The German Lesson

My wife, Iris became quite ill last Thursday morning. Unfortunately she has a chronic condition exasperated by the loss of a portion of her lymph nodes and is prone to infection at times. We quickly drove to a clinic in Dresden where she was admitted fir five days, and was administered intravenous anti biotic for that time. Thankfully she is progressing nicely at this point after a scary initial acute reaction.
I spent the time finding my way around Dresden with the car, not such an easy thing to do in such an old city. My wife uses the navigator but I am not so inclined. I have spent a good deal of my life traveling without one and am aware of the way one comes to know a new city or place in an intimate way for oneself, making mistakes and going in the wrong direction  here and there. You never really get to that point of knowing intimately with the use of a navigator. The connections and points of linking are not developed. There always remains a dependency on the navigator.
Iris has been reading Herta Muller the Nobel award-winning novelist who wrote about totalitarian states and their effects on the people who live in them. And it has initiated another of many discussions we have had about the German conditioning and how easy it is for a thinking process, not grounded in a sense of presence, to in turn essentially insulate people from the essence of their being human. Here in Germany after the national socialist obsession ended in 1945  there was no public discourse in the east as there was in the west. I would even go so far as to say that it  would be  beneficial for continued discussion even in the west but there is at times some reluctance for this to occur in Germany. There is something in the German culture that prefers a navigator  whether it is a charismatic leader or a system of thinking. In the end there is a consequence for living out of that need in that individuals might not be so inclined to look to a deeper knowing. That is that in following an unexamined conditioning, both individually and collectively, there becomes the potential for a reliance  on a fragmented and superficial understanding of the way to live life, that in the end can lead to a sense of alienation from a more  authentic connection to the self and to life. There may be very relevant reasons for this tendency in modern life and it is probably something of a sort that has occurred in most cultures, perhaps them all, but at the same time the German culture is unique in its ways and in what and how it  has occurred. Sigfried Lenz wrote the German Lesson addressing this phenomenon in his way as have many other German writers such as Stefan Zweig, and Hans Fallada in his way of writing.

Germany a country of eighty million people has benefited greatly in a material world from the embracing of what is particularly considered German values, ways and ideals. As a nation goes it is seen to be at the top of the world in terms of industrial and technological development as well as in excellence and efficiency of machinery, products and material goods. They have cultivated and refined their country, work force and as well their impression and pursuit of  how the individual self should be with a mechanical efficiency,  like most no other country and culture has. But is there something that is lost in that mechanical way, refinement and cultivation; something of what is, that is unseen yet essential to our humanity. I suspect so?

Does it have to be so?  I don’t think so. With an awareness grounded in presence something much more vast and fundamental is realised about how the fragments fit into the whole  and how everything is interconnected and necessary to the other.

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