Between Worlds – Between Times

It is some time ago now, I made a trip which was a bit like time travel – France – Catalonia – France and going on from there …
Well, I can say I escaped those days that massacre of Barcelona, though having been very close to the crime scene. At stake is, however, not spatial closeness – what makes me still trembling, and at times near to crying, is something else – it is the same shock that followed me for some time, after having left the French embassy in Rome on the 7th of January 2015, the day of the ‘Charlie Hebdo shooting’. It is a bit like history condensing, being forced into a nutshell, feeling the need to discard the fetters that are lurking around the corners of uneven development.
Indeed, it is some time ago now,I made that trip which was a bit like time travel, leaving the massacre for a while aside …
Two days or so after what happened …  sitting in the TGV, the Train à Grande Vitesse, … everything went according to plan, and I am sitting on the prenotated seat, looking a bit out of the window, trying to accommodate myself in the passing life … – again and again startled by the rattling, caused by some parts of the train. I remember the first trip I made with a TGV, many years ago: fast, not mentioning the slightest movement – and those days not the noise of neighbours playing with or loudly speaking over their phone: pling .., announcing arriving — swoosh …, accompanying the sending of a message. Then it had been a brand new train, with all comfort, cleanness and newness [today’s TGVs had been inaugurated in 1981]. I remember a friend, while looking out of the window, asking:
And when will it be driving with this amazing speed?
I replied
Don’t look out of the window, look at the speed-announcement over the door.
Yes, it had been over 300 km/h.

A few days later: the Thalys from Brussels to Amsterdam, later again, the ICE bringing me to Munich …: all of them smooth trips, comfortable actually, as they had been launched later than the TGV, a bit cleaner, still a bit more comfortable … Still, using now the CRH in China – very clean, the train seems to ‘stand still’ while driving its constant 307 km; quiet – though one has to cope with phone …. announcements of food for sale, the latter standing a bit in the way of the claimed  和谐号 – harmony, as the name of these trains suggests. – The new generation, i heard, is now moving smoothly with 400 km/h …

Possibly I will remember at some stage, several years ahead, a train trip between Wuhu and Najning, everything going according to plan, while I will be sitting on the prenotated seat, looking out of the window, trying to accommodate myself in the passing life … – frequently startled by the rattling, caused by some parts of the train when it will then be a somewhat old train, old as in some parts of the world already completely other means of transport will be in place … – or it may be more likely that I do not remember it anymore, actually it may take long enough that I do not remember anything anymore and only some people remember me, while now sitting there, thinking about the old 和谐号 – harmony, perhaps then sitting relaxed in a train called 超验 – transcendence … – seemingly transcending time and space, rarely being aware of the fact that the time we live in is already past time as soon as we are getting are of this worldly dimension if transcendence.


Isn’t part of being between worlds also about being between times, experiencing the accords and discords that are at the centre of globalisation that depends on unevenness, of which contradictions are permanent and necessary part – where welcome is supposed to be a threat. Yes,

we in the West need to think about a whole new relation to the so-called “Third World” if we want to prevent hate, hostility and attacks. This can also effectively contribute to fighting the reasons for flight and escape.

