There are two things that I’ve grown afraid of since living in Europe/Germany. One of those things is Beamtentum. It’s more of a concept and, perhaps, a way of life then it is just a word. It translates to something like authoritarianism in the form of officialdom. I guess, in a way, it’s like civil-servant-hood – but with a touch of royalty. Without Beamtentum there would be no Germany, certainly there would be no Bratwurst or Roasted Chickens at Oktoberfest. Beyond that, Beamtentum is comparable to communism and so Germans uniquely cloak it under a veil of what they call “Social Market Economics”. With that in mind, The Federal Republic of Germany is the last bastion of communism in the West. And you can quote me on that.
The second thing that scares me is cynicism – that is: popular cynicism. In other words, Europe is full of a newly defined cynicism that panders to pop culture. The French have it and the British have it, too. But the difference to the Germans having it is that the other two are actually comical with it. That is, their cynicism is believable because it can be easily connected to satire or irony or sarcasm. Those are tough things to bring across in the orderly German language. It all coincides perfectly with the fact that Germans are not funny people.
To try to be a bit more clear, here a few definitions of cynicism:
1) Cynicism originally comprised the various philosophies of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, founded by Antisthenes in about the 4th century BC. The Cynics rejected all conventions, whether of religion, manners, housing, dress, or decency, advocating the pursuit of virtue in a simple and non-materialistic lifestyle.
2) In pop culture, the word cynicism generally describes the opinions of those who see self-interest as the primary motive of human behaviour, and who disincline to rely upon sincerity, human virtue, or altruism as motivations.
3) On the other hand, the Oxford English Dictionary suggests as the usual modern definition (per cynic): showing “a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions” and a tendency “to express this by sneers and sarcasms”.
(Source of all the above: Wikipedia.)
To me a REAL Cynic is someone that thinks and by doing so “deconstructs”. The original Cynics sought answers through the craft of dialogue and debate. The point to their endeavours was never to simply find right or wrong. Instead it was about the process. Of course, today in this burgeoning new authoritarian world that so many people subject themselves to in the name of “careers” and/or “family”, this process is long gone. Although we all do things like talk a lot (and some of us write too much), what is said equates to nothing more than the passing of time. (I write so much because I like the sound of my fingers dancing on a keyboard.)
But is the idea left to us from Cynics really gone? In fact, I’ll go as far as to claim that real Cynics are once again among us – but they are not what you might think. Much of what can or should be deconstructed in order to find answers are very comical – but not in the conventional “comedic” sense. For example, the late Bill Hicks was a great Cynic and if you listen to any of his stand-up (look him up on YouTube!) you might agree. Another might be Robin Williams. Moving beyond America, for you international folk out there, how about the late, great Peter Sellers? To me, one of the greatest cynics of all time was Stanley Kubrik. Am I the only one to have understood the Devine-like comedy AND Masonic message that was his movie 2001: A Space Odyssey? And let me not even get into talking about Dr. Strangelove.
There are, of course, many other examples of REAL Cynics among us, and thus far in my reading of him, I’m starting to think that Peter Hacks might also be one of them. Who knows, eventually he might just make my international list of great Cynics. On the other hand …on the other very sad hand, there is another side to this idea of being a cynic (accentuate the word not being capitalized, please).
The motivation to address the issues of cynicism and Beamtentum (i.e. West German Communism) derives in part from reading Peter Hacks. After reading Hacks’ so-called “classic” works, I thought it time to expand my horizons and try to read something other than a play. Of course, he’s written a huge body of work. Even though I plan on reading a lot of it I wasn’t sure where to turn. So, in my search to find something new and interesting, I started asking around.
Unfortunately, it took almost two weeks and visiting various books stores before I could find someone that even knew Mr. Hacks. But I did find someone, and I think I got lucky. “Oh, yeah, Peter Hacks,” he said. “He’s that religiously Marxist guy.” Oh, I thought, that’s an interesting way to put it. He said that he hadn’t read much of his work but that he recalled the controversy that ensued after The Wall fell and Hacks basically rejected the idea that it was the fault of “communism” that caused it. Eventually this guy recommended the anecdotal story “DieDinge in Buta” (The Thing s in Buta). This particular printing of the text is combined with the beautiful drawings of Rudi Hurzlmeier. It’s a kind of picture book, albeit for adults. Now, after reading this very short story, on the last page of the book are blurbs of the author and the artist. Since I am already well informed regarding the author, I went straight to the artist. And this is where the bad daydreams of Beamtentum and cynicism compelled me to rant a bit.
You see, I think I might be starting to idolize Hacks. That’s right. A guy like me, as far away from anything Marxist as you’ll ever get, is starting to choke-up when I read his work. I mean, I really like the way this guy writes and, with the way things are going in the West right now, it’s kind of neat to be reading someone that is basically undiscovered and whose work can be applied to the newly forming authoritarianism that will soon become our world – post Stalinist/Marxist communism and post Sept. 11. I mean, get this. Here is a question Peter Hacks asked of someone (as printed in one of his published letter collections):
“Where is the Politburo in Washington, D.C?”
What a fuckin’ great question! I’m not sure but I think the question was asked close to Hacks’ death – which means he could have asked it after Sept. 11, 2001, which in turn makes the question significant. Of course, if he asked the question before nine-eleven then the question moves from significance to clairvoyance.
OK, I’m starting to think that Hacks is a cynical genius in the classic sense, you know, as defined by 1. In a political sense he’s a bit of a turd blossom. And because I perceive him through such contradictory glasses, I want to somehow, at least in my own mind, protect him. I want to protect him because of what happened after reading “Die Dinge in Buta”. On the back cover of the book there is a simple blurb on the artist Rudi Hurzlmeier, who drew the pictures in the book. And guess who Rudi works for? Oh boy. Start the drum roll. He works for Titanic, the infamous German “satirical” magazine.
The first thing I thought: Oh, shit! Maybe my German isn’t good enough. Maybe because I miss this verb here or that noun there or because I almost suffocate while trying to read long-winded German sentences without breathing (which interferes with my ability to concentrate), I don’t really understand Peter Hacks. But if a guy who works for a magazine like Titanic understands him…? I know, I’m over doing it. But like I said at the beginning of this rant: there are some things about Germany that scare the beejeebees out of me.
What I do understand is that Titanic is NOT a “satirical” magazine. Indeed, it is a great example of pop-culture cynicism gone amok, as defined by 2 or 3 above. Although it’s been quite a few years since I purchased a copy, the one thing I remember about the magazine is that it is atypically West German – that is: a lot of talk and no action. I mean, it’s quite popular and the voice it uses must speak for such populism. Or?
Seriously, after living in Germany all these years, I have met a lot of big mouths that, if required, couldn’t find their way out of paper bag – unless the United States instructed them on how to do so. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against things being critical – especially of politics or society – which a magazine like Titanic is. But for how long can making fun at the personal expense of others be funny? Obviously, a lot of Germans love this magazine. But you also have to keep in mind that idiots like Oliver Pocher are also very popular in this country. Although I’m no a fan of anything G.W. Bush or of American neo-con politics, there is a simple way of looking at life that comes out of conservative America and it goes like this: if you can talk it you should be able to walk it. For whatever sad reason Germans just love shitting on people just for the sake of doing it. Maybe that’s why they created Schadenfreude. Maybe that’s why there are no Cynics in this country – nor is Titanic JUST a satirical magazine.
So… have I made a mistake about Peter Hacks? Should I even like him? Should I stop reading him? I certainly gave up reading Titanic once I learned that it had nothing to do with satire but more to do with destructive personal attacks and taking advantage of something or someone just because you can. Also reason to give up on German TV hosts that are incorrectly called “comedians” – but that’s another rant.
I came to this country with blind hopes, which is obviously a mistake that I have to deal with. Beyond that, whenever you move somewhere else it takes a long time before you actually see beyond that grass that you thought could be greener. I’ve been through a lot with Germany since early 1989. A lot of stuff has been positive but most of it has been VERY negative. Like the sour-puss faces and bad attitudes, or living amongst a people that are completely incapable of thinking and acting individually. And what about all the negativity and complaining that is the German national past-time? It seems to all come together for me while reading Peter Hacks and being reminded of the disgusting addiction to cynicism and Beamtentum – by a sinking ship! If anyone should be a disgusting and destructive cynic – it should be me!
Ironically there is hope for Germans. And that hope might be in the form of Peter Hacks. But in order for that to happen it must be prevented that Hacks’ work fall into the wrong hands. Religious Marxist or not, Hacks seems to know all about the deal that we now face. That is, he was well versed in the dealings of authoritarian government. At the least, it is a major theme in the works of his I’ve read thus far. And while the authoritarian part of Marxism is being adopted by the West right now, it’s important that a writer like Hacks does not fall into the hands of a bunch of big-mouth, do-nothing smart-asses – who get a kick out of sinking ships.
But what do I know? I probably haven’t understood a word of what I’ve read. And all these years of living in Europe – the Disneyland for perverted adults – has not played well on my sanity. But I did like the dirty pictures by Rudi Hurzlmeier. If only he’d work for a different magazine….
Now I’m off to read “Numa” and “Die Fische”.
May all Germans with a job and a nice income live long and prosper under the veil of their Beamtentum!
Who was Seneca? My over educated girlfriend kind of remembered him. I called another Abiturient and he could only provide a vague explanation of who the man was. Then I went to my elderly German neighbor who lives above me and asked if he knew who Seneca was. He stared at me for a long, dull moment. Waiting for an answer, I listened to the Altbau house crack and creak as I stood in his doorway; a bird whistled something outside the stairwell window and my dog, Samuel Beckett, was barking that I return home to feed him. Finally my neighbor broke down and said:
“Yeah, I know who he is. Give me some of that rum that you gave me the last time you wanted to know something and I’ll tell you more.”
“I’m writing this pseudo-essay about Seneca’s Tod (Seneca’s Death) by Peter Hacks. It’s a three act play,” I explained to my aging neighbor.
“Peter … who?”
“Peter Hacks. Never heard of him?”
I jogged down the stairs and grabbed a bottle of rum and my dog who was chewing on a Steiff zebra that we named Godot and went back to my neighbor. Sitting on his couch in the living room my neighbor showed-off his ambidextrous abilities. With one hand he poured the rum into two glasses, with the other hand he petted Beckett. I starred at the pictures of his girlfriend and family on the wall. He’d been with the same woman without marrying for over forty years. Between all the black & white pictures of his true love were the shots of his father in Wehrmacht uniforms, a few shots of his dead dog “Smiley” and his mother.
My neighbor filled me in on all he knew about Seneca and by three 3 pm I was wasted and my neighbor was just getting started.
“Do you want to know more about Stoicism,” my neighbor asked.
“Maybe,” I said. “Is there anything exciting about Stoicism?”
“Exciting?” he said.
Disappointed and wobbling I grabbed Samuel Beckett and headed back to my apartment. Then I searched through some of my old papers, I mean really old papers, and found “The Pumpkinification of Claudius.” Yeah, I thought. I totally forgot about that. Seneca wasn’t just a boring, opportunistic dip from two thousand years ago. He was actually a pretty funny guy. Alone the title: The Pumpkinification of Claudius. Isn’t that hilarious…
After reading Senecas Tod (Seneca’s Death) by Peter Hacks there was only one thing I wanted to know about the play. How accurate was Hacks regarding the events portrayed? In certain literary circles it seems like a sport to interpret the life and death of the stoic philosopher Seneca. But was Hacks a sports writer? My drink-like-a-fish neighbor didn’t offer much more than I already knew about Seneca. But I liked to go to him about historical questions and he was great source for getting rid of the booze that I have grown scared to drink. He is the type of guy that knows a great deal about history and things – but, he isn’t, like most other Germans, over-educated. That is, he doesn’t have an Abitur, he’s just well read. Unfortunately, the only thing my neighbor helped me with this time was to acquire yet another headache.
Call me a stickler for things redundant. After reading Ein Gespräch im Hause Stein…, Adam & Eve, Prexaspes, I was starting to feel what we call in America “gun-shy” about reading another Hacks play. I thought: I need a break from this communist krapp. Didn’t this guy write anything other than propaganda? Doesn’t he have expanded horizons or something? I also thought that reading another play by Hacks might awaken (anti) communist nightmares embedded in my subconscious. Like when I was in seventh grade at John Hancock Middle School. Even today when a certain bell rings I get down on the floor, put my head under a desk and pray that if the Russkies arrive they don’t torture me into communist submission.
Putting the communist stuff aside, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post(s), Hacks is a great writer, but there seems to be an issue (for me) regarding his choice of subject(s). With this play I feel more comfortable than ever asking the question: As a twentieth century “classic” writer can Hacks write with any historical accuracy? The thing is, if he doesn’t write accurately, that is, with a bit of concern regarding historical fact, then, as a courtesy, he should at least let us know that what he’s writing is something attributable to… I don’t know… free interpretation?
Hacks’ Seneca is a strange play, indeed. I can’t figure out exactly what this play is supposed to be about. Is it a play about death? Is it a play about a philosopher and his reasoning of death? Is it about Hacks proving how well he can write? Is it about a middle-class, bourgeois Klugscheißer (smart-ass) Greco-Roman whose luck has run out? I don’t know.
Although it doesn’t have it in the subtitle, I think this play is the best example yet of one of Hacks’ classic plays being a comedy. I’m starting to wonder if the publisher/printer of this collection of plays I have made a mistake by subtitling Adam & Eve a comedy. I didn’t think that was a comedy, at all. Of course, this could also be Hacks’ style. I mean, funny dialog doesn’t make a play a comedy. Or? Although I found Seneca to be as difficult to read as Prexaspes (damn German classic rhyme!) it was less difficult to follow but at least there are puns on philosophy throughout.
There is something missing for me in this play. Like some of the intrigue and frivolity of Seneca’s life. Here’s a little of what I know about Seneca. He was probably one of the best examples ever of a philosopher who was a pig-headed, spoiled rotten, failed political opportunist. He was nothing more than a born in the right place, over-educated, Klugscheißer, and if it weren’t for his rhetorical abilities he’d be an honest-to-goodness miracle simply because of how long he was able to talk his way out of death. And Peter Hacks almost captures that in this play. Almost!
(Keep in mind: the following translated text is what will be known as Tommi-translation. In other words, take it with a grain of salt.)
Seneca: So it is ordered. I want the evening cheerful. Bet it works? Two guests, no more, each guest desired.
Nikodrom (Seneca’s chamberlain): It is not two guests, it’s three and one is undesirable.
Seneca: Who is the third you mean?
Seneca: With that one the wise man is never in touch. He may search where he’s welcome but not with me.
Nikodrom: And when he arrives uninvited?
Seneca: I go.
I don’t know what it is. My only guess is that sometimes authors, by rewriting stuff, forget things. Either that or in order to make something theatrical they have to leave a lot of the good stuff out. In this play Hacks leaves out a lot of the really good stuff regarding Seneca. Sure, the play is beautifully written but… Why not have great writing AND a great story? (I’m trying to stay away from blaming communism here. That’s right: the communists don’t want Hacks writing the real story behind Seneca’s Death.)
For example, Seneca had his first run-in with a death sentence during the reign of Caligula. And do you know how he got out of that? Get this! He weaseled his way out of death by faking an illness. Caligula thought he was going to die anyway. Talk about a Klugscheißer! And it doesn’t stop there. If Seneca was such a smart guy – you know, with being a “philosopher” and all that – then I’m sure he was able to talk his way out of Nero thinking he partook in the Pisonian conspiracy? Actually, do we really know for a fact that that’s why Nero condemned Seneca to death?
Another bit of juice that is missing from Hacks’ free interpretation of Seneca is that Seneca was Nero’s teacher when Nero was young. Wouldn’t there have been some kind of personal connect that Nero had to Seneca? There are numerous accounts of Seneca politically saving-face for Nero throughout his reign. Oh, and what about the volunteering of Seneca’s wife to join her husband in death? Nero nipped that idea in the bud. Why?
So what is the real reason Seneca died the way he did? Here’s where Hacks seems to get the story right. Based on historical facts, Seneca was ordered by Nero but failed at killing himself by simply slicing open his veins. He was too old and his blood didn’t flow. So he put himself in a hot vat of water thinking that would help the blood flow. The reality is a hot bath does the opposite. Seneca eventually died after a long and horrible, asphyxiating death. Yet Hacks has Seneca battle rhetorically with his publisher regarding the fees of his new book. And that’s pretty comedic! I guess.
OK. Hacks is a cynic. And why not be a cynic when you are restricted in what you can and cannot write. Of course, if I had the opportunity I’d be a cynic about Seneca, as well. The guy was most likely nothing more than a jerk. In fact, when I was first reading about him it was at the time when Joschka Fischer’s star was rising on the German political horizon. Of course I didn’t compare the two as philosophers; instead I compared them as opportunists. Yes. May opportunity blossom for all of us! (Btw, at the time I was also comparing Fischer to Diogenes who prayed to dog shit and lived in a bucket.)
Obviously my expectations were high when I started reading this play. I was hoping to learn something new about Seneca. Ironically, the most interesting character in this play was the “Maurer” (a mason or bricklayer). He only has a few lines of text in each scene, yet I couldn’t help but focus on him. Throughout the play this character confronts, intellectually, a “philosopher” and he does so while pushing a wheelbarrow, either empty or full, right through the scenery and/or Seneca’s living room. The metaphor behind this is obvious. As the Maurer constantly interrupts, Seneca asks why he doesn’t go around the house. The Maurer uses a kind of working man’s logic to argue with Seneca that such a thing wouldn’t be logical. I thought that was hilarious. But this isn’t a comedy, right? It’s just a drama about a guy who kills himself in a tub. I guess.
In closing (this pseudo-essay) and for those interested, here’s my theory of why Seneca had to die. This is part of the plot-premise I wanted to use when I wanted to write a play about Seneca so many years ago. Btw, I was highly motivated by “The Pumpkinification of Claudius”.
Seneca was sentenced to death because of Christianity. It was Christianity that would put the fire under Nero’s belt and make him turn against his teacher. Some even believe that Seneca corresponded with St. Paul. But I like the idea that Seneca was actually converted by St. Paul. At the least, the opportunistic “stoicism” practiced by Seneca certainly fits well with the materialist values of Christianity. On top of that, if Paul did get to Seneca then Seneca, knowing what he knew about Nero, might have believed he was living under the rule of the anti-Christ, which many early Christian scholars believed was Nero.
PS Keep in mind that if anyone steels my premise above and writes a play using it, VAT publishing is going to come and break your legs with a baseball bat. ;-)
Mr. Hacks has a knack for taking me waaaaay back. In the last play of his that I read he took me back to a time that I’d rather forget, and although I was a bit critical of it, I enjoyed reading “Adam and Eve”. But what about Hacks’ ability to make me think of things more directly connected to my/our past? Does this mean that I’m actually starting to like him? Could I like someone that so obviously represented something that I also despise? Or, could this all be a puberty-like love/hate fest? There are moments where I’m pulling my hair (I don’t even have any) out regarding Hacks – despite his political stance. I keep thinking: is he a great writer on the one hand or a mediocre writer who makes bad subject matter choices on the other hand?
I get all these opposing/contradictory thoughts while reading Hacks. I’m sure to a large extent it has to do with my prejudices. I’m especially prejudice against understanding the origin of man. What an unworthy subject – yet Hacks tickled my fancy with Adam and Eve. But then again, Hacks wasn’t (quite) writing about the origin of man. Or?
Based on the last two plays I’ve read, I’m sure Hacks would disagree with almost everything I say. No, he would go further than a simple disagreement. He would probably say that the origin of man is complex and full of mystery and waiting to be tamed – just like man. If I said to Hacks that creation is presupposed by man’s demise, would he even bat an eyelash? Probably not. He would turn away and mumble something condescending as only a Prussian can and then go about his business of writing something where he skillfully hides (his) ideology.
With that in mind, and since I’m not a fan of ideology, I suppose I should say something about the origin of man – simply because Hacks makes me think. I guess. (Here’s the advantage of being an independent, freelance writer.)
Why do some people still think that evolution has something to do with the origin of man? Why not change gears a bit and move beyond what we THINK we KNOW? Has there ever been a paradigm change in humanity since, I don’t know, since some whacked-out tyrant started thinking about what’s best for those who don’t think? I guess, what I’m getting at is, man should finally move beyond being reactionary dunces and try to be something that is a step ahead of the earthly animal kingdom’s most successful predator. And he should do so with the utmost openness and transparency. (So much for Tommi pseudo ideology!)
And it doesn’t stop there. Hacks makes me think of more. Like… how about a paradigm shift regarding human behavior that would require man to be liable for his/her doings? Such a happening would require an awakening of consciousness regarding the ills that surround everything. Right? If the smartest, the richest, the luckiest of society are unable to see through their/our own egocentric ways what’s left for the rest of us? That is, what’s left for those of us who cannot afford our egos?
I’ll tell you what’s left. Fun. Entertainment. Show reels. Naked breasts. Technology. The willingness to subject ones self to the whims of social and political systems that consistently perform contrary to the best interests of … man. Etc., etc.
So why, in the creative thunderstorm that is real/true writing – which Peter Hacks absolutely possesses – would he regurgitate what’s already been done? The GDR didn’t ban all of Shakespeare, did it? And what about other Euro classics from Büchner to Schiller, from Voltaire to Moliere? Was there some personal vendetta Hacks had to prove that he could write with the best of them? I don’t think so. I think… Mr. Hacks saw a niche where he could cheat his way into spreading the/his message.
The thing I’m really starting to like about Peter Hacks is that, after only reading a few of his plays, I feel confident that my presumption, before even having read any of his work – just knowing/hearing about who/what he was – was correct. I could/can see through his facade based on media driven hearsay. Even if he goes down in history as only an interesting (pseudo)communist writer, at the least he deserves to be accredited as one of the greatest propagandists that ever put ideology to paper.
