A heart burning free

Sometimes you say, even after so many years, you think of her. I look at you quite astonished because most of your sentences, no non of your sentences begin like this. But this one does. I was seventeen by  then, you tell me further and you look at your fingertips. Seventeen, most of the day dreaming of girls. Lonely, at home from boarding school but not at home anymore. But maybe it was never a home at all. Of course it was an all boy and boys only boarding school. Everything was forbidden. But girls were most forbidden. Your smile does not reach your eye wrinkles. We did not spoke about anything else than girls. Everyone told the most fantastic stories about what was going on. Who planned to lay whom on a party. Who had the most impressive stories to tell about the most adventurous things to be done with girls. But in reality no one of us even dared to ask a girl out for the movies or even to kiss her on a cheek or at both. But girls were everywhere. Everywhere else. My father you say further, but you know all of his, always had girls around him to forget my mother even sooner. I know and I do not know. It was a dull summer, you say, the days were full of boredom and sport, sport and boredom and dreams of girls, dreams of another life, you dreamt of big travels and real girls at college. It was the summer, when your father decided to let the garden be redesigned. In the first week only a man showed up to dig in the ground, to cut down trees, to remove hedges and to carry big bags of foil and fertilizers. But in the following weeks a woman joined the man within the garden. You cough for a moment and you look at me and I look at you and your knee is close to my knee and you are going on. They were a couple as I realized soon, both in her thirties or something. I couldn’t help to stare at her, to look how she moved her thighs and stretched her arms. I spent afternoon after afternoon staring at her. One day I think she realized that she had a silent observer behind the curtains. She looked back at me, smiling. But I, I was too ashamed, hiding within the room. But I left the window of my room open, so I could hear her voice from time to time, and his voice too a yelling, loud voice rough from many years of endless smoking. And then one day, suddenly I heard her screaming and the she started to cry. When I looked out of the window, I saw the man grabbing her hardly at one arm, shaking her heavily so that she fell. Than he rushed away in anger. But I saw my chance coming and rushed down the stairs, there she sat, unbelievable sad. Of course I wanted to beat up the man who did this to her. But he had already left the building. She cried hysterically. I searched for a tissue and put my arm around her. How marvelous  this felt. I felt like in heaven. I took her for a walk through the garden, showed her my hidden tree-house in the old oak. Up there she told me that her partner did not beat her up for the first time, that she wanted to leave him but had no money at all. You laugh out bitterly but don’t stop to talk. I told her, I want and I could help her out. And immediately  she started to cry again. I told her, that I had money in my room and would like to do nothing more than to give it to her. She stopped crying, smiled at me, took my hand and l felt her breasts under my fingertips. It felt like losing my mind. But she reminded me of how important the money was, that she was afraid that her man would come back soon, too soon. And I ran back to the house, into my room and got the money for her. I forgot how much it was, 5.000 Pound or something. Money ,I earned by doing little jobs for my father. I gave her all the money and she kissed me again, saying that she would call me as soon as possible when she found a place somewhere safe to stay. I heard violins playing. She went off. Not without giving me a little photograph of her own. I heard more violins playing, the angels started to sing and I did not even dare to imagine that I should be the chosen one who might in near future would lay  his hands on her breasts again. But I did not by then that I would never see her again. I waited in front of the telephone for many days and even back in boarding school I waited that someone would call me to tell me that someone, that she has asked for me. She never did. But a few months later, a guy from school, showed me and all the others standing nearby a small photograph, telling the most adventurous stories of his new flame. I knew the woman on the photograph already, the same photograph I was hiding myself in my wallet. But it took many months and years more to learn, that she never even planned to come back. But in the end I learned and I understood. Many girls came, you say, but you do know this already, often I was convinced of myself that I had forgotten her, but today I thought of her, felt like I could catch her perfume somewhere in the air, looked around if she did not would show up at the next corner. But no one was there. Sometimes, you still can see her, you finish your sentence. I can’t see your face anymore in the dark room, but your knees are still close to mine, I touch your cheeks and your cheeks are wet and we both know.

Such a summer

Such a summer is it that the red currants shimmer white, red and black in the bushes, the blackbirds are wandering through the grass and the cat just lies there too lazy to get up chasing after them. Such a summer is it. My nieces are dancing under the watering can and they laugh and laugh all day long. Gently blows the wind through my hair and heavy are the rose leaves, which are falling in my hands scenting like the drawer of my grandmother where next to her white pearl necklace, always rose leaves dried and smelled exactly like those in my hands. Cool is the watermelon, her skin of a deep green, marbled with lighter spots, and of a sweet, ladylike pink is the flesh, ice-cold in my mouth and my teeth click at the pitch black kernels. The blackberries are not yet black, the still wait for their time to come, the apple tree are thirsty and drink to the fullest. The plum-tree smiles gently, looking proud of his already light blue treasures, the grass is long and in between bloom white daisies, my nephew counts all the clouds and the clouds are passing slow, so he does not miss a single one. In the hammock, the gently wind sings songs for them and the hundred year old stones under my feet are brown and warm, till late in the evening when the birds sleep and the children dream of another day, where they might try to eat ten scoops of ice. Such a summer is it.

