Shouldn’t Read the News …

The German news these days are dominated by the ongoing crisis of the Euro and the Greek drama, some call it a farce. Greece is bancerott, no doubt about it, the consequences for the common currency and the European Union must be contained – sooner or later a solution will be found. Real problems will show up with Italy and Spain.
What really disturbs me are “small” news going unnoticed about Israel contemplating to attack Iran, while the UK gears up. The Iranian foreign minister seems to speak the truth when he says that – not only – “America has lost its wisdom and prudence”. What else but a full-scale war of the different Palestinian groups in the Gaza-strip would come from such an attack? The two-state-solution seemed to have come a bit closer imho, but concrete-heads play with fire and risk anything. It’s true, if fools have no problems, they create some themselves.
And of course, everybody will be “shocked” and “surprised”.
As always.


Old Men

Last week I came upon another recension of Walter Z. LAQUEUR’s new book “Mein 20. Jahrhundert. Stationen eines politischen Lebens”, Berlin 2009, paperback Berlin 2011 (earlier one). The reviewer mentioned what different reactions the positive mentioning of LAQUEUR’s name evoked from students, and I remembered that I saw LAQUEUR as conservative cold warrior while studying in the early 1980s. And I suddenly wondered – how old is the man now?
And the names HESSEL and ZIEGLER also flashed in my head.
Stéphane HESSEL (Ger., Eng.) (b. 1917) is actually 93 years old. His latest essay Indignez-vous! (Time for outrage!, Empört Euch!) was published in October 2010, and became a surprising success. The protesters of Spain (Ger., Eng.) expressis verbis refered themselves to his writing, it was cited by Portuguese and Greek protesters and intellectuals too.
Jean ZIEGLER (Ger., Eng.) (b. 1934, 77 years old) was invited to give the opening speech at the Salzburger Festspiele this year. He was disinvited, the official reason given was that he’d be too close to Gaddafi. The background is a pretty murky situation around the Gaddafi Prize, established 1989. ZIEGLER is controversial in different aspects, but his Salzburg speech is worth reading. Asked why he was kicked out he said that the Festspiele are sponsored by some very large corporations, food industries too, and the idea of this audience being unable to escape and forced to listen to him may have been a bit too much for some head honchos. He may be right.
Walter LAQUEUR (Ger., Eng., b. 1921) published his memoir “Best of times, worst of times” in 2010 (article). He chaired the International Research Council, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) from 1973 until 2002. Terrorism was subject of his studies long before 2001; the Cold War and its results, its Historisierung, historicisation,  is another topic. A headline calls him “The Wise Man“.
I remember when Françoise MITTERRAND (Ger., Eng.) (1916-1996) shortly before his death and already lined from cancer  visited the philosopher Jean GUITTON (Ger., Eng.) (1901-1999), to speak about life and its end. The German chancellor KOHL (Ger., Eng.) (b. 1930) shortly afterwards felt the need to visit Ernst JÜNGER (Ger., Eng.) (1895-1998) – again, MITTERRAND, KOHL and JÜNGER already had had supper together, on the 20th of July 1993.

Maybe its their independence. HESSEL reminds us that every single one has to make a decision, ZIEGLER calls for responsibility, LAQUEUR stands for a clear and honest view on things. Maybe this is only an interpretation, a projection, a wish. Younger generations only wish to find something like a reliable guideline, a living example, a role model standing the test of time we call history. Perhaps these old men help to form something like a European conscience or awareness, help to make the European utopy come true. Europe definitely can not be an affaire of the merchants alone, we already have to watch the helplessness of the politicos in the face of economic difficulties, “holy” “markets”, and plain speculation bubbles, gambling. In this process of forming a European social-cultural Bewußtsein these men may become symbols, projection surfaces: They do say things that are right, and hopefully it helps with the re-inventing of the great idea of a unified continent. I think things must be vocalised, articulated; only then the word has a chance to be of use. And maybe one must grow old to find independence and strength to speak out, to stop to lie.


