Again

An old jewish proverb says that someone who reads a book, can not cry. But on some days, neither a book nor an old jewish saying helps. Today is one of those.

As an exception in German- Martha

Vierzehn Jahre alt war ich und es ist als sei es gestern gewesen. Es waren die billigsten Karten. Stehplätze. Ich stand mit dem Rücken zur Wand und eigentlich sah ich sie nicht. Das Erste was ich von ihr sah war ihre Hand, die über ihren Kopf hinaus zeigte bevor sie vorsichtig und fest zugleich zurück auf den Flügel fand. Beethoven’s Drittes Klavierkonzert. Sofort gehört, vor ihr und selbst so stümperhaft gespielt. Dann kam ihre Hand und alles wurde anders. Mit dem Rücken an die Wand gelehnt stand ich damals, und ich weiß es noch als sei es gestern gewesen, höre noch immer die Harmlosigkeit des Orchesters, der alte, wohlbekannte Klang, Beethoven, meine erste musikalische Heimat. Nicht Bach, nein Beethoven war es, der für mich Musik wurde. Dann ihre Hand und schon nach den ersten verhaltenen Minuten des Stücks, war alles ganz anders, im Lauf ihrer Hand.  Bald schon musste ich die Augen schließen, und presste den Rücken fest an die Wand. anders war dieser Klang, waren diese Hände auf dem Klavier nicht auszuhalten. Die Schärfe die in der Luft lag, die nichts Harmloses hatte, sondern eine glänzende Kühle, wie die Spitze eines scharfen Messers, in uns fuhr. Uns hinein in die Knochen und weit, weit hinein unter die Haut, bis sie sich auflöste in alle Töne, bis über den Klang hinaus. Das dachte ich damals und denke es heute wieder, wo ich nicht an der Wand stehe, sondern sitze, das ist doch keine Musik, das ist doch kein Klavierkonzert, das sind doch keine Töne, das ist doch kein in Musik verwandeltes Notenpapier, dieses unter-die Haut-fahren und aus dem Sog gibt es kein Herausfinden mehr . Schumann spielen ihre Hände und wieder, werden mir die Knie so weich und ich muss die Augen schließen, vor diesen Händen auf diesem Klavier. Das ist doch keine Musik dachte ich damals und wieder müssen sich meine Hände an den Knien festhalten, so bricht erst ,mit Schumann und dann mit Debussy der Boden unter dieser Musik, unter diesen Händen hinweg. Schumann, der doch der ewige Träumer war, ist hier geradeheraus, und keineswegs harmlos, kein Filou, im Vorübergehen, sondern ein Geliebter der alles, alles will und es in ihren Händen findet.Und auch Debussy, ist kein leichter Faun, sondern unter ihren Händen erzittert seine Welt, und wieder muss man die Augen schließen vor dieser Intensität. Dass das Musik darf, dass das Musik sein soll, dass das Musik ist, konnte ich damals gegen die Wand gelehnt nicht fassen und bis heute ist diese Erschütterung, die in ihren Händen liegt in mir geblieben. Keiner, der vielen Pianisten, die ich hörte zwischen der Wand und dem gestrigen Abend, mögen sie so brilliant wie technisch versiert sein, haben mich so ergriffen, so erschüttert, so erregt wie sie und ihre Hände. Seit damals, immer wieder und es ist die Schonungslosigkeit ihrer Hände, der ich seit jenem ersten Mal nicht mehr entkommen bin. Das muss Musik sein, dachte ich damals und zum Glück lehnte ich gegen die Wand, bevor ihre Hand erneut die Töne anschlug.

Martha Argerich, 26. März 2016, Berliner Philharmonie

 

 

 

 

