Sunday, July 22, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Another challenge... all credit cards in Denmark have pin numbers. This is similar to the American debit card, but all cards, even credit cards have pin numbers. The problem is that our American credit cards do not have pin numbers, which means we cannot use them at most stores in Denmark. The pin number is supposed to provide additional security and prevent the use of stolen credit cards. No problem. We just used our American debit card to access cash at ATMs and paid for groceries etc. with cash... until our debit card stopped working (on a Friday, of course). As it turns out, our bank, in an effort to protect us from fraudulent use of our debit card, deactivated our debit card when it noticed a number of withdraws in Copenhagen. It was for our security. By the way, I have a debit card for my Danish bank account (that still has no money in it because I don't have my calculator and can't transfer our funds) as well as two Danish credit cards that come with our account, but of course, I can't use them because I don't have a pin number. The pin, apparently, is in the mail.
I realized all this while sitting on the steps of a stairwell in my office building. It was a little after 5 when I decided to go down stairs to check my mail. I knew that I needed my passcard to enter the building after 5, but I didn't know I would need it to operate the elevator or unlock EVERY door in the building. So, I was in the stairwell with just my office key, feeling very secure, and wondering how on earth I was going to get back in my office. The good news is that it only took 35 minutes for a co-worker to hear my pounding and open the door. As it turns out he is very nice and loaned me a book I needed.
On another good note, the bar below us is closed for another night! There is a water leak in our building and they had to cut the water. Now, the bad news is that we didn't have hot water for 48 hours... but we did sleep! Now, we have hot water, but several of our electric outlets don't work (including the fridge) and we can't figure out why (the building hallway lights don't work either). So... a little good... a little not so good... but all is well and secure in Copenhagen.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I have about a five minute walk to the Metro station from our flat, an eight minute ride to my stop, and then another five minute walk to my office. Not a bad commute! And here's what I see when I get to campus:
It's a very sleek, clean and angular campus. It's quite different from Purdue and Southern Illinois University, aesthetically speaking. The facilities are very new and really top-notch. I certainly can't complain. I have a bright office and a brand-new computer.
My colleagues are exceedingly friendly and do very interesting research. The Center's secretary, Pia, has been helping me adjust. She's a funny and spirited woman who laughs easily. Dan Zahavi, the director of the Center, is a well-respected figure. I've been a fan of his philosophical writings for a number of years so it's really a treat to be working with him. There's more than just philosophy happening here, though. The Center has affiliations with the Faculties of Humanities, Theology, and Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, so that perhaps gives a sense of the rich interdisciplinary work that goes on. (In addition to Dan, the two other members of the "scientific board" behind the Center do work in theology and psychiatry, respectively). The Center itself is sequestered away at the top of a building on the edge of campus. It's very quiet. I get the impression that we occupy a pretty privileged position in the University hierarchy in that we're well-funded and essentially get to do what we want, with little outside interference. I quite like that arrangement.
So what sort of work goes on at the Danish National Research Foundation: Center for Subjectivity Research, exactly?I don't have a neat definition of "subjectivity", I'm afraid. It's a term that shows up in all sorts of philosophical discussions but it's rarely defined with any precision. That said, here's a shot at some clarity: "Subjectivity", as I use the term, has to do with the various features of our experiential life as conscious, world-engaged subjects. In other words, it has to do with different aspects of our experience of "self". My own research deals primarily with the nature of consciousness--clearly a central feature of human subjectivity and selfhood. I'm inclined to think that any consideration of consciousness as such has to include questions about embodiment (how bodily structures shape different forms of consciousness), perception (how things in the world present themselves in our experience of them), agency (or how bodily action affects the content of conscious states), intersubjectivity (how we relate to and understand other conscious subjects), and lots of other things like reflection, emotion, affectivity, preconscious drives, instincts, forms of empathy, language-use, etc. In other words, "subjectivity" seems to encompass the entire range of different types of conscious experience that, individually and collectively, make up our sense of being a "self". But I don't confine myself to abstract philosophical discussion. I try to make things a bit more concrete by drawing upon empirical research taken from various cognitive sciences including neuroscience, cognitive and developmental psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, and things of that sort. Additionally, I tend to draw heavily upon theories of mind found in Eastern philosophy, including Hinduism, Buddhism and Daoism. To sum up: my research is an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural investigation into the relationship between mind and world. Not that complicated, really...
Since I'm starting to bore myself, I'll end on an egocentric note by posting a random shot of me standing on a bridge in a lovely park near our flat.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
In my last blog we were in Denver celebrating the wedding of my friends Jason and Amber. From Denver, Joel and I flew to Austin for two very busy days of packing, last minute errands, and late night/early morning phone calls to Denmark (because of the time difference we had to call after 2am). We were still waiting for our visas to arrive so every night we stayed up until about 4 or 5 trying to track down our paperwork. In the end, it worked out – they sent an email to the Danish Consulate in New York City and had them finish the paperwork. Fortuitously, we were stopping in New York City to say good-bye to my sister, brother, and cousin before we left the country. Our time in Austin was hurried, and we left, of course, with a few loose ends, but my parents have been nice enough to take care of them for us – including selling our car! It was very hard to say good-bye to my parents, and yes, our dogs. It was very sad and stressful – we had a few last minute “weight” issues with the luggage and an unexpected flight schedule change, but we made it to New York City.
We had a great time in New York City. We stayed with my brother and my sister drove in from New Jersey as well. It was great to be together – just the kids in the City! Several of my brother’s friends live in his building – including Ronnie’s girlfriend Lori -- and we had a great time meeting them. They are all actors/dancers/musicians and they are a riot! As a big sister it was really nice to see my brother and sister doing so well. My brother and Lori’s apartment is beautiful – they have done a lot of work and it shows. The apartment is very comfortable and feels like home. Ronnie is very busy auditioning and he has had numerous callbacks. He also built a recording studio in his bedroom and does recordings for others; his new Apple computer will allow him to do even more sophisticated recordings. Lori is busy performing in Hair Spray. I am sorry we didn’t get to see Rochelle’s apartment again – I know she’s added several new pieces of furniture and done a lot to decorate the place.
We arrived in New York City late Thursday night and we out running our errands early Friday morning. Our first errand: the Danish Consulate to pick up our visas. Everything went very smoothly (it was almost too easy!) and after a few more errands (to the bank etc.) we were able to enjoy Friday afternoon. We stopped by my cousin Michelle’s apartment and played with her dog Pip. She has a great place just off Times Square. Joel and I also got haircuts – FINALLY! I got one of the best haircuts in my life and Joel got one of the worst! Everyone agreed – it was pretty bad. Ronnie worked on it a bit later that night, which helped. Thankfully it has grown out a bit and actually now looks really nice. Joel looked great for his first day of work!
After a weekend of fun we left NYC for England. I was to present at the Gender, Work, and Organization Conference at Keele University. We arrived with very little hassle and even found a place to store our extra luggage at the Manchester Airport (no hauling all our heavy luggage on the trains!). Thankfully I packed everything we would need for England in one small carryon bag -- I didn’t want to take any chances with our luggage being lost. And, it was good I did – one of our bags went to Paris instead of England. It took them so long to find it they just kept it at the airport for us to pick up when we left for Copenhagen. It actually worked out quite well for us!
We FINALLY arrived in Copenhagen on Friday, June 29th. It was a cloudy and chilly afternoon, but we were here and that was the important thing. Our Copenhagen experience will be in the next blog…
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