Author: carlislemike1948

“You’re a Bugger, Noel!” An email letter to a melancholic friend.

You’re a bugger; after your comment on Saturday morning about feeling your age and its effects on your physique and your psyche, I’ve started to worry I was missing something or at worst, ignoring something about my health and I’m a good ten plus years older than you.

Re the physical, effects, that’s bloody obvious and something I accept, then put to the back of my mind and/or ignore. It’s just happening and you can’t change it, just accept and manage. The purely physical, gradual processes can be managed and I can live with the stiff knees, sore ribs and joints first thing or late on. Paracetamol is a great alternative therapy. Exercise is necessary and both alleviates and at the same time, increases the sources of strain. 

Psyche is a totally other sphere. I know there is so much I’ve missed through time and focus on other things and I equally know that there’s a lot more I want to learn/know( these aren’t necessarily the same things). Hence the mad rush to read, google, see or hear as much as I can BUT I don’t think I’ve put an age limit on the agenda! I don’t; or didn’t, really think of this in terms of there only being left x amount of years or even days. Maybe I’m too blasé but I didn’t worry too much apart from a selective, mental list of ways I wouldn’t like to die, and by that, I mean the way I’d leave Mary, Lil, Tom plus friends and family behind. The actual process may be different depending on how much I knew about it or felt it. 

I’ll stick in a comment I made about a month back, re Faust:- “ The first lines of Faust’s part are so Sebald: “How much can you ever learn yet still not be satisfied?”  On first reading, Goethe focused Faust’s downfall on a want for wealth as reward for his great knowledge, whereas Sebald wants mental satisfaction of knowing who you are in terms of human and national history ( if I’ve read him right?)  Suppression of memory denies self-knowledge. I don’t therefore conclude that Faust is shallow in wanting tangible wealth but that tangible wealth he craves represents all the wants of humanity outwith mental peace of mind: self-value rather than a judgment on tangible outward signs of wealth. ( Almost a parody of the Christian idea of, “ outward signs of inward grace,” in reference to the Sacraments! I don’t know enough of Goethe to posit that as a valid source but I want to work on it. “

I’ve been lucky, I’ve seen a lot, enjoyed a lot, loved a lot, laughed a lot and I hope there’s some more to come. Regrets, yes, there are some but I take that as life’s gamble. Compared to the lives of my remembered ancestors, I have been fortunate; no poverty, no massive illnesses, unemployment, wars, incarceration, torture and humiliation, etc. There have been blips and crap moments but overall, so far, nothing compared to those of  my parents and grandparents and their respective families and friends. 

Anyway, returning to my original comment, you’re a bugger who has started me thinking and that’s dangerous. I don’t have high religious hopes or even beliefs. Teaching RE for 20 years and the contradictories within beliefs vis-a-vis practice plus the hypocrisies that were manifested/are still manifested, dulls that strand. I’m minded to that chunk of Macbeth when he says, 

“ Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” 

It’s pretty bleak and it’s about the mortality of Time, our limited Time, but I don’t feel that bleakness. We live, we do what we do, hopefully to the best of our abilities then…… it’s over and two generations down the line, so what? If we leave a decent inheritance, not necessarily financial, for our children and possibly grandchildren, then fine. The political and environmental heritage is something we also leave behind and that’s an  equally important legacy. Memory of me, as I said, will go after two generations and then myths set in to me, the reality is that History is a construction by succeeding generations.  Mind you, Mary has decried my interpretation and brought the focus of this speech back to Lady Macbeth’s condition. Personally, I still think it’s apt in my interpretation.

This is not meant to be a depressant, rather I feel positive about life and I hadn’t really couched it in terms of having reached 70 hence there is x time left when x=current age – life expectancy for someone with my history, genetic DNA., habits etc. Even the death of my mate Iain in November didn’t really bring me to worrying as it was just part of life. Like me, he’d lived, loved, enjoyed, had his own positive as well as negative experiences but he’d enjoyed it through to 74 then over and out. I’ve much older friends who’ve gone through so much and more but at 80 and even 85, still roll on enjoying what they’ve got over what’s gone. Yep, there are moments when they feel sadness at loss of partners or children but, they’re still here and that’s what matters. Some are religious, some agnostic and some more akin to Humanist, but they’re not merely peddling a belief system as a panacea; it’s their meaning for their life. Me, I belong to the Terry Wogan school of Philosophy:- I don’t believe in Heaven but when I die and I arrive there; if there is one, then you do know how  I love a surprise party! 