St. Sylvester

Getting up early is crucial. So I get up when the dark still lingers around the corner. But I know better: if you want to get away on the 17th you have to be early. I feed the cat and put on the heavy boots. These boots are made for walking. Yes, they are. The door shuts quietly behind me. Shush. The village is sound asleep. I turn right and face to my left the church St. Sylvester. I quickly pass the grocer’s wife shop and cross a smaller street, turn left and soon I am at the seafront. Above my head the sun rises, being all glitter and gold. From the distance of the shore the village looks even smaller than it is. It is not quite sure if the vast, open sea makes the village shrink or the towers of the church, St. Sylvester. Soon the buses full of tourists who booked a tour for St. Patrick’s Day will arrive, first roaming around the village before they are driven into Dublin to get drunk, as it is a tradition for this day of the year. I am not too fond of their presence. They leave the beer cans they emptied on the bus in my frontyard and think it funny to throw their cigarette butts into all our letterboxes. Happy St. Paddy’s day or so. They don’t care about the village, they hastily wolf down their breakfast and don’t look up to the silent towers of St. Sylvester. They click their photos and miss the point but that doesn’t matter for the people in Italy, France or Spain, who receive a message and look at my front- door probably wondering why a door should be the image conveyed of rural Ireland by their children. But I am long gone. I already went past the willow and nodded hello to the sheep. The sheep look back subtle and silent and not much disturbed. Crisp is the morning, silent and cold. But the rising sun, promises warmth and the spring can not be far away. I carefully swing my feet over an iron gate and wander along a narrow path that leads up to the former house of the former earl. The earl died a couple of years ago, said the grocer’s wife, who knows such things. Sometimes tourists are asking how to get to the castle and the park. But the villagers just shrug their shoulders. Even the grocer’s wife, who can’t keep a secret at all, makes a face and says: “Don’t know what you are talking about.” It took me half a year, when finally the grocer himself told me the way to the castle. It is not only a narrow path that leads up there, but a complicated one, with many corners to miss and soon you find yourself at a dead-end. “Always watch out for the cross at the top of St. Sylvester” said the grocer back then. But twice I lost sight of the church and didn’t find the castle nor the park. But maybe the castle decides who is allowed in and who not, what does one know about such things? The grocer’s wife said: The old earl was a sweet man, g*d bless him. A shame that he had no wife to look after him. Died of sadness, said the grocer’s wife and sighed deeply. The castle is silently sleeping but the lawn in front of it is wide awake. A sea of daffodils spreads out as far as your eye reaches. Here a blackbird wanders through the grass and there a seagull bathes in the sun. The old yew trees are humming their old song and the sun is all glitter and gold. I sit there and close my eyes. I think of the old earl sitting behind the windows, maybe patting an old greyhound or a black cat. Maybe not that unhappy at all as the grocer’s wife thought him to be, just carefully hiding before the eyes of the world. I walk around the park for a good while and before I get back to the village I search for the upmost top of St. Sylvester, the guide back to the world. When arriving at the main street of the village, the tourists are queuing up in front of the busses and the grocer’s wife calls out to me, : “I saved you some Scones.” When walking further down the road, I pass the open church door’s: the priest is preparing the church for a concert and carefully adjusts a blue banner: LENT is written on it in white letters. Hiya, I say and half an hour later we sit in my garden, with tea and the scones, the big black garbage bags to be filled with the visitor’s leftover’s in a minute, facing directly, because the church and my house share a long stone wall, the tower of St. Sylvester, silent and staunch and high above us mortals.

Answering machine

Sometimes when asked what I am doing all day long, the answer is quite simple. I am an answering machine. I answer emails all day long. It is rather strange though, all the questions I am getting asked I answered already in class. But I can answer them again and again; another email is just five minutes away. The questions are all somehow banal: When are the essays due? A question I answered maybe a trillion times. Nevertheless the next email addressing this topic will probably arrive while I am typing this. Then there is an endless stream of banalities wrapped in question marks: they include lengthy and always boring explanations why the student couldn’t do a certain assignment and or didn’t show up for class. I am tired of reading about fake dead- grandmother’s, fake-ill pets and fake diseases. I couldn’t care less. I always wonder why people make such an effort to state such a banal fact: They don’t care, so they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. I got that, right. Why do I have to bother now and write politely to pay respect to non-existent grand-mothers, to wish the best for diseases that have never existed or to contemplate about the fate of a non-existent pet. I am really not interested in those stories, especially because they are not well written nor do they have any plot. Sometimes I wonder, all these students grew up with the internet, didn’t they? But the email’s you see do not reflect what you would imagine under a Digital Native. Rarely their writing follows any rules or standards, abbreviations are the rule and not the exception and I find it harder and harder to even conquer a salutation. Hi is already a great devotion of time and effort, while no one ever bothered to begin with “ Dear Read On.” What a waste of time and letters. But last week something very curious happened. A student, I already forgot the excuse – wasn’t able to hand in his assignment. Sure I said, send it to me. The result: I got an empty email, with the text attached. If being a digital native means that you don’t need any manners at all, well that certainly is a new level of existence. Maybe it has nothing to do with digital native or not at all, maybe it is just a perception of a reality where all other’s are just service provider’s available 24/7, needed just to served a certain- your-purpose. When I started teaching in an university I thought people would write email’s looking for book recommendations or to discuss Foucault’s sweater’s. But I could not have been more wrong. These email’s however, have  never arrived.

But I can still consider myself happy. Friend A. who teaches at a university in the US, once dared not to answer an email sent to her on Friday evening till Sunday morning. When trying to explain to the student, who was complaining bitterly that she keeps Shabbat, she was asked and without any hint of consciousness or irony: When will you convert?” We were both laughing back then. But it might have been to not admit the sadness that inevitably comes along with all those emails we answer day after day and all day long.

