You Are Your Environment. Sometimes.

When I was growing up (in America) I was told that life and all it entails would be determined by environment. That included not just the land and trees and waters and smog but also each and every person that I would encounter. As with any other society or country, the environment I was forced to grow up in was a disarray of hierarchical microcosms, pyramid structures and endless peer groups and clicks. Before having much guidance or knowledge, I went about daily life never really knowing what the hell was going on. After all these years of unwilling expatriation, I’m sure growing up in Germany wouldn’t have been much different.

It’s ironic that today “environment” has become more of a crutch on which most individuals make a political stand. More than ever before, and thanks to corporatism and compulsive behavior replacing labor/work, the merit of having achieved something as an individual has become null & void. Individuals have no environment. And so go the Americanisms: you are a/the product of (your) environment, you are what you eat, take care in the company you keep, etc., etc.

Naturally, very few people are successful at self-determining their environment and doing it in a way that isn’t obvious. Even those with big and fancy cars, nice houses and neat-o-torpedo consumables are so unaware of where exactly they are in this/their environment that it is impossible to notice that everything around them is going to hell in a hand basket. Buying stuff is the new ideology. Blind consumerism is, in fact, a new deity – and it conveniently includes codified religion that controls walk-on-the-earth politics. To add to the flame, blind consumerism is the messianic monarchy with the perfect family full of beautiful princes and princesses – and no inbreeding. Ain’t that neat.

Seriously – Part 1.

With that in mind, all hope is not lost. There are still a few trying to find their own way – with or without environments. In fact, I hope I am one of them. (Stop laughing!) And I’m almost sure that Peter Hacks was one of them. Now that I’ve read a few more pages of his work, and even though he’s dead, it’s kind of a good feeling to know that “environment” transcends individual life and there are examples of those who made it beyond all of the nothingness that rules everything today. I mean, come on, what is “environment”?

We are all so sympathetic to the likes of Al Gore and Jurgen (kiss my ass) Trittin and any other high-brow jerk-off that thinks the problems in our air, land and water are because of the hydro-carbons we burn and hence, require governmental (Messianic?) intervention? I say/scream: bullshit. Environment is a state of mind, not a place of being. But I could be way off track.

Seriously – Part 2.

With that nonsense in mind, I will continue reading Hacks and asking the same question over and over and over: why the hell did he go to the GDR? What, up to that point in his life, put “communism” on such an ideological pedestal? Was it uncle Adolf, Brother Mussolini, Genghis Khan, Snow-frickin’-White, that drove him to the land of relinquished individuality and zero environment?

Sure, the beginning of the 20th century must have been a nightmare for those who thought philosophically about anything. But to think that one man (Marx?) could actually establish a framework that would make societies function better… Well, I guess I have the advantage of time AND the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution.

Whether you call it Stalinism, Marxism, Maoism, or what-ever-ism, time has proven why it all has failed miserably – and will continue to fail. (Please, no remarks about China.) When everyone finally woke up to what was happening in the late 80s, early 90s – including Peter Hacks? – there were two things that were missing: belief (in something) and environment. For all it’s failures, so-called capitalism enables belief in almost anything. And now that “environment” as been defined anew… Well, you can buy/politicize something to fix that. (Ain’t that right, Al Gore and Jurgin – let’s rid the world of cans – Trittin?)

Seriously – Last Part.

But I’m not here to argue political ideals. I’m here to state vaguely and without much empirical evidence that even though Hacks obviously made the wrong decision to give up individuality for the collective, it doesn’t matter because he has long since transcended being just another button in/on the machine. He seems to me to be one of the few that was able to determine his own environment. And I’m diggin’ that.

I just finished reading his “Dramolette” (it’s something like a novella but for the stage) Phraates. Did Hacks have delusions of Shakespearean grandeur, or what? If he did, I think that’s cool. At the least, by reading this little play, I learned something about one of the kings of Parthien – which prior to reading this I didn’t even know existed. The play even reminded me of the wackiness of Shakespeare’s Troilius and Cressida and, maybe even a bit of King Lear. Obviously, dealing with his “environment” as best he could, Hacks was able to emulate one of the greatest writers in history. If this keeps up, I’m gonna burn my collection of Brecht paperbacks.

Oh. Below is a cute little poem by Hacks with Tommi translation. I really dig short poems. Short poems have been been a slight obsession of mine ever since those tyrannical professors made me explain The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams.

Er müht sich Jahre, bis er überhaupt
Verstanden wird. Und wann wird ihm geglaubt?

His efforts take years, until he’s actually
Understood. And when is he believed?

Rant on you lovers of the communist,


PS Please don’t send me any money for the above translation otherwise the publisher might see to my deportation on the grounds of mis-using German.