Make illness into a weapon

Enjoyed seeing SPK Komplex yesterday. The film maker had shown parts of a preliminary cut at the RAF film festival in Potsdam in September and I’d been looking forward to seeing it. Scenes which remained with me afterwards included discussion of group therapy which matter-of-factly started with reading Georg Hegel, and a list of authors which included “of course” Wilhelm Reich.

The opening lines and dedication of Howl came to mind, C. Wright Mills, The Port Huron Statement, and Herbert Marcuse.

In the fall I read the parents of aspiring young US Marines coordinated a prayer relay where participants took responsibility for slots of time during which they would be praying for the new recruits, giving those teenagers learning to be soldiers the benefit of 24/7 prayer. Earlier this month acquaintances supporting men and women my age and older in prison for a nuclear weapons protest in Georgia took for granted that a similar pursuit of continual prayer would be one activity sensible to engage in.

This morning I find myself remembering a childhood where theoretical underpinnings for action on behalf of societal and political change made sense. What would be the effect of Marine parents organizing the 24/7 reading of Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket?

It may well be my having lived so long in Northern California, but I seem to know a great number of people with some connection to twelve step programs. When discerning the things to be accepted as unchangeable, what would be the effect on Debtors Anonymous if there were weekly reading of Marx? Numerous friends self-medicate with alcohol, narcotics, Game of Thrones. This may sound facetious, but I don’t ask it that way: How would AA and NA change with a grounding in Hegel?

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Silly political games

So I know this may sound kind of esoteric, but I am thinking about heading down to Munich for this, and it got me thinking about a party game along the lines of “who would you do?”

Would you take the train to Munich for Glen Greenwald, Jill Stein and Abby Martin on Freedom and Democracy? Would you go to Hamburg to hear David Brooks on the Democratic Party? Who else would have to be on the panel? What about Warsaw to hear Joy-Ann Reid on, oh, anything?

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Wer rettet den Westen?

The original Spiegel post on Facebook reads:

Der neue SPIEGEL ist da! Wir haben mit Ex-FBI-Chef James Comey gesprochen. Er sagt, Trump regiere wie ein Mafiaboss. Außerdem in dieser Ausgabe: Philosoph Richard David Precht über die neuen Werte – Gemeinschaft statt Karriere. Samstagmorgen am Kiosk, digital ab jetzt hier:

The label on the fire extinguisher, the lines about Comey on Trump and Precht – the whole composition is really funny!

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I happened to look down and see this at Wilhelmstraße and An der Kolonnade on my way to the U-Bahn. I thought about talking with my Belarusian friend the other night and how she remarked that while in Belarus and Russia the war is only engaged with one day a year, on the anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War, and Stalinism is never discussed, in Germany the Nazizeit is continually addressed.

After some weeks ago seeing where he was held at Sachsenhausen I recently watched the film Elser.

Thinking about reading Slaughterhouse-Five as a teenager, and Vonnegut’s Billy Pilgrim becoming “unstuck in time”.

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Hannah Arendt Straße

I’m at a downtown tourist attraction this morning, here with busloads of students speaking a variety of languages. The buses idle out front, the murmur of their engines merging with the traffic noise of the busy downtown streets.

Kids lounge on the stelae, play hide and seek, take selfies “here I am at the Memorial for the Murdered Jews”.

The height of the stones varies, and the ground is uneven. The stones are arrayed in straight orderly lines, and even in the center of the monument when surrounded by concrete slabs one can still glimpse the sunny everyday of life outside.

I gaze at this for a while. Last night I spent some time planning my visit to Zagreb, and read about Croatian concentration camps. Several for women and children remain in my mind.

I believe Arendt eschewed the title of philosopher, prefering to be known as a theorist.

Eight young Asian men have arrived, each with a camera. We are all involved with our gadgets. I think about Khatyn.

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Had a video meeting for work yesterday where a manager several layers over our team presented for a couple hours to perhaps fifty engineers. It was mostly technical in nature, but there was also the announcement that the company has restored the practice of health benefits taking effect on the first day of employment, rather than after three months of employment as is now the case. This change will take effect July 1, we are told – new employees whose start dates are between now and July 1 will need to wait until July to have health insurance.

The change is presented as a sort of perk, a good thing the company is doing for its employees. This was also the spin given by my group’s manager when he told us about it several weeks ago. He’d also said the restoration was the result of an outcry from employees. Both the line manager and the guy several layers up saw this as the company being responsive to “feedback” from employees.

There is next to no questioning or response in these meetings. Any single question is a softball pitched forward to provide the presenter an opportunity to say something anodyne, or is perhaps a purely technical question about an immediate organizational concern. There is absolutely no engagement of what the norm is for health insurance in the developed world, what sort of profits the company is making, whose work those profits come from, whose pockets the profits go into. The idea of “feedback” gives the feel of a patriarchal entity making decisions for the “good of the company” and sometimes taking the desires of employees into consideration. The idea that employees have interests which may be opposed to the interests of investors, that wealth is produced by the employees,  that employees can work together to further their interests, just doesn’t enter into the mindset here.

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Rheinsberger Straße

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Strelitzer Straße

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I have very fond memories of following a four-year-old on his red bike down these paths.


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