A special collection

Just wait minute, says Colleague B. to me and I nod and take a seat. Colleague B. is always busy and there is always something on. Something important, of course. At the door-handle cling numerous ties. They look expensive, boring and this alone makes them a perfect match for colleague B.  Somewhere a telephone rings endlessly and I wait for 8….9….10…11 seconds till I can hear B. screaming loudly, why no one  in this hell of an office is able to answer a telephone. While this happens at least twice a day, no one cares anymore, just the rubber-plant in the corner of B.’s office is shaking its thick leaves a bit  or maybe sings quietly: It’s time for another revolution. I listen to B.’s voice on the floor, all idiots, he says to a counterpart I can‘ see. I already know that sorting things out with B. will never ever be fun, because B. knows everything and of course everything better. B. sees himself as a real guy, it took him quite a long time to learn that my name is not „hey“ or „girl“ even if he shouted like an old ban dog. You can smell B. when you walk along the floor, he is very aviricious with everything but not with his after-shave. He sees himself as the only one who is organized, tidy and structured, the born leader and he should be something else than he is, among us idiots as he again shouts across the floor. Idiot, is after“cunt“ his second favorite word. I close my eyes for a minute or two and when I open them again, I see and its for the first time I do so, B. must have been in a real hurry this time, that two drawers of his desk aren’t closed, and obviously colleague B. has a very interesting hobby, or may I better say a collection. But don’t expect stamps ( how boring ), teddy-bears ( how bizarre ), porn-magazines ( how ordinary ), but a  massive collection of used paper tissues, piling up till the edge of the drawers is reached and maybe these are only the collection’s highlights, the Picasso’s and Van Gogh’s of his masterpieces, maybe in the closets of his office even more of these treasures are to be found,and so I ask myself, might it be possible that in the apartment if B., in a golden frame, the first tissue  ever used by B. is presented to the astonished visitors?

hit hardest

A few weeks ago, the man on the market who usually sells vegetables and fruits was missing. At first I thought he just went on holidays, probably to some place where no fruit or vegetables were bothering his mind. But than rumors arrived,that something has happened. But what happened exactly no one knew. The stories grew wild and wilder as fruit or vegetable does in the summer, when there is enough rain and I often thought of the man, his always earthy fingers, his green apron and his chariot where all the goods were piled up high. And I thought of his fields and his garden and how it might feel for men who always earth crumbs beyond his nails not to be able to be outside to look after the salads, the carrots, let alone the raspberries and strawberries, all this gold of summer. Then I went away, I bought fruits and vegetables else where, slept under a cherry tree and have had red fingers for two days of cherry harvest. When I returned I heard that the man from the market was back, but the queues who always had been long at this stall, in front of his wooden chariot were missing. There was rumor, people were saying that he lost his mind. But I never trust rumor and I am not sure if I myself did lost my mind many years ago and so I went as usual to the man on the market, to buy vegetables and fruits. The man did not look good. The man looked beaten. Beaten up. His eyes were restless and flickering, the movements of his hands and limbs delayed like in a slow-motion scene. While he fills my bags with leek and carrots, grabs peas and a cauliflower and I am not sure what to ask, because: are you alright would be just cynical when someone is so obvious not alright at all, he begins to tell me that out of the blue, very sudden the trees wanted him evil. I nod. He rolls his eyes up and down. They just waited for the right moment he says and I search for a tenner. Maybe the trees I start to say something helpless, but he interrupts me and points at a small, tiny laurel-tree in front of a gate, he says the tree are listening very well. So I grabbed my bags and left. It’s good to have you back, say I ,but the vendor looks at me with deep distrust as he could not be sure anymore that I am not hand in gloves with the trees myself. A few days later, at the dentist I learn by someone who knows the vendor’s wife that he has tried  to fell two trees in his backyard but something went wrong and he got hit by the massive tree, spent weeks in the hospital and it is not quite sure if he ever will recover from a tree, he wanted to fell, falling down and left alone with the evil.