On the one hand, Peter Hacks writes in a kind of classic style that reminds me of other classics. Then, on the other hand, right in the middle of a scene, he throws in all these words and phrases that don’t quite fit that classic style (more on that in a sec) – or they don’t fit into the time that this play is taking place. Talk about being thrown for the proverbial loop. Remember, I’m a failed playwright. If there’s anything that I possess as a failure, it is the ability to see through the intentions of others. Just because one is a failure doesn’t mean that one doesn’t have the same experience as the winners. In fact, failure enables one to see quite a bit further and with much more focus regarding what “winning” is about. Or?
Reading Hacks is not helped by my knowledge of z’ Germans. Hacks, for one, was a Prussian. For those unaware, it was the Prussians that created/enabled the German obsession with Ordnung – a burden that Germans will probably never be rid of. It was the Prussians that enabled/created the/a military the world admired – at least up to the Wiemar experiment. And it was the Prussians that created the sour-puss faces that almost all Germans today wear as they walk down the streets of luxury-misery-ville which is lined with too many state subsidized company cars, high life-style expectations and too much paid vacation. I guess, in a strange kind of way, it is also the legacy of the Prussians that keep unoriginal German industry in business and the third (fourth?) largest economy in the world blind to the realities of what Globalization is really about.
I suppose I should stop reading Hacks. I seem to know what each play is about even before I finish the first act. Yet something motivates me to keep on reading. Perhaps it has more to do with my obsession of hating communists and communism – because ultimately that seems to be where Hacks takes me. (Yes. He takes me to the Hate. And I use the word “hate” rather loosely. Hate should be used for flesh hungry tigers or sharks that try to eat you. Tame and weakly communist don’t quite deserve the word hate. In fact, they deserve as little attention as possible. Still, I apologize for not finding the right word(s).)
What’s becoming more and more obvious about Hacks is that he might have been the former East Germany’s greatest propagandist writer. If Soviet communism would have made it and if it would have had some form of industrialized advertising (like the west currently has), then I’m sure Hacks would have gone down in (that) history as something like a god. In fact, he might have been the entire Soviet block’s greatest propagandist. When I recently heard on the German news about the success of the “Links” party in the West I didn’t cringe like I usually do. Instead I laughed and felt Hacks turning over in his grave. At the same time I was right in the middle of reading Prexaspes, a classic play written in the 20th century that could easily be compared to works from the 15th, 16th or 17th century, but with a slight and heavy twist of all things idealistic.
Yes. A play set in a comfortable time prior to Jesus but with enough connect to justify it as being more than a mystically driven copy of a Greek or renaissance drama. The justifying connect? The Order of The Magi. You remember the Magi, don’t you? Those whacked-out dudes who traveled only by night in search of the one born under a certain star that would lead mankind out of tyranny? In fact, the Magi are so important to our history that it’s no wonder in a world that strives for ever higher forms of intellectual and industrial superficiality that we’ve taken what we are told about them for granted. Or at least we’ve forgotten about them beyond their slight mention in biblical text. I mean, come on, do you really believe that there were only three of them that visited/sought-out the Christ child?
Hacks has the Magi rule Persia in his play. It’s around 522 before the birth of Jesus. There is a faction of Persia that wants to overthrow the Magi. The faction wants to replace the Magi with something more… Well, I’ll just go ahead and say it. The faction wants to replace the Magi (capitalism) with the/a collective (communism). Of course, Hacks doesn’t write that specifically. And, thank goodness, ultimately, at the end of the play, those fucking commies fail. But if you read the text closely, if you don’t pay attention to the drops of Gin or Vodka falling on your chin as you read it, you will see as I did that Hacks pulls out another trick from his bag of ideological- expression. Ironically, in this play, which I think was written before 1970, his ideology doesn’t win. In fact, it clearly loses and I wonder if the timing of this play has anything to do with the “election” of Eric Honecker. This play could be Hacks admitting that, no matter what, when it comes to things idealistic, there is only failure.
The plot of the play Prexaspes is atypical Shakespearean or Greek: kings/rulers maintaining their power via the weaving of family/friend intrigue. Hacks’ classic style of writing is so convincing that at times I even thought about how much I disliked having to read King Lear over a single weekend and then producing a ten thousand word review for Eng 400 before Monday afternoon. You see, that’s another way that hacks takes me waaaay back. At least I don’t HAVE to produce 10k words on this play.
As mentioned above, there was something else that caught my well-trained eye while reading this text. Out of nowhere, suddenly, either right in the middle of a classically written speech or other stimulating dialog, Hacks uses terminology that didn’t quite fit into the time in which this play takes place. But who am I to judge? Hacks is a “writer” and so he writes. Right? But do the examples below really fit into 522 B.C?
1)“Volk von Persien, in diesem Augenblick, da du ohne König bist, bist du selbst König.” (People of Persia, at this moment when you are without a king, you are your own king.)
2)“Vertrauen des Pöbels verwandeln wir unsere Schwäche in Stärke.” (Trust from (underclasses) changes our weaknesses to our strengths.)
3)“Genossenschaftsfelder.” (The fields, as in farming, that are worked by “comrades”.)
Examples like the above are all over this play – and yet one must constantly remember that it takes place prior to Jesus Christ – who was/could have been the first communist. Right? If such writing doesn’t ring of Soviet propaganda… I don’t know what does? I suppose to make it more obvious, Hacks could have put some directions at the beginning of the play besides the minimalist and/or obligatory time setting of when it takes place. He could have put stage and costume direction that included black & white imagery of a hammer and sickle or farmers standing above perfectly manicured lands producing mega tons of grain. My only question is: what would/could Hacks really write if he weren’t obliged to submit his creative talents to a predestined failed ideology?
As brilliant as he writes, in my mind, Peter Hacks is a failed writer. And that is why I will continue to read him. I am beginning to adore him for exactly such failure. I’m not afraid to admit that I adore failure. The world we are forced to live in certainly can use more of it. I’m not talking about the status quo fail-upwards that is rewarded so graciously these days in the form of career or inheritance. Nor am I referring to the compulsive labor force that labels what it does “work”. No. I’m talking about the honest-to-goodness failure from which Man has never been able to rise above and is perpetuated simply because it is more profitable.
I am able to identify with Peter Hacks at this level of failure. And let me reiterate: it’s not his writing, per se, that is a failure. It is his choice of subject matter that is a failure. Obviously, today, we can look back at the results of Marx and Stalin and judge it all. I cannot help but feel that as a writer, as an artist – someone who by the merit of “work” was/is different than the norm – that Hacks should have seen and accepted the coming of the end. But then again maybe he did see it coming – and yet he still wrote on in the affirmative, he stayed in that krapp hole of nothingness known as the GDR, and he wrote for and about the ideology that was its/his substance. I kind of admire that. It’s as though I’ve discovered a new tangent in the/my world of failure.
I suppose for some – you know, like Gregor Gysi, Lafontaine, most of those tree hugging suckers known as The Greens – that what I’m trying to say here about the Soviet’s greatest propagandist is that there is no hiding failure. You can publish “success” just about anywhere and get away with it. As the west is currently doing. But real failure…? You have to create huge amounts of fiction around failure to make it last. And Das Volk loves it. You have to shinny it up and stick fancy car labels on it or make it all seem digitally virtual. At the least, like his beliefs or not, the world needs more of Peter Hacks.
Continuing on the failure theme and also allowing a bit of writing indulgence on my part, I’d like to say a few more things about my beloved topic. The thing that contradicts me with Hacks is how I embrace failure. Obviously Hacks was unable to accept his (ideological) failure. I even read in an article that Hacks thought that “force” should have been used to stop the uproar that lead to the fall of the Berlin wall. Is that just the craziest thing you’ve ever heard? Why would anyone in their right mind wish harm to others. I’ll go even further with that thought. I don’t believe that there is a justification in history for the harming of human life in the name of anything. That’s what animals and nature were put here for. (Take that you Green suckers!) Yeah. Ruin nature and the animals first. Yes! Burn it all to hell…
Anywho. I’m in the early stages of developing something like a theory regarding failure. It goes something like this. (Please, all derogatory comments about this should be emailed to the publisher of this site. As author of this, I’m just a puppet – albeit a relatively free one with too much babble time on my hands.)
Failure is something I like to refer to as a mirror-shadow. As a mirror you can’t use it to blow-dry your hair. As a shadow you can’t use it to hide behind. Instead it is something that enables you to turn away from reality. It’s like an ersatz consciousness. As you progress through the dumbing down of modern education, you become one with your mirror-shadow. In adulthood society becomes the beautiful frame in which you carry your mirror-shadow. The mirror-shadow becomes such the/a perfect version of who you are intended to be that most can never break free of its luster. The mirror-shadow makes Narcissus seem like a silly little toddler who loves the discotheque and too much ecstasy.
Yeah, stick that tomorrow morning in front of you while you shave or do your hair.
In the plays I’ve read so far Mr. Hacks reflects a great deal on his belief in something. Very subtle usage of innuendo and metaphor seem to be his tricks in selling something. In my opinion, only great writers can pull off such trickery. But I’ve yet to read a writer that can pull it off like Hacks.
How much of the Bible have you read? I mean truly read? Most non-(worst)writing-mortals sit down with a Bible at least once or thrice in life and later say: I’ve read the Bible. Hypocrisy aside, let me be clear here: I’ve not only read the Bible but it’s so much a part of my life that if – goodness forbid – you were to actually visit me without much prior knowledge of who/what I am, you might quickly put one and three together and assume that my American accent, along with living in Germany, would equate with some kind of clandestine evangelical plan to rid pagan Germania of the confusion that is both sides of the Rhine River.
You’ll really be confused when you see that I’ve got a few copies of the Koran and the Torah, as well.
FYI, I have numerous copies of the Bible strategically positioned around my apartment. These are all usually copies that I’ve received from priests, nuns or other clergy who have thrown me out of their churches.
“Here, go read it!” they would say/yell.
“How dare you! That’s blasphemous,” others would say.
Almost all the copies of Bibles around my apartment have the stamp “Do Not Remove”. Obviously, in more ways than one, I am unable to control myself when it comes to authority. Not unlike the Beamten (civil servants) at the Ausländeramt (where I get my German visa), all the clergy from Münster to Heidelberg know me – and like the Germans, they don’t like me. I am the foreign Nervensäge (pain in the ass) who questions both Biblical authority and the ignorance that is the pseudo-Kommunist Federal Republic.
Digression. Part 1.
Did you know that twenty to thirty year old Bible paper is great for cleaning? It’s both sturdy AND absorbent. It comes in perfectly sized pieces and was from a manufacturing era that could care less about fucking trees. It’s perfect window cleaning stuff, too. If needed it even makes good nose tissue. But you have to crumple the pages a bit in advance to work out the rough edges. I’m sure that most Kommunists are very familiar with this as they did the same thing with newspaper for most of their pitiful lives.
With Bible paper you can either use a page to blow your nose or, along with some Aldi-Glas-Reiniger, you can use it to perfectly clean the windows of your car. Seriously – no streaks. I don’t know what the secret is, but I’ve certainly wasted a few nights on the subject of other uses of Bible paper. There are so many practical household uses of Bible paper – the most printed book in history – that I even wondered if there was a way I could get rich on it.
Please. No emails about how you want to join in making millions.
One night after spilling a bottle of wonderful Chianti Reserve I also learned that Bible paper can save your expensive Persian carpet. You see, while contemplating the meaning of it all, trying to find answers in one of the newest Bibles added to my collection – after being thrown out of a really big and fancy church in Cologne – I ripped out pages of Genesis and laid them on top of my soiled Persian rug. There was no particular order to the pages, I just ripped them out – perhaps motivated by Beethoven or Brahms blaring from the stereo – and randomly placed them, albeit perfectly aligned, on top of the carpet. As the pages soaked up the wine, I then tried to kill two birds with one stone and grabbed my telescope and used the lens of Copernicus to find answers in the pages below. After an hour or so of searching, clumsily, I ended up spilling more wine.
Old Bible paper can save you.
It must be the mix of aged paper, aged ink and forever young hypocrisy in the pages of Bibles that somehow makes the windows of your car clearer, the shine of your Persian rug shinier and – believe it or not – your nose so clean that, along with a good diet… I haven’t had a head cold since I started using crumpled-up old Bible paper – and not just on my nose.
Digression. Part 2. Did I mention my fixation with knowledge AND telescopes?
Peter Hacks’ play “Adam and Eve – A Comedy in Three Acts and a Prelude” reminded me of the days when I had a telescope and thought a lot about the meaning of it all. (The telescope has since been confiscated by German authorities; I guess one of my neighbors complained.) I enjoy it when authors regurgitate things Biblical. There is so much literary fun reading/studying the Bible that, at times, I’m actually considering breaking that German court-order and buying me a new telescope. How dare the Germans assume that I was using the device to peak at the sexual antics of others. I was using it to search out, from great distances – not unlike Peter Hacks? – the tiny little secrets that are embedded in (human) dogma. What’s so wrong about that? Is it my fault that so many “neighbors” have bibles near their beds? The judge laughed until I let her know about my theory that The Fall of Man had nothing to do with “temptation”.
Enter Peter Hacks. He’s the Biblical interpreter that Tommi-(Worst)Writer will never be.
Here is where Mr. Hacks shines with this cute little play. Not only did he beat me to it, to say the least, his telescope was/is much better than mine. He saw through the lie that was labeled temptation that caused the infringement on the Tree of Knowledge – as initialized in Genesis 2:16. Mr. Hacks quite convincingly shows, by searching deep into the universe-like space of Biblical and/or historical texts, that it could have been something quite different that has lead Mankind thus far down this dusty road of…
It was Manipulation!
Not temptation but instead manipulation by God and His worker-bee Angels was the real cause of Man’s Fall – if you believe in that sort of thing. Quite a fitting premise, I would think, for an author stuck under the ignorance of Godless and brainless Honecker goons. Yes. The Fall of man was about Godly manipulation – and nothing more. They only used temptation all this time because that was/is much easier to understand, to grasp, to digest along with Bratwurst, curry sauce and the fact that the working classes of Germany (Adams and Eves) are being tempted – and have long since bit the apple of social market economic ignorance. Nothing more, nothing less. Yet how can one explain the manipulation behind all the useless, compulsive labor that Germans today call “Arbeit”? (Work?) Hacks knew the answer – and not because he was viewing it all from the East.
Digression. Part 3. Who cares? I just want to see Eve on stage.
I don’t want to interpret this play. It’s too basic. On the other hand, I can’t wait to someday see this play on a stage. Even if you’re not into Biblical (or political) interpretation this play might still appeal. For one, the actors playing Adam and Eve have to be butt naked up till the end of the play when they finally get them fig leaves. And that, along with my telescope, is what I’m thinking about now instead of just interpreting it. So in case your interested, here my picks of who should play Eve:
– My first choice would be that Feldbusch tussy that married the prick who inherited too much money and has since lost most of it because he’s a dipshit. Of course, Feldbusch would be better if they could get her before she had a kid. Plus, since Eve doesn’t have many lines in the play, comparatively speaking, we won’t have to listen to her dipshit voice. I hate her and her voice – but she is my type.
– Or how about Barbara Schöneberger? If that ain’t a pony I’d like to have a go with – even if it means only watching her butt naked on stage. All them German parts of hers moving around… But she gets the role only after she loses a few pounds. She could even sing a few of Eve’s lines – I’ve heard that Barbara likes to sing. And the way she moved on that couch when she hosted that dipshit interview show on TV…
– Then there’s Veronica Ferres. She could actually be given a speaking role in this play. To have her once again stretch that hot Germanic body like she did on the big screen in Schtonk… Yeah.Veronica. Let me be your Ferres-wheel.
Because I’m (un)comfortably heterosexual, I don’t give a hoot who they pick for Adam.
Back to Hacks. I guess.
The thing about reading Peter Hacks’ “Adam and Eve”, beyond the fact that it’s written in some weird kind of non-rhyming German verse (because God, according to Hacks, doesn’t like things that rhyme), is that Hacks’ does a great job interpreting but a bad job executing. Was he hung up on something when he wrote it? Was this play commissioned by some Kommunist thug? I mean, what’s the point of re-writing a story that almost everyone, to a certain level, already knows? The only thing I can come up with is the butt naked thing. Seriously. Hacks was a pervert. He had the hots for some Kommunist bimbo who wouldn’t put-out and so he wrote her a play where at least he could see her naked. No? Don’t like that theory? I know, all Kommunist bimbos put-out.
Does the thing with Gabriel hurt or work?
Still, of the plays I’ve read thus far by Hacks this one goes in the column under mediocre. So much could be done with the idea that it wasn’t (really) Adam & Eve’s fault. Yet all Hacks delivers is a free interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3, probably coercively influenced by anti-capitalist ideology. (Isn’t that what all Kommunists wrote about?) Interestingly enough, Hacks adds the Archangel Gabriel to the story, which reminds me of Paradise Lost – as that too has Gabriel as part of the beginning of man. Gabriel is not in Genesis – at least there’s no mention of him during the time of Adam and Eve. But I guess that doesn’t matter. Hacks needed a third “being” to fill any gaps there might be between God and Satan. Gabriel brings a cute little touch to the play as the three heavenly beings are almost like goofy CEO, COO and CFO of a major corporation that is on the verge of… (Ooops. I guess that would be part of my interpretation if I were given the task of directing this play. Hint. Hint.)
Can this play be called a comedy?
If this is supposed to be in anyway, shape or form a comedy, I didn’t get it. Could that be because of the old adage that Germans simply are not funny? At least there a few funny lines here and there in the play – but not enough to save it nor give one cause to call it a comedy. For example, here are parts of the text that I marked with “ha, ha, ha”:
(The following are Tommi’s free translations of the text. I do not follow the German rhythm that Hacks uses – and that’s probably due to the fact that I don’t understand that rhythm. But hey, this is dramatic literature, understanding is neither here nor there.)
Adam and Eve are arguing like a good couple should.
Eve (nonchalant): Adam. You have another rib.
Adam (frustrated manhood): What?
Eve: Ask God. He’ll make you another.
Adam (the first big baby): But I don’t want another. You’re my woman.
Eve is being manipulated by Satan.
Satan (coquettishly): I’m looking at the apple, that’s all.
Eve: That one, the one that’s not good to eat?
Satan: That one, the one that’s good to look at.
Eve: How does it look?
Satan: As though it was good to eat.
Gabriel is questioning why/how God made the earth.
Gabriel: Sir, your work is wonderful, but did you have to…
Gabriel: Of all things…
Gabriel: Work with material?
God (to audience): That is the degree that man comprehends. Oh, workers, never hire heavenly bodies …
Exit Gabriel. God then proceeds with a long monologue. At the end of the monologue he again faces the audience.
God (to audience): I hope you understand by now why you hold God’s majesty so high. You have to listen to his monologues.
Boy, as a director I would have a field day with that kind of text – especially if the main characters were butt naked! So much for wishful thinking.
There are a few other funny lines in the play but all they really did was remind me of what I consider to be funny Biblical (or at least Biblically related) text. An example of what I mean you can find on the Interwebnets. Or see link to vid below.
Even if I don’t really like this play, I admire someone like Hacks for attacking it, churning it, perhaps chewing it and yet leaving the original story intact. That’s quite an achievement for a man/writer who subjected himself to so much non-belief. As I (think I) said in a previous post in this forum, the thing that finally killed Soviet Kommunism wasn’t just the fact that it was bankrupt. What killed it was the fact that there was nothing (NOTHING!) to believe in.
At least with this play all the Kommunists got a chance to see a butt naked Eve. That would even be good enough for this capitalist pig.
(The link is an external link. If the link doesn’t work then go to any Internet video source and search for “The Devil’s Advocate John Milton’s speech”.)
The inspiration addressed here is not what you think. In fact, I’m a little embarrassed to even write this down. And that’s not because I don’t actually care much for poetry. I mean, I like things that are poetic but “poems”…? My adversity to poetry has something to do with it having been forced down my throat by silly college professors whose only interest was tenure – or Marie Anne Willingness, the college-attending Hooters girl that never missed a class of Eng 101. The catalyst in my hate of poetry was the study of the poem The Red Wheelbarrow, by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). Do any Germans out there know this poem? No? Since I was only “matriculated” (we in the States use easier words like “registered”) at a German University for about a year I can make no claim to knowing anything about what it is you Germans actually study when it comes to Anglistic. So I’ll just assume here for posterity’s sake that at least one or two Germans know this poem. Or am I way off base here? No matter. The poem that turned me off to poetry went something like this:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Be assured. There are so many U.S. college papers falsely written about this poem that if the clock could be turned back and the trees replaced I’m sure that the likes of Jürgen (kiss my ass) Trittin would celebrate on account his dimwit Greens would have one less thing to blame for the lie that is “global warming”. And maybe then I might even get to drink cola out of can again.
Having said that, will Hacks’ poetry (for me) rise above the rest? At the least I can say this: Unlike Williams’ poem, one of Peter Hacks’ poems was recently sung by a bunch of drunk New Yorkers – in German.
Since that’s such a hard thing to picture, let me put this whole thing about poetry another way…
I manage every once a once to read a poem. Due to my commitment to Hacks, though, I think that after my recent vacation I have easily met my yearly quota of poetry for 2008, 2009 and perhaps 2010. Luckily it was a krapp vacation – and krapp is a great way to pass the time.
Yes. My vacation was krapp. It all started with the hinflug (departure) and nasty German Lufthansa employees who think that service is spelled with a ‘K’ – you know, as in Kommunism. After fighting and cursing with LH check-in counter idiots at Frankfurt, we finally got our Mile & More tickets. Steaming and sweaty and hating the German corporate world that just barely copies and betters the American corporate world… We boarded that flight hoping that there weren’t too many spiteful LH employees that would radio their colleagues abroad to tell them to make our return flight just as difficult. (And do you think that one LH arrogant employee misfit warned us about the impending strike? Of course we knew about it via the news but that’s not the point. These morons should stand up for the silly little games they play in a world of diminishing returns and unspoken population control. Of course, we did eventually get on the plane. Like Germany itself, there was plenty of beer and wine, no elbow room and each seat had its own video monitor. So much technology and industrial prowess and so little to show for it. Yeah, let’s all watch TV on our flights to Neverland – the country that has annexed us all.)
