Category Archives: GERMAN

Schiffbruch

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Wie Teelichter auf einem Fluss der Vergessenheit

entfernen sich die Wörter

sanft schaukelnd.

Langsam aber sicher

entgleiten sie uns;

unmöglich das Verweilen.

Im Streit der Gewässer

eilen sie flussabwärts,

sie geraten ins Schwanken,

manchmal erlischt das Licht, es riecht

nach flüssigem Wachs,

wenn sie umfallen

besiegeln sie ihr Schicksal,

stummer Rauch steigt auf

und sie ertrinken.

Die Vergangenheit hat der Gegenwart

nichts zu sagen.

Allein die Zukunft glüht noch,

brüchig und schön wie das Unerreichbare.

Wie lange bevor sie in Dunkelheit versinkt,

weiß niemand.

Ein Kiel voller Löcher.

Von weit her nimmt man ein schwaches Flimmern wahr,

man sieht ihre flackernden Geister erleuchten

immer noch.

Wir bleiben zurück.

Manchmal kommen die Lichter an einer ruhigen Bucht stehen:

Dort, wo der turbulente Fluss einen Bogen macht

um eine riesige alte Eiche,

dort summen sie noch, die überlebenden,

dort geben sie Laute von sich,

sich gegenseitig suchend und gegenseitig

vermissend.

Ich sitze hier am Ufer und zähle

zähle

zähle

die kalten Sterne am Nachthimmel,

die vielleicht so gar nicht mehr existieren.

Quote of the day

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“The good life involves much beside virtue—intelligence, for instance. And conscience is a most fallacious guide, since it consists of vague reminiscences of precepts heard in early youth, so that it is never wiser than its possessor’s nurse or mother. To live a good life in the fullest sense a man must have a good education, friends, love, children (if he desires them), a sufficient income to keep him from want and grave anxiety, good health, and work which is not uninteresting. All these things, in varying degrees, depend upon the community, and are helped or hindered by political events. The good life must be lived in a good society, and is not fully possible otherwise.”

Bertrand Russel – What I Believe, 1925

Any thoughts?

Quote of the day

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“In all stages of education the influence of superstition is disastrous. A certain percentage of children have the habit of thinking; one of the aims of education is to cure them of this habit. Inconvenient questions are met with ‘hush, hush’, or with punishment. Collective emotion is used to instill certain kinds of belief, more particularly nationalistic kinds. Capitalists, militarists, and ecclesiastics co-operate in education, because all depend for their power upon the prevalence of emotionalism and the rarity of critical judgment. With the aid of human nature, education succeeds in increasing and intensifying these propensities of the average man.”

Bertrand Russel – What I Believe, 1925

So damn useful!…

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Anyone else out there feeling guilty about doing what they like? Anybody else afraid of indulging their needs, constantly second-guessing their decisions and sabotaging themselves? Anybody else under the impression that they have to be productive at all times, useful to all, monetizing every opportunity, mentally enslaved to duty every waking moment, anybody feeling that they need to ace everything to prove themselves worthy of their time on this earth?

Yes? Well, then this articles is for us:

https://psyche.co/guides/how-to-wander-free-and-easy-through-life-by-being-useless


Ok, I’m not saying get being useless down to an art, but can we please break this overpowering utilitarian cycle? (“…at least once in a while…” squeals the timid voice inside my head).

When you chase a goal obstinately, you become its instrument. We are more than tools. Can we remain fully human without leisure, joy, and time to reflect?…

Weihnachten

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Die Kirchenglocken haben eine Weile geläutet.

Jetzt nicht mehr.

Die Leute essen zu Mittag hinter

geschlossenen Türen,

jeder für sich oder

in ganz kleinem Kreis,

kein Gesang hörbar.

Über die Auen und Felder,

die Einsamkeit schwebt wie eine Nebelwolke,

saugt alle Gedanken auf.

Allein ein Vogel durchsticht das Grau,

wie ein Friedenslicht leuchtend.

Heal, heal, heal

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It’s that time of year again,

time to crawl under my blanket and set out

on pilgrimages of forgetfulness.

North of here is the tomb of simple goodness – vandalized.

South of here is the mausoleum of easygoing fun – in a pile of rubble.

I mourn them both with a solemn bow,

angry visitors pass me by with their bows

and their arrows, pointed, pushing.

Their eyes overcast, not a drop of kindness trickling down,

just a grey drizzle of me, me, me

Maybe we simply mourn in different ways, I tell myself

and I turn on an old Romanian Christmas folk ballad.

It fills me with sorrow.

It fills me with loss.

It is like listening in on paradise past.

When was the last time we sang to each other and felt

like living matter that needs

to be kept warm and fed –

– fed as in nourished?…

Nothing but machines, now, between us,

nothing but machines between us and everything,

coldly feeding us

to their anger.

I close my eyelids and let the tears roll,

roll on down,

until I’m drained and the pillow is soaked

I drift into visions of the vanished

I forage through conjured-up hereafters

I dream things of glory

I sleep, sleep, sleep…

Quote of the day – On social support and healing

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“(…) safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives. (…) Social support is the most powerful protection against becoming overwhelmed by stress and trauma.

