Fear of cynicism

November 23, 2008

Once again I am reading for my class tomorrow in Comparative Politics – that is nothing new, but it once again struck me how mad a taste some of these text put into my month. Their view on politics is one where elites rules and where it really isn’t rational for the man on the floor to even vote, because it will not matter anyway. Sometimes after reading a text like that I find my self in a really bad mood and I get angry at text and want to argue with it because they are so cynical. I seriously do not believe that all politicians are in politics just to stuff their own pockets or their best friends’ pockets. I do not want to believe that it is so! I know it isn’t so because as a historian I have seen change happen – great change even over the course of a generation. Big changes normally do not happen over night, that is true, but they can happen. I almost want to quote Obama’s campaign slogan, but that might be too corny – even for me. I just listened to the new Dan Carlin common sense (there is a link down at the bottom of the page) show – and it made me angry of his cynicism – he is judging Obama before he has even taken office – I do not say that there wasn’t’ a lot of common sense in his views because there was, but why do we even bather electing people, if we don’t think they will make a freaking difference. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we become cynical, because then we lose hope in the possibility of change and our view become deterministic – and why should we bather do anything then – it will not matter anyway.

Sorry for rambling – but I am just really annoyed with the people who talk about politics right now! Take some responsibility and believe in something or someone – even if it is only your self!


Opsession with an era

November 21, 2008

Tonight I have been searching pictures and sims contest from the Art Deco and Art Nouveau era and it is just sucking me in. What is so amazing about this area is how contemporary a lot of the furniture and architecture looks, but at the same time the people in the photographs do look truly old fashion – especially the servants, who look like they walked out of the Victorian age even then the pictures are 30 years later. A lot of design today still draws inspiration from this era – how the most cutting edge buildings today have elements from art deco and how “modern” furniture truly are modern in the sense that they take their inspiration from the modern period.


To the left: a danish “funkis” house from the period and to the right a contemporary danish house

This remind me of one of the points Dan Carlin is making on of his Hardcore History shows – that the 20th century was really just the postlude of the first world war or the Great War (so great that Microsoft Word insists that it is spelled with double capitals) as they called it before the second world war came, so the first could become the first world war. The world transformed under the Great War in every single part of life, from fashion to military structures to housing to the way the international system works today. A lot of the things we take for granted today really was born under the Great War or in the years just after. Of course new things has been added and things has evolved since the Great War, but in many areas many things are basicly the same as they were almost 100 years before. In journalism not much new has been added other then new channels – the two main types or articles and news casts are still the report and the interview – both invented in the start of the 20th century. What I am trying to say is that then we are stock we turn to the inter-war period for inspiration and a lot of the things we talk about today has a deep root in this era.

Right now I am listing to a Berkeley lecture about art and cyperculture and how the web and people play together. The podcast is called “Practice of Art 23: Foundations of American Cyberculture” – very clumsy title isn’t it? It is very thought provoking and I as you might have guessed by now – I like that. One of thing things I came to think about is how words change meaning all the time. Not just words but many things. They were mentioning the world Cyperpunk and talked about that it originally meant to reject the cybernetics witch I told my boyfriend and he found it really weird because he very strongly associate with science fiction and cybernetics. I just thought it was interesting how it had flipped on a plate and that of course made me think about other things that have changed meaning in a really substantial way…

Think about the swastika before the Nazis to it into use it was a sun symbol and then you travel in Europe you will see it on many old buildings that has nothing to do with the Nazi-regime. How long will it take before we can use that symbol for anything else? I am pretty sure that the meaning will at some point get lost in the mists of history.


Another thing that has got a whole new meaning today would be the word black… I bet you think about more then a colour just by me mention the word – some of you will be thinking about race, others the night, others evil – we put so much meaning into a simple word. And that is one reason that is matters what we call things – the words in them self means nothing of course, but as soon as they have meaning associated with them then we think about those meanings when we hear the word.


