NoNoNoNovember [chronicles of Dis/Infection nov2017]

In October, a maple tree before your window lights up your room like a great lamp. Even on cloudy days, its presence helps to dispel the gloom. John Burroughs

So many topics in the headlines lately have been howling at me like wolves out of the wilderness, or singing like whales from the bathypelagic zones, tempting one to write about them, to get worked up and spew tightly or loosely argued invective. The tricks of the political sphere, the popcultural sublayer, the sports gulag, the self-defeating misadventures of the local grapevine, you probably know them, how they pull you in, make you lose your energies on empty circles that begin where they end: a caustic remark about last night’s victory (or loss), an equally stale observation concerning Gagagugu (I think this name would be even more befitting), a wordplain admixing The Paradise Papers and bumf. A 1.3 terra load on the loaded, all the dirt in one enormous pile. And if you’re honestly wondering how we got here, you can certainly read it up on Wiki.  

Not this time though, I’m thinking, not these times.

Ähnliches Foto

Let me instead describe the early November light outside my window, the aqueous quality with which it slithers from the sky and the lurking suspicion that it comes down specifically for me, to slosh away all that good mood that was so easy to store up on in suntastic October. Especially for an October child. What’s that saying? All men were created equal but the best were born in October. I think Roger Federer said that, or if not him (he doesn’t go in for that kind of off the cuff megalomania; whatever scandalous humdinger RF has in the cards, he’s saving it for his late sixties or seventies, e.g. Mirka telepathically controlled my body during every Grand Slam Final, technically it still was me but I, my mind I mean, was just sort-of leaning back, watching the show. I f###ing love her, I do. etc.)….if not the great FedEx then some other celebrity born in October (P-Diddy, now gaka Love immediately elbows his way to mind; g equals grudgingly), some other not-particularly-super-not-particularly-star with no lack of self-confidence and a clod-hopping notion of “wit”. If I were famous I would’ve probably been the first to say it, quite frankly. But I am not so I didn’t. Then again, hey, look here, little me, all out of fame and yet coming up with this gem of a saying. The kind of bon mot that makes me almost, almost but not actually, forget, the sneaky, deprogenic ways of November drizzle.

Novemba. Typical of this bastard month who obviously is struggling with some issues being stuck between beloved, cozy, economy-invigorating December and the point-blank genius of October, couldn’t even give you straight rain, instead this gelid, too early in the morning, thinned out version of proper showers. And fog and clouds like that were the new thing: myspace, facebook, instagramm, november mist. Fog is the new black.   

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    I am at least trying to fool myself because: How can one resist the wolf-call of the headlines, the pack in pursuit of philosophical prey, resist writing about the intellectual travesty parading around as cultural appropriation?

People with a low melanin count should not wear dreadlocks (a hairstyle in which the hair is washed but not combed and twisted while wet into tight braids or ringlets hanging down on all sides). Is that really the standpoint, the new top-flight theoretical brainchild of crypto-multiculturalism? Postcolonialism turnt and gone toxically sour? Some woke post-ebonic mutant of good ol’ Rassenlehre? Because what exact racial criteria would one have to fulfill to be permitted entry into the hallowed ethnic fields of Dreadlockistan? And could one ever even add a more nefarious twist to that first half of the term designating that particular hairstyle?

I for one, though born in October, sure couldn’t. It’s not that the term per se does not designate a valid concern but that, applied to both Willy and Nilly, it stops making any coherent, politically weaponizable sense. For instance: some fuck-up Parisian designer using West-African clothes and designs without even acknowledging that legacy is clearly flubbed up and beyond condonation. But to try to apply the same logic to a hairdo, the right to determine certain basic configurations of one’s physique, is to defenestrate the elephant with the tubwater. It’s absurd, it’s bonkers, it makes a hash out of valid concerns. The same way that november fog mocks my octoberese will to cheerfulness.