I won’t bore you with the details of my vacation. Let’s just leave it to the fact that I am a partner in a relationship. I live with a German who has a career. Said German wanted to go shopping (in NYC) so, since I don’t (really) have a “career”, and since I’ve been delegated to expatriation because of a few bad choices when I was young, I’m something like a (worst)writing luggage career. Life would/could be good as a luggage carrier if it weren’t for bad-mood, sour-puss Germans working for Lufthansa. Yes. They even made our return flight krappy!
Anyway. Traveling across the Atlantic on a Lufthansa 747 that was on “strike” is not a good beginning or end to a krapp vacation. Seriously. I mean everything about this vacation was krapp. Visiting my friends was krapp, visiting my parents was krapp, and the visit to my sister was even more krapp. The whole idea about this short and intense visit across the Atlantic also included a bit of free-time and relaxation for my partner. But my partner was totally stressed out because, well, everything was krapp. And since all of that was krapp let’s just end it all with a flight home to a place that is full of a bunch of krappy pseudo-Kommunists with sour-puss faces and too much Green politicking – who all think that, along with state-sponsored vacations, strikes are a fucking birthright.
Oh yeah. The Poetry.
Yet, not all was lost. While a bunch of sour-puss German stewardesses and stewards spitefully served non-LH catered food, I was able to get in some good reading on the plane. As the deteriorating flight service corresponded perfectly with the rise and fall of our altitude, I thought to myself: I kind of like Hacks’ poetry. It reminds me of something between Bukowski’s work and the worn-out leather shoes a convicted rapist uncle of mine gave me when my German mother’s third mistaken husband took me to a West Virginia jail to meet his brother. So I read and read and allowed the multi-culti striking Kommunist crew of LH403 fill my tummy with red wine. (At least they’re good for something, eh? I think it was a French Merlot.) Then I enjoyed the vegetarian Italian noodles that the crew apologetically said were made in the USA and were left over from the previous flight. (The best “strike” noodles I’ve ever had!) After all the trash was finally collected I continued reading from the books that – thank Allah! – US airport authorities haven’t decided to forbid for carry-on. My reading agenda for the flight was a book about the origin of earthly hydrocarbons in the context of geopolitical power mongering and Peter Hacks’ pocket-sized book of poems: “Diesem Vaterland Nicht Meine Knochen”.
And so… I discovered the poem: “Couplets Der Verdammten Könige”.
I had to ask my German Abitur educated partner sitting next to me on LH403: what the fuck does “Couplets” mean? I hate it when I come across German words I don’t know and there’s no Duden around. (Usually these kind of words aren’t originally German.) I guess that’s why I have a partner with an Abitur (and an MBA)! Seriously, a German partner with Abitur is easier to carry on a flight than one of them thick, yellow Duden books.
Don’t get me wrong. Even with all my bitchin’ & moanin’ about Germany, I like reading German. In fact, I can’t get enough of it. I think it’s almost fun. It’s especially fun when I’m in my home country and people think it’s part of their good-citizen duty to question other people reading something in a foreign language. Seriously. Would you believe that there are signs around NYC telling people to “Be on the look-out”. But the signs don’t really tell people what to be on the look-out for. So I guess we all have to just guess.
Anyway. Here’s a transcript of me conversing with someone while visiting New York City and reading Peter Hacks’ poetry:
Scene: sitting outside of a New York City bar in cheap wannabe garden chairs. It’s a hot July afternoon and we just finished shopping after discovering that you can almost get stuff for free because most NYC retailers get a kick out of people toting Euros. (The exchange rate hit €1 = $1.57!!!) I am sitting with partner who is checking Blackberry. I’m reading from a small red book with bright yellow letters on the cover. New York Person, probably a Wall Street broker, sits down at the table next to me and after a pause questions what I’m reading because he’s on the look out for terrorists and/or sex.
New York Person: “… So, you think German is a fun language, uh? You’d better be careful. Sounds kind of Arabic.”
Me Person: “Really?”
New York Person: “Didn’t some of those 9/11 guys come from Germany?”
Me Person: “No, they came from Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But just like me, they were able to matriculate in a German university.”
New York Person: “Ma-trick-you… what?”
Me Person: “Sorry. That’s just another way of saying that one is enrolled as a student at a University.”
New York Person: “Oh. You know, you sound like an American.”
Me Person: “That’s because I am one.”
New York Person: “Then why are you reading Arabic?”
Me Person: “I’m reading German, sir.”
New York Person: “Say. Didn’t we kick Germany’s ass twice in a war or something?”
Me Person: “Indeed, we did. And ever since we haven’t quite figured out what do with all the oil that we won.”
I ended up reading Couplets Der Verdammten Könige out loud to this guy. Eventually a couple of his broker friends, all in fancy suits, joined in and they all bought me and my partner more alcohol – to prove that their dollars were actually worth something – and perhaps with the hopes that I would invite them to Oktoberfest. When I explained what the poem was about – and the fact that it was actually a “song” they got excited and wanted to sing it. So we did. They all churned up what remained from Germ101 at college and off we went. Really. It was the best part of the whole vacation. It almost made me (us) forget about the upcoming return flight on Kommunist serviced Lufthansa.
Let me begin with a not-so-well-known German poem/song that will, as of today, always be part of my experience in reading Peter Hacks. The following text was written by Hoffmann von Fallersleben (what a name,eh). For those who don’t know, he’s the dude that gave the world the lyrics of the anthem chestnut-full-of-fun that Haydn put to music and the Nazis ruined: “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles”.
(A short English summary of this poem follows.)
Der Frühling kommt hernieder,
der Winter muß entfliehen,
und Frühling wird es wieder
sogar auch in Berlin.
Im milden sonnigen Wetter
kann man spazieren gehen,
und Kräuter und grüne Blätter
im Tiergarten wieder sehen.
Den Gruß des Frühlings singen
die Vögel in jede Brust,
und alle Welt muß ringen
nach Freude und Frühlingslust.
Der Eckensteher Nante
blieb lebensmüde und matt;
weil er das Leben kannte,
hatte er es herzlich satt.
Er geht zum Tiergarten traurig,
er geht und hängt sich auf.
Im Tiergarten – o wie schaurig!
Beschließt er den Lebenslauf.
Das gibt ein eigenes Rauschen
im grünen Busch am Bach,
und Leute, die da lauschen,
die gehen dem Geräusche nach.
Gendarmen und Polizisten,
mit Rettungsmedaillen geziert,
und viele gute Christen,
die kommen herbei spaziert.
Sie schneiden ihn ab vom Baume,
sie reiben ihn, bis er lebt,
und Nante wie im Träume
denkt, daß er im Himmel schwebt.
Allmächtiger, hab Erbarmen!”
So spricht er, “was seh´ ich hier?
Im Himmel auch Gendarmen?
Nun ist es aus mit mir!”
The poem is about a dude named “Der Eckensteher Nante”. (This is hard to translate; means something like “The Corner Standing Nante”; but it is also used to describe a certain trait in some Berliners.) Obviously, Nante is not a man of much success. In fact, he’s had it with life, politics and, perhaps, Berlin. So he goes to a park and commits suicide by hanging himself. Unfortunately, probably like the compulsive and non-creative life in Berlin today, he doesn’t have much success at that either. After some people, including the police, save him, he awakes in the soothing arms of what he thinks is heaven and says: “Oh my, there are Gendarmes in heaven? Well, that’s it for me!” Then he really dies.
Yeah, that pretty much summarizes my experience in Germany, as well, although I haven’t quite made it to the hanging part (yet). And if you’re asking what this poem has to do with Peter Hacks’ play…? All I can say thus far is that it’s in the title. Fallersleben’s poem is also called “Berliner Novelle”. Am I the only one out there that smells literary conspiracy here? Two works about the misery of being German and I am alone in seeing the connection? What? You don’t think these pieces are connected? Nor are they worth any kind of (worstwriter) scrutiny? OK. You win. I’ll just have another Hefeweizen while reading a play.
Here’s a Tommi summary of Berliner Novelle (the play) in English. Keep in mind this play is only about sixty pages long. Also, Eulenspiegel Verlag and/or Peter Hacks calls it a Dramolett.
A one-legged American professor, Dr. Andrew Di Verona, is visiting East Germany during “the advanced 90s of the twentieth century”. Dr. Dietmar Schiller, a former and now de-frocked East German university professor and his family are providing the American with a bed for the night because the organizers of the event that brought the American forgot to consider that he couldn’t make it up the stairs of the town’s only available hotel. All other hotels in town are booked because of another event. (You would think that East Berlin, after the fall of the wall, was a busy place, eh?) Those participating in this ad hoc hosting situation include Schiller’s family, which consist of his wife, Irmtraut (what a name, eh), and his daughter Herta – who is “an ugly girl of 2,10 meters”. Mr. Jamal, “a businessman”, rounds up the cast of characters.
The play has some family squabbling, the presentation of anger management issues by Schiller’s socially depraved wife, and a sexual turn of events that would make anyone studying the characteristics of Euro incest cringe. (The late part of the first decade of the 21sts century would tell any theatre manager in Austria NOT to touch this play!) What the play is trying to portray, though – the dysfunction caused by capitalism induction – doesn’t get lost in the odd twist of events that Hacks writes about. The reality that faced (faces?) the former Eastern States of Germany is picturesque in this play – if you can stand a stage with an ugly girl of 2,10 meters that likes to romp regularly with her dad.
Getting back to the poem connection.
One thing that got me thinking while reading Peter Hacks’ play had to do with Fallersleben’s poem. As mentioned, Hacks’ play is about dysfunction – which includes Berlin. In a different kind of way, Fallersleben’s poem is about the same thing – in Berlin. The thing is, good authors are tricky. It’s no wonder that Hacks might have had something else in mind – not with his play but with the title. And I think I might have seen through his cleaver disguise.
Here’s my run-away theory about this play and poem. And please, take this with a grain of salt while sleeping in your salt bed…
The title “Berliner Novelle” is something like a code. It is a code known only to a few writers of truth. The reason it is code is because, even if we are told that the Stasi is gone, some writers just cannot get tyrannical conditioning out of their system. Since I’m not a very smart writer – like Hacks – all I propose at this point about the codification of “Berliner Novelle” is that Berlin = dysfunction and Novelle = short. Simple enough, eh? It even works for Fallersleben’s poem. I could get somewhat more complex and say that “Berlin” = the centre of all things wrong about being German. (Munich does too but who wants to actually write about that stuck-up hole in the ground?) But I wouldn’t want to over do it.
Or? Part 1.
Berliner Novelle is really a great little play – and it definitely goes beyond just providing losers like me fodder for making fun of the country I have to live in. With that in mind, why isn’t it being performed somewhere right now? I would actually put effort into seeing this play. Knowing what I know, I would make fun of the missing American leg and yell at the stage: “Is your missing leg a metaphor for Detlev Karsten Rohwedder? What about Alfred Herrhausen?”
If I were a student of literary sciences I could have a field-day analyzing Berliner Novelle. Seriously. I would leave out the leg metaphor thing and put some effort into comparing it to Fallersleben’s poem. I would also have a bit of fun getting down & dirty in the text and picking out all the detailed innuendo, metaphors and other literary trickery that Hacks employs to show his disgust of what has become nothing more than an annexed nation-state (of the US) that speaks too much German.
Or? Part 2.
Even though I find Hacks’ play hilarious, there is an underlying sadness about it that warrants some serious theatrical attention. It is a play that portrays a country in the middle of a tyrannical metamorphosis. The moment of change that relieved the world of the former German Democratic Republic – obnoxiously loved by so many – has nothing to do with the integration and annihilation of one sovereign nation but instead is about the all-exclusiveness of another sovereign nation and its consuming and excreting habits. How ironic when one considers that Peter Hacks literally ran away from the very same system in the 1950s that eventually would gobble him up anyway. Perhaps that’s why this play is so short and yet misses nothing!
I might have found the/a artistic work that I’ve been searching for ever since the early 90s – and it goes well with the time it takes to down a glass of German beer (a half litre play, indeed). It is certainly not a definitive work – about German unification – but when one considers what (west) Germany has produced about this historical period of (in)humanity up to this point… Well, there is still hope that works of art containing substance may yet be found hidden in former East German desks.
With that in mind, I say leave all the nonsense produced up to now about unification to the lost generation of (West German) Steppenwolf readers and writers spoiled by their Wirtschaftswunder inheritance. They are all too preoccupied with the extras of their new state-subsidized company cars or how they will look on global TV during the next World Cup. We can also leave all the Ossie stuff produced on ARD/ZDF in the same bin that we should throw the €2B German theatre landscape – that in my opinion has yet to produce any real works of art regarding Unification.
The thing is, I thought to myself before embarking on the journey of reading this play: what a boring title. I have since learned that there is a great deal to be found in something as small as a title.
The short play “Der Parteitag” (The Party Convention) by Peter Hacks begins with one of the first words I remember learning after I moved to West Germany. The word? Genossen. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a believer in hate – but I hate that word. It’s like the word Auspuff. When said, no matter what it is supposed to mean, it just sounds stupid.
Thinking about Genosse takes me back to a time prior to moving to Germany in 1989. As an American, my association with Germany is/was unavoidable due to my German born mother (she’s no longer a German citizen) and a few Prussian relatives with hearts of gold. Needless to say, my curiosity was always high regarding Germany and Europe. Quickly after moving here, though, my curiosity was dampened. The European Union was in full motion, communism was dying, people had positive bank accounts and vacation time and pseudo-laissez-faire politics ruled everything. With that said, I was/am a non-believer in the European Union experiment (it will never succeed), socialism/welfare is as bad as communism, and the only thing Europe has to offer the world, other than money, is its past and some seriously hot, promiscuously feminist, emancipated women. Thank goodness that a great deal of my personal interest lies in the reading and writing of plays, eh.
Since I’m on the subject of moi…
As a young fellow curious about culture, history, languages and unshaven German girls, I thought it appropriate to visit the east Germany. During a summer visit to West Germany in 1986 I made arrangements to go to the other side. Remember, in order to see anything outside of east Berlin you had to have something like a host and/or sponsor. Luckily I knew someone in the west who knew someone in the east and one thing lead to another and I eventually got my papers and crossed Check-Point-Charlie and beyond. Tickled to death, I suddenly found myself among (real?) communists. I had no idea they could be such fun. What a blast we had! I traveled all around east Berlin, of course, and then went to places like Sanssouci and the Spreewald forest. As a good western tourist I bought cheaply printed versions of The Communist Manifesto for all my friends back home. Oh, and I laughed the first time I had to wipe my ass with crumpled-up newspaper. Subsequently I wanted to visit the east every time I visited the west. But before I could do that, that damn wall fell. I will always equate the falling of the Berlin wall with: the party is over.
The meaning of comrade.
The word Genosse means “comrade”. The word comrade means something like “friends” – I think. Where I come from the word had/has various associations. You know, communism, Brezhnev, Fidel Castro, dysfunction, etc., etc. Since I was never known for being a social butterfly or having many friends, the word comrade was useful as I tried to play the The American Dream game. At the height of the Ronald Regan assault on Evil Empires, I would joke around as any anti-authority American would and call people comrade. Comrade may mean friends but it has nothing to do with making them.
Fun in America included complaining about it. But there is no place in America where such complaints can be heard. In America you either go with the flow or make your own little Microsoft. There is no convergence of extremes. There is no shared road. Life in America was/is nothing but a measurement stick of externally determined, move the goal-post to suit the outcome of the game, dead dreams. One can only ask how such a place won the cold war. It must have something to do with humor as much as never used precision weaponry.
Rebellion and bad mouthing your country.
I’m not ashamed to admit that while cursing the American system in my youth I was also spitefully waving a Cuban flag. Seriously. If I had to make a list of people I’d like to meet, Fidel Castro would be on that list. But don’t misunderstand. I hate “communism”. I don’t hate it because of the Soviet Union, the GDR, Cuba or even China. I hate communism because anything humans try to collectively organize – as history has shown – fails. So the only real thing to do in a world where the collective tries to run everything (ironically it doesn’t matter if the collective is capitalist or communist) is to rebel against it. For me, that’s what Fidel was all about. To hell with his communist-dictating bullshit. Fidel Castro was/is nothing but a big whiny baby that successfully told papa-bear to go shove it. I think that’s cool.
The great thing I remember about communism is that you could easily make fun of it and still have fun in it. Forget all that Stasi krapp or KGB nonsense. If the commies knew how to do anything it was do nothing and having fun at it. I always wondered why the American way of life couldn’t be as tolerant. Let’s face it, if anything has come out of the fight between opposing political ideologies of the 20th century then it must be that the winner doesn’t just take ALL but he also thinks a bit to high of himself.
Stage Direction: Enter Peter Hacks from radical stage left.
After reading Der Parteitag – and Hacks reminding me of some of the things I rebelled against when I was young – I couldn’t help but ask when and where Peter Hacks wrote it. Even though the play farcically portrays a system that he obviously wishes to scorn, it does so in a way that makes you (me?) ask: Could he have come up with a better plot? How about a few more intriguing characters? Or how about a little change of scenery?
Well, if he did all that then it wouldn’t be a Dramolette, would it?
So here are a few guesses regarding the questions I have about this play based on my (limited) experience with communists. Mr. Hacks either wrote Der Parteitag while angered out of his mind from bureaucracy or he wrote it while contemplating how things – political or not – never change. At the least, he does a pretty good job of continuing the tradition of making fun of the dunces that called themselves communists – and in reality were nothing but a bunch of under-achieving thugs.
The main characters in this play are not just die-heard communists but also (aghast!) women-comrades. What could a man intend to say in a politically motivated play that borders on the absurd while portraying communist leaders as women? Was Hacks going through a kind of Lysistrata phase? Your guess is as good mine. Hacks goes so far as to intellectually over-indulge while trying to strive for new ideological and/or literary heights. I think. For example: one of the issues to be discussed at The Party Convention deal with the two competing political platforms. One of the platforms has to be chosen in order to lead the party into the future. Does he name one of the platforms “right” and the other “left”? No. He calls one “Sozialvisionäre Wiedergeburt“. He calls the other “Pragmatischen Utopismus”. That is, Social Visionary Reincarnation or Pragmatic Utopianism. Ugh.
Is it me or do others when they hear such things feel Marx turning in his grave?
And it doesn’t stop there. I caught myself laughing as I read that a political party (according to Hacks) doesn’t require two wings to fly. Such an assumption reminded me of the current political system in the United States where capitalism is definitely a one winged beast – that simply never had a wall that could be brought down. (That’s right. It only builds tall buildings that can be brought down.) But I didn’t only think of my beloved United Mistakes while reading this cute little play. Hacks also made me think about how life really is in this (west) German golden cage that to me is the last bastion of communism in the west.
At this stage in my quest to get to know Peter Hacks I’m not sure if he was/is a writer of the absurd. But this play smells dearly of absurdity. I may be wrong but my guess is he wrote this play after the fall of the Berlin wall, which also could mean that he wrote with a unique kind of compulsive skill. It is the skill of writing what one truly thinks but doing so in disguise. Who knows, maybe this is a kind of a theatrical stream of consciousness thing – even though I’m not sure if that actually exists.
Unfortunately, the book in which this play is published doesn’t give any information regarding its time-line. I’m not sure I want to research it either. The idea that Hacks wrote such a short but meaningful play about humanities most interesting failed experiment is good enough for me. It puts him on my bookshelf with Vaclav Havel and Milan Kundera. Hacks is not just portraying the downfall of communism but something that transcends political ideology. As I was reading the play for the second time I kept imagining superimposing early 21st century capitalism in the text. It would probably work without any rewriting. I think that’s a pretty cool achievement.
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.
EIN ANGESTRENGTER AUTOR
Er müht sich Jahre, bis er überhaupt
Verstanden wird. Und wann wird ihm geglaubt?
THE STRAINED AUTHOR
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.
Some thoughts on my first read of anything Peter Hacks.
“Der Staat ist ohne Minister, der Hof ohne Spielmeister, das Theater ohne Direktor, das Land ohne seinen großen Mann.” (The state is without its minister, the courtyard is without its master, the theater is without its director, the country is without its best man.)
And so lingers the word “ohne” (without) as my eyes dabble across the pages of Hacks’ monologue “Ein Gespräch im Hause Stein über den abwesenden Herrn von Goethe” (A Discussion in the House of Stein Absent of Mr. Goethe). Along with those words my “ohne” continues the task of trying to get along with the Germans. Have I found someone to help me in my task? Not only do I wonder who this “großen Mann” (best man) is that Hacks writes about through the eyes and thoughts of a woman, but I think: I probably shouldn’t have begun my Hacks journey with this play.
Well, I guess it’s a play. At the least, it is a monologue, right? The thing is, I don’t really like monologues. A monologue within a play is OK. You know, to-be-or-not-to-be. Or what about Monologuing? Where would James Bond be if the villains didn’t explain so much about their deeds and hence provide enough time & space for the world’s favorite secret agent to think of a way out. There are also comic monologues but – as much as this pains others – comedy just doesn’t work in German.
So where did Hacks get the urge to write something that one actress would have to perform all-by-her-lonesome for what seems to be umpteen hours? Oh yeah. I almost forgot. This “großen Mann” is Goethe. Right?
“Goethe beleidigt, indem er ist.” (Goethe insults because he is.)
Prior to this I never gave the relationship between Goethe and Charlotte Albertine Ernestine von Stein any thought. In a titillating kind of way, it was always more interesting to think about Johanna Christiana Sophie Vulpius or the other Charlotte in Goethe’s life – Charlotte Buff. But Hacks got me thinking.
