Talking to a friend inTurkey – she was just helping her son to settle in Denmark, reading Heisenberg, what he wrote about a talk to Max Planck, being still somewhat confused by the question if there is beauty as such (I ventilated this in the Berlin Diaries) and “being on the move” again, I stumbled upon a passage in Sigfried Lenz’ “The German lesson” … – are we stuck in a non-learning curve? I will return to this but here first the quote:

Well, then, I’ll tell you why I’m on the island. Because no one dares to send the Rugbüll police station for a detox; he can stay addict, remaining  damn duty-addicted. And I’m here because he reached a certain age and age is indispensable to reeducated. Yes, I am here on his behalf, if you ask me. But maybe it will work out: maybe one day he can take over from me the progress I am making here. That is to be hoped for. But that is all there is to hope for. I cannot believe it. (translation P.H.)

Here the original, from page 554:

Na gut, dann werde ich Ihnen sagen, warum ich auf der Insel bin. Weil keiner sich traut, dem Polizeiposten Rugbüll eine Entziehungskur zu verordnen; der darf süchtig bleiben und süchtig seine verdammte Pflicht tun. Und ich bin hier, weil er ein bestimmtes Alter erreicht hat und als Alter unabkömmlich ist, um sich noch einmal umtrimmen zu lassen. Ja, ich bin stellvertretend für ihn hier, wenn Sie mich fragen. Aber vielleicht gelingt’s ja: vielleicht kann er die Fortschritte, die ich hier mache, eines Tages von mir übernehmen. Das ist zu hoffen. Aber das ist auch alles, was zu hoffen ist. Glauben kann ich es nicht.

Admittedly, it is a rather weird thought suggesting that, indeed history is not repeating itself, but actually it moved with modernity into a Procrustean bed. At least, as much as learning is about asking, (see comment on an earlier post: it has to be allowed to table some questions …, they will follow here soon.


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