I don’t want to die, just yet!  I don’t want to die in some hospital ward or care home. I don’t want to die in x, y or z painful or miserable process.  Essentially, if I had a choice, I’d die of my own time and pace. I’d know it and face it! Ideally, I’d be cycling in the countryside, pull off into a bit if woodland and, smiling, keel over. Don’t worry, I’ve not got an urgent urge to do it. (There are a few other positive scenarios involving the Lake District or Kent Coastline.) As Tom says, if it really should be bad, then it’s the one-way ticket to Zurich! Probably I’d have to pay my own fare. 

Now all this crap above comes from your Melancholia about ageing. Knocked years off me writing this, it did. At least Palace made up for England’s no show in the second half. Enjoy your day. 
Originally written 3rd March 2019

HEIMAT

26TH DEZEMBER 2018! What a fabulous read ( and fabulously easy really ) in the format of a comic picture book! Rather Sebaldian in many ways as Krug examines her own feelings of identityas a member of the family Krug and as a German living in a post war world of negation and national forgetfulness.

I found the format easy to follow; Krug works as a Professor in Illustration in NYC, and the use of personal photographs, photographs and cards from “flea markets” plus archival photographs interspersing her search narrative , made for fairly easy reading. The only hiatuses were for the occasional writing up German words and their English meanings. Max Sebald would approve the methodology but maybe a lot fewer picture insertions and a lot more textual depth would have been seen.  Krug questions the memories of her mother, aunts and cousins spread  over several generations. She investigates her deceased grandfather and his siblings and herself as she wants to know why she feels an inner guilt for German-ness which she can’t easily define nor can she find any real sense of Heimat in her homeland. Rather as Sebald left Germany as a post graduate, Krug had done the same but then, not as any token gesture, she had met and married a New Yorker of Jewish heritage. Then the finding of answers to her internal questions becomes paramount as she tries to find answers which will be for her child. 

The finding in her search for her is whether German guilt be carried forward to a 41-year-old relative living in Brooklyn today is I think reconciled in her discovery of a sense of Heimat in the Germany of the early 21stcentury; something which she had not thought possible in the first years of her travels to Liverpool then New Jersey. There is also the naïve/stupid association in her early travels that all Germans = Nazis! Strangely, I thin this attitude persists today as is seen in the tabloid headlines whenever England play Germany in football, evinced in the crass allusions by people who I believed fairly educated and aware when making comments in German Class or just that whole ‘reference-set’ of the Far-Right UK in racist language, attire or cross reference especially in terms or anti-Semitism. 

In her Guardian interview, Krug states, “In hindsight, …. the family history she embarked on was the kind of project she wished she had done when she was much younger: ‘ What I found problematic about the way in which we were taught at school about the Holocaust and the war was that it conveyed a very generalising sense of guilt. You learned about the facts, but you weren’t encouraged to research what happened in your own city, or your own family.

If that had happened, we would have learned to deal with this guilt in a much more constructive way. You would have been able to say: ‘I am doing something positive now, I am contributing to retelling the story in a new way.’ The sense of paralysis would not have been so strong. ‘ ”

There is no resolution for her or her father in the relationship with her aunt Annemarie, Franz Karl’s older sister who still grieves for the alter Franz Karl, killed in the war. Krug and her aunt have a rapprochement but it stops at their level, the father cannot forgive his sister.

I’m passing this book on to Tom and buying it for several friends. It is definitely one of my ‘discovered’books of this year. There’s a written, longer version of my initial responses in my Reading Log §6 27/12/2018


An alternative view for the AfD in Germany

I totally acknowledge that I have lifted this from Deutsche Welle. This is far more in your face than BBC presentations on the right wing in Britain.

Fake Coca-Cola and McDonald’s advertisements criticizing the far-right Alternative for Germany

Fake Coca-Cola and McDonald’s advertisements criticizing the far-right Alternative for Germany are springing up around the country. The punchline? It has forced a number of well-known brands to take political stands.

For a better time: Say NO to AfD!

At first glance the posters for Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nutella and Früh Kölsch beer look like ordinary advertisements. But the accompanying slogans aim not to whet consumer appetites but to turn people off the far-right populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Most of the posters feature puns that aren’t easily translatable. But a hoax ad for breakfast spread Nutella that appeared earlier this week in downtown Berlin read “Better brown on your bread than brown in your head” — brown being the color associated with fascism and National Socialism.

To drive home the point, at the bottom of the poster are the words “Against racism, intolerance and the far-right hate-mongering of the AfD!

This was the advert we saw in Aachen. Too late in the evening, to get a photograph.