What starts out to be almost a seething criticism of her ex-lover, ends up being a soothing of her own soul. Hacks makes it clear – at least to me he does – that Charlotte Stein can go right on and forgive herself for what happened because Goethe was nothing more than an old typical genius male who had his way with the ladies. Or something like that.
You know, some people compare Goethe to Shakespeare. I suppose from a literary point of view the two were… dramatists. But such a comparison never really worked for me. For one, I think Goethe has been – much to his own making – misunderstood. Secondly, I don’t think Goethe was even meant to be a “writer”. And if he should be compared to anyone, that would have to be: Leonardo Da Vinci.
Goethe had two problems, only one of which is partly addressed by Hacks. One, Goethe was/is the last living polymath. Secondly, unlike Da Vinci, Goethe was a slave to the German world of mediocrity and status-quo that reared him. Come on, this was a time in history when America was going independent, the jugulars of Robespierre and Danton were beginning to thump, and the passion that could have been Sturm & Drang got caught up in the Order & Virtue of all things (that would become) German. Is that an environment where great literature can spawn? Sure, why not. It worked pretty good for Schiller – if you ask me. Unfortunately, there’s also a bunch of wordy, boring krapp (from Goethe) that motivated me to spend more time on, among others, Greek classics and philosophical works by men that actually did find their calling.
Thank goodness there was Schiller in that whole Sturm & Drang thingy…
“Nun, Goethe ist dieser Mensch; denn er ist Gott. Wenn Gott morgens an Schläfrigkeit leidet, freilich, dann kann ja doch die Sonne nicht aufgehn” (Well, Goethe is this man; he is a God. If God suffers mornings in somnolence then certainly the sun cannot rise).
It’s been more than ten years since I touched anything of Goethe other than the only work that I really dig: “Die Leiden des jungen Werthers” (The Sorrows of Young Werther). With that in mind, I must ask: where is/was Hacks going with this monologue? Is the story Frau Stein tells interesting? Do we learn anything about their relationship that is new? Are the joyous and sad themes of love presented motivate us to go on reading… a frickin’ monologue? The answer is: This isn’t a monologue. It is a “Solospiel” (monodrama). And with that revelation you can move beyond the ideology of story telling and on to the ideology of political remorse. This is, in fact, a monodrama with huge metaphorical implications. At least that’s what I got out of my first Hacks read.
As mentioned, monologues work best if they are somehow part of the/a story. At the least, a monologue should give something away in order to help the reader/audience. I like to refer to it as a trick. A trick in the form of an anecdote or metaphor that highlights threads of the story-quilt. I’m thinking of the monologue by Eddy towards the end of “Fool for Love” by Sam Shepard. Eddy explains the history of misguided love between half siblings and this leads to a fire and hence the potential of the rising of the love-Phoenix (metaphor). Then there’s the monologue by Lucky in Samuel Beckett’s Godot which shows how man is so easily and willingly controlled. But a whole monologue about a misunderstood love affair, from the point of view of a WOMAN! – even if that affair includes the greatest monologue writer that ever was? I don’t think so. So what was Hacks intention?
In this case, Peter Hacks has tricked us (me). And he’s done so with brilliance. This Solospiel is, in fact, a political statement at a time when such things weren’t allowed. I don’t know how long he worked on it nor do I know anything else about how he wrote it. I’m just guessing here based on what Hacks churned inside me as I read it/him for the first time. You see, I’ve been battling with these Germans for the majority of my adult life. This has something to do with the other half of who I am – or could be. And let me tell you: German literature hasn’t helped in my quest to figure it out.
Until (maybe!) now. I don’t know why and I might be way of base with this, but my guess is that this is a pretty good example of a monodrama that wants to be something else. Perhaps it’s a criticism that goes beyond the misunderstanding of Goethe? Or is it praise for the Weiber (chicks) that have molded great German men(*)? Then there’s the perverse thought that maybe Hacks just wanted to get into the head of a woman who cheated on her husband – since, by the early seventies and the introduction of Honecker in his world – what else could a lost idealist write about? Obviously, I am clueless to what exactly Hacks was trying to say with this play – but I enjoyed reading it because it opened up something new regarding Goethe – who I have lazily left to collect dust on my bookshelves.
If, on the other hand, I were asked to go out on limb and try to say something about what I think this monodrama is about. Then I think I’d say: Goethe is the state, Frau Stein is Das Volk (the people), and once the conflict is over, all that is left is the regret and the shame of both having missed their calling.
So much for “Das Land ohne Seinen Großen Mann” (The country without its best man).
*Kaiser Wilhelm: “Give me a woman who drinks beer and I will conquer the world.”
This is yet another attempt to explain my continuing expat saga of living among z’Germans. Please forgive me in advance for any misleading soliloquies and I appreciate every effort on your part, dear worst-reader, to try and find humor where there is none. With that in mind, I started Part 1 so long ago with the premise that I had I found out what is (was?) wrong with the locomotive of Eurowasteland. Of course, I didn’t actually find out anything. But that’s not the point of writing in a blog that no one reads, or wanting to be funny but can’t, and living with the personality trait of taking myself way to serious(ly).
The Germans have done a few things right since the days of doing all things wrong. For one, they build pretty good cars. No. Wait. Let me start again.
I’m still quite angry that Germans do not have one, NOT ONE, alternative fueled vehicle in the production pipeline. Also, since I’ve been driving various German (luxury) cars since the early nineties, as far as build quality is concerned, they are doing the same thing Detroit did back in the seventies. They are making the cars cheaper and cheaper and cheaper and… The difference to American cars, though, is that even as the Germans make them cheaper, they still go like a bat outta hell. And the reason for that isn’t a passion for making great cars, nor is it great engineering. Just look at what the Italians build. They build awesomely beautiful cars that are questionably engineered. So. The reason the Germans do what they do is much simpler than just making something pretty. What the Germans do (what they build) has nothing to do with the cars themselves. No. Not at all. Instead. What the Germans do they do because of z’Autobahn.
No? Make no sense? Nomatter. I’m not starting over again.
Now. Germans build cars not because they have a passion to do so. They build them to justify having really, really great roadways. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been here a long time. The roadways the Germans build are deteriorating, that’s a given. But compared to the road ways around Chicago… To justify those roads being good, z’Germans have to at least offer a car or two that can drive on them. On the other hand, I wonder if the reason Germans don’t have alternative powered cars is because they know something about gas supplies that other countries don’t know?
Wait. I’m tangent-ing again. Bare with me, dear worst-reader.
In order for Germans to build good cars they first have to build great roads. Enter Autobahn heaven, baby. Even though currently most of their Autobahns serve as government subsidized work placement programs, there are still parts of the A3, the A2 and my particular favorite the A27 (between Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven), where you can drive so fast that the horizon snaps shut before your eyes have time to blink. Seriously. At the risk of bragging and making a fool of myself because of the outrageous carbon footprint that I leave behind, I comfortably admit, when possible, I drive at speeds of and around 240km/h. It’s an absolutely crazy thing to do. If I could afford it, I would take the train. But Germany, like so many other western countries, is a slave to whatever it needs to keep the status quo going. Thereby the train system, that once might have been good, now sucks and is in no way competitive with the Autobahn. What a shame, eh.
Let me put the speed-thing in perspective. For you NASCAR lovin’ mama-boys out there, get this: when I’m in a good mood, when the weather is sparky and I have no family members in the vehicle, when my contact lenses are clear and there’s no stress ringing in my ears, I sometimes drive a well-powered Audi at speeds (on public highways) faster than those who win at Dover International Speedway. Now if that won’t motivate young men (with a driver’s license) to come over here and experience Oktoberfest, I don’t know what else should.
Warning: this is not an advert—seriously.
The last thing Germans do right that I’ll address here has nothing to do with cars either. It has to do with the only other invention that should be recognized as its industry’s VW Bug. I’m talking, of course, about Aldi the discount supermarket chain where practically every continental German speaking person has at one point or other in their lives bought something. I have a thing for Aldi (and not because it rhymes with Audi).
Aldi is short for Albrecht Discount. The little stores have also been called ”Albrecht’s Fine Foods” or ” Albrecht Delicatessen”. I’m not kidding. Today every continental German speaking person buys something at Aldi at sometime or other. That’s a business taking in money from well-over a 100million people. Such success has made the founders of Aldi, the Albrecht brothers, the richest men in all of Germany—and they regularly make the Forbes richest schmuck list. Say what you want about rich people, Bill Gates included, but there’s good reason the Albrecht brothers are swimming in cash. It boils down to Aldi just being plain good at what they do. Which is not something you can claim of companies like Wal-Mart. I’m a regular Aldi goer and I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything from that store that was necessary to throw out because it was junk. Do I need to mention Wal-Mart again? Wait a sec…
Oh no, that’s not true. I’m just exaggerating because this is potentially a post that a German might read and then say, hey, this (American) guy complaining about Germany all the time ain’t all that bad.
I did buy one of them multi screw-drivers at Aldi once and I had to throw it out after a day or two of use. But hell, it only cost something like five Euros. It worked up until I used it to try and unscrew some heavily rusted bolts while replacing a thoroughly rusted exhaust pipe. The thing snapped in two pieces. I went through two other tools during that escapade, as well. But I don’t remember where I bought those tools.
Aldi’s secret of success (according to Tommi) is this. Dictate to manufactures a certain quality and then buy & sell volume. Nothing unique there except maybe the dictate part. The thing that Aldi seems to do different than other discounters is that it retails fairly good quality stuff.
Cheap is one thing, but cheap quality is another.
Btw, Aldi was the first “discounter” of its kind to sell real Champagne? Seriously. I’m talkin’ Champagne as in the bubbly from real Champagne, France. Aldi to this day sells a bottle of it for something like 15,- Euros. It’s a bit sweet, but what the heck—chicks love just the idear of drinking Champagne. So you can accredit Aldi for helping weak-ass German boys getting laid. Aldi also gets North East American fisheries to ship over frozen, whole Lobsters and then sells them for something like 7,- Euros. I’ve had them. They’re great. Needless to say, when the lobsters arrive there’s a run on all the stores. But then there’s the wine. I’ll keep it short and just say, Aldi features some of the best wines from Chile to Italy and they cost half of what they’d cost elsewhere. Dictate away, Aldi!
When I was still working as an industry analyst for various consulting companies I was giving the task of researching Aldi. Of course, like many other analysts, I got nowhere. It’s not because I couldn’t find the information. I was a great researcher and analyst. The problem was (is) Aldi is collectively tight lipped. It is a private company and therefore not required to release any information—at least there’s a serious clamp on info regarding how it makes so much damn money. Even the people that work the registers are told that they should never answer any questions about the business.
And now on to the ANALOGY that would never be.
Businesses that make the kind of money that Aldi does usually fall to the whims of cycles and downturns or whatever. Or does that only apply to companies that are dependent on the loan-capital derived from being on a stock exchange? Didn’t UPS used to be one of the most successful companies NOT trading a stock? In fact, it wasn’t till 1999 that UPS went public. But I’m not here to bash the current and obvious ill-nature of the stock market and/or the western world turning to speculative finance to keep its fail-upwards ways afloat. Aldi pushes along and just keeps making more and more money—and is not publicly traded. It is simply a no-frills company which is reflected in its stores the world over and seems to focus solely on a level of end consumer quality that is, in my opinion, unmatched—at least in the German market.
So what am I really addressing here going from z’German autobahns and Audi to Aldi and outrageous profits? This may be both a bit pretentious and naive but what the heck. Aldi represents not just an untapped business principle but also a principle that could/should apply to life. That principle is balance. It seems that a company like Aldi can balance the madness of running a bidness above and beyond just being a profit center. In fact, in my whacked-out way of seeing things (aka Stough-ism), most corporations and their constituencies are only interested in annihilating at least one part of the supply and demand equation that has ruled our lives since Adam Smith first blew his nose. Obviously, I’m no economist. I only worked in management consulting for the better part of ten years. I might be way off base here. It’s just that when I sit back and look at how things work in the western world these days, I’m worried. Our corporate driven, survive to consume situation is way beyond unsustainable—and not just because of the way we’ve compromised productivity via outsourcing labor. So I’ve been looking for examples that potentially are sustainable. I mean, come on, Aldi is rarely in the press for any controversy and more importantly, its employees all seem to be content with their earnings. Wow. Talk about balance. Business Balance? Oh, and before I forget. Make cars based on the roadways that they can drive on them. Now there’s a thought!
I’ve heard some say that the reason Wal-Mart pulled out of Germany was because of Aldi. The thing about Euro business is that companies have to yield (the word ”yield” is not part of the German language which you can also see on the Autobahns) in some way or other to governments. Where American neo-con/Republicans hypocritically claim to be all about reducing government in the markets, Euro companies gladly oblige governments as at times governments seem to fill the employer/employee gap that has so obviously been part of the downfall of corporate American’t. For companies like Wal-Mart, balance is completely irrelevant.
Listening to Beethoven and reading Faust… I know what you’re saying. You’re saying: how can you do two masochistic things at once! Well, trust me (when I worst-write)… It’s not easy. Usually what happens is that I turn off the sound system and continue reading. Call it a tick of mine. The music gets me riled and then I indulge in literary substance and then…
I should know Faust much better, to say the least. And when/if it’s being staged, I put no effort into seeing it. Such a wordy piece to put in front of an audience and then to close it into the walls of a Theater… Thank goodness this piece was written in a day when only words mattered. And because of that, I enjoy walking around with bare feet and a paperback version and perhaps a Sonata or two surrounding me. Yes. Transcribe the words into my brain and then wait for the moment of euphoria to reach out. It starts to blossom and there is no ”Theater” comparable. Where Shakespeare fascinates with story and text, Goethe splices and dices the thing I call humanity.
Every once-a-once as I read this work, a leap of discovery is in the lurks. Beyond curiosity the chasm waves. I linger upon such sullen days. The sounds of frequented times arrive. As preposterous as this, there is only my demise. It must have been the third or fourth read of Faust. When I discovered the scene that saved my faith. Short and sweet and discrete, this writer of humanity revealed the sweet. Lilith is her name and she wears long, red hair. She attracts men like honey and snare. She dances with charm and wits her way ’round, to a place in my heart that has only sight and sound.
(Un)Fortunately Lilith has been edited out of all the dogma. But if you look closely, you will easily find her throughout all things (Abraham) religious. For example. Check out any of the famous paintings. Usually there is a half-snake or beast and half woman wrapped around the tree of knowledge. I mean, come on, Satan or no Satan: were Adam & Eve really alone in ”paradise”? I mean, were they really the ONLY ones? Since I know a little about the deep desires of manhood – you know, polygamy and whatnot – could Adam, with the strength of his pectorals, biceps and quads, have been satisfied with just one wife during a time when banging them on the head and dragging them off to your cave was part of (any) gettin’ some? Obviously, Lilith didn’t think that was cool. But you won’t see that in the paintings. All you get is what THEY want you to know for THEIR sake.
OK. For you ”believers” out there. I digress.
One of my favorite scenes from Goethe’s Faust is Walpurgisnacht. In this scene Faust, pushed on by Mephistopheles, meets a Witch. Depending on the version you are reading, the person Faust meets could also be called Beauty, The Pretty Witch or The Young One. Of course, this scene has to do with Man’s (Faust’s) desires (Tommi interpretation). Luckily, and very briefly, Goethe gives us the name of the person Faust meets. She is called: Lilith. Quite a fascinating and practically forgotten character in the history of all things religious and confused. Thank goodness Goethe managed to re-edit Her back into the world of literature.
Here the scene/moment that so dazzles me, perhaps just like Her hair would. First I offer the original German, then follow up with my own translation.
Faust: Wer ist denn das?
Mephistopheles: Betrachte sie genau! Lilith ist das.
Mephistopheles: Adams erste Frau. Nimm dich in acht vor ihren schönen Haaren, Vor diesem Schmuck, mit dem sie einzig prangt. Wenn sie damit den jungen Mann erlangt, So läßt sie ihn so bald nicht wieder farhen.
Faust: Da sitzen zwei, die Alte mit der Jungen; Die haben schon was Rechts gesprungen! Mephistopheles: Das hat nun heute Keine Ruh. Es geht zum neuen Tanz; nun komm! wir greifen zu. Faust (mit der Jungen tanzend): Einst hatt’ ich einen schˆnen Traum: Da sah ich einen Apfelbaum, Zwei schöne Äpfel glänzten dran, Sie reizten mich, ich stieg hinan.
Die Schönen: Der Äpfelchen begehrt ihr sehr, Und schon vom Paradiese her. Von Freuden f ̧hl’ ich mich bewegt, Daß auch mein Garten solche trägt.
And now, the Tommi version:
Faust: Who the fuck is that, Man!
Mephistopheles: Check it out, Dude! That’s Lilith.
Mephistopheles: Adam’s first bang. Watch out for that red hair, Dude. It’ll do to you more than just dazzle. If she catches a young guy like you in it, good friggin’ luck gettin’ out.
Faust: There’s two of ’em, Man. One’s young, the other’s not. They both look like they’ve been dancing a lot.
Mephistopheles: Then let’s keep ’em goin’. Grab one and get some. Come ’on.
Faust (dancing with the young one): I recently had this awesome dream: I saw an apple tree and on it were these two apples. They got me all riled and ready, so I climbed into their tree.
The Young One: So you like apples, do ya. Like the ones from paradise. They get me ready, as well. Cause my garden is full of them.
Yes. I’ve been complaining more than usual these past few months. No. Wait. That’s not true. I reckon I’ve been complaining like this for-almost-ever. Not making it in life has its quirks, indeed. But I will never complain about the parts of this life that I’ve been privileged (worstwriter can write “I’ve been privileged!) to experience and has been part of my own personal enlightenment. Allow me an example or two. Experiencing live philharmonic Beethoven. I have seen Don Giovanni twice. King Lear on Saturday night in Düsseldorf. MacBeth on Sunday night in Hamburg. Flew to San Francisco once on a whim and saw Jerry Lewis play the devil on stage. And what about the fine food I’ve become accustomed to eat? My culinary experience spans Thailand to Italy, Tex-Mex to Rheingau. Oh yes, life indeed is a bouquet of fun, games and hacking around – and now it’s time to get ready to die. I guess. So is life to short for bad wine to go with it all? No, it’s not. Life is too long to feed the greed-mongers of hoarded grapes and whored vineyards and so the world should smarten up and boycott wine.
Or maybe not. Obviously, I didn’t grow up in a world of cultivation. In order to be where I am today I had to first pick the path in life that was not meant for me. In short, that boils down to being an American immigrant. That is, as an American, I’ve chosen to live elsewhere (well, perhaps the word “chosen” is not quite right; but I won’t get into that chestnut here, dear worst-reader.) The fact is, if it weren’t for the wrong choices I’ve made, I’d still be in redneckville fiddling with all my guns and drinking beer out of cans. That’s right. I just said ”guns” and beer. Luckily those guns are still back home – hopefully locked up safe. As far as drinking too much out of cans, well, I now live in a place that makes the best beer in the friggin world and sometimes driving it out of cans is almost better than drinking it back home (if that makes any sense). And with such a big and grand move, I’ve been able to move beyond guns and beer to the luxury of wine, preferably red (on account Jesus never drank white). I’ve even acquired such a taste for wine that I’m not afraid to admit how drinking it makes me passive – just like Jesus.
A glass of fine red wine on a regular basis helps me deal with a whole bunch of this fucked-up world. If it weren’t for red wine – and all the reading I’ve done over the years to accompany it – who knows what would have become me. Of course, drinking a fine wine effects people in different ways. Just listen to some of the dips out there trying to figure out bouquets and tannins and structures. (Which, btw, reminds me of the film Sideways. Honestly, I don’t know why the writer of that film picked on Merlot so much.) Which brings me slowly but surely to the topic at hand.
But before I continue on with my worstwriting ramblings, let me get a sentence out regarding the subject of this post: Good wine is gettin’ too expensive. And I think that sucks. Even now, so many years after leaving my redneck ways, the smell of a fine wine brings back memories, which I’ll try and avoid writing about here. Yet there are some very confusing bouquets, if you will, that I can’t help that they remind me of something. A psychologist told me once that these are memories attached to my smells. Seriously. She said that to me. Anywho.
Now here’s the thing that might throw you for a loop. The smell that grabs me the most after I’ve drank too much fine red wine is the smell of guns. Here I’ll cease in the use of French vernacular. Yeah, the smell of a gun, fired or not, is quite the opposite of a fine wine. And don’t opposites attract? In a way, what I’m trying to get at here is the luscious Kilgore smell that motivates and accelerates the forgetting of every little murder one ever committed.
Kilgore: I love the smell of napalm in the morning. (You know, to motivate them to surf.)
Worstwriter: I love the smell of Tuscan red wine in the early or late afternoon. (To stop thinking altogether.)
Naturally I yearn for the smell of guns and what they do – those guns are part of what made me who I am today. And when the urge grasps me, when it tugs at my pant leg and causes my scrotum to itch, instead of reaching for the gun cleaning oil (my European substitute), I reach for a cork screw and a bottle with a DOCG label. (Btw, gun cleaning oil is a good substitute for getting that smell; you can buy the oil almost anywhere in Europe; all you have to do is sniff it; thank goodness you can’t buy the guns as easily.)
Oh, the smell. The smells that remind me… Like some stranded spider that bathes in chocolate and raspberry; the spider has been too often caught in a storm after being plucked from fresh olive oil soil; the spider is now waving through the hellish atmosphere and threatened by the carbon dioxide that seems to be the only thing humans can produce at the beginning of this/a new century – other than guns.