Social support is not the same as merely being in the presence of others. The critical issue is reciprocity: being truly heard and seen by the people around us, feeling that we are held in someone else’s mind and heart. For our physiology to calm down, heal, and grow we need a visceral feeling of safety. No doctor can write a prescription for friendship and love (…).

Isolating oneself into a narrowly defined victim group promotes a view of others as irrelevant at best and dangerous at worst, which eventually only leads to further alienation. Gangs, extremist political parties, and religious cults may provide solace, but they rarely foster the mental flexibility needed to be fully open to what life has to offer and as such cannot liberate their members from their traumas. Well-functioning people are able to accept individual differences and acknowledge the humanity of others.

Bessel van der Kolk – The Body Keeps The Score – Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma (Penguin Books, 2015)

Do we suffer from too little reciprocity? From too much selfishness? Is the hyper-individualistic lifestyle of autonomy at all cost, isolation, and “every man for himself” making us miserable and sick?

How many of us feel truly seen, heard and understood? How many feel forsaken? Trapped between anger and absence? How many of us self-medicate (or are medicated!) just to cover basic human needs like safety, forgiveness, acceptance and connection?

How many live a life without rapture, life as rupture, as opposed to the healing powers of love, kindness, joint experiences, of breathing, movement and touch… What does it take to feel agency, to overcome duress?

This book has been a revelation and I cannot recommend it warmly enough. You’ll understand your body and brain like never before.

Quote of the day – A possible link between Romania’s COVID disaster and its communist past?

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“Totalitarian propaganda perfects the techniques of mass propaganda, but it neither invents them nor originates their themes. (…) Everything hidden, everything passed over in silence, became of major significance, regardless of its own intrinsic importance. (…) Mysteriousness as such became the first criterion for the choice of topics. (…)

They (the masses) do not believe in anything visible, in the reality of their own experience; they do not trust their eyes and ears but only their imaginations, which may be caught by anything that is at once universal and consistent in itself. (…)

What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality. They are predisposed to ideologies because they explain facts as mere examples of laws and eliminate coincidences by inventing an all-embracing omnipotence which is supposed to be at the root of everything visible. Totalitarian propaganda thrives on this escape from reality into fiction, from coincidence into consistency. (…)

The masses’ escape from reality is a verdict against the world in which they are forced to live and in which they cannot exist (…)

Before the alternative of facing the anarchic growth and total arbitrariness of decay, or bowing down before the most rigid, fantastically fictitious consistency of an ideology, the masses will always choose the latter and be ready to pay for it with individual sacrifices (…)”

Hannah Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Penguin Classics pp. 459-461

A possible explanation why Eastern Europe is rife with conspiracy theories and a distrust of the state and its official communications, especially during this pandemic. Communist regimes have always played the game of blaming their failings on some Western or world conspiracy against them, “fitting reality to their lies”. In some parts of the world, this has become a reflex.

What language do you dream in?

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The brain is a funny thing. And funny things happen when your brain goes on vacation. I consider myself bilingual (Romanian and English) and I’ve been living in Germany for more than 15 years now, but never would I have thought that the German language would end up infiltrating… my dreams!

My dreams, yes. For the first time ever, I had a dream in German while I was at home in Romania, which makes it even stranger. And that’s not all. Not only did I dream in German, but I dreamt a whole poem in Goethe’s language! It ruined my sleep, of course, because I was so in awe, I had to make sure I could remember it well enough to jot it down in the morning. I managed to, but – alas! – only the second stanza. The first stanza (up to “Die Schienen…”) is a later addition (which, needless to say, has cost me a lot more effort and a couple of visits to the online dictionary), but the rest is entirely the creation of my subconscious.

So, here it is, I hope you like it:

Auf den Schmalspurzug wartend

Es wird Nacht in den Tälern

und ich muss wieder los.

Ein letzter Blick zum Himmel:

rosarot, erstarrt –

dann der Abstieg,

eine Haltestelle

und ich, alleine in der Unermesslichkeit,

auf den Schmalspurzug wartend.

Die Schienen sind alt, alt und holprig

wie die alten Steinwege der Bauern.

Hinter dem Abendnebel, der Berg,

schneebedeckt,

rutscht in die Abwesenheit.

Es ist spät.

Gott lässt sich nieder

auf der bettelnde Handfläche der Pinien.

Stille.

#poetry

Quote of the day

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“Uniformity in the opinions expressed by teachers is not only not to be sought, but is, if possible, to be avoided, since diversity of opinion among preceptors is essential to any sound education. No man can pass as educated who has heard only one side on questions as to which the public is divided. One of the most important things to teach in educational establishments of a democracy is the power of weighing arguments, and the open mind which is prepared in advance to accept whichever side appears the more reasonable.”

Bertrand Russel (philosopher and Nobel Prize winner) – in an essay called “Freedom and the Colleges”, 1940.

#education #pluralism #freedom #opinion