February 2, 2011
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Today a squat is being cleared in my neighborhood, Liebigstrasse 14. It’s a house project that’s existed for 20 years and were the occupants, through negotiations with the Berlin senate, got legal tenancy agreements in the early 90s. But then, in the late 90s, big money came in and wanted to buy the house from the WBF (Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft Friedrichshain ≈ Friedrichshain Housing Association), who was the current owner. And as we all know, money talks and the house was sold. The only problem was that the people who were actually living there wasn’t he target group the new owner was looking for. He was looking to make a profit, and with his current tenants that was not very likely to happen. So their leases were cancelled. They however, had no intention of moving anywhere. As far as they were concerned it was still their house. A house they had lived in for 20 years and renovated themselves. After going through the usual rounds in the legal system the eviction was confirmed and the current tenants where to be kicked out. By force if necessary. And of course force was necessary. Read more of this post
February 1, 2011
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There’s about 8 of us. A motley crew of unemployed academics shuffled together in a room to participate in a course on how to successfully apply for jobs. We are here to find the way out of unemployment and get our lives back on track as it were. Today we will be taught how to get through the job interview.
“So why did you study philosophy?” she asks me.
“Because I thought it was interesting.” Not the most elaborate answer, I know, but it’s the short version of the truth.
She smiles a condoning smile: “Yes, that’s the way it is when you’re young and don’t know about the labour market.”
And for a second I feel stupid. Clueless. Because in a way this career consultant woman is right, studying philosophy is not a very smart career move. But then logic and reason return and I realize that what she just said is actually a perfect testimony to everything that’s wrong with our famous western civilization. It’s all about making yourself attractive on the job market. To get ahead of the competition. Adapt to what the almighty Market wants. The greed game. Consumerism. All bottled up in that one remark. Studying philosophy, yes the follies of youth… Read more of this post
January 28, 2011
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I don’t like prejudices. I know have plenty of my own, but I do my best to challenge them. And I am not saying that just because it’s the politically correct thing to say, I actually mean it. Because I really hate prejudices. And the reason is very simple: plenty have been expressed about me. Based on my gender, nationality, hair color, breast size, tattoos, piercings, opinions, lifestyle choices etc, etc ad infinitum. And I hate it. And don’t care that much what people think about me, but never the less I would very much like it if their opinions were based on me and not the things they associate with certain attributes I have. Because that limits my possibilities. Or rather, I don’t get the possibilities I would get if the things people thought about me were actually a true reflection of my person. Essentially it’s all about accuracy. That’s the problem with prejudices, they are seriously lacking in accuracy. And that annoys the hell out of me.
Most people would probably agree, I hope, that prejudices are a bad thing and that you should strive to challenge them. Like I said it’s the politically correct thing to do, but there seems to be an exception from this idea when it comes to the Romani. When it comes to this group of people it all of a sudden seems ok to state complete an utter bullshit that’s based on nothing but ignorant, racist, prejudice. I may be wrong, but I don’t really recall that type of opinions being aired quite that openly just 15 years ago. Sure racism aired it’s ugly face from time to time, but I don’t really recall it being that frequent. Or was I just too blind to notice? I’m really not sure. But I have been discussing this so many times in the past few months that I feel a serious need to put it all into writing. That way I can just refer people to here when the topic comes up again. Yeah, maybe I am lazy, but I am just so sick of having the same conversation over and over again. Sure I will still say “yes, I think you are a fucking racist for thinking that all Romani are thieves”, but at least I can spare myself the remaining hours of trying to explain why I say that. But I will still say “you’re a fucking racist”. Naturally I’m really sick of having to say that all the time too, but at least it’s short and efficient. Read more of this post
January 20, 2011
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I’m at that point in my life when people expect you to have a plan, or actually that you had a plan and that you’re pretty much there now, at the goal or at least closing in on it. As in done with your education and a few steps on in your career. And that you’ve started the obligatory family. Well, I’m done with my education but I don’t have a degree, I have just abandoned my second so-called career and I’m divorced. So I pretty much fail on all points. And yet, I don’t feel like a failure. I actually feel fine. Of course there are things I want to change in my life, there always is, but over all I’m confident that I’m indeed on the right track. To some people that statement is pretty much a declaration of my insanity, but I’m fine with that too. I accept that they have a different understanding of life than I do. I actually do have goals, but mine are a bit more vague. They don’t include a well payed job, a house, two cars, two kids and a flat screen TV. None of those things interest me. None. Not even the well payed job. I actually don’t want to be rich. Of course I don’t want to be poor, being poor sucks and I’ve had plenty of experience in that area, but all I really want is to have enough money to not have to worry about having a roof over my head and food on the table. That’s it. A place to stay and food for the day. No cars, no TV and no kids. I have been informed that this is not a socially acceptable approach to society. More than once. People often look at me with a twinge of pity in their eyes when I say this. Kind of like the way you look at the village idiot. “That poor fool.” Read more of this post
December 30, 2010
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I suppose you’ve all noticed that it was christmas. It’s pretty impossible to avoid. But this year I almost managed. Or rather, it didn’t really occur to me on a conscious level that it was actually christmas. On christmas eve I found myself sitting on the tram and wondering what was up with all these dressed up people and their bags full of stuff and it took me a while to figure out that they were all on their way to some form of christmas celebration. I wasn’t. It’s been over fifteen years since I last celebrated christmas. I never liked christmas, not even as a child, and I don’t believe in jesus, so it was a very easy decision to make. My parents also took it surprisingly well. Which could have had something to do with how passionate I was about my position. Back then I really hated christmas. I still do, but not quite as passionate. I mean I still loathe the consumerism, the cultural imperialism aspects, the superficial happiness and general tackiness of it all, but I’ve become a lot more indifferent to the phenomenon of christmas over the years. What used to be burning hatred has turned into lukewarm despise. It’s like it doesn’t really concern me anymore. Christmas is something that happens to other people, not me.
