Sonntag, Juni 24, 2007


a weekend in lisbon

Portuguese dances. Fado. Folklore.
A Portuguese evening designed for tourists, impressive dancing. Elements that do seem familiar from tap dancing, Hungarian, Alpine or Russian folklore. Funny. A bit less funny – eating in the dark, eating while the performers are on stage. I am already super clumsy when eating, but eating in the dark – not such a good idea for me! I think the shirt I wore Saturday evening can be easily sold as a modern piece of art now, actually, I could be a fleece to be put on the wall. Fancy it? Anyone? You know my number!

Ok, I am sitting in a room in rainy Portugal. Yes! Rainy!
I am listening to speakers that tell many things but neither new nor even presented in an interesting way. I honestly do not have a problem with theoretical debates, sometimes there is way too little time allocated for theory and conceptual discussions. But this here is not theoretical, it is not practical either, it is just terribly boring.

Is it more difficult to dream away whilst making an effort not to fall asleep or is it more difficult to listen whilst making an effort not to fall asleep? This is a relevant question that I kept on asking myself mainly during conferences where I was tempted to fall asleep. Falling asleep is a temptation for many reason, let me list a few common ones: bad light conditions, lack of oxygen, boring or badly presented inputs, frontal teaching instead of interaction, general lack of sleep from previous days, information overload, eye infections, listening to interpretation all the time, melancholy and boredom - and sometimes all of them together.

And somehow I always have another taste then the chair of the session, there is once a contribution that seems interesting, that is worth listening to, that gives food for thought and relates different theories in a relevant ways with each other, but exactly this one is cut by the chair. And the next one, talking about everything and nothing, just informing the audience about common places, this one gets the double speaking time, because… well, no clue why, I guess because he is a friend of the chair of the session, no other logic explanation otherwise! But highly irritating, disrespectful towards the other speakers and absolutely inappropriate for a discussion format where practically all fit around one table!
I also get the feeling that the phrase “rich debate” is just a code for: “almost half of the people present managed to stay awake”. Such interesting questions, so much need for debate, and all ruined by self-centred speakers that do not stick to their time and chairs being incapable to just turn off the endless speakers microphones.

And then there is an additional obstacle for interaction. 80% of the participants speak only French, and when I say only, I do NOT mean mother tongue plus French, no, French only! Half of the participants are French and live in Paris or Strasbourg; two thirds of the speakers were French. There are some from Alsace that do speak a bit of German, but not really enough for a conversation. Well, bless them; they are all over 60, during their school time there was not much quality language teaching.

and just to make sure no one misunderstands, i do like lisbon, a lot!

Hey B-

sorry to use your comments section to find you, but I couldn't find an partner is going to be in vienna from the 6th to the 12th of july, and is looking for cool people to meet and let her know wha'ts what... could you email me at


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