Yes. Wine. Perhaps the most severe addiction I’ve had to deal with ever. And now I have been given reason to give it up. But this reason is so unlike the reason I gave up the guns. What is the reason, you ask. It is not voluntary. And why is that? Well. It’s finally come full circle. Last year was probably the last year – most likely – that I will be able to visit the Tuscany region of Northern Italy to buy my habit. It used to be relatively easy – a matter of filling up the trunk of whoever’s car I stole – or informally borrowed. I then would drive back to Germany and proceed to hide the wine from those who would steal it from me. So much is this nice, fancy, comfortable but greedy life we live, eh. But the reality of years, just like the reality of the Karl Marx’s globalization complot, have caught up to me. (Am I alone?) That’s right. It’s no longer worth making the 1000+ kilometer drive to buy wine. The reality of move-over-rover economies has reached the regular folk of the once rich working west.
So… why did Jesus turn water to wine? Could it be because wine has always been too expensive? Hey! I might have just solved a mystery.
The thing is, as a failed artist, I can see through most human trickery as though it were both sides of my crystalline, mystic, immaculately conceived hand. I know that most of you (puppets) can’t see much – and I forgive you for that. But the time has finally arrived to remind you of your responsibilities as shitters and eaters. If failed artists like me can’t get to the wine or our other procrastinating habits – and we have to resort back to the gun oil – and the things it oils – then history is bound to repeat itself. Do you need to be reminded of the last failed artist that couldn’t afford (regularly) a drink?
What is Globalization anyway?
Ultimately the whole Globalization thing, no matter what the status quo tries to tell you, i.e. Wikipedia, is about redistribution. What’s being redistributed is probably a better question to ask. Ironically, the East Europeans, particularly Russians that I’ve met, were the first ones that introduced me to the word globalization. They used it to describe how the Soviet government was hanging on to Stalinism even as all their satellites were failing and/or trying to exit their union. But there no sense in clogging to many minds. It’s hard to see things that you can or should – with much less effort – avoid, eh?
Globalization – Wine = prolific literary violence. I think.
Moving beyond the fact that a bottle of Brunello purchased at the vineyard, or a bottle of Chianti Classico Reserve purchased at a local store in Northern Italy, rose ca. five Euros each year that I drove to Tuscany after 2003. Seriously. Inflation is something that can be countered. The real problem is this: Stalin-Soviet style redistribution under the mantle of economic changes that, according to Bill Clinton, cannot be reversed. I mean, come on, where and what is whatever being redistributed? Btw, the Spanish make a great alternative wine in their Rioja Reserve but after going their twice I can already tell that it’s gonna be two expensive real soon.
The joke about wine is that those who actually go to expensive restaurants and pay outrageous amounts for a bottle of wine deserve what they get. Which basically amounts to a show. The problem with great wine is that the good stuff is kept for the inner circles or the privileged buyers. Would you, if you had a standardized kind of demand for your product, turn out the best of what you can make to everyone? Of course not. We’re talking human free-will here. We’re talking Stalin Mafia here.
Enter the nouveau riche and the creation of “markets” (that were obviously not there previously).
How can Tuscany wine makers meet the crazed demand springing out of all this Globalized redistribution? In the article that I link to above, they say that the largest taker of Brunello wines are the Americans. That may be so – I’ve ran into quite a few during my stays in Tuscany. But I think the Italians see another wave of purchasers on the horizon and they (Italians) have to get their shit together to prepare for it. The great thing about wine producers is, in this new redistributed world, the consumer is no longer a participant in the scheme – as it used to be when Supply & Demand ruled and Keynes wasn’t necessarily evil. Today it’s all about purchasing power alone – which is interdependent of your geographic position. In other words, there is more to Globalization than Naomi Klein can shake a stick at and my guess is it has something to do with the chronic masturbation suffered by lonely careerists that have to travel… much.
Right. So what can inheritance rich wineries do to get richer and not be so embarrassed by the ones they leave behind?
Think tricks anew
If you think that the recent scandal in Tuscany is about wineries cheating on their bottles of wine then you might want to reconsider. Get this: the wine scandal currently in northern Italy is NOT about wine makers manipulating regulated wine in order to make a buck; nor is it about a supply or quality problem; then there’s the idea that some of the wineries had/have to cheat because, well, they had a bad year. (DOCG Brunello can’t be sold unless it’s been aged at least four years. There ain’t no such thing as just-in-time here.) This is an expensive wine to make. But that’s not the problem. The fact is, Tuscany is as great an example as any of Globalization finally catching up to the old money of the west. Yeah, you Euro baby-boomers, Globalizers are starting to eat their own.
The economic ticks & tricks over the past thirty or so years have been basically about ridding the market from the burdens of concepts such as Supply & Demand. A great example of this is the dot-com fiasco. Or did ”demand” for technology just decide to go away? Another is the current energy problem. Or does someone out there have definitive, empiracal evidence that this earth does not have the capacity to meet human energy demands?
At the least, we have a lot of things to both worry about and tap ourselves on the shoulder over. But should that cause a crisis in one of the best and productive wine regions there is? Would things be like they are these days if there was no demise of the Soviet Empire? Coincidentally, how ’bout our new & improved notion of fear?
If you ask me – and I don’t recommend you do. The question here about the recent Brunello scandal is easy: How do those who were rich before Globalization maintain their riches now that the shit is starting to hit the fan?
For the winery business in Europe – the answer is easy. Obviously you can’t readily burn down your vineyards (to wipe out debts and collect insurance) and you can’t just buy up all that ”nationalized” grape soil and move it to Indochina. Trust me when I say: a good glass of red wine is far from a Nike shoe. Remember, there’s no such thing as a free market anymore – there’s just people who are freer than others. The key to winning in the new Globalized market for players that can’t move out of their cost-problems is to raise prices. But raising prices is VERY bad for business. (Unfortunately that is one of the things Globalization has’t been able to get rid of.)
Nouveau Riche vs. Old Euro Money
How do you manage business when you have to drastically raise prices to take advantage of the nouveau riche? As the/your western (old) buyers start gettin’ rude regarding your un-justifiable prices and you shove the fact that their money ain’t as good as other money into their faces- you take in the moment. You breath deeply. You quickly realize that you have become a microcosm of Globalization. A good feeling, indeed. If it works for entire economies, and geo-political regions, why can’t it work for Guido, the killer wine maker in northern Italy?
Well, the Tuscan wineries have figured out a way to get around the PR aspect of raising prices. First, you create a scandal that exposes cheating. In turn you create sympathy because it makes consumers think their suppliers really do have supply problems. Such a scandal will also expose players and there will plenty of reason to cry foul. The market then starts to correct itself – in the form of government agency/agencies getting rid of the cheaters (players). (Yeah, right, in Italy.) And then there’s the subtext of the drama: It’s time for the wine industry to take care of its own – and anyone don’t like it… then let them eat cake!
Yes. I am obsessed withe Maria Antoinette and dream of her becoming Vito Corleone.
At the least, the scandal in Tuscany is not about juicing up bottles of fancy wine and breaking the rules regarding what goes into a bottle of Chianti. It’s about finding a way to drastically raise prises over or during the shortest economic cycles in history.
Winny Wine Maker That Inherits: I no make good money anymore!
Person He Is Trying To Impress To Fuck: But I want diamond first.
Winny Wine Maker That Inherits: We had too much rain (this/that) year.
Person He Is Trying To Impress To Fuck: To much rain? Change the weather – my Italian Stallion!
I will cherish the remaining bottles of Brunello I have in my cellar. And I will enjoy them when/if I have to drink them in a drastic moment when Europe once again falls into the rut of self-annhilation – from a Styrofoam cup.
Something short, non-discreet, pale, without remorse, absent of sense, grammar, yeah, sense. Great way to practice typing. The only thing I ever learned in school–and very thankful for it! Almost sorry I gave up this form of writing, though. I can still smell the paper, the ink silk, the old metal of the machine. The smell is worth mentioning, btw. A cross between rust, oil and heaven. Just sit at a machine, put in the paper and let your fingers do the… confusing.
Although warranted every day in this day and age… there will be no jokes today. (For those who don’t get it… see date of this post.)
Being a voluntary Bible reader – but let me add here that I am at the most an atheist and at the least a still very confused deist–I like parables. Then came the wacky Christian Right of America and suddenly I felt myself a bit out of place. So I gave up parables and turned to anecdotes. To be quite frank, I never knew what an anecdote was till one day it was jammed down my throat. Some teacher told me this neat little story – which I can’t remember – and then said it was an anecdote. I turned to her and said, But that sounded like a parable. That’s almost the same thing, she responded. But we are in a university here. We don’t use parables, she added. I enjoyed how Jesus tried to talk to stupid people, you know, so that stupid people could understand his message. Very strategic, that fellow, I used to say to myself–even though I never really understood a fuckin’ thing he was trying to say. It was just, growing up with a god who actually tried to talk to you was kinda cool. When I finally learned that an anecdote was nothing but an elitist parable, thanks to that really accepting and tolerant teacher, well, hey, what the heck, I dig anecdotes now.
Perhaps a bit long, I consider the excerpt below from my new story Gloria to be an anecdote. I’ll use these very short stories in my writing to allow myself to break away from the structure and system required to actually mold a much longer piece of prose. The biggest problem I have with writing is organizing it all. You know, the actual process of getting it from head to paper. I don’t think I was intended for this sort of thing – hence, (worst)writer. Still, press on. If you’re interested, here’s another anecdote of mine.
Time’s Story To Kev & Tom
Text example from my story Gloria.
As you know, I am not the best speaker, Time said. But I am the best thinker among the elements of the universe. The situation at hand requires any amount of control that we can muster. Are you both with me? Just nod your heads. Good. Now. There are two reasons that this is happening today. One of those reasons is very simple. It is against all known and established rules of the universe that two men die while fighting each other over the same woman. One of you may die, that’s fine. The simple fact is, if you both continue on this path you break many a’ rule – and upset a few elements, too. Is that clear? Good. Now. The second reason I am here is to pose to you both a question. Before I do that I will tell you a little story. OK? Just nod your heads. You don’t have to ring your minds to try and accommodate me. I know pretty much what you’ re thinking anyway. OK? Good. I’m going to tell you the story of Ey. When I’m finished with the story I’m then going to ask you a question. Understand? Good. Tom? Don’t worry about Kev’s knife. We have that under control. Again. When I’m finished telling you this story I’m going to ask you both a question and you then must answer it. OK? Good. Here we go. Please consider that the story of Ey is not to be taken lightly and there are many in the natural universe that have failed at trying to understand it. It’s not that it’s a complicated story but it is one of, let’s say, variety. Generally speaking, we know variety is not one of the windows out of which man tends to look. You follow me? Good. The story of Ey was originally a story of love. But we had to change that a bit because of some dissension among other elements. Instead it became a story of cooperative manipulation. You know, friendly coercion, hereditary privilege, all that. Still with me? Good. Ey was given the gift of life long before Man. At the time it was quite a task for us elements to converge and coordinate in giving Ey form but in the end we were able to pull it off. We decided that Ey would be a small creature. It would have two legs, two wings–although I must tell yon that I and Space were against the wings–it was all the idea of energy and mass, the weak and the strong force, etcetera. Anyway. Of course it also had a head, two eyes, a mouth, etcetera and to communicate it would chirp. What’s that, Tom? Think that again–I missed it the first pass. Oh. You want to know why we gave it the ability to chirp. Just keep in mind that we were at the beginning. That’s right. The beginning of everything. But get this. This is good. In order for Ey to move we decided that its head would have to move in collaboration with its feet. A great idea, really. That way it couldn’t, you know, since we gave it a head and everything, it couldn’t intellectually or physically get away from itself. Still with me fellows? I think that’s one of the funniest parts of the story. Oh. Would you believe at the last minute an element suggested that our new creation be fluffy? We had to kind of throw that in. OK. Do you guys have a picture of Ey? Nod your heads. Good. Now that Ey had form we had to give it purpose. Tom? You OK? You’re starting to look strained. Try to relax. Stay with me now. So. The purpose given Ey was to traverse the universe and then find its way back to where it started. Simple enough, won’t you agree? Ey was even given free rein which meant it could use any means necessary to fulfill its purpose. Before we knew it the little bugger was off. I’m telling you it was a frisky little thing and cute as a button. It jumped across galaxies, hitch-hiked on the back of comets, found a way to rest while hanging on to some asteroid field. It was great. But then, suddenly… Pay attention you two, this is important. Suddenly, in a single flash of Time that’s me, ha, ha–it arrived at a crossing. This wasn’t just any crossing. It was a crossing of … How do I put this? You see there is only one thing that all the elements agree on. It’s really very simple. All the elements agree that everything is connected. Do you know what I ’m talking about? Kev? You’re the scientist here. Good. But there are certain things that even the elements do not control. This all part of the complication between Nature and Elements. But I don’t want to lead us astray here, we’ll get into that some other time. Still with me? Good. Now. I think that today you would liken the crossing that Ey reached with something like… Quantum mechanics. Now don’t panic. The reason I say that is because, ultimately, Ey could have easily crossed. But he didn’t. The reason he didn’t, we think, is because he couldn’t see the other side. Remember now what I told you about Ey’s form. The head, feet coordination thing. All of us at elements headquarters were aghast. How many of these bloody living things do we have to make! No matter what we did, what we made, the living things always get stuck. And most recently they all get stuck at this stupid fuckin’ crossing. Ok. Excuse my French, there. So there Ey stood. It was still, I mean motionless, as if it were dead. After a few millennium we bagged it. I mean, we left it. I used to always say in such situations: Time to move on. Ha, ha. And we all did. But then, one day, the elements are all hanging out and suddenly Ey appears. There it is all cute and cuddly and fluffy. Some of the elements got pissed. Where the hell did you come from!, they would ask. How could you be here if you haven’t fulfilled the purpose we gave you, others asked. I mean, come on, think about it. We lost sight of Ey, frustrated that it didn’t fulfill its purpose and so we left it–we channeled our attention elsewhere. Now. Does either of you understand the implications of Ey suddenly appearing as though it had fulfilled its purpose? Granted, some elements could have hung around a bit longer–it’ s not as though all of us are busy all the time. But none did because we have been through this many times before. Create the living, give it all a purpose, hang out and be entertained and then wait for it to reach a crossing and then your eyes pop out from boredom. What? What was that, Tom? Think slowly and I’ll eventually get it. Oh. What does all this have to do with a story of manipulation? Well, like I said, if you were paying attention, initially this was a story of love. We changed the premise to manipulation and all that other stuff because there are elements that are simply incapable of love. Just not in their Nature–if you know what I mean. When Ey appeared, though, it sent shudders through the universe. And do you know what happens when the universe shudders? That is right. Nature awakens–and she’s not pretty when she doesn’t get to sleep-in. In fact, ever since Ey returned, putting some elements into a state of shock, Nature hasn’t been able to sleep-in anymore. Are you guys following me here? Come on. I’m almost finished. In order to have some peace from a forever bitching and moaning Nature, the elements got together and came up with a plan that would stop the shuddering of the universe and finally give Nature a chance to sleep-in. Some elements, though, said the hell with it and they didn’t care if the universe shuddered or not. There were also elements that said because Ey quit that we should just throw it in a black-hole or something like that. But then my friend Space stepped in and set everyone straight. Everything is connected, Space said. Even though we are dysfunctional with Nature, we are all still connected to her in one way or the other. Let us recognize our doing this one time and get involved with what we have created. There was a few millennium of silence in the hall of elements… Oh, sorry. In the universe. But then everyone finally agreed. You see, if we didn’t somehow agree then the universe would stop evolving and we run the risk of having more problems like we have with Ey and Nature will forever be a sour puss. Still with me fellows? Kev? Tom? Nod. Good. Do you see where this story is going? We created Ey, gave it a purpose, it was off and then … By defa
ult, in order for Ey to have returned from fulfilling its purpose it had to have done something at that crossing. Remember the Quantum thing that made you shudder? It makes Nature shudder as well. I tell you, she hates it. She hates it more than most men do. Anyway. For the first time, and this is a pretext for this story, the elements lost track of creation because of this stupid fluffy thing. We want to get back on track, we want once again to partake. Most importantly, we want that bitch Nature to get a good nights sleep and, if possible, someone serve her breakfast in bed. Now. That’s the end of the story. But it is not the end of purpose. I’m going to leave you both but before I do I want you to focus. Pull all your strength together, reach deep into your consciousness, go mining for it. I know that neither of your egos want to hear this but there is a lot depending on you two. I suggest you face that fact. Trust me when I say that your every action has meaning and purpose. Still with me? Good. Now. Do you have any questions regarding the story of Ey? Are you sure? OK. The elements of the universe want to stop all the shuddering. We admit that we lost touch with all that we created but we want to finally make good. Ey is among us, cute and fluffy as ever, but it’s difficult communicating with it – and that too is our mistake. We now turn to you, our greatest achievement and ask for your help. Now. Please, tell us, based on what you know of Ey. Did it cross…?
Original Title: Starting Over, Subsidized Cars, The Art of Selling Junk
The weather broke this week in Germania. It’s an enjoyable time when the weather does this. Not so much because of the sunshine, the bier gardens, the easy women, but instead because I always feel that the sky of winter is finally off my back. Seriously. During the nine month winter season (there are only two season here, the other is summer) I always feel as though I can walk out into the misery and touch the f’n gray, dark, gloomy sky. Yeah, a thing Das Volk owns.
So let’s blog today about the sun coming out and what that can do to (a) human psyche (mine?) and show that, at least for a short time, why the national symbol for most Germans should be Sour Puss.
Before we continue let’s tangent into the world of those who think optimistically and believe in nature and all that tree-hugging krapp. It’s been a particularly difficult winter for the overly passive and falsely Green Das Volk. I think that some Germanins are starting to face the reality that building and subsidising all the massive and resource hugging automobiles for Das Volk might actually be adding to some of this global warming stuff. No. Seriously. I mean it. I’m almost serious.
So that there’s no confusion. Here’s my take on global warming in a few sentences. With this I make no political claim or affiliation – in that sense, I’m quite agnostic.
IMHO Al Gore and others are on the wrong path regarding the mess the planet is in. To me it’s not about emissions or fossil fuel, waste and greed. I believe that the whole ”green” discussion should be about responsibility either. It should be about western corporatism that is redefining things such as fascism, imperialism and, goodness forbid, feminism. The discussion/debate should be about the fact that Man, if left to so-called unchecked free-will, will do anything he can do and he will never do what he should do. See my post on Macbeth – and, if you haven’t, read that play right now. I am not advocating ”government” and all that that entails here. If anything, I’m advocating humanity and all that that should entail.
Over 60 % of all company cars sold in Germany are corporate right-offs. That means a very large portion of Audi A4, A6, A8, the VW Passat and that stupid Phaeton, BMW 3, 5 and 7 series, all Mercedes in the E, C and above classes, etc., etc., are state subsidized. They are cars leased by the employers of Das Volk and then provided to employees – who have to pay extra tax on them. Indeed, Das Volk, if not Eurowastelanders in general, love paying taxes. Keep in mind that a huge portion of Das Volk and their well-made vehicles would never be on z’Autobahn if it weren’t for z’government intervention because no Kraut under the age of fifty that didn’t inherit more than, I don’t know, let’s say, two-hundred thousand euros by the time he/she was thirty, can actually work for a living and then afford these cars. (I won’t even get into the taxes for owning and operating an Auto.) We should all be thanking those really brilliant and over educated PhD dudes that run Das Volk auto-industry and z’country for creating such a beautifully marginalized life of driving.
Today when the sun was shinning my girlfriend asked me before she left for work in the wee hours if I would spring clean her car. Sure, I said. When I finally got out of bed, had some breakfast, drank my share of coffee, wrote about three thousand words, I jumped in her little sports car (it’s a Chinese made MG!) and drove off to the wash-n-go place. It’s best to wash this type of car with those spray guns – you know, avoid anything that could potentially be abrasive. Call me a stickler for poorly made, albeit cool branded cars – although this car was ”designed” by the Brits, it’s made in China – I try to look after it and see to it that it will actually last a few years. I know. Wishful thinking.
When I was finished washing the MG I proceeded to wipe it down, clean the windows, vacuum the interior. Luckily it is a small car so it doesn’t take long – I had to get back to writing another two thousand words, you know. Just as I was about to wrap up everything and head home to a typwriter, a guy pulled along side me at the car wash and stuck his head out the window.
-Ciao. Parlate Italiano?, he said.
-Sorry there, bud, but my Italian is real bad.
He gestured to my beard that has been growing for the past two weeks and has taken on a really cool grayness. I think he said something like he thought I looked Italian. Which is not far from the truth at all. Especially when I have a tan.
-Desidero dare qualcosa voi, he said.
He reached into the back of his car (a fairly new – and subsidized? – VW Passat?) and showed me a fine leather coat that was perfectly packaged. I stared at him as he tried to hand me the leather coat.
-Che formato Ë voi?
-Dude, what the fuck is the matter with you. I only look Italian, I said.
-Watt iz you zize, huh?
-Do you mean size? You want my ”size”? Let’s just say extra large.
-Prago. I must get to It-ali. You hep me? Come. I giff you Georgio Armani.
I told him I wasn’t interested but he pressed on. I thought for a moment that what he showed me looks like a pretty good cheap copy of an Armani leather coat and would never cramp the style of worst-writer. Then I told him that I’m a ”writer” and that I can’t get published and I have no money to offer him in exchange. I also told him that I’m fatter than XL and he seemed to agree. But then again. I thought. I can’t fit into the last leather coat that I was able to afford – when I actually made a living. I wondered if I should have told him that I live off a well-earning German girlfriend who has an MG and an A6 (subsidized company car, aghast).
I thought: what’s the best way to get a lunatic It-alien salesman off my back.
-Dude, scuzi, do you want to know what I do for a living? I’m a writer. Autore. This is not even my car. I’m washing it for someone to get a few Euros. Capi-shee? I’m a failed writer. I write every day and can’t earn one fucking cent in this world. And you want to con me out of money for a fake Armani coat and then convince me to give you a gift of, let’s say, a hundred Euros for giving it to me? Get the hell out of here before I head butt your ass like Zidane. Fuck off.