 

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鬼 in the Lilly-Blanc Shell [编年史 of Dis/Infection, 九月 2017]

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If you read some of the recent literature, you’ll realize there really is no such thing as whiteness, but we kind of made that up. … Because you were born white, you have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there. And they have been built up and cemented for hundreds of years, but many people can’t look at it. It’s too difficult. – G. Popovich

Ok, so this one time I’ve fallen into the trap of racialized thinking. And I’m gonna do this whole bit like it makes perfect sense. But what you need to realize though is that all these concepts of whiteness, brownness, blackness and whateverness are at the very beginning of what keeps us locked into our old, unproductive, discriminating patterns of thought. Just saying. – tm

 

 

Without being a Frankfurt style pessimist, I do often get this feeling of cultural exhaustion when it comes to video games [which i don’t care about] and, what-to-call-them?, major motion pictures. The other day I watched Ghost in the Shell and the sense of boredom, of repetition was near-infinite. Even without being a diehard aficionado of the original anime, it is very hard to see past the lackluster, pro forma recycling of sci-fi tropes plus the regular, horrid genre conventions: cyborg identity crisis [played with numbing absence of sentiment by SJ], whitewashing of protagonists [for, as always, ostensibly commercial reasons], the evil exploitative corporation [true but bereft of any original take], gun fights [they should be illegalized, i no longer have the stamina to watch one]…. and… I cannot recall, I couldn’t watch this mess to the end, all images unpeeled with cyborg-shell slickness, every other scene was as if I had seen it a million million times before.

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Whereas the one thing that did, predictably, stick out, were the stunning neon visuals, the genius of the digital metropolitan aesthetics. The whole city was livid and animated with skyscraper-sized, three-dimensional advertising characters. Also watching Madame Johansson jump and run through this incandescent, candy-colored, hyperkinetic metropole, cloaked in [near-]invisibility was  non-cognitive bliss.

So, not quite true what I stated about the degree of boredom, let me reverse. To one scene in particular. When it was finally revealed that the protagonist’s original mother, the biological mama of the daughter whose brain was used for the ghost in the shell, was an elderly Chinese lady, the floodgates of post-/neo-colonial theory were flung wide open. There was a bittersweet moment of recognition in this twist of futuristic neo-colonial neuro-exploitation: even in the centuries ahead the tricontinents are only a source of labour and replacement part providers. Not what you hope for in progressive sci-fi but unfortunately the maximum imaginative range of the folks behind this GitS rehash.

 

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Here, nothing much of tradition is contested or modified. The cultural artifacts in this movie seem inert, functional parts in the unspooling of a 22nd century techno-thriller, cogs in the narrative machinery. And so the 32-bit howl of cyborg identity crisis has been reduced to Scarlett Johansson’s inert mien but it doesn’t matter because she ultimately finds her [romantic] partner, meaning that the prospect of some cybernetic, white, virtual nuclear family might yet be in the offing. A meta-title for the movie might then be Shell minus the Ghost.

 

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BedHead [Chronicles of Dis/Infection, Sep2017]

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. William H. McRaven

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First evening/night on our new bed. I am sure there was a time, a few years back, ancient history now in my late thirties, a time when I might have considered this luxurious extravagance. Something for the consummate consumer who knows no better way in which to enhance his or her happiness. Now though, instead of impassive, vacuous consumption, I feel a minor sense of rightful reward. Achievement, even arrivism. It seems T and I have spent many enough nights on shoddy mattresses and dysfunctional, sagging lath floors to have earned our right to, via crumpled mattresses and locked neck muscles, a decent, grown-up income Betten Thaler Mattress. Plus Italian bed frame.

The difference between the bed I am typing on at this very moment, and the shambolic, glorified cod I was lying on just yesternight is too comical to even describe. Upon spying the massive, high frame and thick, lavish mattress from the kitchen earlier this evening, the similes that immediately popped into my mind were of the lowest, most automobile kind: Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati….a sense of too much compared to yesterday’s cinquecento.