From Pidhirzi to Czernowitz

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”
(Thank you xl)
As Hunter S Thompson put it, sometimes the energy of a generation forms a fine white flash, and it can be seen for a large distance. SanFrancisco in the middle sixties formed the epicentre of such a fine energy wave and somewhere in Nevada the momentum faded.
The middle 17th century in war-ridden Europe saw various centres from where a kind of cultural wave went out, places like Vienna, Prague, Rome. And in the middle of the Ukraine on a hill 400 meter above sea level you find “the high-water mark, that place where the wave finally broke”.  As you may already know, I talk about the village of Pidhirzi (Ger., Eng.)  in the Oblast Lwiw (Ger., Eng.), 24 kilometers southwest of Brody (Ger., Eng.), direction Lemberg (Ger., Eng.). Lviv, Lwow, Lemberg – it’s all Leopolis by the way, and Unesco world heritage.
In Pidhirzi we find the high-water mark in question, it is the castle “Koniecpolski” (my Polish being not good, but I think it can be given as “Poland’s end”), a palazzo in fortezza, that, according to Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann*, can be rated as culmination of the 1640s’ arcitecture  in Poland – the finest product of the socalled “Palastjahrzehnt”, decennium of the palaces. The total design is inspired by French architectural principles of the time, we find also a French symmetrical garden. Details of the decoration and interior planning are not French, the facade being influenced by Vicenzo Scamozzi (Ger., Eng.), also the design of the windows shows Roman influences, the loggie on both sides of the entrance situation point to Tuscany – in short we see a fine example of late Renaissance, of manieristic arcitecture (Ger., Eng.) as it was developed in the West, East of the Dnjestr ! (Ger., Eng.)
That is truely an example for radiation of cultural energy.
Looking North from the water mark one has a wide panorama of the Volhynian planes (wolhynische Ebene) . Turning South we are in Galizia (Ger., Eng.) and come to the foreland of the Carpaths, the Northern Bukowina (Ger., Eng.) with the main city Czernowitz. (Ger., Eng.) Czernowitz once was called “klein Wien / little Vienna” for its active, lively cultural scene, a lot of writers and artists are connected with this city. At its university a certain Schumpeter (Ger., Eng.) had his first professorship (1909-1911) – immerhin! – whose Theorie der wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung (Ger. only (!)) was written here (the first edition was published 1911 when he was (a disputed!) professor in Graz).
One day I will have the possibility to travel through Europe. A line North to South formed by the rivers Njemen, Bug and Dnjestr forms the Eastern border of my mindmap (Ger., Eng.) of Europe.
*DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas: Höfe, Klöster und Städte. Kunst und Kultur in Mitteleuropa 1450-1800, Köln 1998, 274ff. Original: Court, Cloister & City. The Art and Culture of Central Europe 1450-1800, London 1995. Highly recommended reading.


Economy for stupids

Just something economical … As I mentioned before I am not much of a business-man. As I hear shares are falling in some deep hole, not just in Europe but all over the world and the FED does things it never done – I do not know what they do or to what effect and that is not important to me.
Shares are “Anteilsscheine”, in fact buying a share I buy a part of the enterprise: All the shares’ price sums up the value of the enterprise and there is much emotion and “psychology” in it. Good.
In my naivitee I always thought the value of something like a share or a banknote (assignat the French called it, because it was signed by the chief of the central bank as they are still today) – that this value I say depends someway on work: One, who ever, has to produce something, has to “make the value”. In the good old days there was a cellar full of Gold and that was that. Even through WWII the “Ausgleichsbank” worked in Switzerland and setteled the conti between axis and allies: Someone went into the cellar and pulled a box of gold from one cabin into the other. After the war there was something like “Bretton Woods” but I do not know what exactly was done there, anyway the “Gold-Standard” was abolished.
Today Gold is extremely expensive, Silver becomes more expensive and seems to be stable and all the papers – pffff.
So what happened? Where is the money – or better: Where is the value? Is it right to say that all these multi-billion-dollar-enterprises are in fact worth just a fraction of what they are thought to be worth? If so, what is wrong with correcting the prices? That should strengthen the money, shouldn’t it? That would be good. Or not?
As I mentioned at another place, if I would win the Lotto and have lots of Euros I think I would buy me land and forest and start to work in a medieval way with give and take on the basis of work and natural products. That seems to be not the worst.