In a way I felt bad for the guy. He might have needed the money to actually get back to It-ali as he was running away from the German counterfeiter where he stole the coats.
As I drove home in the clean MG I thought about the story that I started a few weeks ago which became a story I thought I lost. I realized a few days after thinking that I lost the story that I still wanted to write it. But how? I talked to myself about it for a while and then just said: fuck it. Start over. And so I did. I started re-writing it. Been typing like crazy since. It’s coming along now. I hope to have a version of it finished in a few weeks. It’s still called Gloria. I don’t plan on having any It-aliens in it but there is a Romanian.
Update June 10, 2008. There’s a new movie out on steroids. Like so many other ”docu- mentaries”, they should have titled it: Too little, Too Late.
Looking back on life I can make (only) a few claims to actually experiencing what I was taught/told/ is ”happiness”. Like so many other things in this world, I’m sure that the tellers of happiness meant well. And in a few cases the tellers weren’t completely wrong. For example. The birth of my son is at the top of my list of ”happiness”. Crabbing in and around the Chesapeake Bay is in that list as well. The first two years after moving to Ger-many where I slept with at least x-number of different women…
Seriously. I tried not to. But. Quickly after moving to Europe/Germany did I learn one of the major differences between American women and European women. Promiscuity was without recourse in Europe. No one was called a slut or a whore or whatever and people didn’t talk trash about you. (How civil, eh.) People were just looking for love and being with someone and I sloppily put myself in the middle of it all and took advantage of whatever I could. Now that I’m middle aged and can’t perform like that anymore… I don’t regret a thing.
Speaking of the past, i.e. regret. Let’s go back a few years. How about 1979?
The last claim to happiness that I’ll worst-write about today, dear worst-reader, is when I played American football in high school. American high school was the culmination of life experience and the spring board to/of who I am today with only one slight twist. The reality is, I hated American high school. The only thing that got me through it was sports. Throughout I played football starting at the end of summer and through the fall/early-winter and then played tennis through the spring. For summer vacation I worked at a gas station or cut grass for upper middle class snobs. To pass any free time during the summer I dabbled in Golf and Lacrosse. The only regret I have is not having played baseball. What a waste of time it all turned out to be.
Yet. I don’t know what I’d be today if it weren’t for sports back then. At the least, I’d probably be happier and living life without so much regret.
There truly is happiness in life when you’re commanding a team of ten other boys. You’re calling the plays and singing cadences and your handing off the ball or you’re throwing it twenty yards down field through a swinging old non-radial tire (the defense) into the awaiting hands of a guy named Bruce or Todd who is your team-mate but you barely know.
American Football Cadence: a particular series of vocal calls, intended to keep an offense in rhythm and coordinated to when the quarterback will hike the ball.
Yes, I was the quarterback. I was the “brains” of the team. I was … an absolute jock imbecile blind to the realities of life before and after the game. Except for the chicks. You know, the key to dumbing-down a society must lie in the reality of gettin’ laid. But the cheerleaders and pompom girls bored the hell out of me. Although all other standards in my life were pretty low, I tried to keep it high with the chicks. Being regularly featured in the local newspaper seemed to do the trick. I was known for being with non-jock chicks. That culminated in dating a girl who starred in a high school production of The Glass Menagerie. Yeah, how ironic that I would fall for a theater-chick and then end up being a failed playwright.
Oh what a memory. Amanda Wingfield and I were something like the odd-couple. I was or wanted to be the jock that transcended. She wanted to get more of an audience. To this day the beautiful girl who played her on stage is still in my dreams. How long, then, will the sanity remain?
When I wasn’t playing football or some other dumb-downing sport I spent the rest of my time observing and trying not to think. The future? College? Job? I was actually dumb enough to believe that I could go to college and continue playing football. The athletic chasm, though, between high school and college is simply too big. The chasm between college and professional football is either the same size or a tick bigger. That is what I learned after it was too late. In the mean time, at the beginning of my junior year of high school, our team was ranked number one in our division. We were on our way that season to the state championship. One day during a school lunch break, in the parking lot behind the school, one of my team-mates came up to me.
Dude: Dude, you wanna improve your performance?
Dude: Your forty (yard dash) time goes up immediately. You’ll bench press fifty more pounds by next Tuesday.
Dude: Come on, dude. Everybody’s doing it. Here. Bend over!
I bent over and felt a slight prick. Later that day, probably while sitting in history class or make-believe civics, I felt a strange moisture in my seat. I looked down and saw a small speck of blood. In the bathroom I washed the needle wound on my ass and the cold water finally helped to clot it. How correct Dude was. Within days I could run faster and could bench press more and there were even moments where I thought, if I really put some effort into it, I could squeeze that regulation pig skin, wrongly shaped ball till it popped like a balloon. Oh, the only other side-effect of taking what was called Deca-Durabolin (aka Nandrolone) was the shockingly large amount of seaman that I released into or all over that sweet girl who played Amanda Wingfield in our high school’s biggest theater hit.
Yes. Drugs were/are everywhere. Drugs to get you high and drugs to make you run fast. It’s no wonder to me that now, so many years later, those same drugs mixed with guns are randomly killing so many people. Yet. Thanks to sports I was able to stay away from getting high. I quickly realized, though, that taking drugs (of any kind) was the wrong thing to do. (At least while you’re still so young.) Perhaps I owe a tidbit of wisdom to a conversation that went something like this:
Coach/Teacher: Dude, you need to focus on your future after high school.
Me: Uh. But. I. Want. Play…
Coach/Teacher: Dude, listen, you’re talented but you’re not gifted. Now don’t misunderstand. The world is a big place and you can TRY to do almost anything you want. But I recommend that you consider improving your grades and then maybe going to the community college.
Yeah, I could throw a pig-skin ball through a swinging old tire from twenty-five to thirty yards out. But I couldn’t see the reality of what a future outside the confines of Momma-like American High School held for me. Being the product of the broken American dream, I accepted no advice from wannabe mentors.
At least, somehow, I learned/realized that winning a championship high school game didn’t matter. Add to that the fact that I knew that I was stuck in a world of mediocrity and mendacity… whether I threw the ball straight, curved or dead-on. There was/is no getting out. I just wasn’t one of them gifted athletes and there weren’t enough drugs to change that.
”You are talented but you are not gifted.”
Listening to gifted athletes – who could have “made it” without drugs – sit in front of the US Congress and deny taking these substances continues the breaking of my heart. There is no meaning in a life filled and ruled by all these gimme-more pigs. Roger Clemens – a gifted athlete – who is now being scrutinized for the alleged use of ”performance enhancing” substance(s) is, of course, denying the use of substances. Instead he is claiming to inject vitamin B12 in his ass. I don’t want to get into judging people. But the problem is that when people like this – the gifted – don’t know when to say no, well… ain’t it obvious why life really sucks for the rest of us. Oh. And it doesn’t stop at sports. Even famous actors now publicly claim that taking these substances is OK. Well, then. May the gifted rule.
With that in mind, let’s all take a moment of silence to praise all the gifted ones out there. They deserve so much more.
Today’s middle-aged bitter rant with a few self-indulgent anti- and autobiographical tangents meant to challenge the mind’s-eye of the visually impaired has to do with…
Michael Schumacher is finally finished with F1. Gee, (turn on the sarcasm now) … this makes me ask: Why does such an honest, hard working, paradigm setting career have to end? Is it an age thing that makes driving a car difficult? Is Shumi quitting because he’s afraid his family will be mobbed by the German tax authorities like Steffi Graf’s family was? Does this have anything to do with luck losing the fight against opportunity or vice versa for young dreamers of the western world of greed who also would somehow like to make and/or have a standard of living? (Turn off sarcasm now. Maybe.)
Many years ago, growing up in the suburban-hell that is American’t, the word opportunity meant something. The word luck meant something too. Quickly I realized the biggest difference between the two. Opportunity was/is very expensive. Luck, on the other hand, like belief, was free. But how does one get some luck? You don’t get it, I thought. You wait for it. Right? So. I did what everyone else did. I waited and hoped. Of all the dogma and propaganda shoveled my way, it was my American’t indoctrination that helped me believe one thing: if I couldn’t afford opportunity, and luck was oblivious and mystical but attached to the environment and circumstance you are born in, the only chance of making it in this life was to hang on to luck via hope and in the mean-time get edumacated. Imagine that. I came up with all that by the time I was a vey young adult.
The problem was I came from the atypical broken American low-middle-class home that is the bulwark between various social and racial classes and two-hundred plus years of national lies, civil disabilities, hate, the misinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment and the freedom to be stupid, etc. Like many others in the united mistakes of American’t, I was not only born but also conceived in the realm of negative zero – from which there is no way out even though it is drilled into that whole bullshit about you can be anything or dishwasher to millionaire krapp. Which ain’t such a bad thing until you realize that “zero” in American’t is the same as a deficit. Anywho. With all the anger and frustration that I had accumulated by the time I became an adult, I hated everything that was organized because it involved people who couldn’t get over the elbowing and pushing and shoving that was life in the get-more-than-the-next-guy system. No wonder “I always feel better when fewer people are around” (credit to Charles Bukowski for quote). No wonder, even though I performed, became a willful subject, delivered my worked and showed up for that work on-time, I couldn’t keep a job for any length of time. Growing up in and subjecting oneself to a world of lemmings AND being a job jumper was not a good strategy for a future. If only I could have known all that at around the same time I figured out all that bullshit about opportunity and luck. Anywho.
Retract a bit. One day. Quite late in life. I started reading. In the beginning I absorbed words and text like a fat man at McDonald’s with idiotic freedom fries and pseudo-meat. I especially loved novels from the likes of Dostoevsky, Henry Miller, and reading plays by Sam Shepard and Tennessee Williams, among others. There was also the occasional essay or scientific journal that started to open up my eyes to the corrupted intellectual and political world that was mine. It was an interesting, honest time – on my part – and the reading kept me sane. I remember having something like an epiphany while reading once. It went like this: if you read this, by yourself, learn, it is better than sitting in a class-room with a bunch of mice-dicks throwing elbows at each other and grappling for mice-pussy. So I kept reading until the next epiphany came. It went like this: show … me … the money. (Yes. Long before that film that stole my words.)
Doing the best I could with the cards dealt, I juggled through life with the hope of maybe running into some luck and hopefully earning some money. More than twenty years later, the result of the path I chose is obvious. I recommend this path to no one. Since leaving the nest and trying to ”make-it” I have remained nothing more than a living, breathing, walking, useless eating loser. You know, exactly the label used by the power-elite of American’t when describing their welfare subjects. I have never succeeded at anything I have ever tried to do. My only consolation to having failed so explicitly is that, when I die, at least I can say I tried or at least I had the courage to give it a go on my own without having followed anyone. The other good thing about being what I am is that I have no one to answer to but myself. No. Wait. I meant to say something else. Oh yeah.
So. What does any of this have to do with M. Schumacher? Well. Continue wasting time with me and I’ll get to that.
I don’t know about you but my guess regarding my disproportionate bad-luck in life could only be due to an anomaly in the space-time continuum disturbing the life-force that I was born with. Wait. Again. I don’t know about you but I was born in the united mistakes and luckily had relatives in Eurowasteland. That meant I could do a bit more than the “American(’t) does Euro(wasteland)pe in two-weeks”. Mix that luck with a little bit of opportunity to earn some money… Shebang, baby. Combine that with being the creative person that I thought I was, which means I can ALMOST see the future, I was excited about leaving the American’t mess where the seed to what is now republican, conservative, bitch-slap economic hell was planted (thanks a lot R. Reagan and all the other idiots that fell for his manipulative lies). Anywho. In the excitement of the moment I read Crime and Punishment in three days waiting for my flight to old country. And guess what? Luck, schmuck, it has turned out to be an extended, nightmare vacation. FYI, I was the one that first wrote the lyrics: why is it that it always rains on me?
I think I’ve really lost my way here. Nomatter.
So. Off to the old country. I believed Luck had found me. Opportunity was a door waiting for me. And I was about to hang out in Eurowasteland where I would work for the man and make money and on the side pursue an alternative lifestyle, a.k.a. read books, write, make theatre and try to be an artist. I worked for American’t consulting companies during the day and earned peanuts and lived in a dump at night. And that was cool. There was even some romance involved. You know, Eurowasteland chicks. And. FYI. What a difference Eurowasteland chicks are to American’t chicks. You can actually sleep with Eurowasteland chicks and not get caught up in relationship false promises. Cool, eh. Back to subject! But then, as always, reality quickly set in; the cost of opportunity set in. Employers were making demands regarding their commitment to me. Chicks starting turning the corner regarding false promises. Omg. Life is real.
Eventually all the reading, writing and experience I had gathered didn’t help in my quest to afford the heavy burden of the German lie that is Mittelstand life. Now don’t get me wrong. This was an opportunity abroad that I did not have in the united mistakes. But it was opportunity that was/has been redefined with a very short life-span. You see, there just might be something to the idea that each generation chips off so much of the pie that there’s nothing left after two or three scoops. Wait. Wrong metaphor. Anywho. Like everyone that reaches that point in life where dreams have run dry, all that’s left is to live with some kind of living standard that you can call your own. But even then that turns out to be asking for too much. Right? What? More about easy German chicks?
The German good-life that I experienced upon arrival in Eurowasteland was abundant like sand. But like most beaches in the world it is owned by birth and/or nationality. Hence, the final remnants of the Wirtschaftswunder was their luck and not mine. The way things have gone since the old country has been forced to wake up to the realities of economics and coercive politics, I feel bad for those who are born in Germany after the 80s – especially my son. If only I could have realized my dilemma sooner, paid better attention to having seen the future in my past. If only I could have also seen that finally giving in to false relationships was an addition to the nightmare not an addition to the dream… Wait. Stop the presses. We (my brain and I) seriously need to move on.
This post is almost about M. Schumacher. I promise.
I heard someone say once that everything fashionable and pleasurable comes from Eurowasteland. I don’t know what that means. Long story short: when I finally realized that others were far ahead and I was even further behind (in life), it was too late to change the terrible direction I had chosen. Fate and irony are strange bedfellows, eh. To pass the time in my golden cage of error, I started thinking a lot about Opportunity, Luck, Michael Schumacher and German beer.
There were realities that I had to face after so many years in Eurowasteland. Yeah, talk about being stuck in an ideal. I had invested ten years of my life in Eurowasteland and had nothing to show for it. Going back to the States was not possible because, well, I hadn’t paid my dues there (as the lemmings say) – and there was literally no place to return to. No family who gave a hoot. No relatives who were not also somehow enslaved by the economy or broken lives. No friends that had earned enough to take on an almost starving artist. So what did I have left? Stay the course and be a father – and join the ever growing crew of Eurowasteland welfare, baby! But don’t get me wrong. Of course, there were other reason to stay:
-People take walks. You know they actually say: Come on, let’s go for a walk. It is almost unheard of here to drive two blocks in a car to buy something. (Where I grew up in suburban hell… taking a walk was a strange thing to do. Really.)
-Art means something even though Europe can only display it.
-Nobody is really poor; in contrast, Eurowasteland could never have a Bill Gates.
-Eurowasteland is communism w/out Joseph Stalin – which sounds kind of fun, right?
-People actually have cash and positive bank accounts and are born with the right to three weeks of vacation a year and they, according to how they participate in parliamentary democracies, love to pay taxes because they believe it affords them something on top of their bank accounts – like streets/roads, schools and education and drinking beer and wine at age 16.
-There is a social-collective idea that people need to work for a greater good that benefits the whole and they fail miserably at implementing that because, just like any other democracy, no one here is capable of realizing that it’s all more than just casting a vote and picking an idiot to make decisions for you.
-I wanted to be a father. I didn’t want a family, per se, but I wanted to be there for my son. Etc.
Let me accentuate: what I have just stated is a generalization. As we say in American’t: take it with a grain of sweetened-salt. Such a generalization comes from my experience and observations while living in Germany and traveling around Eurowasteland from 1990 to 1995 – or what I consider to be the last good years and the period where Michael Schumacher becomes God. The mention of communism in my generalizations is a bit tough for me to make. I’m simply saying that, as an American’t, Eurowasteland’s socialism is truly far-fetched. This is quite opposite to the US capitalistic and individualistic system of which I am reared – and actually believe in – but also am quite aware that it doesn’t really exist. In other words, if American’t has bad capitalism then Eurowasteland has even worse socialism.
Ironically, living in Eurowasteland as a failure is like living in a pleasure dome penniless. That’s right. By the early 21st century, I was broke and without any chance of gainful employment. Then and there I started doing what a lot of normal unemployed men did: drinking – and watching F1 on TV. I mean, come on, I was old enough to know when the jig was up. I was pushing forty which made me – remember, I am also a foreigner – unemployable unless the gods so many believe in gave me a PhD. Yeah. No more earning peanuts and living off the laurels of pre-globalization Eurowasteland consumption extravagance funded by the ghost of George Marshall. Wirtschaftswunder, wie?
And Now… z’ Schumi.
So I’m sure you’re saying by now, what the hell does this all have to do with Michael Schumacher? Well, being a self-educated failure has its advantages. One, it allows me to write and manage a web-blog. Whoopee. Two, it allows me to stand on the outside, both far away and close enough, where I can see horizons and sunsets and the beliefs of so many that are the downtrodden. I remember Schumi when he won his first F1 championship for Benetton in 1994. And I remember saying, what a silly racing season that was. To me it was the beginning of the farce that would subsequently be Schumis’ “career”. And I actually like the guy. It was also the time where it became obvious that the only way to have success is if you can buy it – forget all the bullshit about luck vs. opportunity. And that really takes away from the thrill of sports. Or is just me that thinks that way?
I’m sure Michael Schumacher is a pretty good race car driver. But, IMHO, we’ll never really know that. There is no legitimacy to Schumi’s achievements because there is no way to measure what he has done. Am I the only one to notice that there’s a corporate thing going on with certain so-called sporting events? (Sarcasm intended, btw.) On the other hand, I suppose it’s not the same with Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or, oddly enough ;-), Steffi Graf. And yet, Schumi is worshiped in Germany like a God. As though all he has achieved is, somehow, real. Oh, how the German meek are once again proving how easy it is to mislead an entire nation.
Speaking of Steffi Graf*! As critical as I am of Schumi, I’m twice as critical of his home country. (And don’t worry, I will leave as soon as I can!) Anyone remember how German ”authorities” treated Steffi Graf and her Dad regarding tax evasion? She was/is probably the greatest (statistically?) woman tennis player in history (only earning around $30m, though). Yet, her family was so horribly harassed by ugly and disgusting German civil servants that there were times watching the news I thought I would heave my guts. Or am I the only that gets disgusted how civil servants all think they are somehow doing something worthwhile and therefore not worth the ground they walk on?
Speaking of things fair, great achievers, and failed nation-states. I’d like to elect Horst, the guy who taught me to fish in the Rhine River without getting caught by gaming authorities and thus avoiding the stupid licensing requirements to operate a fishing pole as a great German achiever of the 21st century.
I wonder why it matters to no one that Ferrari (a.k.a Fiat) out-spent all other manufacturers during each season of Schumi’s championship winning streak. I mean, it’s very clear and without argument that some sort of design, engineering and driving “fairness” was part of the circus competition. It’s another question to ask why manufacturers like Mercedes, BMW and Renault couldn’t spend as much. Don’t they want to win? Are they not able to build cars like … Fiat? And is it not as though all these companies are in no way, shape or form subsidized with tax payer money here in the welfare state of Eurowasteland? In the words of the great Walter Sobchak, aka John Goodman, in that kinda famous film where he plays a bowler and is friends with another bowler: Am I wrong?
Is there nothing to warrant questioning after seven boring titles the proverbial machine that is the F1 circus? (Turn cynic on.) Why am I the only one to ask? (Turn off.) Does anyone, other then sponsors and money pushers, take the notorious Bernie Ecclestone serious? Having long since given up on watching sports all my life, its a wonder why F1 hasn’t been categorized up there with American WWF. You now, the sport-entertainment they call rastling. What am I talking about? I must be crazy to question the legitimacy of something that is obviously REAL and natural and not fictional. M. Schumacher.
My favorite subtitle quote of Schumi says it all: statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen. Yeah, statistically! But hey, he’s also the first billionaire sportsman in history. And you know what they say: money talks and bullshit walks. Gee, now that Schumi lives in Switzerland I guess that makes him, like, a surreal God hiding out in the mountains far away from those horrible tax agents (think: Steffi Graf’s father). Oh. American’t richness has it’s tax havens. Eurowasteland has its … er wohnt nicht mehr in Deutschland.
But let’s cut to the chase, shall we. The biggest thing that turned me off to Schumi – although I really do like the guy – was all the talk about him being “humble”. You know, from a humble place. For those who think that Schumi comes from a humble beginning, you might want to reconsider – or study-up on Eurowasteland aristocratic history. You can find it on every street corner through out Eurowasteland. It’s even buried behind every counter at every grocery store, every bar/pub, every toilet basin.
Schumi is from a small town just outside of Cologne, Germany. I have been through this town many times. I used to pass through it while cruising the countryside on my Aprilia Mille which I had to practically give away in order to get some cash after Germany and the political geniuses that run the show more or less declared me unemployable in this country. Schumi’s home town is quaint and full of so-called working-class Germans. The houses are nice, the yards are trim and the kids laugh and play and everyone, I mean everyone, enjoys lavish Fernweh vacations because they are born German and their grandparents worked hard and they supply the world with subsidized engineering, cars, bridges, nuclear power plants, Birkenstocks, cars that drive great as long as they dont have any electronics, etc., etc. Did I mention that I failed to make in Germany?
