by radicals of the right and left; they increasingly surrendered to the idea that nothing less than the spirit of the age was against them. With Hegel in one's intellectual baggage one was even more susceptible to such thinking.
And the footnote explains
Fest here refers not to the Hegel whose reception, especially via France, has dominated so much of postmodern Western thought. He writes of the founder and main representative of German Idealism as he was popularly dispensed in German secondary schools and universities well into the 1960s. One of the seminal modern thinkers, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1700-1831) has profoundly changed speculation in most fields of philosophy from logic to ontology and from philosophy of history to aesthetics.
 I cannot imagine who can both understand this footnote and require it.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not News to Many, But Good News to Me

This morning I happened to be passing by Kramerbooks just above Dupont Circle, when I noticed that the sign gave the ours as 7:30 am through 1:30 am. The closing did not surprise me; the opening surprised and delighted me. I had to go in and buy a book. (Not I, by Joachim Fest). This is yet another reason to walk to work, and take the long way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Solidarity on Columbia Road, NW

Seen today on the 1700 block of Columbia Road, NW:


The orange sign is headed "ENVIOS DE DINERO"--words more commonly seen on the signs along this commercial stretch.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calling Myers and Briggs

One day this week, I got onto the bus downtown, and managed to get my preferred seat, the left-side one in back that faces across the aisle. I was slightly aware of a woman sitting in the right corner of the seat across the back, mostly because she was talking on her cell phone. Generally I did not notice, but along about T St. I heard that she was explaining to her interlocutor the difference between introverts and extroverts.

Perhaps we should add the category "Metrovert", one who carries on private conversations in a carrying voice on public transportation.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Challenges and Football

Jay Matthews writes this week in The Washington Post, that many of the country's best high schools, as measured by his "challenge index", have no football teams. He offered a list of fifty local schools, nine of which had no football team. I found the list of schools without football less than persuasive, for it had

  • St. Anselm's Abbey School, which enrolls probably 150 boys in its four high school grades. That is really too few for eleven-man football, particularly if it is to offer any other fall sports.
  • Washington International School is coed, with 900 students total. It is a fair guess that they have about the same male population in the upper grades.
  • The Arlington County alternative high school H.B. Woodlawn. I know nothing about it.
  • The District of Columbia magnet high schools, Banneker and School Without Walls. I don't know much about them.
  • Holton-Arms, Stone Ridge, National Cathedral School, and the Madeira School, which are girls-only.
The criterion of the challenge index produces a list of the top 50 local schools not including Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County. This diminishes my opinion of TJ not at all, and does not improve my opinion of the index. And I find it curious that Gonzaga manages to place about mid-way down, but Georgetown Prep, the other local Jesuit high school, does not appear.

On reading the whole article I had to wonder: if a writer as persuasive as Jay Matthews were to identify a correlation between posture and college admission, would the hallways of our high schools look like West Point?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Because You Can Never Have Enough

Recently I noticed a statue I hadn't seen before on Massachusetts Avenue NW at Sheridan Circle. I found that it was of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk


A plaque beside it says that the statue was paid for by private funds. It stands in front of the building that used to house the Turkish embassy.

The new Turkish Embassy is a couple of blocks away and on the other side of Massachusetts Avenue. It, too, has a statue of Ataturk--


I assume that the Turkish state paid for this one.

Excluding religious figures, I can think of only two other men represented by two or more outdoor statues in Washington. There are two statues of Abraham Lincoln: the immense seated figure at the Lincoln Memorial and a life-sized standing statue near the courts. There are four outdoor statues of George Washington: equestrian at Washington Circle and National Cathedral, standing in front of the Society of the Cincinnati and in George Washington University's University Yard. (There is also a large bust of Washington behind the Masonic Temple at 16th and S Streets NW.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

St. Jerome in Washington

A while back, I noticed this statue


of St. Jerome outside the Croatian Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue NW. It identifies him as "St. Jerome the Priest" and "Greatest Doctor of the Church". But apparently it is not clear whether St. Jerome's birthplace was within the borders of modern Croatia or of modern Slovenia.

And last month on Columbia Road, NW, I noticed on a van a sticker I had never seen before, the small blue sticker in the lower right corner of the left window:


"Veritas vos Liberabit", John 8:32 as St. Jerome rendered it in the Vulgate.