mago, Persons

A Man Goes Away

Sometimes it is no good idea to catch up with the news.
43 years, 190 cm, ca. 85 kg, short blond hair. He left his appartement in Moabit (Ger., Eng.) on the 10th of this month and drove away with his car. The grey Peugeot was found near Glienicker Brücke (Ger., Eng.). The police says that all investigation proofed useless and hence is stopped.
Michael is the long time partner of my dear friend Jeanne. Some readers may recognize her name, she died in May 2009. Last thing I heard about Michael is that he married, some time last year; his work as actor seems to be successful. I have no idea what happened.


Movie Clip Wednesday

“Best death” the boxer saied.
This entry for Movie Clip Wednesday comes late, but death comes never too early. Dr. B. was near the onehundred when he died some weeks ago, my friends Ralf, Ruth and JEanne were in their forties when cancer killed them, year after year. Cancer killed my mother in the early nineties, she was 56 years old, it was terrible. My father died from an heart attack, they told me he would have been dead before he hit the floor, I want to believe it. He survived a severe attack while he was caring for my ill mother at the end of the eighties.
There is no best death.
There is only death: You die or you remain. The dead did take the last step, besides birth it is the most individual and personal thing a human being can face. All is saied and thought about it, Boethius’ (Ger., Eng.) consolatio philsosophiae (Ger., Eng.) is roughly 1.500 years old.
What do you say to a mother who has to bury her son? What do you say to the wife of a close friend you helped to dig in half an hour ago? What do you tell yourself when you stand on a cemetery in bright sunlight and watch the interrement of one of your oldest and best friends you loved? What do you tell your father when his wife and your mother is cremated?
There is nothing to be saied. One can only do what has to be done. It is all about those who remain. The one in the casket has moved onwards – to another world? We all want it to be another world, we all naturally reject the idea of the big emptyness, the black nothing. As Humans we need the idea of an ongoing being whatever form it will have, how ever our ideas may be formed, we can not accept the monstrosity of the personal death.
The only thing that is sure in our lives, is that this life ends. The christian spiritual medieval European culture until the baroque drew as a conclusion that the “Good death”, der “Gute Tod”, would be the aim of life. Prepared. Corresponding with all the last rites that promise – what? Their function is to take away the fear, Angst. Worst thing that could happen in this context is the sudden death, the unprepared tearing out of existence, the rupture, der Bruch.
What we faced in the 20th century, or better: since the real end of the middle ages in Europe 1789, is another kind of death: Thrown upon mankind in masses by war, by epidemics, seemingly un-ending, limitless –  as the final weapons were, the atomic bomb, the biological and chemical bombs.

Did all this change something for the one who has to remain?
Nothing changes. The mystery of the last step stays with us. There is no indecisiveness or abeyance – at least we hope so, and we definitely can state that there is no more life in this body. We face the fact of remaining. The task to carry on, to continue – to find a fucking meaning in  this.

Maybe its a dream.



mago, Persons


Finally I got my act together and got up early enough to drag my bonesack into town. Visiting the local Staatsarchiv, filling in some form sheets; wandering down the street and entering the Diözesanarchiv for the same procedure; time to have a cup of chocolate and pay a visit to the Stadtbücherei
Back in the diocesal archive I was handed a box with the literary remains of a 19th century colleague, he had a nice handwriting. He collected a lot of excerpts from first hand sources regarding the history of the monastery and the village, but for me that would really go too far now. I just had a glance at his unbound diary and at a stack of letters still in original envelopes, stored it all in the box again and gave it back.  The scientific archivist in charge – we “know” each other very distantly and I treated him with utmost respect –  assured me that there is nothing else to search for: They simply have no stock or portfolio of archivalia from the monastery – all this went to the juridical successor after 1803 and that was in this case (and most often elsewhere) the brand new Bavarian State. So its the Staatsarchiv again.
There I received a nicely written instrument on pergament which told me nothing new: They founded the monastery, yoh! Used a really fat sigillum. Book number 523 also told me nothing new. But number 524 brought a nice surprise: Close to the end, folio 140 seq., the administrator tells about the monastery’s rights regarding sheep – and this piece was never used before in the very small in number secondary literature: The colleagues were too lazy to go through the boring file. I submitted an application for digitalization of the pages in question and next week I’ll get a jpg.file on CD.
Dr. H.-E. is in charge here and she is a very friendly and competent historian and archivist, it is a real pleasure to work with her. When she realizes that one has it together, she thinks even harder and comes up with literature one would not have thought of – and obviously DID not. 
She was proud to show me a newly installed system, visitors now can use internal databases directly for research. She did some retrieval and came up with a book I forgot Jeanne wrote and all of a sudden I was back on the evening of the exhibition and after all the “important” speakers and hot air pumps finally had shut up, we stood around and she told me about the difficulties and the printing, less than four years ago ? I realized the alarmed look on Dr. H.-E.’s face, pulled my shit together and explained shortly that I knew the author. Terrible idea to bring her in an embarassing situation. I left, maybe a little rushed.
Perchance I flipped through yesterday’s local newspaper while waiting for my box in the diocesal archive and came upon the notice of Dr. B.’s death. He died on the 20th of February in his 97th year. On the 25th he would have turned 98. I was sure he’d make the hundred. He spent the last months in a home for assisted living (if this is the right translation for betreutes Wohnen), because he had really troubles walking. Since I learned to know him a little closer he could not stand right up, it was simply too late to replace joints. His span of awake alertness over time became smaller, he needed more rests. When he was awake, he was quick and sometimes witty, always the master of his own situation. Independence is the word that would describe him best.
I wunder what the library will do to his collections, what the heirs will do to his unique library. Some years ago I asked him about this situation and he simply saied “It agglomerates, it disaggregates”: 
Es ballt sich zusammen, es zerteilt sich: Das gilt für alles.
Tomorow I will visit bat country. Early. Wish me luck.