This new bed has a thick, lush mattress with complex, intercalated layers and differently composed zones, depending on which part of your body is supposed to be located atop it [during fully recumbent, horizontalized sleep]. For example, presently my posterior is approaching what is probably the cranial zone and thus there is some give, which is fine because, in combination with my back being propped up against an equally superb pillow levered up against the wall, the level of comfort experienced is off the known charts. I mean this in a very literal sense: I couldn’t have imagined before this last hour that one can feel so comfortable being propped up in bed. But here we are, here I am.

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Then there is the width, the whole initial point of getting a new bed. We’d been catching bemused flack for camping out together in our 120cm berth, a general disbelief as if what we had been describing was an anatomical impossibility rather than a cramped sleeping arrangement. Plus it had/has never seemed cramped to us as, when falling asleep we tend to get entangled ever closer as if the objective we had in mind, for some indefinite point past midnight was a cosy, hybrid Tiziemba blob of limbs with two mouths kissing some place amidst it. 120cm was oodles of space. But then listening to every other, no, every couple and non-couple we’ve had over for dinner or cake rave on about wider beds our curiosity was naturally piqued. Naturally T was the one to get concrete about the matter, she’s the serious party when it comes to matters of interior decoration. She ordered the bed(frame), though it eventually took forever to get it. And she’s also the one who got us to haul ass to a crosstown secondhand storlet to then drag home a pre-owned duckboard on a pullcart; which was probably one of the funnest activities all summer.

As for the mattress, embarrassed to say but for the longest while I was enamored with that Caspar crap for the simple reason that I’d ended up reading many of those “rave reviews” and fancied the idea of zzzzzzzzing on it for 99 night and then sending it back with a thanks but not my type note or something more flippant still. Then I fortunately remembered stuff like: support your local economy. Or: sleep on it first. In both senses: A) consider your significant purchases for a long while (i have the feeling I’ve finally begun to manage this incredibly demanding skill and sometimes a couple of months will pass before I ultimately buy stuff; this, above anything else, to me, seems to suggest that I must be something resembling an adult, if not from the inside, then at the very least from the outside, behaviorally) B) do a trial lie-down on the actual product [which I did, I even tested two different pillows and made a decision on which one is more comfortable of the two after resting my noggin on them for a total of maybe 60 seconds or so; an impossible decision! …but one that will come to one as the bed-and-pillow-expert looks one in the eye sternly, asking which one was more comfortable and enumerating various technical details one can’t significantly make sense of]. So on the word of my good mother I headed on out over to Betten Thaler and trialled out this mattress and it was celestial then as it still is now. Funny thing was that, on the way out, I was offered an apple from their apple basket. I thought to myself what a good ploy this was, to reinforce the familiarity and good-will of small town amity…. Until I stepped out of the store and, rather hungry, eagerly dug it out of my pocket only to find, with an oncoming laugh, that the thing was very spotty and mostly mushy and, in bright daylights, thoroughly unappetizing. Which doesn’t matter because this mattress, unlike the Magi, is supposed to last at least another decade, by which time I’ll probably have all but forgotten the rotten apple whereas I’ll have spent thousands of hours on this slice of heaven….. Ok….. so my complementary half is beggging me to call it a night….

 

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Paris 2 Dijon [technically, only to 第戎]

An artist has no home in Europe except in Paris. – Friedrich Nietzsche (i really did search and this is the only halfway decent quote I was able to find…)

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So we went on a summer 旅游 to France, an undertaking that would seem, beforehand already, so steeped in cliches that it would be hard to escape the kind of cynicism one is precisely, stereotypically likely to associate with the French. The original impulse was straightforward enough to function as a promise. While 看到👀 Vila-Mato’s Never Any End to Paris, my desire to go to Paris grew with literally every single sentence read about this city (without conceivable borders). Of course as must have any good, cultured Central European considering themselves worth a damn, I have visited Paris and appreciated the complex layout of its streets, the incontrovertible loveliness of the Jardin de Luxembourg, its sprawling Avenues and….I cannot remember what, I assume its astounding density of bookshops.