But even more so, we, who are ready to take globalisation seriously on the agenda, have to think about a whole new relation between the real people of the real world if we want to prevent hate, hostility and attacks. It must be a world where fighting the reasons for flight and escape equals fighting for the freedom to explore the real variety that is emerging from unity and commonality. Not simply as matter of being together but by accepting being one in time – which then also means overcoming claims towards superiority of ‘some time’. Leaving the many facets aside that stand behind massacres, some calling their own massacres unconvincingly ‘war against terror’, there is one thing that strikes me: the difficulty of historising issues. One of the explicit arguments of the murderers of Barcelona was about reclaiming part of the old Islam empire – and indeed, the Islam plaid a major role in Spain – but can that serve as foundation of any claim today? A similar notion had been put forward in Paris, rejecting the touching of the untouchable – while Charlie Hebdo claimed the right to touch, even if only with the stroke of the pencil of a cartoonist; and the various wars against terror following very much the same idea of defending a world order that is historically obsolete and moreover: of which the underlying criteria of nationality, economic growth, private property, hegemonic rights, charity etc. definitely lost their foundation [if they ever have had a stable foundation]. The good old times did not exist anywhere and need to be confronted with a world that has open eyes and ears.
Il silenzio mi aiuterà a smettere di pensare a te che sei fatto di vento.- Silence will help me to stop thinking about yourself as being made of wind. – Something cultures have to accept when looking at their history …, something that is valid and where the new generation of TGV-trains changes only very little.
L’oscurità chiude gli occhi, non mi permette di vedere e di apprezzare che le lettere di oggi saranno presto le lettere dei tempi antichi. – Darkness closes the eyes, not allowing me seeing and appreciating that the lettering of today will soon be the lettering from ancient times.
… Come together, real and close – that is what time needs – everytime …, also in order to find a way that allows dealing with the fact that some of the perpetrators are simply victims themselves, requiring to overcome the terrible pain at least I carry with me again; and even being ready at least to ask if and to which extent we as victims may be perpetrators … – we, the good-doers, teachers, administrators, opinion leaders …, not least we, who easily hastily come to conclusions and easily forget …
having difficulties to act in a genuine way …
Reflections made just before leaving the PRC, while waiting to move on to Moscow, theФГБОУ ВПО “РЭУ им. Г.В. Плеханова”
The short presentation, I made on occasion of the
International Conference of Indigenous Sports Culture in Asia Wuhu, Anhui Province, China
under the heading
The Particular and the Universal – Indigenous Sports for the Integrity of the Global Village
will soon be announced on this blog as recording should be available.

hunter and gatherer

Towards the end of chapter 42 of Montaigne’s essays we read

In Anacharsis’ opinion, the happiest state of government would be where, all other things being equal, precedence should be measured out by the virtues, and repulses by the vices of men.

When King Pyrrhus prepared for his expedition into Italy, his wise counsellor Cyneas, to make him sensible of the vanity of his ambition: “Well, sir,” said he, “to what end do you make all this mighty preparation?”—“To make myself master of Italy,” replied the king. “And what after that is done?” said Cyneas. “I will pass over into Gaul and Spain,” said the other. “And what then?”—“I will then go to subdue Africa; and lastly, when I have brought the whole world to my subjection, I will sit down and rest content at my own ease.”

“For God sake, sir,” replied Cyneas, “tell me what hinders that you may not, if you please, be now in the condition you speak of? Why do you not now at this instant settle yourself in the state you seem to aim at, and spare all the labour and hazard you interpose?”

“Nimirum, quia non cognovit, qux esset habendi           Finis, et omnino quoad crescat vera voluptas.”       [“Forsooth because he does not know what should be the limit of     acquisition, and altogether how far real pleasure should increase.”       —Lucretius, v. 1431]

Reading it, I remembered the story explaining the Irony of the Rat: the Mexican fisherman, who was approached by the highly business-qualified American tourist who knows all about how one gets rich by working enduringly hard over many years …, finally accumulating enough wealth to relax … at the beach of a small Mexican village.

And today? The Measuring the World takes new forms again, it is about data, the collection of everything that can be counted, and the deformation of everything in order to make it countable …. entire libraries, galleries, landscapes and cities, people alone and in their encounters … all is just a mouse-click away.


It was Sunday morning, when I read Montaigne, remembered the Mexican fisherman’s story and thought about the new turn of human-kind’s perpetuated existence as hunter&gatherer to data-obsessed beings …

… it was the very same Sunday in the tenth month of the year, well deserving the name golden October, when I met later the day a friend, should I even say: a golden encounter, ‘autumnous spring’** – not counting minutes or hours, going to the gallery, taking account of the non-digitalised treasures of the gallery, the original paintings and joining the special exhibition that brought music and the magnificent painter Botticelli together

– an encounter of people, bringing centuries and continents together.


Well, when it comes to numbers and accounting, there are surely Limits to Cheating History and there is surely the need for Changing the Reference. Check for a revised and edited version of the article the International Journal of Social Quality.



