Approximately 4,600 miles

Early morning, walking through the countryside, the cityscape, the coastline – somewhere, does the location matter? A glance across fields, the well-known image, familiar from various paintings that can be admired in the museums across the world. Does it matter where it is?
I listen to Dostojevski’s novel The Idiot, the following passage standing out:

“Here’s another alternative for me,” said Nastasia, turning once more to the actress; “and he does it out of pure kindness of heart. I know him. I’ve found a benefactor. Perhaps, though, what they say about him may be true — that he’s an — we know what. And what shall you live on, if you are really so madly in love with Rogojin’s mistress, that you are ready to marry her — eh?”

“I take you as a good, honest woman, Nastasia Philipovna — not as Rogojin’s mistress.”

“Who? I? — good and honest?”

“Yes, you.”

“Oh, you get those ideas out of novels, you know. Times are changed now, dear prince; the world sees things as they really are. That’s all nonsense.

Images and stories, the real life condensed in them, moments … – realities, moments lived according to images and novels … — the old Platonic questions, in simple minds, ad common sense put as question about hen and egg.

But what are these moments, how can we understand them as matter of time?
The opening words of Rüdiger Safranski’s book about time what it does to us, hat we make out of it [Zeit, was sie mit uns macht und was wir aus ihr machen. Hanser, München 2015, ISBN 978-3-446-23653-0] are as follows:
Time, says the Marshall in Hofmannthal’s The Knight of the Rose is a peculiar thing/if we just thoughtlessly live it seems to be nothing/ but then, out of a sudden/ one doesn’t feel anything like it.
We can measure all of it: space, realities, time – the various devices may come to mind as the chronometer, and the means to measure physical existence, it’s chemical composition, magnetic and electronic oscillations … – But how  can we really grasp this …. – matter that is without matter and still completely determines everything that matters. I remember one question I asked the students in Changsha:
Three brothers are living in a house. They truly look different from each other, but if you want to distinguish one from the other, each is like the other two. The first is not there, he returns home. The second is not there, he already left. Only the third is there, the smallest of the three, because without him the other two would not be there. And yet there is the third one, with whom we are concerned, just because the first is transformed into the second. Since you want you look at him, you will always just see one of the other brothers. Now tell me? Are the three perhaps one and the same? Or there are only two of them? Or is it even none? And if you can you tell me their names, you will see three mighty rulers. Together they govern a mighty empire and they are a mighty empire themselves.” (own translation from Michael Ende: Momo; P.H.)
Time completely determines everything that matters … – some people come to my mind: colleagues, acquaintances, students – encounters, casual or not, enjoyed or not, controlled or not, remembered … and somewhat present, if missed or not … .
In this way at least it is probably true what we say:
老师 – lǎoshī – it is not just being a teacher, it is about a lifelong position, a …., a matter?
Lifelong presence in undefinable space, not clear when it comes to its materiality/imagined character. Mind, imagined has nothing to do with illusionary. Instead, it is about the power we all have, the necessity to acknowledge responsibility to resist. Of course, always determined, limited as
[m]en make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, ….
These the words used by Marx in the Eighteenth Brumaire.
***
The 8th of July 2018 …, a very concrete time and place and matter: in Changsha my laoshi of special kind, celebrate their graduation. 4,585.20 miles away from where I am now, and still close. It is about the students of the “first intake” at Bangor College China (2014), my students who also had been my teachers – there had been so much hard work, efforts, failures, illusions, deceptions … Illusions and disillusionments …. – and so many others involved: non-students, non-lǎoshī. And what really mattered over the years, matters  at this very moment …, and will matter in the future of all those who play(ed) on this stage is not this piece of paper, testifying for the students their achievements – with which they live, which make them saleable; testifying the staff in one way or another the money they gained or earned; and testifying for some the power they gained or failed to gain on the ranking vanity fair …. [some further reflections can be found in the contribution Challenges for Education in an International Setting; more is published here].
A flow of timespacematter merged, condensed in an event, graduation as celebration but perhaps also a distraction by eventialisation, … eventialisation … eventually they, we got here, eventually as concrete result, as the concrete which is the condensation of the many-multifold – Marx wrote about it in The Grundrisse
The concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse. It appears in the process of thinking, therefore, as a process of concentration, as a result, not as a point of departure, even though it is the point of departure in reality and hence also the point of departure for observation [Anschauung] and conception.

And it is also the condensation as the concrete on which the future can and will develop: concrete – also the concrete as matter, the firm ground which allows to stand and develop power, the pouvoir, the ability each of us, of them has … and will develop further as Foucault insists.

A large plain, timespacematter for each as individual, as personality … and still – it was a permanent topic when I was together with a friend of those days – a plain of gain only when it is walked on together: emerging as reality of lived life in real spaces when the different images and stories are put together like a jigsaw with different optional results, not as volens purum – and equally not resulting by way of nolens volens.

***

Early morning, walking through the countryside, the cityscape, the coastline – somewhere, does the location matter? A glance across fields, the well-known images, familiar from various paintings that can be admired in the museums across the world. Does it matter where it is? A novel … whatever it is, it will be about the best of our world, the Candide-world.
Images and stories, the real life condensed in them, moments … – realities, moments lived according to images and novels … — the old Platonic questions, in simple minds, ad common sense put as question about hen and egg.
Altro tempo. Non c’è più. Arrivato e fuggito. Rapidamente. Ma sempre soggiornare.
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