If it were to rain heavily in Paris/巴黎 and you had to get home from Place de P to Quartier S by dashing from one librairie’s awning to the next you’d hardly get wet. This piling on top of each other of bookstores in retrospect still shines forth like a melancholy call to literary arms. Here you can read because here you can write and vice versa. Each conditioning the other to the very end of a strange loop, Paris. Oui, cher amour❤️ of the life of the mind, wander through the Avenues but then sit down and write, write, write!

 

I hereby circuitously mean to say that I’ve been to the métropole de littérature before, even four times I believe but by some mischance it never left that deep of an impression on me. It did not happen to light up the neuronal network like a X-Mas tree. Or maybe the mistake was simple: I failed to write a blog entry, the building blocks of my idiosyncratic mythomania. What, after all, can survive the longue dureé that has not been written down or chiseled from/into stone. In fact it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to claim that VM’s semifictional Paris has had a more magnetic effect on me than the actual one. Because what I indeed wanted to do is not to go to Paris in general with its 书stores and 咖啡店☕️ and avenues and boulevards but rather check-in to an Airbnb close to the one and only Café de Flores and then proceed to go there on a daily basis, passing my time by sipping coffee, keeping an eye out for elderly men looking like either Badiou or Latour, writing (a process which at the Cafe de Flores I imagine as facile and natural as breathing) and occasionally contemplating the sheer unending complexity of life.  And this limitless ville of course. I find myself maintenant struggling to recall which are the things about Paris that did strike me as singular: the crunchy stoicism of Crudités, how the Mona Lisa was so underwhelming when seen in the paint and canvas, the scent of the streets after a brief 太阳shower (i’m kidding, how could one remember such a thing? It is a bitter irony of memory that smells evoke them most vividly yet cannot be themselves remembered), what else?, how those Crudité-joints stubbornly pretend that mustard is a perfectly acceptable replacement for ketchup. So for example: Fries francaises and mustard. Scrunched up face but depraved micro-explosion of delight behind it.

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However, more than this, going on vacation with my girlfriend was the prime objective but was beginning to look further and further out of reach as we couldn’t agree on a destination attractive to both of us. The unlucky European Capital of terrorism wasn’t and isn’t exactly propitious to her anxious soul. Meaning I will travel there alone one of these upcoming days. To sit undisturbed in the Cafe de Flores. Not to mention that those online airbnb hypermod/vintage apartments just a grenade-toss from the Jardin de Lux for a piddling 80€ par nuit made me levitate above my plain black chair for more than a little while. My guess is they’ll still be there come 十月.

 

    What persisted though was the pull of France, la grande nation, the country where, clearly, literature is being produced en passant. Even if Vila-Matas struggled there with The Lettered Assassin, his first novel, or at least his fictional doppelgaenger did. We, as a consensus-oriented couple, settled on something modest, most likely non-terrorist-infested. The bucolic idyll of Dijon 第戎, Mustard Metropole of the Western Hemisphere, only three hours away as the TGV flits. Scarily fast.

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    As we left the apartment undercover of an incredibly early morning, our rolling suitcases made so hellish a racket on the  blacktop that, though none of our anti-social neighbors deserved it all too much, I felt obliged by compassion to lug the darn thing. Let the fools sleep. The 火车站 🚉 of Basel, having changed its layout, gave us a bit of trouble. The fairest estimation I can give is that it has been transformed into a big snack-take-away zone (Migros mostly), leading up to a bridge of cafes and kiosk, to which is appended below a happenstantial annex of train platforms. We curved around for a while before finding our way to the international platforms. This being Switzerland they were naturally secluded in a separate corner of the train station, presumably to insure that they won’t become a burden on the social security state. Which is what anything remotely foreign is liable to do at once here in Switzerland: ransack the tax coffers and impoverish the hardworking 瑞士人.

    The sheer velocity of the TGV once again amazed me, reminding me of just how apt its name truly is: Train a Grande Vitesse, 很快的火车. And it’s a bit deceptive too because it starts out in the westernmost corner of the Hexagon, the topography of which tends to bend the railway into curves where maximum velocity is, for the sake of catastrophic derailment at 200+km/h, strongly discouraged. But only for a very few kilometers then the carriage picks up the pace like a demon. Soon you’re zapping through the paysage in a way that makes you feel metaphysically disconnected. What is beyond the window pane is purely for you viewing pleasure but also not, why else would it rush by so fast?

