The Reason Why …

… the things we cannot understand.

Wednesday evening, I receive the news that Stephen Hawking passed away. And I do not know the reason why it touches me, in some strange way. Just chatting with 艺非, I remark:

Perhaps it is because I never understood him?

The answer follows suite:

He is funny and cool

Yes, well, yes he was – and still he is one of the most profound, most serious scientists.

Perhaps I am touched as the news states:

É morto Stephen Hawking, esattamente 130 anni dopo la nascita di Einstein

– is it the closing of a circle? The birth of Einstein as opening of an era that would fundamentally change the understanding of the world and pout position, the death of Hawking who left us with the No-Boundary Measure of the Universe. which may be easily seen as a follow-up version of the theory of relativity.

Perhaps I am touched for the most banal reason that can come to mind when talking about such loss: the morning we discussed some issues of the new German government, namely the migration policy as lead down in the …, well, Tino talk about the Agreement, literally Koalitionsvertrag translated into contract or treaty. But perhaps that is part of the problem: A government, the party of the old-new chancellor not standing as block behind her, the entire new coalition only having little backing … – and little profile: the few pages on migration issues more pragmatic, managerial, featureless .. are they already living and governing in a post-Einstein-Hawking-era. The final age of which Shakespeare says

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion;

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Treaties being watered down to agreements … – Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

There is another thing that comes to mind … perhaps the reason why: The world is admiring, celebrating billionaires and bubble blowers, believes Kurzweil’s statement that Singularity is near

not realising that this is the Amazon-Singularity of big capitalist business, without any cooperate responsibility, acting as private feudal nosey lords in public spaces [the gist of a book-contribution I am failing soon]. It is the google-youtube-singularity that is increasingly coming under threat and actually activates at this stage already unexpected forces or in other words: a singularity of capitalism as we can summarise Negri.

The reason why ….


… there are may reasons and many areas where we simply have to accept the greatness of those – things and people – that resist in some way, searching for the breath of the world.

From Elias Canetti: Du bist aus dem Atem der Welt gerückt. [aus Fliegenpein]

Handpressendruck aus der Werkstatt Fliegenknopf, Muenchen, Band IV der Schwarzen Serie. Limitiert, handsigniert von Künstler der Holzschnitte, Wilfried Bohne. 96 Exemplare

I can only highly recommend a visit in the workshop – a pleasure to experience history being alive and meaningful …


Leisure Time

It is Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, Seollal in Korea, where the Olympic Games may be part of what they claim to be: a step to the peaceful unification of two countries, which would be a real and global platinum medal – and it is about celebrating and leisure time. Let us join in this difficult matter.

… unfortunately human nature improves slowly, and in nothing more slowly than in the hard task of learning to use leisure well. In every age, in every nation, and in every rank of society, those who have known how to work well, have been far more numerous than those who have known how to use leisure well. But on the other hand it is only through freedom to use leisure as they will, that people can learn to use leisure well; and no class of manual workers, who are devoid of leisure, can have much self-respect and become full citizens. Some time free from the fatigue of work that tires without educating, is a necessary condition of a high standard of life.



[Marshall, Alfred, 1890: Principles of Economics; MacMillan and Co., London, 1930: 718]

I am scared …

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There is a light

she said

and they are together. It is not a sad painting!

This is from a most enjoyable visit with a friend at the New Pinakothek. It had been much later that evening, after we had been chatting, nicely, seriously, laughingly over a drink when she gave me this think-piece, and with it came a ‘provocation to live’ …

I am Scared, Therefore I am Brave!

Recently, my Italian translator, Giuseppe, wrote me an email. It was not a typical exchange, but quite an extraordinary personal query:

“Many see you as a very courageous person. They would like to imitate you at that, at least a little bit, but they feel they are not courageous, say, ‘by nature’ and they cannot learn courage. What do you think about that? Can people train themselves to be courageous?

I do not know how to answer this question in brief, and definitely not in the body of an email, not in just a few words. But the question is important, maybe essential, and so I decided to reply by writing this essay. ….

inner beauty – and the lack of it

The times of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and the somewhat frivolous times at The Existentialist Café – the times of being,enjoying freedom and striving for more of it and of philosophising over and about Apricot Cocktails are gone [may be they are here 😉] – and sometimes a paradoxical development requires now political correctness that would be countering the understanding that we[re] meant those years. So, even talking about beauty becomes quickly a somewhat tricky topic – easy to drop a brick, or even to cause a tower collapsing. Sure, a problem for many, and for me too.

