Yesterday I continued surfing the net for an hour or two after writing the blog and ended up having a nice discussion with one of the other guests of the institute. A very nice Russian woman by the name of Vera. We talked for probably two hours - auf Englisch - since yours truly really can't carry a conversation in German.
She had explored the institute a bit more thoroughly than I and was able to fill me in on a few things. One among them was the location of the institute's "salon", which I then managed to find today. A television, newspapers, books... Was that a happy sight to see.
There were both books of fiction (Kafka, Hesse, Goethe and co.) and some of the institutes own publications. Wasn't that a nice suprise. I don't really like this system of ordering the books, because it means you are totally dependent on the titles and they don't necessarily tell you much. It's vital that you can leaf through the books to see what they have actually eaten. Of course some of those books would have been in the reading room as well, but that place is so public. I feel too exposed there to enjoy going through the books and I've never been able to concentrate on reading very well if I have to sit at a table. In the salon there are nice comfortable couches and at least today total privacy.
I found a number of books that looked quite promising and managed to read through two articles. I realised that research is sometimes about little details. A certain institution or practice can have different meanings in different settings. Well, I knew that already before, but I realised that it can be considered interesting. To me for instance a court or a method of conflict solution is basically just that, no matter whether we are talking about archaic, pre-modern, modern, alternative or whatever. It solves disputes and basta. When push comes to shove, all the differences and nuances and functions are just details, which don't really interest me. Or they do just from a very specific viewpoint. And yet that is what research is about - my dissy will only have a point if those differences and nuances are the focus; those are the ones that are supposed to make it interesting and relevant. I assume. I hope that it is, because it would explain the "why" of looking at the argumentation and all the other assorted questions of jurisdiction. It may not interest me all that much, but if I know that that is the point, then I can always pretend. I also realised that sometimes people - even big, respectable names - do just state things without explaining them. "The number of cases increased or decreased" and no explanation as to why. Or they just quote people. Yep. Maybe I have too high expectations on what research ought to be.
Well, who really cares. There are more important things in the world. Like television. How I had missed that little bugger. I think it may have been fate that lead me to this wonder of a salon today. Because what was there on MTV today, if not a nice, 90-minute special on that most exhilarating of bands - yes, you guessed it - Rammstein. It was only music videos, but you can bet I watched it. There have to be some priorities in life after all.