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Pure speed doesn’t seem to be one of the things the human perceptual apparatus can ever tire of. I counted off the pylons and tried to calculate (by intestines rather than brain) what our true velocity might be, not in terms of kilometers per hour, which always has a certain degree of abstraction built into it, but rather the other way round, from time to distance, how many seconds per hundred meters. I came up with a lazy “1” as in in one second this crazy train covers 100 meters which some even lazier and stupider part of my brain then compared to poor old Usain Bolt. I say poor because this living legend ended his last career race on what appeared to be a pulled hamy, as perfect an anti-Kobeesque ending to an athlete’s career as one can envision. All those grazing cows on those triangular pieces of meadow near the forest hadn’t nearly the time to lift their heads from munching grass to get a good cow-eyeball at what exactly was rushing by at so hellish a tempo. The slow lifting of their bovine heads was also a good illustration of how completely their evolutionary survival instincts have been deadened and they maybe have made a sort of recalcitrant, unhappy peace with the fact that they can undistractedly, predator-freely gorge themselves on herbs before being turned into megaliters of milk and gigatonnes of 牛肉. Though you’d have to ask them yourself of course, if not verbally then at least see how they react when you try to take a bite out of their hind parts. Or don’t. You carnivorous 笨!

Out of nowhere though now I do remember one or two things about Paris.

At the McDonald’s they had the most breath-takingly sterile images ever imaginable on display. They are quite difficult to describe. Abstract shapes of circles and triangles, taken from PowerPoint or one of those other low-end programs not intended by any means for visual design acrobatics. These shapes randomly thrown together and then squeezed unholily through one of those photoshop filters that is meant to make stuff look like an oil-painting but instead makes them look awfully digital and, more to the point, thoroughly photoshopped and artificial and not part of the human striving for the sublime at all. These, printouts I have to assume, were then sealed under a frosted(!) plastic sheet, which in turn was framed by a thick, low, sanded-looking aluminum frame. By thick I mean about a third the width of the picture itself. And hung above the heartless, bolted PVC tables and polyurethane-upholstered booths of an anyway life-force-sapping because in the beating heart of culture located Micky D’s. Whoever manages to fully capture the horror of those artificial, soul-gutted oils hung in that Parisian McDo is sure to win a Nobel Prize of Description. Or a very similar international award.

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…it seems that in the meanwhile(2009/2017) they’ve made considerable progress….

But that was not the acme. By strange chance the most memorable outing was to a cemetery: row after row of magnificent tombstone. It was rainy, grey and as far as I could think, a most prototypical, forlorn-artist-in-Paris pursuit. The way it’s in my memory I happened on it. Soon enough I came across a big, Nikki-de-SaintPhalleesque bird of paradise worked from mirror-mosaic pieces and lengths of black-painted wrought iron. With a poem there, annihilating mortality. Embarrassingly enough my memory will not cough up the name of the grand French intellectual buried there but, in the fictive nature of the memoir and biography, i’ll venture out on a branch to say it was either Sartre or Beckett (not entirely French, ok). To think that that person’s bones rested there…. did that mean anything? Didn’t the bird and the rain and the unholy powers of the graveyard and being alive in Paris, endless Paris mean infinitely more?

 

I haven’t really typed anything about Dijon yet, so stupid.

 

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…a meritless fictional thingie…

 

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The only routine with me is no routine at all.