Botticelli’s painting reproduced below is titled Primavera

Off, perhaps some mooncake left just after the Chinese holidays

But in any case there is something when it comes to the moon …

… Is it perversity – or a dormant and clandestine wisdom? I was recently listening on YouTube to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, seeing the German advertisement link to a game: manufacture your own tank – the screenshot from the youtube-site

Digitisation … Perversity? Wisdom? Strange coincidence? ….- Knowing the text of O Fortuna and seeing this ad connected to it one wonders …
There is much to the entirety of the texts found in the Benedictine monastery of Benediktbeuern in Bavaria. And part of it is surely the tension in the ‘O Fortuna’ of which the text reads as follows – below in EnglishItalian and German – always posing the challenge to live a veritable life, even if it is often against the odds:

O Fortune

O Fortune,
like the moon
you are changeable,
always waxing
or waning;
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice

Fate – monstrous
and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
well-being is vain
and always fades to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through trickery,
I bring my bare back
to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is against me,
driven on
and weighted down,
always enslaved.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since Fate
strikes down the strong man,
everyone weep with me!

O fortuna,
A guisa della luna
Nell’atteggiamento dell’incostante
Sempre tu cresci
O vai diminuendo
La vita detestabile
Ora perdura salda
E proprio ora (la fortuna)
Occupa l’ingegno con un gioco:
La miseria
Il potere
Dissolve come ghiaccio.La fortuna immane
E vuota
Tu ruota che giri
Funesto stato
Futile benessere
Sempre dissolubile
E velata
E su di me chi più si appoggerà,
Ora che per un gioco
Il dorso nudo
Porto per la tua cattiveria?La fortuna del benessere
E della virtù
Ora a me contraria
È un desiderio,
È una debolezza.
Sempre in corsa obbligata
Ora per di qua
Senza sosta
Sentite il battito nel cuore
Poiché a causa della fortuna
(Egli) acquieta la forza
Piangete tutti con me!
Oh Schicksal,

wie der Mond
von veränderlicher Position,
immer wächst du
oder schwindest;
das grässliche Leben
ist jetzt hart
und heilt dann
die Geisteskraft spielend,
die Armut,
die Macht
löst es auf wie Eis.

Monströses und
leeres Los,
du sich drehendes Rad,
üble Position,
unzuverlässige Gesundheit
immer auflösbar,
und bedeckt
Du stützt dich auch auf mich;
jetzt trage ich
deinen Schandtaten zum Spiel
den Rücken bloß.

Los der Gesundheit
und Tugend
jetzt gegen mich,
es ist beeinflusst
und beeinträchtig
immer im Frondienst.
In dieser Stunde,
ohne Verzug,
kommet zu jenem, der im Herzen geschlagen wurde4;
denn durch das Los
breitet es den Zufall aus,
klagt alle mit mir!

The Middlemen

It seems to be a somewhat weird way: people have to make a fuss out of everything, ideologise the smallest act and thus apparently make even the non-market, non-political, non-whatever act a somewhat utilitarian one: give it a ‘defined purpose’, the definition being aim and instrument at the same time giving it meaning in relation to others, as – thus it is implicit – the existence and all these acts do not have meaning in themselves, it seems not have any meaning that can be derived from its inherent relationality.

So – what I did not know, let alone think about – we have a World Vegetarian Day, actually it is today, as every year on the first of October, and we have of course also, now also amongst leftist and progressivists, the reasoning behind being vegetarian: it reduces, thus they speak, the ecological footprint, is even an opening for an alternative economy [or eve mode of production] and even the beginning of a new era, allowing us to be not simply humans but finally being also humane.

I a hesitating, not agreeing with all this fuss: sure, much of it may and will be true, simple given facts. But well, I am human, I guess humane, vegetarian – but I simply, without any Cartesian claim that ideologise it, calling out the world-revolution based in the fact that I think about it, rationalise every little f…, or a or z.

But there something nice – and thought-provoking – when it comes to C, D and P, expressed by Winston Churchill.

Christopher Soames, Churchill’s future son-in-law, remembered] Churchill showing him around Chartwell Farm [around 1946]. When they came to the piggery Churchill scratched one of the pigs and said: I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.[1]

So. where do we find humans then, not looking up, not looking down …  – the middle offering apparently for us, and for pigs, some space.