Be it as it is, when talking to a friend in China, occasionally the term inner beauty came up. I suppose it mainly refers to harmony and ‘contentedness’, making beauty a matter of living ones own life – a bit of La Belle et la Bête perhaps? And as much as this is an individual matter, or a matter to be resolved between beauty and beast, it is also very much a social construct, depending in multiple ways on the space and time we live in. And part of it is the paradoxical attempt to compensate for the lack of inner, of one’s ‘natural’ beauty by a whole range of artificial means – Clothes Make the Man [Gottfried Keller] and in some way we may add: makeup make the woman [ah yes, I know …, as said …]. It is at least interesting to see that – according to Angus Trumble [2004: A Brief History  of the Smile; NY: Basic Books: page 57]

[t]oward the beginning of the current recession, in 2001, American women spent more then $836 million on lipstick, 6% more than the year before. According to Leonard Lauder, chairman of Esteée Lauder, ‘When things get tough, women buy lipstick.’ Perhaps.

Probably this is a matter of striving for some artificial beauty, underlining natural expressions, compensating for ‘unnaturally’ enforced lack of beauty: socio-economic crisis causing too many worry lines and wrinkles – some redistribution from the bottom to the top being implied: at least trying to makeup the way to higher echelons ….

More interesting, I find, is the other case, namely the in fact explicit redistribution from rich artificiality, aiming on making natural beauty possible –

first comes a full stomach, then ethics [Brecht],


first comes a full stomach, then inner beauty can unfold again
[Herrmann, nothing wrong with occasionally forgetting modesty I supose]

So, how to make sure that people can live up to their inner beauty? – again from the book mentioned, here page 61,

by the eighteenth century the French consumed approximately two million pots of rouge each year, of wich a certain proportion was applied to lips as well as cheeks. The reason we can be sure of the figure is that an attempt was made to impose a tax on each pot at a rate of 25 sols, in this case to finance pensions for the widow of poor army officers. Comparable amounts of rose and patchouli scent are consumed by women of rank.

[I did the highlighting; and in this case I do not give out, reading that the money was used to support  widows of army officers – the normal thing: social support first for military servants, then state officials and finally, if at all, for ‘ordinary people’ – looking at cutbacks, we find the reverse order … – and there I give out.

Yes, economy and economics is lurking around every corner, and sometimes it is easier to forget all about it, simply enjoying the inner beauties that are around…

Turbulenzen und Zäsuren

Liebe …, über Turbulenzen und Zäsuren muss ich noch nachdenken – nicht weil ich sie infrage stellen möchte, eher weil die Turbulenzen bei mit tendenziell schleichender Dauerzustand, auch als Denkherausforderung, sind; und zweitens die Zäsuren sich dann doch wie ein geballter Block, Keil, Flügel in den ganz normalen Wahnsinn einmischen – dazwischen-schlagend oder leicht sich hineinsenkend.
Wie schrieb ich nach dem Besuch der Alice-Vorstellung in der Opera?
C’ è più realtà nel paese delle meraviglie di tutte le meraviglie che pretendiamo di affrontare nella nostra ricerca.
Und mein zugegebenermassen chaotisch [erscheinender] [Denk-]Ansatz macht beides Spannend und verbindet teils die Welten, immer hoffend, dass ich dennoch auf dem Boden der Tatsachen bleibe. – Naja, was sind Tatsachen? Kürzlich hörte ich vom Stundenlohn des Herrn Gates. Dollar? Euro? ich habe es vergessen – allemal sollen es einhundertfünfzig sein, pro Sekunde …. Und so ist es doch oft: die wahren Dimensionen von Ungleichheit, Regelungen und Änderungen, auch jene im besten Sinne, erfassen wir oftmals kaum – bezeichnend der, wenngleich nach meiner Auffassung, zweifelhafte, Schritt Peter’s, nun Sachbücher durch Novellen ergänzen zu wollen [“The Baby Auction”, “Ardent Justice”], da ihm die Aussagemöglichkeiten durch Sachbücher begrenzt scheinen – Hat er Recht oder zeigt es nicht ein anderes Mal, dass es nicht nur – vor langer Zeit wurde darüber geschrieben – ein Elend der Philosophie gibt, sondern auch ständig die Verarmung der Sozialwissenschaft weiter voranschreitet – nichts Neues und doch erschreckend, wenn man in dem Verarmungsprozess teils gefangen ist, sich zu widersetzen sucht, und dann in diese Verarmungsfalle gerät: die Verarmung des Denkens durch über-systematisierung oder die Verarmung durch das Verlangen, den Menschen zu respektieren und nicht den technischen, administrativen oder unter allem den ökonomischen Interessen unterzuordnen.
Sicher sind all dies Geschichten hoher Komplexität – aber Komplexität wirklich reduzieren zu müssen, wie es nach Luhmann Aufgabe der Wissenschaft ist, ist Anderes, als Komplexität zu leugnen – etwas, was wir vor Luhmann bereits lernen konnten, etwa von Hegel oder Marx. Und sicher ist es ein Prozess, der lange schon zu finden ist – erwähnte ich nicht vor Kurzem erst die Kritik Alfred Marshall’s an der Segmentierung des Wissens[prozesses] ?  – und der doch immer neue Formen findet, nicht zuletzt durch die systematische Verarmung menschlicher Intelligence durch AI. Die Befluegelung will ich nicht bestreiten, aber doch die Gefahr der Vorgaben durch AI kann ich nicht übersehen: Die Weiterung des Schrittes, vor dem ich auch Studierende immer wieder gewarnt habe:
Eine Antwort zu geben, ohne genau über die Frage nachzudenken
erfolgt nun Rechen-Maschinen-geschneidert, durch die Forderung:
Eine Frage zu stellen, und sie so zu stellen, dass es der Algorithmus
immer auch berechnen kann.
Auch dies nichts Neues, denn in den Aufzeichnungen aus dem Kellerloch schreibt Dostojevski ja:
… der Mensch besitzt eine solche Leidenschaft für Systematik und abstrakte Folgerungen, daß er es fertigbringt, bewußt die Wahrheit zu verdrehen und mit sehenden Augen nicht zu sehen und mit hörenden Ohren nicht zu hören, um nur seiner Logik recht geben zu können.
In diesem Sinne danke fuer die Wünsche fuer uns alle
für 2018 und für ein erfolgreiches Fortschreiten auf den Pfaden der Erkenntnis!
und danke auch fuer das Angebot zur weiteren Zusammenarbeit trotz des teils störrischen Insistierens auf der Leidenschaft, sich auf im Rechtsdenken der Systematik und den abstrakten Folgerungen teils zu widersetzen.
In diesem Sinne mit dem Dank sendet Peter die guten Wünsche auch an Dich