– Jackie Kennedy

The other day an acquaintance of mine wrote a memorable, generic thus paradoxical status update: Don‘t call it a comeback. There is almost too much going on in that little phrase right there. A) The entertainingly presumptuous assumption that everyone is paying enough attention to one, to feel the need to tag one‘s action B) The presumption that one of one‘s rather trivial activities [a return to basketball after an understandable late 30s hiatus] might be labelled with so glorious a term as comeback C) The idea that one gets to tell others what they get to tell things D) The naked imitation of a popular saying, an almost winged word E) The embedding of a deep, humane irony [I‘m not famous at all but I can appropriate these very words; at the end of the day, if you play basketball past your mid-thirties, you are well worth of deserving of a pat on the shoulder for heroism in recognition of your courage in that war of attrition called growing-bloody-joint-achingly-older]. Also, in a single phrase, I think, wanting it or not, he packed all the joy and nostalgia of one group of people trying to throw an orange ball into a high net more often than their competitors. In summer, at any age.

And this has to be, as ever, only a little part of I) the truth and II) much more importantly, what I intended to say. Because the reason why you shouldn‘t call it a comeback is that a comeback does have, at the end of the semantic day, some sort of defintive meaning. It means there has been a significant hiatus, that one has lost part of one‘s skill set and that, by way of hard training has regained it and is now in a position to rejoin the fray.

In fact it mostly also implies that one had originally intended to hang it up, call it a career and no longer pursue this line of activity, no matter the glories one managed to achieve. This is a comeback along the lines of a Michael Jordan or the rapper Jay-Z. This comeback is supposed to happen only once or risk to have the entire sequence to be publicly condemned as a fake retirement combined with an equally faux comeback. At this semantic level the question is: have I been gone long enough to warrant the expression comeback? Did I genuinely ever intend not to return to XYZ? And most significantly: how many times can one come back before it is simply a return?

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Now I‘m almost at the point I would have wished to be at with my first sentence, namely that I come back to writing on such a regular basis that it makes little sense to call it a comeback. Nor is there any fame  that would warrant this terminology. I mean, just don‘t call it a comeback. It‘s not even a homecoming, it‘s a meager resumption of bizz as reg. Because the basic fact is that I cannot, when it is all said and done, not write about life and hope to retain even a smidgen of happiness.

Yes, writing has been a daily constant but on a long and bootless piece that, if I am gonna face stochastics head on, will never see the light of day. Whatever that means, something like: it will forever putrefy on my harddrive, it will never alight on more than half a dozen pair of retinas, it might not even rise to the lowly status of an obscure blog. And while such harsh realism may seem discouraging, it‘s actually good for keeping things in perspective and appears to have zero negative effect on writing motivation. The act of writing is some absurd human perpetuum mobile where a big enough initial investment keeps it/her/him going, against all scientific reason, forever and a day. Or at least the brief duration of a writerly life.

 

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It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense. – M. Twain

 

It‘s not a comeback then it‘s a coming back, a saunter back to the keyboard where the keys have hardly become covered in any dust. And there‘s an interesting effect to be noticed too. The longer one spends hammering away at a meritless fictional thingie while depriving oneself of the stoic or ascetic exercise of packaging one‘s repetitive obsessions into the form of a blog or journal or diary or whatnot, the more these writerly attempts at creating some fragments of structure from the daily maelstrom begin to infiltrate the narrative scribblings, instead. Suddenly characters launch into long solilloquies on public transport or set pieces end up focusing exclusively on some vexing incident one had the day before. There is nothing intrinsically detrimental or writerly underhanded about such incursions of one‘s own dabblings but, at least in my case, that is not the kind of pursuit I look for in creating fiction. I prefer the notion of some vague border existing between the territory of prose lit and the republic of mundane, psycho-disinfectant non-fic. The latter, ideally, is where, Herzog-style, all the rambling and ranting gets done whereas the former aspires to the ideal of utmost fabrication.

 

There are other pitfalls in opting for a not-totally-brief hiatus. The memories and events accumulate uncontrollably and clamor, one over the other, for being commited to the empty page first. Me, me, no me. After four to five days it‘s evident that one‘s memorizing and filtering mechanism to make sense of the mess retrospectively are helplessly overtaxed and that, most likely, out of some perverse fluke of memory, one will in fact only remember the most uninteresting tid-bits and try to stylize them into substantial little pedagogical gems of everyday life, whereas, truth be typed, they‘re just  remembrance debris floating at the surface.

