Saturday, February 27, 2016

This Blog Is Turning a Corner

After this weekend, this blog is turning the corner and moving onto Budapest.  We leave with everything scheduled for condo closing in March and everything set to be ready to sell the house in April.  But in the meantime, we are saying good-bye to stress, packing, sorting through clutter, and all that kind of stuff, and saying hello to

Long walks in gorgeous neighbrhoods with beaLutiful buildings.

Great food.

And all kinds of music.

Next post from Budapest!


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I am Losing My Equilibrium

I am sure there was an easier way to do this. We are now trying to get as much stuff in boxes that we can to take to the condo before putting the house on sale. Of course, that won't be til April, but since we are going to Budapest next week, we have to front-load the work.

Here is our sequence.

1.  Workers are now in the house to make renovations for house to sell.  We are here til February 29, packing up what will have to go before the house is staged.  Of course this stuff can only be stored in a few places (i.e., our bedroom), because work is going on in the rest of the house.

2.  February 29, we leave for Budapest,  March 1 to April 1, we try to leave all this behind, and have fun.

3.  Sometime in the last week in March, we will close on the condo.  This will be done via our broker.

4.  April 1, we arrive home after a long haul overseas flight, i.e., exhausted.

5.  April 2-7, we try to get as much stuff in the condo as possible so that the house looks good.

6,  April 8, we put the house on the market and hope for the best.

What is wrong with this schedule?  Well, I leave it to your imagination.  I am sure something will come up.  The challenge will be not to dwell on it.  Sure!


Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Lives of Books

When I retired two years ago, I had about 400 books in my office.  I started getting rid of them a few years before retirement by giving each student a book at the end of the semester as a gift.  I then gave the rest of the books to the UofL English Graduate Organization (EGO) for their book sale.

This last few weeks, we have been readying our house to sell.  As part of that I had to reduce the number of books I had at our large house to the much smaller number of books I could keep in the condo.

At the house, I had about 1000 books--ten book cases that held about 100 books each.  Tony has a comparable number.  We decided we could each have 3 bookcases at the condo.  So I had to downsize from 1000 to about 300 books. Which to keep and which to give away?

About half of my home books were novels--mostly gifts Tony has given me over our life together.   The other half was part of my professional library: books about critical theory, rhetoric, composition pedagogy and evolutionary biology;

Most of the novels I had read.  I had to carefully choose those that were most important.  The rest, I took out the first page which held a dedication and wrote the name of the book and author on it. The professional books were those I had read mainly for particular research projects--the kind of research I no longer plan to do.

How did I decide which books to keep and which to give away?   I chose novels that have been especially meaningful for me--harkening to points in my life that were shaped by particular books, or books whose meanings I continue to carry with me. The professional books I kept were those that had most deeply defined my ideas.  But those decisions were difficult and even painful.  I've lived my life surrounded by books, and they are valuable and evocative to me, even if already read,  I cannot imagine living anyplace that didn't have books.  Our house at the lake has several bookcases as well.

Now most of my books have gone to EGO for their fund-raising sale.  And I suppose they will then continue to fulfill their main function: being read.  But their physical presence--their weight, heft, and color remains a loss.

I am not alone in my saving books over a lifetime.  It's not a sensible decision, because we will never read them all again or for the first time. But we have a hard time letting go.  For many people, their books define who they are.


Monday, February 8, 2016

I Am Stressed

I feel completely disoriented.  Our house is a mess.  Downstairs, we  have workers in almost every day: stripping wallpaper, prepping walls, applying plaster to ceilings, eventually painting, repairing electrics, removing carpet.  Upstairs, I am going through about 800 books, trying to reduce them to 300.  Going from 9 bookcases to 3, and that's not counting Tony's books, which is totally his problem!  I have gone through layers and layers of our and my parents' shared histories, reducing about 12 boxes of memorabilia to 6.  I have gotten rid of all kinds of clothes I no longer wear.  I am constantly organizing and throwing away. Next weekend is "Junk PickUp" for our neighborhood, when we can put anything out (except computers), and it will be carted away.  By next weekend, all the "stuff" from the garage, basement, and attic will be gone.

The house no longer seems ours.

Three weeks from today I am going to Budapest.  It seemed like such a good idea in December, before we had found even one condo that suited our needs. I plan to have a very good time and leave all this behind.  Definitely.

My current plan is to have everything weeded out before we leave.  When we come back April 1, we will own the condo.  We will then "stage" the house, by taking everything our realtor wants out of the house to the condo.  Directly after that, the house will go on the market, and we will then live in a denuded house, until it sells.