I suppose this change in attitude is most likely the years of boycotting finally starting to show result. And I guess that’s also why I was actually able to completely forget that it was christmas eve. I just don’t register christmas anymore. Of course I notice the decorations appearing everywhere and the displays in the stores and all that and thus I do realize that christmas in coming up at some point, but that’s it. When people talk about all the shopping they have left I always need a second or two before I compute. “Oh, they are talking about christmas presents!” Because in my world that concept has pretty much stopped existing. Read more of this post
November 17, 2010
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For the past two weeks I have been participating, involuntarily, in a course about how to apply for jobs. I already know how to apply for a job, so that part of the course is a complete waste of time, but I am getting loads of insights to the wonder that is the human psyche. Just now I had following conversation down in the lobby by the elevators:
“Hi I’m the janitor. Where are you going?”
“To the 4th floor.”
“Are you a participant in the course?”
“Then you have to take the stairs.”
“Because that’s the way it is. It’s the rule. Says so on the sign there.”
I looked at him in disbelief and then I looked at the completely deserted lobby. There was really no one else around. The course is taking place in a high-rise building with a multitude of activities happening on the various floors. Office space, a kindergarten, various school type activities etc, so there are times when the elevators are very busy. At those times it does of course make sense to have a rule that says that the people higher up in the building, or the parents with their kids, have right of way to the elevator. But at this particular time the lobby was deserted. No one in sight. But the janitor was still sticking to his point – I should take the stairs. He even went as far as to say that he wanted to see me do that. I contemplated telling him that wouldn’t really be possible since he was actually standing in the elevator as we were having this conversation and the stairs are located in a separate entrance, but then I decided against it seeing as the likelihood of it being a very fruitful discussion was virtually zero. I waited him out and then took the elevator. Read more of this post
November 5, 2010
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“Oh, please don’t make me despise you.” I find myself thinking that more often than I would like. About men I thought I liked. Men I though were cool. Men where I saw friendship potential.
“Oh, please don’t make me despise you.” But he does. They almost always do. Why is that? You see an advance coming, you decline in a nice and polite way. A respectful way, a way that let’s them save face. You give them a really nice,hassle free exit, but they don’t take it. Why is that? I just don’t get it. Why do nice, sensible, intelligent, socially capable, intellectual men turn into irrational, despicable troglodytes? How does that happen? I really don’t get it. Men who are able to make intelligent and rational decisions and who are capable of highly sophisticated argumentation and analysis all of a sudden lose all capability of critical thinking and reason. How is that even possible? Or rather: how can you be so nice and still be an asshole? Read more of this post
October 18, 2010
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Some moments in life are weirder than others. Moments that just seem overloaded with symbolism and meaning, stand out like technicolor in a black and white movie. Scenes that just get etched into your retina. Like little clips you can play in your head again and again until you’re almost not sure if they are true, if it really happened like that, because it all just seems so surreal. Almost. Because reality is always stranger than fiction. And a lot more cliché.
I had a moment like that. Years ago. And that moment has been haunting me from time to time ever since. A moment so surreal that it really felt like being in a movie. A moment that had me looking for hidden cameras. At the time I was having a ridiculously complicated affair with this guy, a musician. And we’re sitting on a bench, in Paris of all places, talking about what to do with the mess that is our affair. Read more of this post
September 12, 2010
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Last night on my way home I ran into an old “acquaintance”. I hadn’t seen him since new years and I haven’t seem him in daylight since last summer. It was a very brief encounter on the U-Bahn platform and not much was said. But the one thing that struck me was that he had aged. He looked older. I could see that one year that had passed. It was nothing dramatic, just a few more lines here and there, but still a testimony to the passing of time.
It’s happening to me a lot these days. I run into people who I haven’t seen in a while, people my age, and it hits me that they have aged. Noticeably. I can see their age in their faces. Not in a bad way, it’s more like they for the first time actually have an age. Like just started happening. And for some reason that scares me a little. Read more of this post
January 12, 2010
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I know it’s easy to see synchronicities where there actually might not be any, but still. I was making a cup of tea and with this particular tea every teabag comes with some words of supposedly eastern wisdom. And even before I looked I just knew that today’s words of wisdom were going to be a slap in the face. And so it was: “The head has to bow to the heart.” Oh yeah fuck me. Because obviously that’s precisely what I have been obsessing about for the past days – why the heart just can’t seem to get with the program. Why the heart just refuses to listen to any type of logical arguments. And if I was a different person I might have seen this act of universal face slapping as a sign and settled in on the realization that “oh my god it is true” but seeing as I am in fact me, I saw it as an incitement to dig deeper. I almost always do. I just don’t buy it. “The head has to bow to the heart.” Bite me, that’s bullshit. Even the heart has to have a reason and a reason can be found out. A reason can be understood. And there is a reason for everything. The heart is no exception. Those alleged words of wisdom is just another way of saying that you shouldn’t think too much about some things. Read more of this post