Fiets doesn’t really mean anything to me, but it means bicycle in Dutch. That starts a stream of thought in my mind right away – I have tried to illustrate them above.

My bachelor project

November 19, 2008

heimkehr vom ball 1926

To finish our bachelors we have to write a big paper that counts for a lot of our credit for our bachelor part of our university education. I had a pretty chaotic start on this semester and by change ended up in a bachelor class about Danish foreign policy between 1864 (our big lose to Germany) and 1940 (then the Germans invaded Denmark). I had to pick some kind of topic within that frame for my project.

After a lot of thinking I decided that I wanted to write about how the Danish press wrote about Germany in the 1920s. There have been many studies on how people view Germany in the 1930s around Hitler’s coup. Germany been a big player on the Danish scene for a really long time, so I thought it might be interesting to look at how we viewed them before they turned to fascism. The trends up to an event can be just as important as the event it self. The Weimar Republic was after all a democracy, though a week one and Denmark a long and proud tradition of being afraid of Germany. I wonder how that looked in the 1920s.

I am going to read a lot of old newspaper articles from 1926 then Germany became a part of the League of Nations. Though the league never became what the West hoped it still played a significant role in the international relations between the two big wars, so it is no small event. The liberals and the conservatives in Denmark did not like that Germany joined the league, because they were afraid that they might be dragged out of neutrality and into a war. They were also still angry with Germany for not acknowledging our border with them. On the other hand if Germany joined we might be able to force them to acknowledge the border though the international court system and it might keep the leach on our big brother neighbour. So it was a complicated matter for Germany to join – at least form a Danish perspective. How much of that did make it into the press? Did the social democratic government let their own newspaper print negative stuff about Germany? What did the papers dear to write? All this is what I want to look into in my paper.


Right now I am working on my bachelor and it has made me think about historians’ use of unpublished sources. Historians tend to think that is better to use unpublished sources – or at least that is the impression one often gets. They think that that they are uncovering the truth about the subject – go where no man has gone before – and that is all very fine and noble, but of course they are not really going anywhere where nobody has been before, because if they did, there wouldn’t be any sources to work with – sorry about that, that was a sidetrack.

What it made me think about what how the past effects the time that comes after an event. As I see it, and I might very well be wrong, most event effect the events just after it more then it effect the time feather away from it, unless “new shocking sources are uncovered” as the newspapers like to put it. But then we are uncovering new and shocking material about the past we are changing our own and our reader’s view about the past. By reshaping our own view about the past, we make it harder for our self to view the event we are studying in the same light as people just after the even sew it. That can be good in some cases, but if you are trying to understand the time just after the event, it might make it harder for you to understand the event.

I think my point is that if one tries to understand how an event effected the events just after it happened then it is more fruitful to look at the sources that was available at the time, like newspapers, websites, flyers, television newsflash and things like that, then it is to look at politician’s diaries or top secret papers, as only a handful of people had that information at the time. Again it do depend on what you are trying to examine – if you are trying to figure out why John F. Kennedy acted the way he did, then it makes sense to look at the top secret stuff from the time, but if you are trying to understand why the American public acted the way they did after 9/11 then perhaps it is more interesting to look at the news feeds from the days just after. I personally find it more interesting how the world is presented then to figure out just what really happened, so I tend not to dig into the unpublished sources.

In short it is my blog about being a history student and about my thought about history both as a subject in general, as university study and about specific historical events that I think about.

So who am I? I am a 26 year old woman from Denmark. I study history and political science – with my focus more on the history then on the political science – no doubt about that. I study at Aarhus University and am in my third year of studies. Right now I am trying to get my bachelor project together and this fall I started on my supplementary study in political science.

I have a deep passion for podcasted lectures and I listen to quite a big number of them on many different subjects, so I might end up talking about some pretty strange things. Right now I am listening to a podcast about art and the new media from Barkley University. I will try to keep you people posted on what I am listing to right now and give you links to the good podcasts.