If man plays …

and only then ….

In Schiller’s own words
Therefore, no error will ever be incurred if we seek the ideal of beauty on the same road on which we satisfy our play-impulse. We can immediately understand why the ideal form of a Venus, of a Juno, and of an Apollo, is to be sought not at Rome, but in Greece, if we contrast the Greek population, delighting in the bloodless athletic contests of boxing, racing, and intellectual rivalry at Olympia, with the Roman people gloating over the agony of a gladiator. Now the reason pronounces that the beautiful must not only be life and form, but a living form, that is, beauty, inasmuch as it dictates to man the twofold law of absolute formality and absolute reality. Reason also utters the decision that man shall only play with beauty, and he shall only play with beauty.
For, to speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.
 … of course, Schiller, in Letter XV of his collection upon the Æsthetic Education of Man does not fully explain or exemplify what play means. Nor does he tell us explicitly if it is for all of us the same. For the child it surely is not the same as for the philosopher.
One of the latter came across some snippet of information, useless, unimportant and thus being a major temptation to play, offering a break from checking algorithms and their legal meaning. A day in November last year, checking the holidays for 2018, I clicked on a link, to learn about Palindromes. Hardly knowing even the meaning of the term, I quickly learned the basics, namely
In 2018, people who write their dates in the m-dd-yy format will be treated to 10 consecutive days of palindromic dates. Every day from August 10, 2018 (8-10-18) to August 19, 2018 (8-19-18) will have a palindromic date.
Such back-to-back Palindrome Days in the m-dd-yy format are not that rare. Every year since 2011 have had 10 consecutive Palindrome Days. In 2011, they occurred from January 10, 2011 (1-10-11) to January 19, 2011 (1-19-11). In 2012, the same sequence of dates occurred in February. In 2017, this will happen in the month of July, in 2018 in August and in 2019 in September.
Notice a pattern here? As long as you write your date in the m-dd-yy format, every century has 9 years with 10 Palindrome Days in a row.
Play …
Can’t we read these in some way as days where past and future are ‘visibly’ – or is there are term like ’numberly’? – brought together in presence? Capturing the entire time universe in the sequence of just 24 hours? – A recurring ‘big bang’, isn’t it? … – You remember Goethe, contending in the ‘Diwan’ that
He who cannot draw on three thousand years is living from hand to mouth.
Nothing for boxing people who unlearned to play, leading a triste life, cut off, seduced by nothingness, not allowing the shine of light.