Dr. Jeanne E. Rehnig M.A.

Jeanne is dead.
She died on the 10th of May 2009, in her early forties, from cancer. Would someone please invent a remedy against this damn illness? It kills my friends.

22 years. Sometime in spring 1987 we were introduced to each other by Prof. D.H. He was piecing together a group for a project. I was qualified because I knew how to switch on a computer. Jeanne had given a very good referate in one of his seminars and there she was. A small slim person with curly dark hair, sparkling brown eyes and an interesting bust. She always was “boyish” and more then once said that she would have been a pretty macho man. She could make men nervous and it was a pleasure to watch her.
We worked together, studied together, made our final exam at the same day, went some days later together to the Arbeitsamt to sign up for financial aid. I was told to learn “something right”, she was asked whether she wouldn’t like to go as secretary. I managed to work for the institute on contract basis on a project and asked her to join what she did, so we worked together for another year or so. Jeanne started to write for the newspaper, had some minor exhibitions of her paintings and was busy “networking” before that become a la mode. She was briefly married and later met the man of her dreams. She wrote her dissertation* and I remember well an afternoon we spent in my apartement building together models of photographic ateliers. She designed and curated some exhibitions for the Bezirksregierung here that were very good and were well received. She was one of the most accurate workers and rechercheures in the business.
Sometimes in the mid-90s they deceided to go to Berlin. Jeanne was fascinated and disgusted by the capital but she deceided to love it. She was busy working in the photo-historic area, but did not manage to get a university-project started she very much liked. To earn money she worked for event-agencies, designed advertisements, and whatnot – she once saied that she had worked for Romanian collectors, shady Russian business-men and Egyptian caterers. The last was a very profitable job and she was earmarked to become their European representative. The man of her dreams and she parted.
Sometimes in 2008 she became ill. Again. I knew that she had to fight cancer at the beginning of the 90s. In those dark years I had enough trouble with my own family and I know that I was not told everything by my friends. But she won. The time between dates for the medical examinations became longer, nothing was found. A mutual friend told us that she now had to have chemo-therapies, strong ones. She lost her hair. She became weak. The man of her dreams came back to care for her. Brave. Sometime before last christmas she got a fever and it did not go away. On that Sunday she finally fell asleep.

I was so sure that she would survive this. Was told that she’d be too weak to read at the computer, but she’d always carry her portable. So I sent her some sms, mostly in the night when working or in the morning when coming home. Never got an answer and was unsure if they reached her. But they did because the sms announcing her death came from that portable.
We never were in a “romantic” relationship, we were friends, sometimes closer, sometimes a little more distant. Never had brothers or sisters, but I guess she came close to that.

Once met her accidentially in the city shopping. She was wearing a sailor’s outfit with a kind of veil over her décolleté, stood in front of me smiling and saied “Like what you see?” I took the veil aside, inspected Lolek and Bolek and saied “Yes!” For a moment she look stunned and then litterally fell off laughing. We were asked to leave the shop.
Jeanne is dead.

*Rehnig, Jeanne: Das “Photographische Atelier im Warenhaus (…), Würzburg 1998