Which means?

Which means?

— the standard question when working in several countries, across continents and a meeting has to be arranged: 12:00 o’clock — meaning nothing if it is not referring to a specific time-zone which, as context, makes it possible to answer the question ‘what time is it there?’

Which means!

— this time, after having returned to Europe — it is stated with an exclamation mark … : being [w]here again, means at the moment at least being in a place that causes exploding in the stir of feelings of extreme ‘alienation’, while not being sure about the cause[s]. It is about learning as ‘Foreigner in the own country – viewing from inside or asking: Are we serious at all?[1]

  • alienation …. , land- and city-scapes that are as distant from each other that it cannot be grasped as something real;
  • alienation, looking at the involvement in academic work of different levels, the distance between them going beyond the distance between the ground level of a cottage and the top level of Burj Khalifa as the world’s highest building;
  • alienation when it comes to different love stories: teatrale e tragico but also other fun stories … , divertente, sull’amore platonico, preguidica la vanità — as long as one sits solely in the audience it makes them simply enjoyable, while standing on the stage is at times difficult;
  • alienation, when standing in the shop, looking at the price tags, calculating: it may be ‘cheaper’[2] to buy a new shirt …, coffeemaker … not bringing the one already owned to the dry cleaner …, not going to the coffee shop for a cuppa …
  • alienation, when seeing someone taking keys out of the handbag, highlighting the ‘own’ as proper part of the proper life, though contradicting the reality of the loss of property, the accumulation by dispossession, characterising life in societies of which the social is defined by its dissolution
  • alienation when thinking about representatives, figures whose work consists of representing and presenting, flying first class while others do not find the mere resources to go to work or to study …
  • alienation when receiving e-mails, using addresses that actually do not exist, institutions and institutes pretensions: people mentioned although they left for other positions, large statutory bodies sending replies to inquiries after many weeks, with the surprising ‘signature’: sent from my blackberry …
  • alienation when looking at the stabilities: the same places hosting the same begging, pleading faces: ho fame …., the same churchy-type hypocritical nuns, surely loving — meaningfully loving by giving, though too often missing it by not taking, where taking is understood as

grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality

  • alienation when feeling obliged to ‘defend the other’ — too often simply as reply to ridiculous prejudices that would even in a mediocre cartoon simply stupid, and unfortunately also dangerously igno-arrogant
  • alienation when accessing the web: fast, unVPNdisturbed, free and uncensored and then getting aware of the very personalised notions, all defining the rhythm of the web-movement … — algorithms of another VeryPersonalisedNotions.

Isn’t this all about expectations of meaning where one wonders if there is any meaning that can be defined as matter of humanity, let alone in humane terms, all this and much more opening the way to alienation, meaninglessness and …

… and where the only meaning seems to be the ability to adapt, adopt, into the world of hypocrisy,

stirring the pot just for the sake of stirring

in the illusion that it may end as it did in the case of the frogs, the one surviving as he resisted to stop floundering after falling into the milk jar so that finally

the frantic moves of his companion had churned the milk into butter.

All he had to do was to jump out of the jar

What Brecht grasped as matter of the work and exploitation process

Dig away!

Major Chung owns a wood

See it’s cleared before tonight

That’s orders. Understood?[3]

In the original German version

Trabt schneller!

Herr Dschinn hat einen Wald

Der muß vor Nacht gerodet sein

Und Nacht ist jetzt schon bald!

is now body-soul-snatching the entire life, reflected in terms as care-work, relationship-work, love-work even where it should not be a matter of the supposed ‘oldest profession’ – life-work, where, as known from Goethe

to nonsense reason turns,

and benefit to worry.

… I saw this earlier, at Roma Termini, the central train station

It seems then there is nothing we ACTUALLY ARE and overcoming alienation may really be a matter of ‘being what you want’ … and the Kiko Milano, the shop, advertising this way, is surely only one of many shops, designers, political forces, think tanks … that will tell us.

Sure, the question that needs to be asked is the following:


What is new, what is different …?