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So, first off, I‘ve finally, after a delioursly long time of shilly-shallying, taken the plunge and begun to study 普通话PuTongHua. As one tends to do with what‘s most important in life, I was biding my time for some sort of ideal moment, which of course never was genuinely in the offing. Somehow I realized this so I decided to cut short the diabolical cycle of excuses and just get on with it.

One of the aspects that was most captivating in the beginning is how every little detail of the language is entirely, totally, overwhelmingly different. The writing, the pronunciation, the way words are constructed, the weird structure of the conditional case, the ten million proverbs [this language certainly is the motherlode of proverbs and, I‘ve been told, these are entirely common in everyday parlance]. I‘ve been holding out for some similarities, which there must be, which I‘m sure are based on a neurological identity between various specimens of Homo Sapiens but I‘ve rarely come across so far. At any rate, this total difference in everything leads to oneself being set back, linguistically speaking, to absolute square one. The European language speaker beginning to learn PuTongHua stands before the language as a babe. Soft, ruby, salivating, so powerless there is an element of cuteness. E.g. for some reason I‘ve been confusing, now and again, „I“ and „you“, an error which to any native speaker must seem inconceivable and, more significantly, unempathizable with. The reserves of patience the Beginner‘s Chinese tutor must have can only be imagined as fathomless; my teacher for one, apart from being utterly excellent and patient, is a mastress of the benevolent smile though at times, I‘m certain, she must be wishing to shoot arrows of fire from her eyes, skype them over to this incomprehending 瑞士人/RuishiRen. Then again, she seems so composed and kind and professional, my Chen老师, that even such looseness as an inner, imaginary tantrum seems quite unlikely.

The next logic consequence of the bottomless gulf between the languages, the nocturnal incommensurability between two systems of communication blossoming from antipodal ends of a continental plate, is that for the first three or four months, this at least has been my hyper-subjective observation, no matter the effort, a sense of total impossibility always looms above, waiting to overwhelm one‘s efforts. There is a specious certainty that this language surely never can be learned other than from the tender beginnings of a human existence or not at all. This hopelessness only fades extremely gradually. In my case it still persists when it comes to listening comprehension…… then again, it would be insanity to expect anything else after 只 半 年.

There is more, much more but my memory and mind are shot for the morning; moreover, I‘m technically on holiday time.
再见blokes&gals!

 

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immortal thighs [chronicles of infection, 2017四月]

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one. – Khalil Gibran

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A few weeks ago it happened. I had been sitting down for a long time at my desk, neck muscles beginning to cramp up, stomach growling for food. No, that‘s not correct. Memory be damned, especially after 35. I think I was sitting in our bean bag, an ugly multiple-colored specimen which my gf does not approve of at all [our is an euphemism, it‘s mine, my aesthetic irresponsibility]. Nor do I use it all that often, it might be headed for the attic, come to think of it.

Anyway, there I sat, reading I suppose, but hunger or munchies or the siren-call of my metabolism eventually won out and, cat-eager, I catapulted myself out of the gravity-well of those tens of thousands of beans and, just for fun, took off at a canter towards the kitchen [a right and then a left]. I almost got there. But before I did, darkness descended.

Cinematically a black curtain [filled with whirling, luminous floaters] came down from somewhere along the lower edge of my forebrain. All motility fled my legs as I buckled backwards towards the doorframe of the living room [somehow I had missed the kitchen by a continued step straight ahead instead of a smooth turn left]. The curtain descended further to below the equator of my eyeballs.

Death! The thought struck me lucidly, a counterpoint to the encroaching blackness. I am dying, so this is it. I thought utterly unpoetic drivel. The moment was too brief and final to allow for any social or romantic concerns [What about my loved ones? What beautiful last words for my beloved? What will be my shitty legacy?], much less a biopic synopsis to obtrude. In fact, it was so short that there wasn‘t even any violence of emotion. I didn‘t exactly fight the long night. Just a calm, even sedate realization that my life ends in the course of a childish, meaningless dash to the kitchen. A disturbingly drama-free The End.

