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.

ordinary madness

http: //
I am working a bit on digitisation, and with this also looking at these Silicon Valley folks, these CEOs, their strategies and a bit of the ‘academic backing’ some of them get. The wisdom is mostly much inferior tho what my grandmother said, the difference: she did not have income comparable to that of Zuckerberg, McApple or Nadella. What is equally [or more?] worrying: we believe much of this rubbish [sorry] and even admire them. The other day I read about Mr Z., now being celebrated for his outstanding benevolence. And around the same time he had been accused of supporting Anti-Refugee-Campaigs …
In Washington, during the Senate hearing, Z. stated

Facebook is an idealistic and optimistic company. For most of our existence, we focused on all of the good that connecting people can do. And, as Facebook has grown, people everywhere have gotten a powerful new tool for staying connected to the people they love, for making their voices heard and for building communities and businesses.

BTW, a hearing that was a bit mute people asking a wall, their hearing not able to figure out that, naturally, the reply would be a kind of echo.

  • Is it worthwhile to add that nearly every senator explicitly and pronouncedly expressed gratefulness for Z’s appearance, much more than general curtesy, basic good manners would have suggested? And to ask why he meets the European Parliament’s leaders in private sessions ?
  • Is it worthwhile to ask if everybody who has to appear at Court – the small pickpocket, shoplifter or the murderer and rapist – meets the same curtesy?

It is necessary to ask for the real the reason for such ‘liberal’ case Z. – at least it is obvious that the view on liberalism and market equality deserves some qualified review, looking at the foundation and meaning of the ‘free market’.

Ambiguities – hardly coming to an end …

… be it as topic of love stories, of national identities, recognition of interpretation and believes or as matter of understanding of and acting within this world. It is the huge topic of Howard Zinn’s play
[Howard Zinn:
Three Plays: The Political Theater of Howard Zinn: Emma, Marx in Soho, Daughter of Venus]
It is truly coming across in this wonderful, poiggnant performance by Brian Jones
Well, I watched it, and read it before going to Maynooth early May – for some short lectures at my Department of Chiense at the University, one on
the other looking at
then attending the conference The (re)Birth of Marx(ism): haunting the future, there looking at the question
Value theory: is there any value in it? Is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
I remember one passage – showing the ambiguities, and also giving some tiny insight in the major role Jenny played.

I wish you could know Jenny. What she did for me cannot be calculated. And she accepted the fact that I could not simply get a job like other men. Yes, I did try once. I wrote a letter of inquiry to the railway for a position as clerk. They responded as follows: “Dr. Marx, we are honored with your request for a position here. We have never had a doctor of philosophy working for us as a clerk. But the position requires a legible handwriting, so we must regretfully decline your offer.” (He shrugs.)

Jenny believed in my ideas. But she was impatient with what she considered the pretensions of high-level scholarship. “Come down to earth, Herr Doktor,” she would say.
She wanted me to describe the theory of surplus value so ordinary workers could understand it. I told her, “No one can understand it without first understanding the labor theory of value, and how labor power is a special commodity whose value is determined by the cost of the means of subsistence and yet gives value to all other commodities, a value which always exceeds the value of labor power.” She would shake her head: “No, that won’t do. All you have to say is this: your employer gives you the barest amount in wages, just enough for you to survive and work; but out of your labor he makes far more than what he pays you. And so he gets richer and richer, while you stay poor.” All right, let us say only a hundred people in world history have ever understood my theory of surplus value. (Gets heated) But it is still true! Just last week, I was reading the reports of the United States Department of Labor. There you have it. Your workers are producing more and more goods and getting less and less in wages. What is the result? Just as I predicted. Now the richest one percent of the American population owns forty percent of the nation’s wealth. And this in the great model of world capitalism, the nation that has not only robbed its own people, but sucked in the wealth of the rest of the world . . . Jenny was always trying to simplify ideas that were, by their nature, complex. She accused me of being a scholar first and a revolutionary second. She said: “Forget your intellectual readers. Address the workers.” She called me arrogant and intolerant. “Why do you attack other revolutionaries more vehemently than you attack the bourgeoisie?” she asked. Proudhon, for instance. The man did not understand that we must applaud capitalism for its development of giant industries, and then take them over. Proudhon thought we must retreat into a more simple society. When he wrote his book The Philosophy of Poverty, I replied with my own book, The Poverty of Philosophy. I thought this was clever. Jenny thought it was insulting. (Sighs) I suppose Jenny was a far better human being than I could ever be.

