Saying Good-Bye – again — This had been the title of a recent posting. And indeed, there is some deep truth in the formulation John used when he wrote the other day in his really nice mail

as you sadly report, your uprooting and once more wandering, as of course scholars and refugees have done for centuries.

It is about sadness, and it is about this close link between scholars and refugees. And there is also much reflection in the words with which he continues, wishing that I find

an academic refuge, a medieval monastery in which to pursue scholarship and teaching as you would like to do.

Not that I may finally reach the state of a monk, defined as

a member of a religious community of men typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

May be it is poverty that awaits me; chastity is not really something to talk about here – there enough other miseries to report on and there are enough wrong choices in life that one doesn’t have to go with all of them – and finally it is hopefully about ongoing disobedience as it had been such disobedience, some independence that told me that it is Time to Say Good-Bye.

From various feedbacks I learned a bit about my life: I thought I would have been more or less outgoing, vocal and I admittedly missed the affects of it. People not reacting, not listening … – and now learning that part of my life  can be apparently seen as “background noise”. Those who read Niklas Luhmann’s later work will probably  remember … – And being background noise may be as much a praise of a life as I read from a colleague who felt very pleased when he saw his name mentioned somewhere in footnote of a famous writer. Yes, there are always the two sides. The one is the bright fire, dominant and victorious and showing the way …, the other is the small flame, flickering in the background, not much seen but somewhat indispensable when the clear light fades away, turns to be a dazzling instrument: blinding and misguiding.

Nani gigantum humeris insidentes

– Indeed, there is always the gnome standing on the shoulders of the giant, thus claiming to be able to see further as there is the giant walking across the path of the ant, “shouting justice for all” and  guillotining with every step so many of those on which he actually depends. Two sides – at least as long as we live in a society that is characterised by antagonisms they will be and they cannot really be harmonised.

There are also always two sides of Saying Good-Bye: the leaving of “places” and the arriving in “places”. Exciting undertakings. And perhaps all of them, if written down in a very subjective manner, are also allowing others to participate, better even: to make their own experience, to gain new perspectives in and for their life and living.

I tried the writing – impressions from roaming to and through different parts of the world. Kerstin Walsh, a former student and a present friend, contributed some lovely drawings (studying social policy doesn’t necessarily spoil life and the sense for its beauties) and to be honest: all of the people I met during this time, for short moments or for longer spells, played their specific roles – background noises, giants …, small flames and blazing fires ….

Again and again arrivals – Hellos!!!!

You may be interested in ordering

Peter Herrmann: Diary from a Journey into another World

Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments

You can find an extract here in the Rozenberg Quarterly

PS: I am currently working on a larger piece together with Kerstin. Last week she agreed to join the work I am just starting – hopefully together with Susann Staats co-writer) and Tobias Ruhnke (music). It is a children’s operar about a pink elephant ….


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