I am stressed.  I am excited.  But I am stressed.  I try in my mind to place our furniture in the condo,, but even with pictures and drawings and measurements, I can't figure out what will go where.  I am stressed.

I am also excited.  I know that by sometime this spring or summer, we will have achieved what we have been wanting for two years: to sell our house, to move into something smaller and easier to care for, and to live in Louisville in a new way.  Still I am stressed,


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

More Condo

We went back to the condo today to watch while it was inspected.  Here are some pictures I took.  The unit itself is in the process of being packed up, so things are a little askew.  But you can get a sense of things.

The best part is the view.  And you have to imagine it when the trees get their leaves back!

The living room fireplace and bookcases.

The molding and door features.

Into the Dining Room.

Me excited!

Would that our house was so ready to sell!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Hungarian Architecture Book. Chapter 2. Art Nouveau. updated

I have started Chapter 2 of my book about Hungarian Architecture (the one I plan to self publish: insert smiley face).  Thinking a lot about Budapest and its beautiful Art Nouveau buildings. Here's the first part of the Introduction and a few pictures.

Art Nouveau was, in many ways, a rejection of the past: of  Historicism and its pluralistic mish-mash of styles that was no longer seen as capable of expressing the forces of industrialization, political and social  turbulence, and technological innovation that characterized modernity.  And in rejecting Historicism, it also rejected the traditions of the Academy.  Art Nouveau, especially of Central Europe, offered instead the desire to express true and authentic experience. This is made manifest in the Vienna Secession co-founded by the architects Joseph Maria Olbrich and Josef Hoffman and the painters Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser.  The Secession building hails the new organic style and expresses as its motto FILL IN.  PIC S

Unlike Historicism, though, Art Nouveau was not a carefully theorized movement.  It was instead highly individualistic.  Rather than looking to historical precedents, Art Nouveau looked to nature and to the ways it can inspire  the creative imagination of the individual.  In this sense, it is similar to 19th century Romanticism.  It differs from Romanticism, though, because it is primarily concerned with style.  The rejection of Historicism meant the rejection of Historicist decorations, rather than existing spatial organization  (e.g., symmetries, hierarchies) of buildings.  Thus Art Nouveau is characterized most significantly as the search for new ornaments, most often drawn from nature.  These new forms of ornamentation are not limited to architecture, but extend to plastic arts such as painting and sculpture, as well as commercial objects and design. 

Anthony Alofsin argues that “nature’s metaphor led in several directions.”  On the one hand, nature could be imitated (mimesis) and transformed.  Alofsin identifies this response to nature as “biomorphic organism, in which empathy between sensuous curvilinear and flowing forms, created an association between natural forms and human emotion.”  On the other hand, nature could lead towards what Alofsin calls structural organicism: seeing a deeper rational structure that could produce new forms without the literal use of floral and vegetal references” (55).  

Art Nouveau is a catch-all term for a number of movements in the last years of the 19th century through the first years of the 20th.  What holds these movements together, to the degree that they can all be understood as members of this category, is their shared revolt against Historicism and the academy and their quest for a new style based on the creative use of nature.  Various forms of Art Nouveau appear in France as Art Nouveau; England as Liberty Style or Arts and Crafts; Germany, as Jugendstil; and Vienna as Secession.  As Alos Moravanszky explains, “in many Central and Eastern European countries, “secession” became the term that characterized art nouveau generally including its nongeometrical versions: secese in Bohemia, secesja in Poland, secesija in Croatia, and sszecesszio in Hungary.  The resulting imprecision makes it hard to distinguish between various architectural languages of fin-de siècle.   In contrast, Historicism is basically a supranational style (despite attempts to assign national forms, p. x).  In this chapter, I examine various early attempts in Hungarian architecture that borrow most explicitly from other European Art Nouveau (writ large) traditions.  In the next chapter, I will focus on the most important Hungarian architect of the period whose early work begins in fin-de siècle Hungarian Art Nouveau but who develops Art Nouveau into a truly Hungarian style:  Odon Lechner.  Lechner and his followers embody the central sustained Hungarian Secession, particularly manifest in their intense emphasis on the stylistic elements they saw as uniquely Hungarian.

The Bedo House.  Emil Vidor.  1903.:
 Detail of facade.

Detail of facade.

The Philanthia Flower Shop.  Albert Kálmán  Kőrössy.  1906.

Detail of Facade. Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 63 (1897). Frigyes Spiegel with Fulop Weinreb.  1897.