At the edge of war

The old uneasiness grows during the days and I run back and forth, to phone friends to reassure myself that they are still there and will be so tomorrow. The old danger crawls upon my back while reading the news, while looking at the pictures, while hearing the news of rockets reaching so many well-known names of streets and places, while scanning the faces on the screen if I know someone among them shown. I don’t ,but the fear remains with me all day long and longer. Rockets are reaching Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem it is not far to the small village where my grandmother and my grandfather arrived in 1947. They arrived not in a safe place, but they survived and this was all what counted. The war started soon enough, not even a year after they came to Israel. The war was won, but the war did not end all wars, the war just returned again and again, my grandparents left for Europe but this is another story, but the war is still there, sometimes is more silent and sometimes, as in the last two days, becomes louder and louder, is transformed in a news-stream where you can see where the air raid is going, where siren sound is to hear, how many rockets Iron Dome intercepts and you can get sad and sadder of all the people, who lose home and are embedded in the same fear, but most of the time with no chance for shelter. The heartbeat follows the news at radio Galgalatz, the army station and won’t calm down, thinking of those who go into the war, en brera,there is no choice and hard and harder it gets not to lose hope after all this years, where the war returns and returns in an endless loop.

A crack in the shell

„It is all over.“ says my dear friend E. followed by a very strong definitely and a very finite: irrevocable. Never ever will she return into the life and flat, she shares since five years with the no less dear friend T.  And so my half eaten Croissant falls down on the ground and possibly only the sparrows, who are excited about their extended breakfast, are happy about the sudden silence, between E.’s shocking sentence and the pastry, tumbling downward. She is well aware, says E. further that her recent 35 birthday does not make things any easier, every year counts twice now, she emphasis because it’s not easy anymore to attract the attention of a possible man in a bar, when you are surrounded by twenty-two year old girls with the very same aim but no past and even more important with no cellulite, the evil of all the evils. E. looks even more distracted then before. I look distracted too, but not because of cellulite but of the fact that I can not imagine one single fact, who brings together a „never ever “ and dear T. is good-looking man, but not too good-looking, he has a job somewhat with accounting the title, not too absorbing but not boring either, he is not obsessed with soccer but delighted to accompany you in an opera and seems to be overall a very agreeable contemporary. Same has to be said about E. a charming lady, with a great smile, a funny wit, a tough business ( somewhat with consulting in the title ), good-looking with great lack curls, talented and truly adorable. We all looked with great pleasure on this very nice couple and waited not if but when the marriage was to be expected. But this does only mean that we were all proven wrong. It happened, so E. on a very ordinary, not very sunny but in no ways rainy sunday in the already mentioned shared and very commodious apartment. And as on nearly every Sunday, T. boiled eggs for E. and for himself. His three minutes, hers five. And this was the moment when it all began to happen, what destroyed the bright and extraordinary delightful atmosphere forever. E. namely did not join her darling in breaking the egg, as she tended to do normally, but started to look for the very first time closely and directly at dear friend T. habit and face while he ate his egg. And what she saw, so E. became a terrible sight. T. so E. did not only use pepper, salt and a good shot of tabasco sauce, already a first sign of the rupture of civilization that would shortly follow and stirring those ingredients wildly together but then and E. is nearly indifferent while remembering the scene, did not use a spoon to scoop down the disgusting mixture, but took the egg between two fingers, gulping, smuggling and smacking the egg with utter and great delight. Traces of  Egg yolk, tabasco sauce and tiny bits of the eggshell remained in T.’s face, who smiled in his usual way, asking E. kindly if he should break her egg too. But E. shaken by disgust, denied, leaving the breakfast table immediately, leaving the flat, while realizing with increasing clarity, as she tells me that she lived together with a man who gulped down his egg in the very same way on every sunday. And this doing of such a barbarous notion is something she won’t be able to do and to see again. Not now, not ever. And she knows, finishes E. that she will have less and less chances with every year.