12 of 12, Ireland edition

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I caught a terrible cold. So that’s for breakfast.

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This cup is with me since forever. I don’t even know who I got it from. But it still makes me smile everyday. For more poetry!

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Sprouts&Co is very much a hip place and I am one of the most non-hip persons you might be able to imagine. i just don’t fit into the concept. And I hate Matcha Latte the new most-must have item in Dublin. But the falafel wrap is quite delicious, and it has no celery in it, which for Irish standards is a revolution by itself.

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For half an hour the suns comes out and even in the office everything brightens up. Spring. We need spring. Now.

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I meet J. for a coffee at Kaph. Another very hip place, but they make great coffee and meeting J. is always such a pleasure. We talk about the past elections,which might soon turn out to be the future elections, the Irish health care system, the new novel of Howard Jacobsen and a painting we both saw at the Prado a couple of years ago. If you ever wondered what women talking about: here you go.

 

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The whole memory she-bang has started. It doesn’t seem to end soon.

 

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Daffodils. I am in love.

 

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I am a big fan of Vendela Vida. The Believer  one of the best magazines I ever encountered and especially the first half of this novel is just mesmerizing. A brilliant, brilliant author. IMG_4097

On my way home. I live a good 1, 5 hours away from the city centre. Right in the middle of the countryside. I don’t like commuting at all, but I neither would like to live in Dublin so either and I grew fond of the village right in the middle of nowhere.

 

 

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That’s one reason why.

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Finally back home.

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Next to Snicker’s bars, my greatest and very guilty pleasure is „Turkish Delight“, a shower cream. It reminds me of the smell of my childhood when the women combed their hair with heavily perfumed oils and the smell lingered in the rooms for a long time after they were gone. A strange sense of longing and belonging. Unreachable and at the same time, strangely reproduced by LUSH.

Well, that’s  another day gone. A strange task to avoid intimacy while sharing pictures.

More days in pictures you will find here: Draußen nur Kännchen.

Cold. So cold. So very, very cold.

In a room there sits a woman. The room is spacious and were there more light in Ireland than there is, it would be quite bright. Inside the room it is warm, not to say it is boiling hot. The books are sweating, the papers piled up high on the woman’s desk seem to breath  heavily and even the paper clips seem to melt away in a minute. The pencils look horrified and whisper something of: complaint at the High Court for Pencil Rights otherwise we will die of heat. When the woman looks at them, they fall silent and pretend that there is nothing wrong at all. The woman at her desk however does not sweat. The woman shivers. She is ice-cold. The grey- rosa scarf doesn’t seem to help. The woman shivers stronger. There is a big cup standing next to woman filled with boiling hot peppermint tea. But the woman can not stop her teeth from rattling. But the woman keeps on shivering. If you would look under her desk, you could see that the woman wears thick dark green woolen tights over her thick woolen dress. Looking even closer you could see that the woman wears thick grey woolen socks within her Timberland boots. ( of course it is not too nice to look under a woman’s desk to inspect the state of her legs and feet.) But not even the socks stop the woman from shivering. She feels as if she would hold her feet into a pond of ice-water. The woman at her desk is freezing as if she never would feel warm in her life again. For five minutes or so, the woman closed her eyes. She imagined many, many sheep climbing up the stairs and walking into her office, surrounding her and keeping her covered in a sea of warm and thick wool, where she could forget the cold and float away warm and comfortable and sheltered in the midst of the sheep.But the the telephone rings and the cold, which never left is back.

Surviving as a non-Pork eater in Ireland (VII)

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I don’t know. I really don’t know. When the sweet canteen lady handed this dish over to me I looked at the thing in front of me and for a moment I was lost for words. A brick with wet concrete before a last yellow leaf descended on it would make a good capture for an art exhibition in the Meatpacking district in New York, but for a dish it is rather depressing. But maybe the cook had failed selling his artworks to wealthy patrons and now strikes back? In the dull reality of my life however, it is Thursday afternoon and the thing in front of me on the plate is called a „Vegetable Enchilada.“ Who would have guessed that?  It tasted exactly like it looks: ghastly. Nevertheless for the order of things: the vegetables discovered were: onions ( plenty ), celery ( there is no dish without celery in this country ), shreds of red and green peppers, spinach ( this is at least what I think the half-brown-half dark green leaves I found were and last but not least carrots ( spring is coming ). The brick itself was covered in industrial cheese and unsalted or otherwise seasoned tomato sauce,which made things rather worse than better. But probably there is a day in life when one eats a yellowish coloured brick and definitely isn’t in an exciting exhibition but in a rather sober canteen.

What? Vegetable Enchilada

Where? The Buttery, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

How much? 4 Euro

Survived? Luck always favors the brave.