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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?


Sebald

A good friend, Nollaig Kirby introduced me to W G Sebald  a very long time ago; he gave me to read, On the Natural History of Destruction. A stunning if scary story of the allied bombing of Germany from the ground level. Probably all I had read up to then had been the Allied view from “on top’ where the cause was just and Germany was defeated. Truth is, the destruction of Germany was also the destruction of humankind without concern for the consequences. History is written large by the victors; the events hurting the people on the ground evaporate  just as the people’s bodies evaporated in the apocalyptic furnaces generated by fire bombing. No matter what, the consequences are measured good vs bad as opposed to the reality of the trauma on the ground.

Sebald was essentially  concerned with the German ‘loss of memory.’ A loss of memory which is a general glide into a negation of anything having happened in the 1933-45 period rather than a deliberate attempt to deny things  which had happened. It was the sliding into a neglected backwater where no one ventured or revisited. It was easier to draw this blank over what had happened than accept that families; parents, grandparents, siblings had accepted or had  benefitted from National Socialism. In the mid 1970s I had met and taught a group of very literate German students. The main body were teachers from Bavaria and under 30. One of the group, however was a man in his 60s who had been a  Naval Architect responsible for the development of the Submarine pens in Brest, France. The use of slave labour was never acknowledge, the living and working conditions and ensuing  deaths were never acknowledged and that was not at my questioning, but the questions and demands from the new generation of Germans,  who are ashamed of their  National History and denial of responsibility. 

A year later, I was in Austria and with a close friend and her parents; the father was very clear of his views:- Hitler and the Anschluss were the best things to happen  to Austria. The country was rescued from the aftermath of the loss of Empire post 1918 and the economic decline . He was a medical doctor; well -to-do and totally fluent in English! No chance of mis-interpretation then!! He had been a doctor in the German Army during the period 1938-45 and had never seen, heard of  or experienced anything of the abuses revealed post war! His attitude to the Jewish Question was really that it was a ‘problem’ that needed solution… At that point or very close to it, I left the table. My shins were bruised from the kicks  from my friend which I had received to stop me responding. Memory, it was submerged deliberately and his wife and daughters had never questioned or even been aware of this strand of history. Forty years later, I still hold both memories vividly to mind. 

In Sebald, this escape into a construct which denies wat happened is the the modus operandi used. Memories are masked by a cloud of self-denial. It’s obviously easier to forget than confront! 

Max Sebald

This is the Wikipedia entry for Max Sebald aka W G Sebald

Winfried Georg Sebald (18 May 1944 – 14 December 2001), known as W. G. Sebald or Max Sebald, was a German writer and academic. At the time of his death at the age of 57, he was being cited by many literary critics as one of the greatest living authors[citation needed] and had been tipped as a possible future winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.[1] In a 2007 interview, Horace Engdahl, former secretary of the Swedish Academy, mentioned Sebald, Ryszard Kapuściński and Jacques Derrida as three recently deceased writers who would have been worthy laureates.[2]

Life

Sebald was born in WertachBavaria and was one of three children of Rosa and Georg Sebald. From 1948 to 1963, he lived in Sonthofen.[3] His father joined the Reichswehr in 1929 and remained in the Wehrmacht under the Nazis. His father remained a detached figure, a prisoner of war until 1947; a grandfather was the most important male presence in his early years. Sebald was shown images of the Holocaust while at school in Oberstdorf and recalled that no one knew how to explain what they had just seen. The Holocaust and post-war Germany loom large in his work.

Sebald studied German and English literature first at the University of Freiburg and then at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, where he received a degree in 1965.[4] He was a Lector at the University of Manchester from 1966 to 1969. He returned to St. Gallen in Switzerland for a year hoping to work as a teacher but could not settle. Sebald married his Austrian-born wife, Ute, in 1967. In 1970 he became a lecturer at the University of East Anglia (UEA). There, he completed his PhD in 1973 with a dissertation entitled “The Revival of Myth: A Study of Alfred Döblin’s Novels”.[5][6] Sebald acquired habilitation from the University of Hamburg in 1986.[7] In 1987, he was appointed to a chair of European literature at UEA. In 1989 he became the founding director of the British Centre for Literary Translation. He lived at Wymondham and Poringland while at UEA.

Sebald died while driving near Norwich in December 2001. The coroner’s report, released some six months later, stated that Sebald had suffered an aneurysm and had died of this condition before his car swerved across the road and collided with an oncoming lorry.[8] He was driving with his daughter Anna, who survived the crash.[9] He is buried in St. Andrew’s churchyard in Framingham Earl, close to where he lived.