Two worlds. Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger in Davos

The small town of Davos in Switzerland is a place more than well-known, not at least as for its many sanatoriums where the richesse of Old Europe cured its diseases. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner arrived in the mountains to recover from a mental breakdown, Aby Warburg hoped to find relief from his chronic illness, Thomas Mann and his wife joined one of the many clinics to cure tuberculosis the illness per se of the worm-eaten late nineteenth century. Even the well-known author and inventor of more dangerous landscapes and lives, the writer Robert Louis Stevenson chose the small and hidden place of the Alpine landscape to finish his book „Treasure Island“ in calmness. But no one else as Thomas Mann was able to draw a closer picture of the distinctive atmosphere, the morbid climate and the culmination of illness and search for health, using the figure of the young and not unambitious Hans Castorp to found Davos immortal reputation in his novel „The Magic Mountain“. It is the young graduate Castorp, who  visits his cousin, curing his tuberculosis, just to discover his own illness, to fall in love with a mysterious Russian lady and to meet a defender of the project Enlightenment and his counterpart a nihilistic and defrocked Jesuit. In the two positions all the debates and discussions of the interwar period return for the last time, before Old Europe will disappear forever. But the decline has already arrived in Davos, tuberculosis began to vanish in the decades after 1850, good for the patients but bad for Davos main business. The international skiing elite preferred St. Moritz or went to the French Alps and Davos was in urgent need to search for alternate attracting concepts and possibilities. Therefore, the town leaders decided to start an annual academic meeting. They planned to invite well-known scholars and students to debate contemporary problems and to discuss the topics of the age, while at the same time, this venue should attract the remaining and hopefully new arriving patients and guests. None else than the most unconventional mathematician and physicist Albert Einstein opened the first annual meeting in 1928. Probably the audience was more impressed by playing the violin at the gathering than excited about his lecture on relativity, which remained a big question mark. But the context of the German „Bildungsbürgertum“, it could have been much worse and there was even music. The second venue one year later put „philosophy“ in the focus, the third one “ social sciences“ and the fourth and final one was concerned with „education“. But in the common memory, bad luck for Einstein’s musical talent, the second one, the gathering on „philosophy“ remained present in the collective mind. And in the philosophical world of today, the minds still debate heated and engaged about this particular meeting, where the thinking of cultural history and the history of ideas changed dramatically.

Two minds and men met, who couldn’t differ more. the one was the Jew, shy but friendly, Ernst Cassirer and the other one was the German Martin Heidegger, robust and with woolen socks. The one represented the academic sphere, a tradition where Goethe was the mastermind. It is said by Toni Cassirer, Ernst’s wife, that he read for a period of more than fifty years, Goethe on every single day. While Martin Heidegger dreamed of a revolution, of destruction and the change of a mindset, Cassirer warned intensely of the new political myths entering the political and cultural sphere of the young, German democracy. The central question of this historical gathering was: „What is it to be a human being?“ The question was not new at all, but the two philosophers transformed the question into two juxtaposed poles. And it is indeed, a late debate about the Kantian tradition of thought . And the Kantian questions about „what truths are possible“ became a debate at Davos, where Cassirer put it to Heidegger “How are … judgments that are not simply finite in their content, but that are necessarily universal” possible? “How does this finite creature come to a determination of objects that as such are not bound to finitude?” The sphere where those questions were asked were not of Alpine idyll and the Prussian state Kant had hoped for, was diminished in the bloody fields of the First World War. In opposite it was the former Maths teacher Oswald  Spengler, who developed in his two-volume strong book „The Decline of the West“ a phantasy of banalities and willful interpretation of history to prove delusion and decline. Indeed, he was very successful and not only Maths teacher but noble spinsters and ghoulish priests praised his book. But not only the devastation of the war has changed the hearts and minds but a new topic was to be found among the intellectuals if the time, its name was evolutionary biology but more often and more successful it was used as ordinary racism. Under this threat, Cassirer’s philosophical conceptualizations was dedicated to documenting the unfolding a certain attitude across all epochs and changes of history and domains of thoughtmyth, religion, philosophy, art, poetry, mathematics where his main points of interest. His quite lapidary answer to the question “what is man” was this: man is “capable of form.”  The political myth as a dangerous sphere of political thought since Cesare Borgia, he wanted to overcome via “ culture“ as part of his conceptualization of symbolism too.Whereas Heidegger saw man as the “lieutenant of the nothing.” Shortly after the Davos gathering Heidegger wrote „“We are so finite that we cannot even bring ourselves originally before the nothing through our own decision and will…. Our most proper and deepest finitude refuses to yield to our freedom.“ In his reading of Kant, Heidegger does not yet abandon Kant fully, but claimed that it was his reading of Kant, which shows what Kant truly wanted to say. Whereas Cassirer tried to show that Kant’s thinking and writing clashed with Heidegger’s readings and interpretation. And it is the certain momentum where Heidegger leaves the cultural and philosophical tradition, where he leaves the argument and goes for violence: In order to wring from what the words say, what it is they want to say, every interpretation must necessarily use violence.” He finishes his lecture with the announcement that it will be violence,  and violence alone, which destroys the Western hemisphere and its cultural values. Obviously a world, where maths teacher are the betters authors and philosopher’s become head of a university, because violence leaves all the dreams behind. But in the end, everything was destroyed, Ernst Cassirer left Germany soon for England, Sweden and the US, Heidegger became one of the many men and women who played with violence till the violence played back, Davos is no longer a cultural sphere but one of the many Alpine holiday resorts. But till today, some people still remember Emmanuel Lévinas, who dressed up as Ernst Cassirer, with white dyed hair, wandered through the streets of Davos, screaming: „Culture, Culture, Culture.“. This might be a long missing chapter in the well-known book of the adventurous Don Quijote and his companion Sancho Pansa.