An Internet group called the Stay Behind Foundation said that activists associated with their network had been responsible for the hoax Nutella ad. The group’s website also offers a downloadable fake AfD poster, made to look like an ad for detergent, on which the right-wing populist party is renamed the “Alternative to Democracy.””100 percent old-school natural,” the poster proclaims. “Purity guaranteed since 1933,” referring to the year the Nazis came to power.

The organization takes its name from the term for partisans in war who stay behind the front line of an invading enemy and attack the occupiers from the rear. And the hoax poster campaign has succeeded not only in eliciting chuckles at the AfD’s expense but in forcing the companies whose corporate identity has been “brand-jacked” to stake out a position toward the far-right populists.

Not everything goes better with Coke

The first hoax ad was a fake Christmas billboard in Berlin for Coca-Cola featuring the familiar figure of Santa Claus holding bottles of soda with words “For a peaceful season, say no to the AfD.” An Internet group called Modus claimed responsibility. The prank was part of #AfDentskalender, a collection of 24 anti-AfD initiatives the group has planned in December.Coke was quick to point out that the company had not put up the ad, but the company’s spokesman also tweeted, “Not every fake is necessarily wrong.” Fast-food giant McDonald’s also expressed support for a fake ad’s anti-racist message while criticizing the “poor imitation” of its corporate identity.

The populists were not amused and sought to counter with a fake Pepsi billboard and the message, “say yes to the AFD,” earning the party a prompt cease-and-desist order from the soft-drink manufacturer. And that wasn’t the last of the populists’ missteps. AfD members called for a boycott of Coke and began searching for alternatives. Member of parliament Malte Kaufmann posted a photo of himself drinking German beverage Fritz Cola, reaping scorn as users pointed out that the brand is known for its explicit left-wing politics.

Ultra-right-wing AfD regional leader Björn Höcke posted a picture of himself enjoying a Vita Cola with the caption “There’s always an alternative” — only for the company to object to being politically instrumentalized and to proclaim its support for openness and tolerance.

That led 24-year-old radio host and comedian Sophie Passmann to comment: “2018 will go down as the year when cola companies took a clearer stand against Nazis than the interior minister.”

Many of the hoaxes and responses associated with the campaign have gone viral on social media. But when asked for his take on the Yuletide brand-jacking spree, 77-year-old AfD chairman Alexander Gauland’s mood turned Grinch-like. “What am I supposed to think of this?” Gauland told DW. “It’s silly. And wrong. We’re not in favor of fake news. I can’t judge whether the companies concerned have done enough to prevent this. But of course, we think it’s silly.”At least the party won’t have to worry about a further blunder with alternative soft drinks.

“On general principle, I don’t drink Coca-Cola, said Gauland. “No matter whether ads are directed against us or not.” 

What is the use of all this knowledge?

As Adam and Eve would want to know, what is the use of all knowledge? Maybe that is too trite but that is also the search that Faust wants resolution to. Goethe relates Faust’s issue to tangible wealth. Faust has all the knowledge which he believes available, but what has he not got, it’s wealth.  

At 06.30, I got stuck into Faust and the first rant he has at the start of the play, is the idea that knowledge of everything doesn’t make someone satisfied! Goethe‘s Faust relates it subsequently to physical wealth, hence his subsequent downfall. 

I bought the text of Faust in May 2015; as a play edited and adapted for the Citizens’ Theatre in Glasgow, , but only now I’ve managed to start it. Initially, it was an impulse buy after reading references to Goethe and Schiller, in Claudio Magris’ Danube; then again in Sebald, who I blame for most of my reading diversions. 

The first lines of Faust’s part are so Sebald: how much can you ever learn yet still not be satisfied? On first reading, Goethe focus’s Faust’s downfall on a want for wealth as reward for his great knowledge, whereas Sebald wants mental satisfaction of knowing who you are in terms of human and national history ( if I’ve read him right?)  Suppression of memory denies self knowledge. I don’t therefore conclude that Faust is shallow in wanting tangible wealth but that the tangible wealth he craves represents all the wants of humanity outwith mental peace of mind: a self valuation,  a judgment based on tangible outward signs of wealth. This is almost a parody of the Christian idea of, “ outward signs of inward grace,” in reference to the Sacraments! I don’t know enough of Goethe to posit that as a valid source but I want to work on it. Faust bemoans his study of Theology in this initial lament. Is there to be redress as the play concludes?

Whether it is the character of Faust or of Sebald’s Jacquest Austerlitz, satisfaction is sought. Faust may get his physical satisfaction but does Austerlitz get peace of mind?