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Then however, my back slammed into the doorframe. A solid wooden upright, a post, a pillar that held the door in place and, who knows, maybe even the wall above it. Let us contemplate for a moment the gods of structural engineering [is that the term for it?]. Ok, enough.

My thighs tightened up, refusing to give in to gravity‘s tug, a ceaseless annoyance I‘ve had to deal with these last 38 years. It seemed my legs didn‘t at all want to die. Maybe they wanted to go for a run later or something, though it was snowing outside. But what the devils do they know! They tightened, shoved the rest of my body against the frame. If I had slid down, that would‘ve been the end of me. I was heartened by the fact that my body was not as spineless as my mind.

Anyway, all this exertion, this brainless pumping of blood and activating of muscles, finally rallied some of my animal spirits, the better half of my nature I would say. The curtain slowly lifted and the living room hove into view, a good place for literature and youtube and distracted daydreaming.

I was not yet going to die.

Then I stood up and went to the kitchen for a snack, most likely an apricot quark. It didn‘t taste any different than usual.

 

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[not mine!]

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Ningues [Chron. of Dis/Inf., jan17]

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January 5th and it finally feels like winter proper: snow, minimal, but still definitely that white stuff that has no business down here in the cities; swirling flurries that cut your vision short and make you regret riding your bicycle without ski goggles, regret that there’s no bike version of snow mobiles; children wasting their precious homework hours outside building snow… snowpeople (could be a woman, could be a man) with the itty little bit of the stuff that’s available in these climate-changed times; an overpowering urge to stay inside and enjoy the benefits of indoor heating, light and having a cooker; a sense of blessedness for not enjoying any winter sport and instead reading up on good literature; a faint nostalgia for the beach which will turn into rigorous shunning of same by mid-july; all the hibernal sentiments basically.

How many times can one write about winter? An infinite number of times, sadly or happily, depending on mood swings [of which there seem to be plentiful] and weather patterns [getting more freakish by the annum]. This might start creating the impression that the wintry season puts me in a poetic mood, that like that french guy, in the depths of winter i discovered some eternal summer of the soul. But I haven’t. I keep rediscovering [like a gadfly busting it’s head for the n-th time against a window] that no matter how freakishly healthy one might be during the rest of the year, some bloody virus will lay your behind low come december, january, february. As well as your [my] feverish dreams of immortality.

And you wake up one morning feeling helpless as a babe and forty years older and at the hands of an ungrateful bastard of a body. With a jolt it seems like the chronological halfway point of winter is a very theoretical construct and that in fact you are stuck in the dead middle.

Personally speaking, i also always have the creeping sense that whatever illness I have come down with is not nearly as bad as I make myself believe it is. Meaning I could go to work, I could go to the gym, I could rise at a decent hour. To make this perception worse, there is the associated feeling that other people pick up on my sense of hypochondry or maladic fraudulence or whatnot….and that they subsequently don’t really feel i deserve any type of special patient-grade attention that could potentially save me from a further complication of my illness [pneumonia?] but that, instead, they now in a show of forced goodwill are obliged to play along and also make-believe that I am very sick [e.g. make a cup of tea] when, actually, I just have a slight cold. Around noon, when the vertigo, sickness and headache kick in properly, these self-conscious fantasies usually disappear into germ-infested air. Just to reappear in the evening, when all of the day’s torpor and head-clutching and doddering gait yet again seem exaggerated and ridiculous and, perhaps above all, needy in an infantile way that fits in badly with a hard-earned sense of adulthood [paying bills, going through tax forms, establishing a hierarchy of folders, buying milk and vegetables, etc.]. In my case.   

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What a powerful, sublime juxtaposition. Of course there have been other Hitler experts, Kershaw and Ullrich come to mind, but make one up and transport him backwards in time to such a pre-loaded year: what a coup! And what a jibe to the Humanities; you make up disciplines as you go along, don’t you? Then cut to a maximum blast of everydayness.

 

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