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27th Nov, 2009

Hussar's uniform

ארתמיס

ובכל זאת חסרה לי ארתמיס. כמנהגה, הייתה ארתמיס לבושה לעתים כאיילת ולפעמים כזאבה. בכל זאת, לא הייתה מצליחה לשטות בי, כי בזוית עינה היה אותו ברק שאופייני רק לה. אז בלילו של פן האש הוקדה ודלקה ימים כלילות עד אשר דעכה. מאז נדלקו וכבו להבות רבות. לפעמים אני נתקל בה בפינת הרחוב, מבנה גופה חינני ועגלגל כשל ארנבת, פניה כשל שועל, שיערה ענפי היער. נותר לי לקוות כי חיים אנו בעידן חדש, של שוויון בין אלים לבני אדם. כי אז לא אבקש עוד מהנשגב, אלא רק כי תשובי אלי. ואל תתהלכי כמקודם, סביב סביב, ובקרי במקדשי כשם שביקרתי אני במקדשך. יודע אני כי אלה את, ארתמיס. בקרוב, אני ולא אחר אביא לך טבעת.

2nd Nov, 2009

Hussar's uniform

Winds of change

This is a time of uncertainty, and it may become a time of upheaval. We may come to see the chain of events that started just a couple of weeks ago as the final phase of a six year old project. As the participants and advisory panel are aware, it was an experiment with wide reaching consequences.

Unfortunately, upon reaching critical mass, I began experimenting with dangerous substances. These substances are not only dangerous, but their exact nature will be discovered only in a process of fusion. Frankly, I don't know what to expect, and I should probably hope for the best. I know you have faith in me, and I'll try not to let you down in this critical moment.

Just how far should I go? Is it enough to integrate, or should I continue the experiment with the more radical elements? As the primary protective sarcophagus melts, a new frame will be forged.

But how could I set my gaze again upon those eyes, her eyes, watching from within the darkest corners of my mind? And how do I obtain the courage to tell her the things that will ruin her?

10th Aug, 2009

Hussar's uniform

In all sincerity

We stood so well in line we couldn't see the metal bars, until years later someone pointed at us. Frustrated, trying our hands against the steel we realized how fresh was the wind in the alleys, how good was the water we were told not to drink. It was then, that I finally got what you said, when you told me how wry I was, how it was all because of you. But now you sit in your dungeon, believing darkness is light. I stand up, get hold of the bars and stare at the people. They say I'm distant, they say they don't understand the drawings on the floor of my cell, they don't seem to speak my language.

But that was all well, and that was how it was meant to end. Because too many years ago another wall crumbled, but they built another one and they kept us inside. So many preconceptions, categories, fear. All hell break lose: no more of these, I carve my way out with my bare hands. You were wrong, trying to impose your sense of destiny on me, you are a slave who merely changed masters. I have no fear, for my only asset is my prison cell. Watch me as I walk through the bars. I am the future, you are the past.

8th Mar, 2009

Hussar's uniform

History on rails

There's a certain pattern I seem to stumble upon in history all the time. History is best examined as processes going in parallel to one another, sometimes converging and sometimes diverting. Perhaps like rail roads: from the historian's perspective, people are not actors on a stage, but more like passengers in a train. Obviously, some have better seats than others. Passengers board on one station and get off on another, though sometimes the going off is not entirely according to plan. In fact, think of riding a train when you are not aware of the schedule and are, thus, surprised when you suddenly need to change a train or to get off.
Yet, many people seem to think of history as human made. They identify historical events and processes with certain people, while most historical processes are so difficult to imagine and conceive by a single person, if you're a passenger in a train, not knowing where the next stop is.
Going through the depictions of Paris in the 19th century and the transformation of its centre from the medieval market type to a modern city, one may find himself believing to the myth that it was all the work of one person: Baron Haussmann. Haussmann was Napoleon III's Prefect of the Seine, which is something above mayor in the executive branch and in the modern American equivalent, a governor of Paris. He planned and gradually transformed the centre of Paris from an environment of bustling medieval narrow streets to wide boulevards, and among other things, constructed several important edifices in the middle of Paris.
In the art and literature of the 1860s and 1870s, writers like Victor Hugo and Emile Zola contrast the Paris of the 1830s and 1840s with that of the 1860s and 1870s and describe the boulevards as "faceless", "grey", "monstrous", "the life in the city centre is gone". Zola's L'Assommoir features Gervaise's futile attempt to collect some money from people who pass by, showing how the new, inhuman character of the city reflects on its citizens. The interesting part is that most, if not all, seem to call it "Haussmannization", or in other terms point to Haussmann as the architect of this social and aesthetic novelty (and a disaster to them).
What is to be seen is that Haussmann transformed Paris as much as Caius Marius reformed the army of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC. The claim is not that Haussmann didn't plan and execute a new city plan in Paris, but instead, that Haussmann simply made the changes already in the making show upon the layout of the city.
In the middle of the 19th century, Paris was transforming: the small, highly specialised businesses and craftsmen were beginning to disappear and a new, capitalist, economy was forming in the edges of the city. City markets began to disperse as department stores, or magasins, reached unprecedented profits. This economical transformation had, ultimately, a decisive effect on the social fabric of the city centre in Paris. It was an accomplished fact in Paris of the 1860s, when Haussmann began building his wide boulevards, on which new forms of business replaced the old ones.

Credits: Theodore Zeldin, Charles Rearick, and others.

14th Feb, 2009

Hussar's uniform

Graduate school plans

I'd like to state, for the record, my current research interests. Even if they change, and actually - especially if they change, I'd like some record to see just how indecisive I am.

Intellectual history is what interests me most at the moment, and especially the appearance of Existentialism and its reception in 19th century Germany and Scandinavia. Currently diving into Kierkegaard to see if we have any common language. And yeah, I might just have to learn Danish.

There was some apparent horror that I might have plans to put forward my heretical views on the Zionist Regime in some history journal. well, it's not going to happen. If I'm going to deal with the issue at all, beyond coffee & cake chat, I'll do it in politics.
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