In 2011, Grant Gee made the documentary Patience (After Sebald) about the author’s trek through the East Anglian landscape.[10]

Work[

Sebald’s works are largely concerned with the themes of memory and loss of memory (both personal and collective) and decay (of civilizations, traditions or physical objects). They are, in particular, attempts to reconcile himself with, and deal in literary terms with, the trauma of the Second World War and its effect on the German people. In On the Natural History of Destruction(1999), he wrote a major essay on the wartime bombing of German cities and the absence in German writing of any real response. His concern with the Holocaust is expressed in several books delicately tracing his own biographical connections with Jews.[citation needed]

His distinctive and innovative novels were written in an intentionally somewhat old-fashioned and elaborate German (one passage in Austerlitz famously contains a sentence that is 9 pages long), but are well known in English translations (principally by Anthea Bell and Michael Hulse) which Sebald supervised closely. They include VertigoThe EmigrantsThe Rings of Saturn and Austerlitz. They are notable for their curious and wide-ranging mixture of fact (or apparent fact), recollection and fiction, often punctuated by indistinct black-and-white photographs set in evocative counterpoint to the narrative rather than illustrating it directly. His novels are presented as observations and recollections made while travelling around Europe. They also have a dry and mischievous sense of humour.[citation needed]

Sebald was also the author of three books of poetry: For Years Now with Tess Jaray (2001), After Nature (1988), and Unrecounted (2004).

Works[

  • 1988 After Nature. London: Hamish Hamilton. (Nach der Natur. Ein Elementargedicht) English ed. 2002
  • 1990 Vertigo. London: Harvill. (Schwindel. Gefühle) English ed. 1999
  • 1992 The Emigrants. London: Harvill. (Die Ausgewanderten. Vier lange Erzählungen) English ed. 1996
  • 1995 The Rings of Saturn. London: Harvill. (Die Ringe des Saturn. Eine englische Wallfahrt) English ed. 1998
  • 1998 A Place in the Country. (Logis in einem Landhaus.) English ed. 2013
  • 1999 On the Natural History of Destruction. London: Hamish Hamilton. (Luftkrieg und Literatur: Mit einem Essay zu Alfred Andersch) English ed. 2003
  • 2001 Austerlitz. London: Hamish Hamilton. (Austerlitz)
  • 2001 For Years Now. London: Short Books.
  • 2003 Unrecounted London: Hamish Hamilton. (Unerzählt, 33 Texte) English ed. 2004
  • 2003 Campo Santo London: Hamish Hamilton. (Campo Santo, Prosa, Essays) English ed. 2005
  • 2008 Across the Land and the Water: Selected Poems, 1964–2001. (Über das Land und das Wasser. Ausgewählte Gedichte 1964–2001.) English ed. 2012

Influences[

The works of Jorge Luis Borges, especially “The Garden of Forking Paths” and “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius“, were a major influence on Sebald. (Tlön and Uqbar appear in The Rings of Saturn.)[11]Sebald himself credited the Austrian novelist Thomas Bernhard as a major influence on his work,[12] and paid homage within his work to Kafka[13] and Nabokov (the figure of Nabokov appears in every one of the four sections of The Emigrants).[14]

Time stood still then returned to a semblance of normality.

Almost 12 months since I added anything to this site and a lot has happened in these days. Time however stood still in that I never found time to put word on screen nor did   I count the cost that being so lazy would mean.

In 2018, I managed to celebrate a whole range of ‘anniversaries.’ There is no list of priorities or of ‘valuation’ of these events in their listing:-

1948-2018 June 3rd: 70th birthday

1978-2018 September: I started to live and work in London

1998-2018 December: 20 years since ‘ungraciously’ encouraged to leave St Thomas More

1993-2018 May 31: 25 Years married

All in all a great catalogue of events only topped by watching my first Crystal Palace match, at Selhurst Park, with Malcolm Hopper. 7th October 1978:- Palace 3-0 Brighton. Malcolm’s brother was there, in disguise, as he lived in Brighton and was a fan.

 

 

A ‘wake up call’ in October

I’m a waster of time in the sense that my time use doesn’t produce physical or measurable results which others would deem product!

My time has been spent, since my retirement, in 2013, reading, writing a book reading log and riding my bikes.( A simplistic 3 Rs )  In 2015, Mary retired and to that tally of activities, travel has become more to the fore. Canada, USA, both in the ‘Fall’ and to ‘The Deep South’ followed by Vietnam and later, Japan. Interspersed with these epic travels, we have had several trips to Leicester, Durham and Southwold, then add in Benalmádena x2 , Munich and Cork and that’s a huge carbon footprint.

If that wasn’t enough, we have Cornwall, Benalmádena and Malaysia in the diary and then there’s the event/events which may or may not occur to celebrate the triple anniversaries of marriage, big birthday and house purchase. Being me, small scale trumps big!