Prague Castle from the Charles Bridge

Karel Boromějský Orthodox Church

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Uniqueness and Exceptionalism

This [US] is a unique, exceptional country. Russia is unique, but not exceptional.

—Mike Pompeo, Senate confirmation hearing

A few minutes ago I was in the Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth, one of the last all-wood 18th Century opera houses in Europe. The ornate decor, the feel of a place where operas were performed decades before the French Revolution was sublime.

At Wahnfried, a few blocks away from where I sit drinking coffee, there was a bust of Nietzsche, and of course in texts there were several mentions of him and his relationship to Wagner. I enjoy reading and thinking about Nietzsche so much more than I do thinking about 21st Century Americans. I just can’t sustain the incredulity, or outrage.

Money in the Parkschein Automat and then off to the Neues Schloss.

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I find myself wondering how much of my attitude towards high culture was shaped by Bugs Bunny cartoons. Surely the American culture I was exposed to disdained opera as foreign, effeminate, pretentious, suspect.

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Goethe’s Wohnhaus

Goethe’s house is quite large and very sensual. Wooden floors creak in every room, which are filled with paintings, drawings, busts, decorative plates. Outside the garden is filled with herbs and flowers. Birds chirp, an owl hoo-hoos.

Visitors are offered either a booklet or an audio guide. Perhaps half of us walk about with a handheld guide to our ears, intently listening to a recording which describes what we see. On the groundfloor, off the entryway to the house is a tiny theater, where a few visitors listen to an announcer’s sonorous voice describe the house and its furnishings.

I took the booklet, which is very nicely done. A number of rooms also have cards with the English translation of that room’s description.

The audio devices prompted me to think about McLuhan’s conception of hot and cool media. Goethe’s house is such a feast for the senses, while we visitors walk about with electronic devices in our hands, focused on voices which are elsewhere. I sit here in the garden with a cellphone in my hands. A man wanders the garden before me with a digital camera. He tells a woman he’s taking photos for ideas for his own garden.

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Eine andere Welt ist möglich

I loaded a washer and took a stroll this morning.

This house is directly across the street from the Fürstengruft, with Goethe and Schiller’s sarcophagi.

The other graffiti was all tagging, “fickt euch” and such.

News sites report the Obamas have signed with Netflix to produce “content”. The White House released a coin to commemorate the upcoming summit where Kim Jong Un is titled “Supreme Leader”, which does not seem to be a title normally used to refer to him.

I’m fairly confident the world which interests me involves reading Goethe.

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Jedem das seine. Arbeit macht frei. Coercion of the imprisoned into self-torture causes its own unique agony, as Mitchell and Jessen made millions proselytizing. I reflect on agency at places such as this.

“But what can I do about Guantánamo? Here, will you hold my triple decaff non-fat soy carmel macchiato? I’ve got to call my trainer – I’m late for the gym.”

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Wo ist das Konzentrationslager?

I can’t really remember, but it was somewhere along this road in 1997 that I asked a resident that. Petra was really embarrassed – “you just don’t ask people such things.” That’s kind of my life in a nutshell. The tower right in the center on the horizon is Buchenwald.

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Die Drachenschlucht

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Goldener Löwe

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Johann Swaschnik’s

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