Adorno coined the phrase
Though without referring to him, we had been chatting about this topic, Yi wondering why “you in the West have this strange attitude: not living, working and then condensing life in a brief period called holidays …”
A few days after our chat this came back to me, 8:30, taking a morning-train to the German capital: eleven man, not too young, entering the passenger compartment, loud enough to entertain a train station, occasionally quietened by reading the famous boulevard journal … . After a short while I saw one of them sitting there with a bottle of sparkled wine, only minutes later he got a little box of Kuemmerling, the herb liqueur – don’t get misled by the name, it is not going back to any worries (the German term “Kummer” can be translated as worry).
Obviously they went for a weekend to live, forgetting existing during unbalanced work, caught in alienation.
I pointed it out to my companion: people, clearly showing the meaning of what Marx stated 1844 in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts:
What, then, constitutes the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, that is, that it does not belong to his essential being; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel well but unhappy, does not freely develop his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker, therefore, feels himself only outside his work, and feels beside himself in his work. He is at home when he is not working, and when he is working he is not at home. His work therefore is not voluntary, but coerced; it is forced labor. It is therefore not the satisfaction of a need, but only a means for satisfying needs external to it. Its alien character emerges clearly in the fact that labor is shunned like the plague as soon as there is no physical or other compulsion.
It has nothing to do with what is called intelligence, it is nothing that can easily be overcome, by nobody and nowhere – again Marx, again the first volume of Capital:
If money, according to Augier, “comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek,” capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.
And more or less the same kind of blood-stain:
to the development of productivity and the more economic use of the conditions of production. It imposes on the worker an increased expenditure of labour within a time which remains constant, a heightened tension of labour-power, and a closer filling-up of the pores of the working day, i.e. a condensation of labour … the denser hour of the 10-hour working day contains more labour.
And as commodity consumption becomes “production”, the act of buying itself becomes a means of satisfaction, it is the emergence of the real life becoming itself a wrong life.
Yes, Yi, we know and still we do not fully grasp it, we remain caught with the two souls you talked about. Still … as much as we now … a stone know as well a lot, is there on the ground, condensed, the impressions of hundreds of years ingrained – but it is unable thinking to think even a nanosecond, as unable as it is to feel …, to love, to acknowledge and eve enjoy the madness of everyday’s life. No way for it to escape, to start thinking, no way to make it thinking …
The answer is prompt:
Poor stone –
And turning towards me:
If you are angry against the stone; I feel sympathetic with him.
Looking into the eyes, the face, I would like to have a stone in front of me, touching it, comforting it, softening it …
No, I am not angry with him, I feel sorry for him … There is a chapter in one of the books I wrote for children, it is about a person wo had been like a stone …. But actually he had been cured one day.
Followed by her question:
Cured by a Mr. Hammer?
No, a hammer can only make things worse; after using it you only have more stones … wait, just a sec …
While searching the file of “Phanresias Geschichten von der Freundschaft” and the chapters dealing with Mr. Messerscharf, the train attendant walks through the train offering a cookie.
Well, it seems that there can be some realm right life in the wrong one – but looking into her face, the frozen smile of the person offering the DB-present …that thought meaning to stay for a long time with us …
Isn’t it also linked to the point mentioned earlier, the West and the East: yes, there is on the one side this egoism, hedonism, egocentrism … – living for oneself – it means for a social being: not living at all. Freedom is not only the freedom of those who think differently (Luxemburg), not only the insight in necessities. It is also the lived “ubuntu” – the knowledge of and acceptance and appreciation of living ho one lives in dependency of the other. On the other hand it is also the trap in which we easily may end – with every lament concerning the “you in the West” I hear and see also the ambiguity of the other side: ubuntu as “I do not live my own life”, at times expressed as satisfaction, at times expressed as melancholy and even sadness, the feeling of loss, though never denying the devotion … – freedom brings us back to the dilemma of the right life in a wrong one, in a wring society — the price to be paid is surely high …
… Those days I listend to an interview, or better to say a TV-discussion: Rudi Dutschke, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Matthias Walden and Kurt Sontheimer (recording: 13. Juni 1978) – I do not remember exactly, was it Daniel or Rudi, talking about bottomless hatred? – The flint-stone comes to mind …, the brother of Mr. Messerscharf. And the question of directing explosions. And that would be the real end of comedians on the political stage, not only in Italy under the five “guiding stars” …