Those olden days, so often presenting themselves as golden ways on which life trotted along, it had been the priests and the dignitaries of the villages, those power holders, hegemons who changed the labels, and with it the matter that enables …

Isn’t all this locating us in both cases — the traditional and the contemporary society, and also in the old world and the new world — in the middle of The Lonely Crowd,[4] allowing some variation, but not allowing escaping loneliness, leaving us in different ways alone with Man’s Search for Meaning.[5]

Locating us as alie-loners[6], though all of us akin to a similar underlying sentiment so that Frankl could indeed suggest that every era needs its own therapeutic paradigms.

The time where we are increasingly forced alie-loners in a world that provides the freedom of being what we want, as it makes it difficult to be what we are, ‘undesigned’, but loved and loving as reflected in Frankl’s words:

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. By his love he is enabled to see the essential traits and features in the beloved person; and even more, he sees that which is potential in him, which is not yet actualized but yet ought to be actualized. Furthermore, by his love, the loving person enables the beloved person to actualize these potentialities. By making him aware of what he can be and of what he should become, he makes these potentialities come true.

Alienation as designer-life in designer-dresses with designer-bags, knowing the time from the designer-watches takes place in gated socio-spatial realms in which language is reduced on information about models and their functioning about which Erwin Chargaff wrote:

The more limited and circumscribed the question, the more likely a definite and comprehensible answer, i.e., one that adds to, and fits into, a previously conceived system or model. In limited sciences, such as physics or chemistry, which are surrounded by boundaries, as it were, the multiplicity of frequently overlapping answers, collected in the course of centuries, has produced a broad area of understanding, though even here much is still obscure.

But biology is limitless, and our experiments are only drops out of an ocean that changes its shape with every rolling wave. Because our questions must skirt our fundamental ignorance of the nature of life, the answers we receive can be no more than a travesty of truth; a truth, moreover, that may be so much of a plural that we can never comprehend it. The manner in which questions are asked, i.e., experiments designed, is either completely random or conditioned by our ideas of a preestablished harmony, a harmony that we seldom recognize as a contract with God that He has never signed.[7]

And it has as its very consequence either hyperactivity — the rat running in the wheel because it is running in the wheel because it is running in the wheel, and the only reason is …, running in the wheel, maintaining the movement, mistaking it for development.

Or it is the mentioned

stirring the pot just for the sake of stirring

Alienation as pain, pain that does not find a cure

Nicht alle schmerzen sind heilbar, denn manche schleichen sich tiefer und tiefer ins Herz hinein, während Tage und Jahre verstreichen werden Sie Stein.[8]

In my translation

Some are getting deeper and deeper under the skin, into the heart, and over the years they establish themselves as stone.


And the religion — aren’t Frankel and Chargaff, and so many others returning to it. Arriving in Rome the other day: there had been the churchy-type hypocritical nuns as a kind of welcome, at the airport a high concentration of these globalists, ranting against the fundamentalists of other origin, without considering the own religion possibly being fundamentalist … — Perhaps the attraction is a reflection of the commitment to integrity, the holistic character of the world which surely is needed. And still, I refrain from it. I once heard a friend, speaking about a book that was deeply coined by the Indian religious thinking, saying:

Yes, I don’t buy into it. I just read it as general reflection, stepping across the religious part.

And it means to face the paradox of reality, to accept the contradiction and tension that accepting the holistic character of the world does not mean to accept that there is one world only.


Pánta rheî


[1]            Ausländer im eigenen Land – ein Blick von innen Oder: Was machen wir denn bloß?; in: Nachrichtendienst des Deutschen Vereins für öffentliche und private Fürsorge, Frankfurt/M., Issue 11/2000: pp. 376 – 382 (based on a presentation on the 75th Deutsche Fuersorgetag, November 2000 in Hamburg)

[2]            in inverted commas as this is of course only a matter of the mney paid here and now, not considering externalisation, social ‘meaning of exploitation’ that defined such prices along the different levels …

[3]            Brecht: Good Person of Szechwan. Song of the eighth elephant.

[4]            David Riesman/Nathan Glazer/Reuel Denney, 1950: The lonely Crowd. A study of the Changing American Character

[5]            Viktor Frankl, 1946: Man’s Search for Meaning – original title: …trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager

[6]            as composite of alienation and loner

[7] Chargaff, Erwin, 1978: Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature, New York: The Rockefeller University Press: 169

[8]            Poem by Ricarda Huch