Racism is not based on reality. It rather creates its reality of “real” differences. It is not the actual presence of people from different origins immigrating to Europe that triggers racism. Racism existed also without immigrants. Racism just takes on ever new forms of existence. There is always someone who is invented as other, stranger, and fundamentally different, and therefore needs to be excluded. Jewish history gives numerous examples, how people can be constructed to be the other even though they have been our close neighbour for centuries. And we should not believe that the society of the 19th Century was more unified, because there was no one with a different skin colour living in Europe. There was always someone black enough: Workers for example. Working in the polluting surroundings of plants or carbon mines their skin colours were probably often not white indeed.
The most disturbing question is why? Why is putting into question why it is like it is? Why is what children ask us and we cannot answer to. Why is what we say to ourselves when we feel that the world has been unjust with us. Why am I not three inches taller, why does no one love me, why does it always rain, when I forget my umbrella at home? Most existential interrogations stand next to most ordinary ones. Why connects the umbrella to god and us to the limits of our knowledge. Children ask adults. Adults mostly have no one to ask to. And this is one of the most harmful experiences of being an adult. Why is the abyss of human existence or putting it into less loaded concepts: Asking why confronts us with our limits. We simply cannot give an answer to everything.
Who are the people? We are the people, answered the people on the streets of the former German Democratic Republic and manifested with it a profundly democratic moment. The action brought upon an actor. The people who were fed up with the Socialist regime and wanted their political leaders to listen to their voices: Listen, we are the people. But don’t ask further, don’t ask: Who is this people? We are one people, answered the people on the streets after the breakdown of the German Democratic Republic as if they had one voice and constituted a circumscribed object that can be treated by others rather than act by themselves. The actor vanished in the moment the clear identity appeared. The people lost its perfomative character and turned into a sociological matter. Why is this? The people as an unknown figure can appear, claim and change our perception in the very moment people go on the streets, precisly because we don’t know who is going to show up. We better should listen carefully to their words. The people as a preconfigured identity cannot appear, claim and change, because even if the people goes on the streets, it is already known who appears and analysed what it needs.
Only the introduction of machines in our daily lives introduced the mechanism of on and off… With it along came a disenchantment, eradicating the threshold, the passage from one state to another: The dream, the waking-up, the twilight, the dawn and its mysteries of potential transformations, trees mutate into monsters, flowerbeds into floods. Switch and the light is off, switch and the light is on. The dimmer does not bring back the lost experience, because it is clear what will happen when we turn the button in one or the other direction. But the potential transformations of the lost passages turned into ever faster technical transformations that we cannot switch off… We shouldn’t mistakenly think we are safe, when we switch on the light or the surveillance camera, whose lens has no preferred object, or the missile defence, whose system has no preferred subject. We have created our own monsters and still try to treat them like pets.
No was written on many cardboards hanging in Paris windows when the far right won a high percentage of voters on their side. But the power of no becomes evident when you listen a little child. No is the first liberative step growing-up. And we, adults, should maybe remind ourselves that there is always the option to say NO.
Methusalem was 969 years old when he died, his grandchild Noah got after all 950 years. What a noble age? Unbelievable, these ancestors! Either they have held back their secret on purpose or they didn’t know anything about the exceptionality of their age. Maybe they wanted to beware us from the boredom that got hold of them after all these years – nothing but working and procreating (Methusalem begets his first son at the age of 187 years) and this all over again for almost 1000 years. Nietzsche called it the eternal recurrence (die ewige Wiederkehr). Compared to this eternal repetition it could be more promising if the repetition concerns the next generation – a new generation lives what we already lived. And every new generation experiences as unique, what their mothers and fathers have already lived…
I am thinking, whether one can seriously call one’s child Methusalem? …Whether one will already see the old man in the three year old when he is carrying this name? A way out of the dilemma could be to call him (as a girls name Methusalem is really not suitable) Methi until he is ten and Methu until he is 20. And then it is maybe best to not call him at all until he is worthy his name. But what does this mean? …until he is a wise man? And what does this mean? Does it mean until he reaches the point where he can remember? As memory exists only once there is something to remember… It is called experience. And we say that at a certain age we have plenty of it. We talk a lot about experience and always in praise of it.
But whether we really want to remember is a different question. Remembering is often rather a burden. So maybe we don’t want to know anything from a Methusalem.
Of course I could not miss out on choosing love for the letter l. Even though I don’t feel competent. But can love be a matter of competence? It has often been said that love is when someone is special for you and when you are special for someone, even though we all feel to be just one among others, nothing special. It is the most beautiful promise to become someone special for being just what you are.
The sad thing about love is that the person who is supposed to be someone special is often treated like the most unspecial person by the one who chose this person to be special for her. Why is this? How can something that is supposed to create the exclusiveness of a person fling to its complete opposite and create the condition that this person can be treated worse than anybody on the road. I can only guess. Love is unruly. It allows for a transgression of rules set in society and by this unfolds something like a state of exception, a realm of arbitrary rule, to which everyone who allows love is exposed to and that can only be outweighed by the care and responsibility with which we love, by a very singular choice of treating the special one with diligence and love.
Did you ever think of the subversive side of the term kingsize? The simple adding of size to king can reduce the king to a huge steak or a super large bed.
If there is a word that I don’t like, it is the word job. This does not mean that I never use it. It crosses the lips very easily, my lips too easily. And this is partly why I don’t like the word: it slips out of the mouth without significance. There is a reason for it. This reason is why I don’t like the word. Doing one’s job, is to do something without engagement, without responsibility and without empathy. A job is a job, some sort of obligation without involvement. You think this is a complete over-interpretation of the word from my part – “job” just refers to a workplace, a position at the work place? And you think that saying, a job is a job, doesn’t mean that people don’t feel inclined to do a good job? But, why when something or someone fails (like a policeman who shoots an innocent) do we say, he just did his job? I don’t want to give the fault to a word, the word is innocent. It just reveals our wish to find a way out of responsibility. I will not stop using the word, but I would wish to stop its crossing my lips too easily.
Ideals count as too idealistic for the present time. Yes indeed, idealism has a negative reputation – and this without any hesitation and shame. So where does it stem from? The negative reputation of idealism does not stem from the opposition of idealism versus materialism. Marxist ideas are by themselves taken to be too idealistic thoughts, not made for reality, even though idealism was Marx’s declared enemy.
The negative reputation is instead rooted in a simple fear to be naïve. We rather accept “the world as it is” than to imagine something that could not be realisable (whether this is due to the failure of our idea or because of the strong counter forces is thereby of no interest): The idealist risks to make a fool out of himself.
Ideals have been replaced by idols without ideals: Icons. Che Guevara’s on t-shirts are the best example for these kind of idols. With this I don’t want to say that Che Guevara didn’t have ideals, but what is left of him, is a sheer icon. Not in the sense of a symbol – the only thing he is a symbol of when printed on a t-shirt is of how political figures of the past time become merchandise. He is an icon in the sense of a pictogram like the encircled M for Metro or the skirt dressed woman for ladies’ bathroom. Che Guevara on the t-shirt stands for young and open-minded.