[1]                   Christopher Soames, speech at the Reform Club given on 1981-04-28, reported in Martin S. Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill. Volume Eight: Never Despair: 1945–1965. p. 304


slow death – of individuals and societies


a long way … from the priests on the Acropolis [ἄκρον (akron, “highest point”) and πόλις (polis)] to the gardens which had been the roaming place of the philosophers to the reality of today’s Europe …- back at the desk after returning from Athens, where we organised at the Harokopio University in Athens, with support of the Nicos Poulantzas Institute the Euromemo-conference under the title

Can the EU still be saved? The implications of a multi-speed Europe


I remember the recent reading of Juergen Roth’s Radetzkymarsch from 1932. It seems to be clear that we can speak of a kind of congeniality when it comes to death of individuals, stubbornly caught by their ideas and societies going through some agony before the final step:

He lived long enough to know how silly it is to say the truth. He allowe people making this mistake and he believed less than the jesters who talked about him in the wide realm of anecdotes, that his world would persist. [1]


He was old, and tired, and death already expected him, still life did not release him. Like a gruesome host it kept him at the table because he did not go through all the suffering that life had prepared for him.[2]

I leave it to the reader to find out why it returns right now to my mind ….: after having returned to Greece after the elections in Germany, after Macron launching his ‘Initiative for Europe. A sovereign, united, democratic Europe’ and while going on with the personal attempt to figure out how old and how European one has to be to understand the challenges and options that are showing up ahead; and how old and how European one has to be to misunderstand them. And how much it personally helps me not to know exactly how old I am, how EUropean …call it uprooting, or call it a bit of transcending the ‘conventional wisdom’ J.K. Galbraith wrote about in this book on the ‘Affluent Society’.


[1]            Own translation; an English version of the book is available …, somewhere
Original: Er hatte lange genug gelebt, um zu wissen, daß es töricht ist, die Wahrheit zu sagen. Er gönnte den Leuten den Irrtum, und er glaubte weniger als die Witzbolde, die in seinem weiten Reich Anekdoten über ihn erzählten, an den Bestand seiner Welt.

[2]            Own translation; an English version of the book is available …, somewhere
Original: Alt war er und müde, und der Tod wartete schon auf ihn, aber das Leben ließ ihn noch nicht frei. Wie ein grausamer Gastgeber hielt es ihn am Tische fest, weil er noch nicht alles Bittere gekostet hatte, das für ihn bereitet war.


What we See – What we sometimes think – and What we have to learn

A Dedication to my Students, Around the World

The first impression on one of the the websites of my previous position was yesterday that of the

in its own way a very pleasing tune, matching the mood of the nicety of the previous Friday – for me much more than a beautiful autumn day

A day proving  the enjoyable lightness of being …

I scrolled down the site, saw the old photo showing me during the Shanghai Forum and was getting a bit curious, started the decipher …, wearisome …, to find out that all this is about the media centre and the ‘hyper-modern way of the networked world’ – where the global and the village come together …, perhaps not bad at all, if handled with care. Perhaps this is more important: the way to control the handling, not the instruments …

It surely means not least to be there for students – real, not virtual, and respecting …, no, accepting that we as teachers and as students have more in common than there are differences – where differences and arrogance, where delay and ‘servant-attitudes’ prevail, we have lost already our ingenuity.

Marginal Utility

Sure, any attempt of such calculation is limited by establishing a straightforwardness that does not exist. – Still, there is something in it I guess, trying to think about ‘models’

La Capitale, Le Gare de Paris-Est, four desks, one is open for selling ticket, including helping those who are lost. Three security police guards are roaming, being approached by a stranger, asking for directions, brusquely spurning him …  – what would be the effect of “full service”, i.e. four open desks, friendly helping people … is anybody afraid of lowered aggressiveness, less pressure on travellers and possibly train stations as real meeting points, not thoroughfare with an increasing number of shops and security staff and decreasing service and communication hubs…?

The other day, Roma termini, I said

Se una persona mentalmente sana potesse vedere questo trambusto, avrebbe suggerito che questo mondo è …, si, mentalmente folle.

Well, finally one always gets there, can relax in the train ….