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<nettime> [meta-list] Re:[nettime] the neurosis of being earnest
Lachlan Brown on Sat, 25 Jan 2003 03:42:18 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> [meta-list] Re:[nettime] the neurosis of being earnest


>the message that follows is something that I'm sending to around more than
>a few friends and aquaintances. You are getting this because I think you
>may be interested. If not, please let me know and I'll take you off the
>list.

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Lachlan Brown

T (416) 666 1452

To: tribe {AT} wildpark.com 
Subject: the neurosis of being earnest 
From: mtribe {AT} contrib.de (Mark Tribe) 
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 1995 11:24:28 +0100 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For those of you who are new to this e-mail list, a word of explanation:
the message that follows is something that I'm sending to around more than
a few friends and aquaintances. You are getting this because I think you
may be interested. If not, please let me know and I'll take you off the
list.

For those of you who are new to this list and German, a note of caution:
the tone of what follows is sometimes ironic. It is not intended to offend,
but rather as an attempt to understand our differences.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

The other day I got an article my Dad sent me from *The New Yorker.* It was
called "The Politics of Memory," and it was about the controversy
surrounding a proposed Holocaust memorial in Berlin. But the part I liked
best was the following comment: "she thinks that Jews her age are drawn to
Berlin because... it is the only place where you can live out fully hour
Holocaust neurosis."

I think that would make a good slogan for the city, the kind of thing they
use on television spots and travel brochures. Can't you just see it?
"Berlin: the only place where you can live out fully your Holocaust
neurosis." I especially like the quasi-Germanic diction ("live out
fully..." as opposed to the more Californian sounding "fully live out...").
Like, fully live out your neurosis, dude!

But perhaps this diction is particularly appropriate, because the way one
lives out fully one's neurosis here in Berlin is indeed very different from
the way one might fully "deal with" or "work through" one's neurosis in
California. In California, the idea is to "get over it," so that one might
get on with more important things, like Stair Master and multiplexing.

In Berlin, on the contrary, the idea is to take one's time and really get
inside it. That's why people take so long in school here. They even have a
special category for those who will probably never finish (get over) their
studies: *Langzeitstudenten.* Here in Germany, ideas are taken seriously.
There's this notion that in order to understand something, you have to mull
it over for a while and go for lots of long walks. They don't favor snap
decisons or off-the-cuff remarks. Spontaneity is not highly valued.
Deliberation is where it's at.

Berlin is in the throes of a delightful spate of summer-like weather.
Taking advantage of the unusually balmy clime, I went across the canal to
this place that's kind of like an outdoor multicultural festival in an
industrial fringe next to an old bus depot. There was a dance floor, and
the DJ was spinning really great music, but nobody was dancing. Except this
one woman with Down's syndrome and her buddy. They were really getting
down. Seriously, they could move like a couple of old school homeys. But
everybody else was sitting around at various tables, drinking beer and
talking. Not just chatting, you could tell at a glance that these people
were all either absorbed in serious conversation or absorbed in their own
silence, an external silence that in fact represents internal dialogue.
Rumination. Pondering.

What is it with these Germans? Can't they lighten up a little?

Of course they can't. And well they shouldn't. For they are burdened with
History, and the result is also rather complexly caught up in the cause:
earnestness. The Germans are terribly, frighteningly, gruesomely earnest.
Can you imagine a society that didn't take itself seriously dreaming up and
executing the "final solution?"

What would happen if instead of the National Service, Germans were required
to spend a year surfing and doing Yoga in California. Eating light, healthy
foods and hanging out at the mall. While we're at it, we might send the
Serbs and the Croatians. Give them a good healthy dose of American
materialism, hyperreality, and false-consciousness. Put them in a pair of
long baggy shorts and let them basque in the warm sun of blithe hypocricy
until they get over their penchant for organized slaughter.

In exchange for random acts of violence.



Mark

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