 

 

 

Once differently

Sometimes, late at my desk, looking at my own blurry shadow in the window- front, I wish I could be someone else. In a different town, in a far away country I could live and it maybe would be the same town where I was born, I would know all streets and alleys and when I walked through this little town, everyone would greet me and I would nod back. On Sundays, I would take the children out for a walk in the woods and once a year, we would invite all the neighbors for a feast. But maybe I could be someone with a real talent, producing exciting pictures, wandering myself through galleries full with my own paintings or would be an actress, appearing on a stage night for night. I could marry someone and somewhere we would live, not happy, not unhappy day after day. A big career would be another option and I would wait on the doorstep every morning till a big, black car would collect me for work, the door would be opened for me, no one ever would see my face behind black glasses. Someone totally different I could be singing a child to sleep or sing a song in a bar for a man. Woman I could love and making more love. I could create something, which would grew older than me and remain for longer days than mine. Another country I could choose and start to dream after many years in other words, the language I speak I could forget and wake up in another world. But many things are easy to imagine and maybe the other life would suit me well or even better, but even if all this would happen, someday I would dream of leaving the town, the women and all my paintings, and so I return to my desk, where no dreams, no glittering glamour, no sparkling moments and no other possibilities are to be found than my usual work.

Forever

K. and B. were never just friends. They were best friends. They were best friends with an f for forever. They always came to school together, they never left the school alone. They both were the undisputed queens in the class. Their friendship was bearding a resemblance to the relation between owner and dog, often it was not quite sure if you could hear B. speak or K. telling a story because their voices were hardly to distinguish, their hair were dressed identically and even if they did not wear the same clothes, which was most often the case, the colors chosen always harmonized with each other. They decided who was allowed in their circles, of course I never was and whenever you saw them, they giggled with each other, caressing each other’s hand. B. and K. were the byword for friendship with f- meaning forever. The boys they chose were similar too, similar looking and always abandoned in the very same time. In this way and manner, many years of endless school-days passed by. And for many years I looked at the backs of K. and B. closely leaning together. But one day, close to the approaching and long-expected summer holidays, there was a deep and cold silence in the room, when I entered the class. On the first glance, things looked pretty normal. The same old shabby room, the same old worn-out brown chairs, the dust of chalk spreading all over, the heat of the day, already flickering outside in the morning light but in the second row, close to the standing post of the teacher, always covered with a faded cloth, a seat remained empty. Only B. sat there, while K. was missing. Of course everyone among us noticed this fact immediately, but many more minutes passed, till someone dared to ask if and that was what everybody expected, happened to K. We all expected with that she might have fallen ill, ate something wrong or woke up with an urgent ache in a tooth. But to our surprise, B. without turning a hair, shrugged her shoulders and pretended not to know a thing. And we understood that something must have happen close to an apocalyptic scenario and that the era of the f- for forever had come to an end. A few days later, K. came back to school, entering the room, without taking notice of B. and vice versa, smiling coldly at the rest of us, but the temperature immediately fell down many degrees , even if the heat outside grew and grew during the day. Many weeks later, we learned that both K. and B. fell in love with the same boy at the same time, not telling each other of this sudden emotional upheaval, both pretending that they did not even noticed the guy so far, but both at the same time, approached the sister of D. the object of their desire, telling her atrocities committed by B. or black spots on the white vest of K. to enlighten their beauty and elegance to open D.’s heart. They denounced themselves in a strictly confidential way, but the sister did not remain silent, telling a friend’s friend the story of B. and K. and then the story easily found the ears of B. and traveled further to the eyes of K. The outcome of the affair still remains in the shadows of the past. Some people told that B. this giggling beauty pulled K.’s hair so strongly that she did not stop screaming for two days, whereas other voices where to be heard, reporting that K. the smiling angel, ripped off a necklace from B.’s well-formed neck. But no one can tell the truth for sure. At the end of summer, K. did not return to school, I stopped going to school soon afterwards, spending most of my days reading somewhere else. Many years later I met K. on an airport, but when asking her if she ever heard of B. she just smiled coldly, abruptly turning her face away, B. has 1075 Facebook friends but K.’s name is not to be found among them. D. married a few years ago. It’s a happy marriage, someone told me, a marriage that will last forever, someone else assumed.