Peter Handke

By now, you should have heard of Peter Handke, an author from Austria: He has just won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. Congratulations!

I’m not really sure how I feel about this, partially because I have never (consciously) read any of his writings, and partially because he was more or less defending the Serbs in the Yugoslav war, which didn’t go down well at all at the time.

That leaves the interesting and quite difficult question whether an artist should be judged by his art alone (in particular when considered for an art prize), or if their personal views on society, politics, etc. should come into play as well. Clearly, the artist imbues his pieces with something of himself; that’s why we often want to know more about them, their inspirations, their life, their routines…

But is this truly important? Would the Nike of Samothrace be any less of a masterpiece had it been carved by a mass murderer?

Nike of Samothrace

Austrian Elections 2019

Last Sunday there were general elections in Austria – less than 2 years after the last one. I was ready to stay up all night to wait for a good projection of the final result. However, in the end, it was all very clear from the beginning, and now we have this here (Taken from wahl19.bmi.gv.at/ Note that we have a 4% hurdle to enter the parliament):

Result of Austrian General Elections 2019.

As expected, the old chancellor has won (turquoise), the green party is back in parliament and the small party JETZT, which essentially killed the green party at the last elections, did not survive this one. Rather unexpectedly, the (red) social democrats lost enough to make this the worst result in the party history.

Biggest surprise of the evening: The crash of the right-wingers (blue), who lost a whopping 10% and will probably not in the next government anymore. I am so thrilled! Because it means that we don’t have quite as many idiots in Austria as some people might want to believe. That’s definitely worth celebrating.

Preoccupied

Flags of Austria and JapanI had a great Saturday – I went to a small city near Nara to pick tea – right until the moment when I came home late at night and decided to check emails and news online. And what news there were!

Austria’s vice-chancellor had just resigned over what is now known as #ibizagate – just look it up. Finally there was something grave enough even he couldn’t just shrug it off (although he and his party definitely tried and keep trying!)

So, in light of the developments, I spent the night watching Austrian news and reading live tickers about the affair while drinking a bottle of my favourite Austrian wine. (Now that I think of it, I always drink that wine when there’s something political going on in Austria… hmmm…) Rinse and repeat on Sunday and Monday, and i would have done the same today had it not been for several appointments.

As you might guess, I’m a bit preoccupied with Austrian politics at the moment. It has already been decided that we’ll have new elections in September. It can only go uphill from there!

Embarrassment

As you know, I’m pretty busy, and I have not much time for things outside work, so much so that I’m behind on even my daily news. Not owning a TV or smartphone certainly contributes to that, but I’m always saying that if something is  important, the news will come to me because somebody will tell me about it.

And indeed, today, very first thing in my Japanese class, my teacher told me about Shinzo Abe nominating Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m rarely ever speechless, but my jaw dropped on this one. How on earth… Apparently it’s because of the negotiations in Korea – where, I have to state, the Koreans have had an on-off relationship across the border for decades before Trump came along. And apparently, it’s because the American government “asked” the Japanese one for that “favour”.

Somebody is crazy in here, and I’m not entirely sure who it is. First of all: I didn’t know you can ask to be nominated for a Nobel Prize. Probably, since the Nobel Peace Prize is a farce anyway, this one doesn’t matter, but does that work for the Nobel Prizes in Science as well?

Second: How disturbed must somebody be to ask for such a “favour”? Assuming this is true (and Abe does not openly deny it), then is this another move of Trump to outdo Obama?

Third: Another disturbing thing is that now other (right-wing) politicians have come forward and also said they have nominated Trump. Don’t they see that he’s pissing off the rest of the world at the same time? Living in Japan, I can honestly say that what scares me about the Korea crisis is not so much Kim, but the big American brother. I think I mentioned this before somewhere.

It’s unbelievable! My teacher says he is greatly embarrassed by Abe, and he worries that Japan will be seen as the world’s laughing-stock. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it does seem to make the headlines. What is it these days – the world seems to be full with politicians whose only goal is to embarrass themselves and their country (and yes, Austrian politicians do the same, just on a slightly smaller scale).

Pressure

Japan’s societal rules put a lot of pressure on individuals. On women more than on men. The country is still very patriarchal, and male-female equality is not something that comes easily to the guys in charge. One very recent incident is now stirring up the media as well as people in Japan, I’m simply posting a link here, so you can read the story of Yamaguchi Maho yourself.

https://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/113542530.html

Advent Calendar

Endspurt – it’s December again! I’m greatly looking forward to Christmas and New Year, when, hopefully, things will slow down a little, if even just for a few days.

Of course, the best invention to count the days until then is an advent calendar, and my friend has produced yet another nerdy edition. It can be found here:

https://advent.morr.cc/2018

Enjoy!

Checking in

Just a very short post to tell you that I’m still alive…

I’m having a cold and a quite bad cough for about a week now and although it is not let’s-stay-in-bed-for-days-and-suffer serious, I’ve still had to slow down considerably. My health is improving now, but of course, now I have to catch up with all the things I couldn’t do last week… I’ll be posting here again shortly. I hope.

Thanks for staying with me!

Exports

So, I’m home again in Japan, and I have (almost) overcome my jet lag. Having to deal with all the things that accumulated over the last weeks did help with that one. I’m ready to go again!

Back in Austria, a friend of mine asked what I missed about Japan, and I didn’t really have an answer. Mostly because it was just a holiday and my return was already fixed, the question was difficult to answer. Maybe it’s green tea cookies? Japanese put matcha powder into so many things that are not available in Europe at all. Sushi is okay by now, in the bigger cities at least, even though really good sushi places are still rare (try the tuna fish first: If this is good, the rest will be just fine!).

Latella Yuzu-LemonOne thing I could find in Austria which I did not expect was yuzu. Yuzu is a kind of citrus fruit with a very strong smell and distinctive flavour, and all the foreigners I have met love the taste. Yuzu grow only in Japan, Korea, and parts of China, so imagine my surprise when I saw a “Latella” (a whey based drink) with lemon and yuzu! I was slightly disappointed by the taste because the lemon was a bit overpowering, so the yuzu flavour didn’t get out fully. However, it’s a start. And who knows, when I’m back next time, they may even sell the drink in the proper winter season instead as “summer edition”…