Fuer meine Tochter/For my daughter …

… and all her sisters, and all their Kids …. [english below]

Sah die eben – hab so oft an die lleine Geschichte gedacht, in Oberstaufen auf dem Weg nach Bad Rain, wenn ich den Namen richtig weiß, waren wir: Du warst noch viel in der pram, aber auch schon eifrig am Gehen. Und da hast Du mir etwas „beigebracht“, als Du die Schnecke sahst – ich dachte nur, was soll’s; Du hast Dich davor gehockt, wolltest beobachten, wie sie da kroch: langsam, schweigsam…vielsagend. Hab die Geschichte auch oft meinen Studis erzählt und so kennt man Dich in Ireland, China, Finland, Ungarn … nun auch als meine Lehrerin: Geduld, etwas selbst erforschen durch genaues Hinsehen, Hören, Details und das (im) Universum, in Zusammenhängen, und in der Ewigkeit — schließlich musste das kleine Wesen über diesen endlos breiten Weg …, und hatte dafür endlos Zeit …., bis an das Ende des Raums, und immer noch ein wenig weiter, bis an das Ende der Zeit, und immer noch ein wenig länger …


Just saw this fellow – I remembered so often the little story, in Oberstaufen on the way to Bad Rain, if I know the name correctly: You were still much in the pram, but already eager to walk. And then you “taught” me something, seeing the snail – I just thought, what the hell, it is nothing, but you sat in front of it, wanted to watch it crawl: slowly, silently… meaningful. And I joined …

I also told the story often to my students and so they know you in Ireland, China, Finland, Germany, Hungary… now also as my teacher, the lǎoshī of the lǎoshī: patience, exploring something by looking closely, hearing, details and the (in) the universe, in contexts, and in eternity – finally the little being had to follow this endlessly wide path…, and had endless time…., to the end of the space, and still a little further, to the end of time, and still a little longer…

There are these many things that can only be lived, no textbook can teach.

What is the Value of things

Peter Herrmann, currently guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy/Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik [section social law], Munich, Germany, will present later today his thoughts on
Value Theory –, asking if there is still any value in it?/Is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
to the conference


The theory of value is probably the most contested feature of Marx’ political economy. The reasons for this are the following two

* It stands at the centre of making out the political of political economy
* It is cross cutting with respect to the micro- and macro-level and especially the ‘personal/individual’ and the ‘societal/institutional’ aspects of economic thinking.
Today the questionable character comes even more to the fore as we witness an apparently fundamental change of the mode of production.
Notwithstanding the critique then and now, there are good reasons to emphasise the usefulness of the theory of value. These will be taken up by exploring explicitly the tensions mentioned, and discussing them against the background of the contemporary shift within the capitalist mode of production.
Marxism, in this light, is especially instrumental for the analysis of globalisation as it allows a clearer understanding not least of the emergence of poverty chains and the role of the capitalist state as institution that maintains centre-periphery patterns of inequality within the productive sphere. Furthermore, we can find from here at least clues for answers Marxism has when it comes to fighting for societal change.

Wisdom versus educating for “bubble-existence”

Again it is the one painting in the Lehnbachhaus that catches some special attention, fascination and wondering …

It simply says Children on the Balcony (by Albert Burkart) though our question is if these are children or – if it is about maturing, being able to look over the fence, preparing for the stage where the fence does not exist anymore … –

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.

I nod

Yes, you are right

– and I ask

Do we need the birds-eye, the ease of the flight to reach such independence – an independence that only exists through the complete sintesi – a state of conflation and consolidation?

Marc was not able to see that this flight would bring him only to death – he may have thought of a peaceful merger, the merge towards peace, the two pieces fighting with each other for a while …

Colours as deceiving interims, though appropriating after some time the essence, ignorant when it comes to the need to communicate, to apply different, i.e. substantial criteria.

From where can we take them? Now I am the one to quote Schiller – again from the Letters On the Aesthetic Education of Man

The greater part of men are much too exhausted and enervated by their struggle with want to be able to engage in a new and severe contest with error. Satisfied if they themselves can escape from the hard labour of thought, they willingly abandon to others the guardianship of their thoughts.

And I add: the greater part is not able any more to dance, at least to dance the dance of the sintesi.


On the way back, passing the King’s Square, the former headquarter of the Fascist murderers that accommodates today a school for music and theatre (“Hochschule für Musik und Theater München”) we arrive at the back of the Old Pinakothek – today the place for free play, the place for free play today … – The freedom, registered as association according German law, once per year, between 14:00 and 18:00 hrs – the lawn is nicely cut, fresh .., one can still smell what The Grim, the man with the scythe revealed, a sweet odour of decay …

Additional opportunities can be booked as special service package – later such packages turn to boxes, but that is for students already …

… indeed, there’s nothing like starting young …

The way to reach free play, the state of free of play, constraint by bubbles

And true too:

… indeed, there’s nothing like starting young to reach wisdom ….

Age .. here it has to accept the responsibility – accepting what we may call Schiller’s paradox

It would be necessary that they should be already sages to love wisdom: a truth that was felt at once by him to whom philosophy owes its name.

Shall we … – the sun is too tempting … – we sit down … with the ease of true playfulness.