As you drive through Schumi’s town in a westerly direction you will eventually come to the infamous race track dubbed the green-hell. It is the wake made by this race track that motivated Schumi’s father to spend all his extra income, which, of course, would never infringe upon well-earned family vacations, on kart-racing. Oh yeah, the beginnings of the statistically greatest race car driver in the world must be truly, by definition, beyond humble. I mean. Has anyone out there in the western hemisphere that earns a living and struggles to pay to survive ever taken their kid to a go-kart racing track? (I know this is overboard silly but I’m gonna go with it; if you’ve made it this far, wow, congratulations.)
Did you know that go-kart tracks in Germany, since Schumi’s first championship, have actual pagan Gods like Ra and Thor and Artemis that ride around them at night to keep the extravagantly paved surfaces in shape? I mean, what should one do as a lonely parent in a world of such superficiality, such confusion, where nothingness and flakiness rules? What do you do when the kids have the latest computer game and Star Wars action figure and, of course, perfect grades in math? What do you do when your kids always ask: daddy can we do this or can we do that? As a parent I don’t think it’s a good idea to always say no to the little ones. We don’t want children growing up in the 21st century to think that nothing is possible. We don’t want to raise our kids in the 18th century either. At least we don’t want to do that in Eurowasteland. Let the American’ts do that!
So when my son asked me about go-karts, I thought: that’s where Schumi started as a humble F1 driver. With the burden of naivete that has become my trademark, I took my son to the track. I thought: there’s probably not a more humble person in Germany right now than my nine-year-old, born of a failed American’t and a luck-of-the-draw sweet German girl – who lucked out with me. It was a great day to go to the luscious track even though I was financially ruined. It was one of the days where the sun actually shined for more than twenty minutes before breaking into a month long rain spell. But as we walked up to the track, reality set-in: do I pay for this with ”savings” or take a bit out of the college fund – which I hadn’t been able to start yet? Then I thought: credit! Oh, thank you American’t for giving the world plastic credit. (Is plastic credit card an oxymoron?)
Oh no! I thought. It was time to explain to my son that Daddy was a loser and had no money and Shumi’s humble beginnings weren’t so humble and… he could only take two laps. Then I thought: hell, I’m not all that humble; this is socialized Eurowasteland; Eurowasteland is Disney for adults – every fucking day. That’s right! Let’s splurge – like Schumi’s father must have done with him in order to get him to be a great car driver. Or something that at least could make a living in this life. So. Like everything else in the West, let’s redefine history, language, dare I say: morality, and take on some consumer credit and give in to the exuberance so kids don’t grow up thinking about greed and want and gimme and that’s mine and not yours and…
In German word for humble is: Bescheidenheit. As in other languages context plays a big role when translating. To say the least, the word Bescheidenheit or Bescheiden could be used a bit more over here so that the Germans understand it.
Schumi’s father was/is a Handwerker. That means he is, compared to other Eurowasteland countries, an over-paid craftsman. This type of work is no indication of Schumi coming from anything I could ever fathom to be humble. Does Schumi come from the super-rich and schmuck world that produces other F1 drivers? No. But I can tell you from my experience living in Germany, although these German craftsmen are probably some of the best in the world, they are simply… outrageously expensive and some of them make an incredible living. Can you say political and economic protectionism? Let me give you an example of how they do it.
As a simple guy having moved to Eurowasteland I was traumatized by a German Handwerker once. My first apartment (or dump) required some repair work. According to German law, the required work had to be done by a certified Handwerker because it was near a gas or an electric line or something like that. Which makes sense. Long story short: Just try paying for a required and certified Handwerker to come fix something that is regulated by some obscure, bureaucratic law. Think of the movie Brazil and Sam Lowry and the infamous rogue and rebellious anti-Handwerker Tuttle. It’s a no-brainer as to why practically all German construction companies are bankrupt and East Europeans come here by the bus load to do all the work. Boy, it’s a good thing that Shumi’s dad took Schumi to the go-kart track, uh. And that Schumi was eventually able to no longer live in Germany, eh. Otherwise the whole Shumi family would be competing with Poles right now for laying a few bricks instead of owning their own mountain in Switzerland. Anyone up for some humble pie?
I’m not trying to be mean here. Life is not easy anymore for the average German born-after, let’s say, 1960. But Schumi came from a family that was by far from anything that could be categorized as below a very high living standard. It should never be said that Schumacher rose up from the bottom or from anything humble because in Germany there is nothing humble – the whole country needs to learn the word Bescheiden. And by the looks of most of the driver’s in F1, I’m sure there is a place, eventually, for someone to come up from the proverbial bottom as soon as the word bottom is redefined.
As bitter as I am for being such a loser in world with so many winners, I will give credit where it’s due. Michael Schumacher made and profited from his doings, which is all that can be expected from people today. I would never be against so much Luck and Opportunity happening to anyone. I just wish that people would start looking for truth in the god’s they put on high pedestals. The achievements of Michael Schumacher should be equated with those who work just as hard because it’s obvious that other F1 drivers do not work as hard as he does. Right? (Can I get a big f’n grin here!) I’m not talking class-fighting here as much as some form of justice and/or respect in all aspects of life – even, believe it or not, outside of F1.
BTW, ”Fair” or Fairness can go fuck itself – they are no longer relevant in a day and age where the playing-field is changed to always fit a ”winner”.
Oh, one last messy thought: Opportunity and Luck will someday begin the weighted process of negotiating a truce to their conflict of self-annihilation. Until then, Schumi and F1 are the personification of that conflict.
*Steffi Graf and her father were literally ambushed by German tax authorities. It was such an embarrassing circus on the daily news that I felt bad for Steffi. No one, I mean no one, deserved the treatment in either the press or by civil servants that she and her family received. I hope she can afford to live the rest of her life away from these sick German civil servants who by-and-large run this country. Fuck them all. Schumi, on the other hand, was smart enough to move away in the nick-of-time. If only I could be so lucky!
Disclaimer. The following came to me the other day – as opposed to me coming to it – which happens quite a bit – so bear with me. I had these thoughts that started with: “What is writing?” In order to prevent things from getting out of hand I attempted to hone the thoughts with some quick research (thank you Internets) but was quickly overwhelmed with content. You see, that’s the problem of thinking too much – and wanting to follow up and research it all (with the Internets). Sometimes a consequence of trying to find answers is comparable to opening up a rich can of worms. This wiki-article I found during my research didn’t actually help matters but it did lead me away from an initial out-of-the-blue hypothesis regarding Hawking Radiation. I was thinking that Stephan Hawking might have unknowingly provided a way to preemptively explain a few things that had avoided being common knowledge for a really, really long time. Or to put it another way: finding answers (to the subject at hand) is like when you’re dying of thirst and someone offers you a margarita. It’s one of them moments were you just kind go with it, you know. Still. To really find any answers there is a lot of honing yet to be done. Good luck to you as well.
I was thinking about writing. I was thinking: What is it? How does it work? Why do I have such difficultly transcribing what I think – or what I thought I was thinking at any particular given moment? Then a battery of sub-questions arrived based on the out-of-the-blue presupposition that, maybe, just maybe, writing is totally unnatural (and not just for me). For example. How do musicians do it? That is, how do those that make music come up with compositions(s) that, once orchestrated, almost always seem clear and natural? And doesn’t the same apply to mathematics? Obviously composing a song has it’s processes but ultimately the end result is clear – and therefore complete. To me that’s quit the opposite of writing – especially worstwriting. The thing is, I’ve never felt completion in anything. And let me add that I have written a lot. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just making a molehill out of an overweight american’t due to the requirements of symbolic communication that we all must adhere to. I mean, is anyone ever taught how to write? For me, writing (and not just fiction) is about creativity. Can that be taught? And if someone is taught how to write, is it possible, because of what we now know about the physical universe, math and music have a communication advantage over writing because of the latter’s lack of inherence? I mean, didn’t Einstein conceptualize special relativity before he found that famous mathematical equation? That would mean that E=MC2 was there all the time, it was just a matter of who would get there first. And didn’t Mozart hear the music in his head before writing it down? Obviously Mozart is the only one who could have gotten their first, but in the case of music that’s a mute issue. Here I will admit, unlike mathematical equations, music is a bit more diverse in its consummation but not in its creation. Now. Can anyone say the same for James Joyce’s Ulysses? Oh boy. Headache coming on.
As worstwriter I am content. It’s almost as though I’m one with who and what I am. Seriously. Even the URL of my site seems/feels so natural. Beyond the obviousness of my worst, is there really no way to get out of me what yearns to get out? You know, that which makes it all even so worse for everybody else? Or am I condemned to the level of stupidity and ignorance that is my mental plague thus far? Oh, stick the butter knife slowly just under my left temple.
IMHO, music is there whether or not the notes are written down; I believe it’s the same for mathematical formulas. The physical universe is the way it is and it is independent of human imagination. That is, there’s no beautiful transcription waiting to be plucked from the stars; there’s not perfect dialog in the dark matter of time to be scribbled on note paper; there’s no poetry waiting to be typed while a supernova spills a glass of chianti on the keys of my Lettera 32. And so… I’m assuming – because I can do nothing else at this point – that the want/will to transcribe individual human imagination is the greatest burden a worst like myself can carry. With that in mind, let’s move on to the presumptions, shall we?
More so than music, I wonder what would the world be like without numbers? I’m even wondering how much better the world would be if there were only the results of human imagination. Obviously I’m prejudice against numbers. Numbers and math are destructive to human imagination – and more importantly to human kindness, understanding, tolerance and forgiving. Music has a different status. Even though I can’t write music and it wasn’t part of any required education, I can play a guitar and I can sing. Math, on the other hand, was a huge (and of course wasteful) part of required learning. Yet, even though I’m no math dunce – but I do need some time to calculate my change when paying with cash – I couldn’t get any of the jobs that I applied to get because employers all told me that I didn’t have enough mathematics on my resume. Now I’m middle aged and can’t make a living and I just can’t wrap my head around how much of a waste youth is in the western world – all because of math. Go even one step further and think about the fact that math is a need and music is want – where does that leave human imagination (and worstwriting)?
Something out there (in my head) has caused me to think that numbers and music are the same. I’m thinking physical universe here. Yet numbers, unlike music, serve no purpose other than enabling and facilitating a persons ability to participate in the environment that s/he is forced to live in – the modern world of slavery that is sweetened by technical advancements – which is dependent on math. It’s almost as though numbers today have been put on a pedestal – a pedestal that is a political mandate for life (i.e. living standard). Those that don’t get it are under the pedestal. I’d even go so far as to claim that numbers are part of what keep people down and not what can make them stand up. No creativity is required to fiddle with numbers. Einstein’s creativity came via theoretical physics; he just had to fit the numbers with the theory (which I believe his wife was the catalyst). The same claim goes for music. Btw, because music obviously is a great way for people to avoid doing something more useful with their time, it takes on a kind of antithesis to numbers – or… Oh my. Can you, dear worst reader, feel my head spinning right now?
At the least, I wouldn’t go so far as to sub-label music slavery. But. Isn’t entertainment (today) a form of slavery? Obviously, if you’re good at math, you will succeed in life. Entertainment as a subset of success seems natural enough to me. Yet a few hundred years ago, if you could hunt or grow your own food, you could live a pretty good life. Heck, in the olden days, after a hard day of work you could sing a song and count the frickin’ stars in the night sky and not have a worry of Lucifer. Oh, where has freedom gone? With that in mind, I believe that music serves a higher calling then math – because of the simplicity of its incarnation. Yet music has been culturally relegated to the level of entertainment, i.e. slavery, as previously and ambiguously stated. So, we’re all slaves. What a crock, eh.
Let me try to put this yet another way (to potentially confuse all friends of worst even more). Remember the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”? I was very young when this movie came out. I saw it in a drive-in cinema just off of some old, dilapidated and loud highway. Typical of drive-ins was the great visual experience (the really, really big screen) but you only had this little, tiny box hooked to the side of your car with monotone sound coming out of it for the audio experience. Obviously in this movie sound played a big role even though most people were preoccupied with the lives of the characters who were all about to encounter alien life and the fingers all the boys were dipping in teenage vaginas (not in the movie but at the drive-in). You wouldn’t know that sound played such a big role in the movie though because it wasn’t part of the story until the very end. And, again, the audio of the whole movie experience was awful while sitting in a car and being fed noise from a small monotone box. Am I off topic enough here? Anywho. Who would have thought prior to Richard Dreyfuss and the others making it to that plateau that the only way for humans to communicate with aliens – beings that were obviously much more advance than humans – was to use music? Why did the author of the original story write that as opposed to some form of symbolic communication system? And – remember with me here – what was up with that alien ship that was able to duplicate the sounds we humans made? It was as though the ship was a huge concert speaker system and not a spacecraft that could travel the universe. Why would aliens build a spacecraft-speaker? And another thing! Wouldn’t drawing stick people as a form of communication suffice? Or how about drawing emoticons (since, obviously, the aliens had a head, two eyes, a mouth and a nose.) Spielberg knows as well as anyone that mathematics and the manipulation of numbers is the only way for aliens to get to us. What’s with the music, dude?
Here is a hypothetical question. If you were to encounter aliens from outer space in the next five seconds, how would you communicate with them? How would you transcribe your thoughts to them? Would you use hand gestures? If you notice they’re carrying a weapon, would you wave a peace sign with your hand? If you find that they are being obnoxious trying to investigate your bodily orifices, would you flip them the bird? And what would you do if you understood in their communications that they were asking for directions to Alpha Centauri?
Just go with me here a bit longer so I can screw this up…
I hate numbers. I don’t hate but I’m starting to dislike music. Both of these things are turning into the monster that created them: Nothingness. Nothingness is now filled with the planets largest and bestest earning army of corporatists who have given in to being the subject & object of a world of slavery. Numbers and humans and what they hear have become the same friggin’ thing. And here we get to the gist of what motivated this little worstwriting extravaganza – besides the questions of “what” or “how”. After all the (superficial) research was concluded, I came to the following hyper-pothesis. And this has more to do with accountability, comformality and friendly transgression(s). Here it goes.
There needs to be a negative zero.
Before simply saying “I hate math” and providing the ultimate summary of this endeavor, I know that, mathematically speaking, there is no such thing as a negative zero? Zero is the constant. I mean, seriously, I know that because the concept of the constant has been embedded in my mind from grade school to driving school to credit card school. Yet, if I do know such a thing, where does my question come from? Remember the old adage about humans only utilizing ten-percent of their brain capacity? Well, its not about the ninety percent not being used but instead about it being used by something else and we not being aware of that. Am I not gleefully making very good sense by now?
After a while I sat down at my typing device to try and figure out the absurdity of my transgressions. A few hours of clackity-clackity on the keyboard and I concluded that mathematics as we know it is not just wrong and misguiding it’s completely wrong and part of a greater conspiracy to control that ninety percent of human brain capacity that ultimately could be used for something else. I mean, think about it. 90% of your brain is unused? Educating i.e. controlling people combined with modern math is nothing more than a scam. That is, a student – especially young male students – are so overwhelmed with the requirements of learning and procreating that the two simply cancel each other out. The 10% of the brain that’s life is basically nothing but a life support system. Hence there really are zombies and with the world of zombies there are different levels of educated and musically inclined zombies. That leads to the finalization and realization of the fact that human creativity is the single most important aspect of comprehending the entire universe (of which math is just a sub-sub-subset). Music is a necessary and acceptable evil that is not required to be relegated to sub-sub-subset because, although it might keep people stupid (entertained), it doesn’t necessarily influence our lives in such a negative way like math. And. I think the thing that started all this (the physical universe) – whether that be a creator or a girl sneezing too much phlegm on her first date – has long since given up on humanity. But before worst starts on about giving up, let me try to address a few other manic thoughts.
As stated, entertainment equals stupidity. No. Entertainment equals slavery. Or both. And music helps the time pass, too. What a combination, eh. If one applies the principles of Newtonian physics to life then everything simply moves in one direction unless acted upon by something else. The problem is that the object that has been set into motion has no influence on whether or not something else can act upon it. Although at one point in time music was original and unique nothing has influenced the original object that was set to motion. That’s why most pop music sucks so bad there’s no going back to the origins of music where creativity ruled. Remember: human subjectivity has no value in the universe.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
Let’s forget music for now. This will be much easier with math since it is by nature always right. Right? I mean, math is never subjective. Or? That’s kind of a problem because everything else that is the result of math has to change. (Whatever that means.) So. What if something new were discovered in math and/or the physical universe that was never before preconceived? For example. How ’bout there being something like two different types of zeros. You know: opposite zeros. I figure that the reason there is only one type of zero is because singularity at that level fits into the ultimate plan that man has devised in order to separate him/herself from the chaos that is life. In other words, they do this because having one zero enables logic. So what we get is life and all that it is about being subject to self preservation, self indulgence, self interest and everything else that fails. If, on the other hand, there is a positive zero and also a negative zero, if you had a choice at this point, which would you prefer?
Am I dabbling too deep in the far fetched rabbit hole of my self-righteousness? No. For. Isnt it time economist and accountants start learning how to count backwards via a new beginning that would ultimately be “-0” (as opposed to “1”, the opposite of which is, of course, “-1”)? Just look at how we live. How we treat each other. How we procreate. Even the simple and calculable cheating of balance sheets that are so consistently submitted to offices of high authority – how do these relatively simple-math submissions so negatively influence our lives? And was not third grade math the beginning of such submissions? In a world that maximizes gluttony to the hilt, how long can this mono-directional path last? Obviously a new point of reference must be conjured. But how? And what c/would be the catalyst for it’s instillment? For the blind optimists that rule and are ruled, where there is only one zero, it would be at first a nauseating experience but eventually life would cope. That’s the point of life beyond procreating and furthering so much thick-headed-ness. Indeed. The negative zero would be quickly recognized – in a world of negativity’s truth to the lie of all-things positive, what a game it would be. It’s as though the great lego could finally be finished – as the one odd color that has remained so elusive in the universe pile of lego parts is found.
So I say, what about doing with zero what we’ve done with everything else? Compromise it! A zero doesn’t have to be the center of our slave-driven mathematical and musically entertaining universe. Is that even fair to Zero? Ever since I read that some men-of-knowledge had to invent their own forms of math to answer certain questions about the universe I’ve had this thought: as good as they all are (Einstein) couldn’t they also be way off base? I mean, didn’t the dudes that transcribed the Bible obviously make some major and serious errors? (Please hold back your appreciation for me keeping religion out of this whole mess.) Long after knowing the world was not flat how convenient was it that Einstein, mathematically, had to figure out that time & space ain’t flat either. And from what (little) I understand he never completed that. I dont know about you, but I see a serious philosophical connection here between falling off the edge of the earth and releasing the world from the confines of a math-mentality that is obviously very confining and the music that makes that confinement tolerable.
Obviously I spend at least ten minutes a day hoping that something supernatural will occur and save me from this misery. In fact, I’m not hoping to go to any heaven based on this and a better world but to a place that is the perpetual opposite, a world that is the inside-out, where black is white and purple is failure as much as it is success. And that’s where we’ll end this. My favorite subject above & beyond: negative zero.
Comprehension has always been my predicament. In a world where everything is delivered to the mind without effort its a wonder that human beings havent evolved into bio-electric globs of suitable jelly that are able to spew out perfect computer code. I have always suspected that comprehension is a way for society to control itself. The idea is that unless motivated using comprehension humans beings will end up lying all over the streets, or in front of TVs, PCs or fast-food counters mutating into something socially unacceptable and costing brain-dead workers with careers – those who are able to cope – all their perks and peeves.
-We have to put a stop to that, one human says.
-Let’s invent something then, another human says.
-Corners!, they both say simultaneously.
-And let’s use it to control things, one says.
-The inside or the outside of the corners, one human asks.
For me, the idea of comprehension was never about schooling, learning or acclimation but instead space, time and material. At certain moments it would be synonymous with imagination – which was the alternative to space, time and material. Of course this had an effect on my ability to be part of what society prepares one for but on the other hand it also enabled a mindset that would help me survive – a step down from the above mentioned ”cope” – and not turn into jelly.
Quite the contradiction. And not very profitable. Hence I have no job, no career, and no friends. Boo-whoo.
Getting through the rigmarole of everyday life – as of two-thousand-six – should be a joke. Why most people in the West dont rebel against this system – or at the least ask why it has become so stagnant and self-serving – is beyond me. I cannot comprehend it. Obviously. The only thing I can come up with is that there are too many people out there who comprehend everything but imagine nothing.
There is an alternative.
Heres an example:
The universe does not know what a corner is. Let me repeat. There is no such thing in the entire universe as a corner. At the most there is only a right-angle in the universe but this is used to designate cognitive deviations from acceptable behaviour.
I mean, didn’t Einstein have to re-invent geometry to get to his theory of general relativity? You know, the bending of space and all that stuff.
Just the other day I was starring at the high ceiling of the apartment I live in – it was built around eighteen- ninety, the ceiling is thirteen feet high – and became utterly focused on the corner where two walls meet with the ceiling. I got to thinking: if aliens came to earth one of the first things they would notice in everything we (humans) have built are the corners. They would think:
Naturally, their space ships will be round, they know nothing about ballistics, hence they have no rockets and when they inquire about what we’ve done and then humans try to sweet-talk them about things like the amazing pyramids, they will just laugh their alien laugh and the stage will be set for War of the Worlds all on account we have no imagination.
Human beings function so counter to the ways of the universe that it will be no surprise that aliens would never even bother to set foot down here. They are obviously waiting for the right moment when we can cross-over to great minds.
Either that or:
The reality is there are no aliens because they are stuck in the corners we’ve made with our minds.
What can one say about a man that writes the screenplay for “The Post Man Always Rings Twice” (the remake)? Is the American’t idiom or colloquialism “wow” or “amazing” appropriate here? Or how about the movie “House of Cards”? To this day when I’m in a conflict with Female I always quote House of Cards by saying, “Thank you mother may I have another.” And then I hear the shots fired and feel the projectile splattering away at my lower innards and outers.
But here’s the thing. I like David Mamet. I like him very much as a writer of plays and screenplays. I’m not a hundred percent sure but I think we’d see eye-to-eye on other issues, too. But then again, maybe not. And there is something that I really, really don’t like about him.
I got a little tethered while reading this article. Here a quote from the article: ”The force which kept it (US corporate management) honest was the American labour movement.”
I apologize if Im getting a bit out of context here but Mamet writes with too much fervour regarding politics, corporatism and labour. Of course corporations are behind so much ill fated lobbying and social chaos in America but that is not a predetermined by-product of our construed, misconstrued and brilliant system. Then he writes that corporations and the Bush admin are out of control. But a system was put in place to keep it all in check and that system did not break down. What is Mamets point with this article? Everything is bad, join a union or organize, it’s Bushs fault, vote Democrat?
Mamet’s tone is too cold war for me. He forgets one very important aspect of today’s America. This aspect I believe is that ignorance and a lack in consciousness is the American problem. It is not nineteen century ideals or political dogma. America has become a people that would rather be entertained by WWF and sold miracle hair tonic that does everything from fix your house to reduce your taxes. The seller of the tonic, btw, is immortal idealist PT Barnum.
The system of checks and balances that was created by our forefathers that would help us keep it all together did NOT break down! The system was meant to give individuals not just the right but the capability to choose – individually. Election stolen here or there, the situation America is in now was inevitable. As an American the only thing I learned growing up were selfishness and greed from grade school all the way through college. “Giving” in America – and I dare anyone to challenge this – only happens if taking comes first. In order to be a decent American one has to manage all the negatives. What kind of life is that?
No, I disagree with Mamet because nothing organized can be good. History has shown this. America, from its inception, was about chaos, greed but most importantly, individuality and everything and all else would be controlled by checks and balances aka law. We are no longer a land of individuals. We didnt forget who we are but instead gave up a long time ago on who we could be. The system proved that it works and that the people do not.
David Mamet is a great writer. If I was asked to make a list of fav screenwriters he would be on the top of my list. And then there is his stage work. “Glengarry Glen Ross” is one of the best plays American theatre has to offer, not to mention the very simple, minimalistic and highly charged “Oleanna”. But what puts all that in perspective, at least for me, is that Mamet is an outspoken opponent of ”the method”. I have always disliked method acting, not because of what it does for actors – which is a good thing – but because of what it does not do for theatre, especially the process behind managing theatre. Of course Lee Strasberg,Stanislavski, others, have made their mark and contribution to theatre which I will not downplay here. But there is nothing worse then rehearsing a play and for an actor to suddenly say, “What am I feeling here?” My answer has always been, “Go find your friggin feeling, method, Stella Adler on your own time. Now act like a lamp-shade, you fuck!”
When on a tight budget and you have only three hours in rented rehearsal space and an actor starts asking existential questions about ”to be or not to be” the only thing that comes to (my) mind is, “You’ve got to be fuckin’ kidding me!”
I’m not saying that Method is inherently bad. If that’s what makes an actors boat float then so be it. Just do it while learning your craft, while training, but not while working with a group of others on a tight schedule.
Now that I’ve idealized Mamet and joined him in criticizing Method, I must also admit the man doesn’t shit roses. Recently he published an article that got under my gander.
Yet another instalment of Tommi’s ex-pat experience? Probably not. But this will be good enough to fill a blog post.
Subtitle to this post: A possible solution to western societies problems can be found in Germany. It’s hidden deeply in an analogy. Come along with me, try a bit of real nonsense.
Worst-writer has found what is wrong with Germany as of 2006 and this might apply to the whole of the world. Off we go to good ole’ sauerkraut country where the beer flows freely and so to do the Fräuleins.
I’m not sure if this is good or bad in all cases but, in Germany, it takes an Ausländer to figure things out. Historical examples of this include importing Austrians to produce television. This was the result of not being prepared for the inhumanly difficult task of actually producing quality entertaining TV after Germany’s rundfunk deregulation. Germans realised quickly that you can’t make TV with a bunch of pseudo-communist civil servants or a handful of bored professors and intellectuals. And it doesn’t stop there. In order to make TV funny they imported Dutch people, as well (because none of the Brits they invited would come). And then, of course, they imported Italian and run-away east-block and thrown away French women to expose their breasts in order to give TV a bit of spice. So much for the issue of being an Ausländer in Germany.
Also, to better set the mood here. Let me refer to a former statesmen who, at the time, was able to summarise Germany’s problems in relatively simple terms:
Bismarck: Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.
Wilhelm: Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.
Hitler: How fortunate for leaders that men do not think.
Germans haven’t found a simple way of likening their current problems with everyday, simple stuff. Just look at their tax laws. (I cant believe Wiki has an English article on the complexity of German tax laws.)
Now, I don’t want to wax myself too shinny here but I think I might have found what the Germans need. I haven’t put it into a nice little sentence worth quoting yet, but I have found it in the form of an analogy.
If you’re interested in getting a feel for what it’s like on the infamous Autobahn then see my short story here. The German Autobahn is an amazing place in the cosmos of all things-worst. This is mainly because the Germans are able to build roads that are simply motherfucking good. Of course the friggin cars are ok, too, if you can friggin afford them. The only problem Germans have is, like other countries, they are a day-late and a Euro-short in actually building enough roads for all the cars they sell. But that’s not what I want to get into here.
If you drive the Autobahn on a regular basis – like I do – you might start noticing that life is a bitch not due to speed-limits or construction sites but because of the lack of understanding regarding the dynamics of modern life. And it’s the same for politics, right? Again, comparatively speaking, with their outrageous system of learning how to drive, Germans are actually quite good and I trust them when they’re on the right, left or front of the road. Hell, compared to America, where I learned to drive, I’d rather drive with the French around the Arc de Triumph.
Because of the dynamics of high speeds and cars that can go like a bat out of hell, the Germans have to eventually realise that there is more to life than left, right and front. Allow me to digress for another moment. Here some basic rules, written and unwritten, about driving in Germany. These same rules apply, relatively speaking, to running a country:
Never pass on the right
Use signals to change lanes
Use left signal to pass – on the left only!
There is a 20km/h cushion with cameras to avoid tickets
Never break for wild-animals, domesticated pets or humans (if they’re on the Autobahn)
Know your adversary buy understanding the engine designations which are posted on the rear of ninety-five-percent of German cars.
These rules are really cool and well thought out in a world where everything is right, left and front. But here’s the problem. What happens when right, left and front break down? Enter the fourth (dare I say) dimension of autobahn life. That’s right. Its time to start watching and proactively working with what’s coming up your ass.
A consumer driven society has become accustomed to focussing on one of three of the possible four sides of life. One of the reasons for this is that the three sides of life (left, right, front) have been sufficient up to, well, the end of the twentieth century. Theres simply been no need for the fourth.
Exit stage right. Enter globalisation stage…
Globalisation is ultimately nothing more than a backlash to the improper behaviour of the working class. (Think, if you will, for just a sec, of Plato’s tripartite.) The ruling class realised during the boom of the 90s that not only their existence was threatened but they were about to overwhelmed by group of people that were working harder than their grandparents, who whom ever they inherited from, ever did. They quickly discovered the weakness of the rising tech-nerds and countered. Enter G. W. Bush. Obviously this was easy coup de tat as the tech-nerds, confused by their sudden wealth, most of them looking like the Beverly Hillbillies with pocket protectors, didn’t invest any of their wealth in themselves but instead put all their money in the play ground of the ruling class, i.e. the stock market. And we all know what happened after that.
What does that have to do with the German Autobahn? The only way for things to work, politically and economically, is that the fourth side to life is allowed to enter the game. The ruling class knows this, btw. (And if you ask me, and no one will, there is a class that Plato forgot but that’s for another post.)
Keep in mind, politicians are all clamouring to stop the fourth side of life. That’s because politicians (all of them) are in the hands of some corporate overlord. And so. The reason the Autobahn (metaphor for western governments?) unfortunately doesn’t work anymore is because people don’t understand that in order for traffic to flow consistently drivers must not only watch out for what is in front, to the right and left, but also what is behind and cumin up their ass. Drivers on the Autobahn must adjust, matching the dynamics of all directions. Does this idea blow anyones mind? Think about driving and not only watching the front and all sides but also the back. What a great idear, eh! To add to the flame, a driver should also be able to understand the dynamics of the rules posted above especially the last one. So. Am I advocating a class society determined by our automobiles?
Who knows? But here this: wake up sheople.
What is clear is that something has to happen so that I can drive my new Audi from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf in an hour. That would be really kraut-cool.
Oh, the nonsense. Who wrote it best? That would have to be Henry David Thoreau. My man. Wish I had the balls to live in hut and eat tree bark. Wish I had a friend who would afford me the land on a lake. One of my favorite HDTs:
”The opportunities of living are diminished in proportion as what are called the means are increased.”
What does HDT exactly mean by that? I think he means there ain’t no opportunity no-more. Period. I believe him more and more. I’m unwilling to submit myself to the McJob culture of modern times so I have been unemployed since the year of our lord 2001. I mean, employment is the ’means’, right? Or is buying the ’means’? Wait…
I haven’t bought a new pair of pants in three years. It’s the year of your lord 2006 and I’m actually sewing holes in throw-away-society socks bought at the stores founded by Sam Walton who was so smart about the ’means’ of diminishing proportions.
Not giving up, though. Trying. For example, since I write so much, my girlfriend thought I should try and get a job as a journalist for a German periodical, writing in English of course. Here’s what we put together as part of the material to promote my skills. Kind of silly, I know, take it with a grain of salt or the spit of a frog. My girl wouldn’t let me send it though because she said it was
2. not serious
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS & ANSWERS – GET A JOB AS A JOURNALIST FOR A GERMAN PERIODICAL WRITING IN ENGLISH OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.
”Für mich ist Tempo nicht entscheidend”
Ich bin Blindtext. Von Geburt an. Es hat lange gedauert, bis ich begriffen habe, was es bedeutet, ein blinder Text zu sein: Man macht keinen Sinn. Man wirkt hier und da aus dem Zusammenhang gerissen. Oft wird man gar nicht erst gelesen. Aber bin ich deshalb ein schlechter Text?
SPIEGEL: Would you like to work for Spiegel’s influential and growing English site? TGS: Sure.
SPIEGEL: Are you a native English speaker?
TGS: Does the Pope wear a funny hat?
SPIEGEL: Are you a gifted writer with several years of professional editorial experience and extensive knowledge of international politics and cultural trends?
TGS: Well… not really. But… I produced a book once for a mid-sized (and very old) German software company. The book is called Electronic Business. I managed the whole production of the book. I was also asked to write an article for the British magazine Knowledge. Yeah, I did it during that the dotcom stuff you know the stuff the Germans never quite understood.
SPIEGEL: Are you fluent in German?
TGS: Scheiflt ein Bür im Wald?
SPIEGEL: Do you possess a minimum of three years of professional experience in print or online journalism?
TGS: Sorry. You might want to let me slide on that one. You see, Im like Germanys worst nightmare. I know you guys like the back of my. I also know that which made you. Its kind of like looking at yourself through the eyes of your maker.
SPIEGEL: Pardon the bad cultural analogies, but are you someone who constantly flips the channel between Phoenix and Arte and is as comfortable reading Goethe as Wladimir Kaminer?
TGS: Your analogy would probably work better if you contrasted Arte with a Privatsender. Goethe bores the hell out of me but I did read some of his stuff. I prefer Die Leiden des jungen Werther. Vladimir who? Ok, I looked him up. Reminds me of a former Russian friend of mine, also named Vladimir, who came over at the same time as your friend. I produced a few plays with him as director and royal pain the ass. Yeah, those Russians today… they should better concentrate on doing things that might be interesting to the world instead of coming over here to finally afford 4-ply toilet paper. SPIEGEL: We look for a person with a great knack for editing, writing, reporting and translation. TGS: Good for you.
SPIEGEL: In addition, candidates must be capable of paying rigorous attention to detail and have the ability to work independently in a fast-paced newsroom with daily deadlines.
TGS: Deadlines, and meeting them? I did that at McKinsey. I can deal with editorial pressures. SPIEGEL: Candidates with Internet savvy will be given strong preference…
TGS: I worked intensely on the installation and development of an e-commerce platform for Philips in
Amsterdam, Stuttgart and Stockholm. I was also the Internet guru for the consultancy Booz-Allen- Hamilton. Now look at me… I’m writing this weblog.
SPIEGEL: Would you be willing to work as a freelancer as well?
TGS: Sure… I’m so willing all you have to do is ask and I’m on my knees or bent over – which ever way you cho(o)se…
Bitchin’ and moaning’ never ends. One of the settings for my unfinished novel Engagement is Germany. Being in Germany means there’s no getting around the language. Although I don’t have much trouble speaking German, writing it is another story. I’ll let Mark Twain explain that one to you. Anywho. While working on my book the thought came to me to use endnotes to clarify or translate the German words I was using. But I did this with a little twist. I took the meaning of the words, as I understood them, and not the literal translations. After a while I realized that this was a pretty good idear. Or maybe not.
A few examples taken from my book:
Mittelstand – The heart of German culture and economics from which everything is derived; it could also mean to stand in the middle, in the way of everything.
Sprungbrett – Diving board or jump start in life; does not indicate there is water in the pool.
Gell – A Hessian idiom, sounds great when said while drunk, idiosyncratic interjection.
Fernweh – The want to travel far and see the world; get away from Germany just because you can; if you cant, tough shit.
Köln – The German name of the city of Cologne; a really big filthy village.
München – The German name of Munich; a really big clean village.
Ißjemandzugestiegen – ”Has anybody boarded?” This is what a conductor barks in a train cabin so he can check tickets.
Sperrmüll – The only great thing to ever come out of any socialized system of governance; state sponsored collection of old furniture or bulk trash; very useful after moving or renovating an apartment and coincides with this as a cultural past-time.
Abendbrot – Like the mythical dinner or supper that most American families would like to have but can’t due to the coercive, predetorial capitalism and the mortgage poor lifestyle that has been adopted, the German version has survived; no matter what region you go to in Germany four out of five families basically eat the same dam thing every night.
Langesamstag – One of the trivial reforms to the German system allowing stores to stay open on Saturdays beyond 4:00pm; still closed on Sundays.
Betriebverfassungsgesetz – A dysfunctional anti-capitalism German law protecting and wrongly empowering employees against employers; the laws and regulations behind this are so backwards it could end up being the downfall of the post-WWII German experiment; the you-go-girl of social market economics.
Studiengebuhren – Germans never paid for things like the cold war or financing development of poor countries; part of an estranged and perverted social welfare system to include free education; will only function if wirtschaftswunder economy can produce more value than sucking taxes out of hard working people can consume.
Kaufvertrag ̧ber ein gebrauchtes Kraftfahrzeug – A contract for selling a used car between private individu- als; perfect example of continental European socialism gone rotten. When a car is sold between private individuals (this is NOT a transaction among vested and liable organizations or companies) a full and detailed contract, where a simple ”bill of sale” would suffice, HAS to be used. Inherent in this contract is the notion that the private seller, selling a USED car at usually extreme discounted prices due to market conditions, is liable for not just the car being sold but for the action of the buyer. The motto here is: if the buyer screws up it’s the seller’s fault.
Well, it’s finally come full circle. Da Vinci Snot the film has been released. And did you get a shot of that train delivering the privileged few from London to Cannes? Tom Hanks looked overly debonair and Ron Howard, that freaky child actor who was constantly the subject of my spit balls on the TV screen when I was kid, looked so… At least glamour isnt a pre-requisite for showing up at Cannes. And to top it off, I thought the gerbils that were stuck up my ass would come flying out and singing after witnessing that publicity stunt.
For a while I thought that the filming of Dans plagiary would mark the end of this really big and neat-o popularity display. I thought finally I could find some peace from all the imbeciles coming to me with: Tommi, can you explain to me again the story of Mary having to wave through storm and peril while pregnant on her refuge seeking trek on a donkey (the same one JC used, btw) from Jerusalem to Egypt after the crucifixion? Or they would ask: Tommi, could you explain to me again the conflict Jesus had with his disciples, especially that big-war-mongering-assassin-leader-type-guy, Peter? And then there is my favourite: Tommi, tell me again the story of Jesus’ resurrection and who he sees first so as to create a metaphor reincarnating the concept of Adam and Eve and paradise.
You see, it all began in 2004. Da Vinci Snot, the book, was quite popular but I had promised myself a long time ago to avoid certain things because life is too short. One of those things is: Don’t read books that adhere to a formula meant only to sell books. And. Popularity can be the evidence you need in judging whether or not a book is worth reading.
Now don’t get your thongs all in a wilily. I got nothin’ against others reading this krapp. In fact, its a great source of personal entertainment because 1) even though I don’t fan the flames of Schadenfreude, that stuff is really hi-larry-us; and 2) I’m the guy who read almost all the secondary literature Dan Brown stole from.
At this point in my failed life Dan Brown’s plagiarism will go down as a personal highlight since for the first time I can openly share my knowledge and very few among the college educated working class compulsives can come near my intellectual prowess on the subject. People who read Da Vinci Snot see right away when they look at me that I’m a guy who knows more than, goodness forbid, Dan about this subject. But enough about moi.
Irony as truth and justice and…
The other day my lovely girlfriend returned from a business trip. As usual, when she arrives from a hard day of work, I have a bottle of Proseco chilled and am waiting to serve her a glass while asking whether or not she’s had a bad day. She usually responds in the positive – she’s desperately optimistic – and then sips from the glass and I observe how the Italian sparkling wine soothes her lovely but over worked soul. On this day, to my reluctant surprise, she changed the subject to one of my favourites.
“I have something for you,” she said.
Like a kid expecting wonders from a father who travels too much I became overtly excited. I stood back and sipped my whiskey to keep calm. My chick handed me a small paper carton with Neuhaus and Lufthansa written on it. Since she’s on an eternal diet, she brings me the delicious chocolate that business class provides you after paying inflated prices.
“Thank you very much,” I said, putting the chocolate on the counter thinking that she was also the one that wants me to go on a diet.
We continued the small talk regarding her business trip until it bored both of us. Then she realized something.
“I have another gift for you,” she said.
She turned and ran off to the foyer and returned with an English copy of National Geographic with the cover title The Judas Gospel. I had seen the magazine lying around various bookstores. An intellectual like me should have such stuff simply sent to him. Right?
The first thing I asked my chick was if she had paid for the magazine.
“No, I took it from the hotel in London,” she said.
The next morn, with coffee and toast, I embarked on reading NGs article. My conclusion from a wannabe journalistic point-of-view: the article sucks. My conclusion from a worstwriter’s point of view: the article sucks. The author of this article makes a living at this and I can’t – that should clarify everything. I could have written it better using my toes, finger-paint and stealing pictures from pre-school bible study books. The timeline covering two pages was ok and also the small picture of Judas by Leonardo was nice. But the rest was junk, junk, junk. This is why I stopped reading NG and others like it. Let me give you an example that I’m sure the author came up with all by his lonesome:
The notion of gospels that contradict the canonical four in the New Testament is deeply unsettling to some, as I was reminded at lunch with Meyer at a Washington, D.C., restaurant. Brimming with enthusiasm, the ebullient academic polished off a plate of chicken salad while discoursing non-stop on the beliefs in the Judas gospel. This is really exciting, he exclaimed. This explains why Judas is singled out by Jesus as the best of the disciples. The others didn’t get it.
The lunch time crowd had emptied out, and we were alone in the restaurant, deep in the second century A.D. when the maitre’d hesitantly handed Meyer a note. It read simply, God spoke a book. The cryptic message had been called in anonymously, with instructions that it be delivered immediately to the diner who had ordered chicken salad. Someone seated nearby had apparently thought Meyer was casting doubt on the Bible as the word of God.
Excuse me for a moment while I write and express my frustration in French: What the fuck does the author of this article – and tried and true “journalist” – think he’s writing about? Back to English: Isn’t this article supposed to be about a historical find?
Ok. What are we dealing with here? This is an article about an old document. You don’t have to sell me that. Just write me something interesting about it. Interesting doesn’t equate with popular. Interesting in this context is facts and research.
Anyone see the irony here? NG releases its May 2006 issue to correspond with the release of Da Vinci Snot. And thats fine. Get on the band wagon. But NG has had the Judas document for… how many years now? Ok, I’m down with this increase your numbers kinda thing – but then to have the author, Mr. Andrew Cockburn, include the above mentioned passage? What the hell for? Oh yeah, because, according to popularity statistics, the compulsive workforce, especially the higher academics, will think its cute.
National Geographic you suck.
Its not enough that the moguls of media rule the collective imagination of useless eaters and compulsive labourers. But now, in all walks of print and publishing, the same shit gets regurgitated over and over and over and over – independent of the context so the creators of this krapp can look cute. Cute equals popular. Da Vinci Snot is bad enough with its conspiring innuendo and silly mockery of albinos and written at the same level as pre-school bible study picture books. But when a half-witted journalist thinks while typing an article about a significant historical find: Hey, why not put a little Da Vinci in there somewhere…
Man, when will this end?
If this is what the compulsives of this world want, then who am I to judge. But when a journalist tries to copy the same shit that another pop author already copied, well, I’m a bit at wits end here. If this continues then my fear that the world can only get stupider is coming true. Dan Brown, with his wife hidden behind a curtain and his publisher sucking cocktails in Barbados, will probably receive an academy award, a Pulitzer and Nobel Prize. He will then run for public office as a republican in the US northeast and eventually win the presidency by a very small majority because he has promised lower taxes and fuel efficient hotrods and and and and…
Yeah. Let’s all really get into not what Judas could have been but what he actually did. We do it to each other every day of our lives. So, like Donna Summer sings, Lets Dance. Lets do the Judas…