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Teutonic order

Emily Dische-Becker about teutonic_order
08.05.14
1 min
Post

Is money freedom?

05.05.14
6 min
Post

Out of all the big, abstract concepts out there, freedom has the most practical, existential implications. Hence the vast array of definitions, debates and controversies that have been attached to it since antiquity. If we add the body of liberal thought to the mix, things become rather unwieldy rather quickly. So, in the interest of simplicity, I propose an alternative definition: in democratic societies, money is freedom. Or more specifically: in the absence of political repression and threats of bodily harm, money is the primary means to self-actualization and personal freedom. Not a very popular thing to say, for sure, and yet everybody knows what I’m talking about. Money reduces dependence and gives us an opportunity to change our life in a positive way: build a business, do something socially meaningful (which usually doesn’t pay well), write a book, make a movie, support a charity, find yourself, find someone else, go fishing, sleep in every day, etc. In contrast, lack of money limits our options to those of subsistence and endangers our ability to reach our full potential. To be clear: this is not to say that money will have an equally salutary effect on everybody who has it, let alone that money makes one a better person. But it gives us the freedom to choose and therefore the freedom of will. There will always be the heroic, stubborn ones who disagree. But scraping by, even when those heroes do the right thing, is a rocky road to happiness and fulfillment. Often, it breeds resentment and frustration instead. In some jurisdictions, like Switzerland and Germany, civil law is based on the legalistic fiction “Geld hat man zu haben”, which more or less translates into the explicit assumption that every citizen has got to have money in order to honor his financial obligations. That is essential for a capitalist economy, the smooth exchange of goods and services and a functioning society. As a result, and in spite of protests to the contrary, money is actually in ample supply. And I’m not talking about Helicopter Ben’s bonanza of floating benjamins here. Even in popular culture, the “Geld hat man zu haben” principle is deeply entrenched wherever you look. Money is either glorified or treated as a given, a non-issue. While the money-centeredness of hip hop, pro sports and Hollywood is brash, in-your-face and has a surreal, almost comical quality, the treatment of money as a non-issue is much more interesting. Think about it: in most TV shows, the main characters are doing pretty well or are at least getting by just fine (all right, “Two Broke Girls” might be an exception in this regard). Charlie Harper in “Two an a Half Men” forever lives off the royalties for jingles he composes God knows when and lives in a swanky villa overlooking Malibu beach. The ladies in “Sex in the City” are all high-flying members of New York’s glitterati. A career in law enforcement looks like a great deal when judging by the living standards displayed in cop series like “Tatort”: inspectors drive classic cars, live in art nouveau apartments and collect single malts. Even the Simpsons live a comfortable suburban existence and the Griffins in “Family Guy” have Carter Pewterschmidt, Lois’ disgruntled billionaire dad, to fall back on. It’s all very middle-class and life’s a breeze. It’s also a reflection of the “Geld hat man zu haben” mantra. But if the fiction is true, then people must also automatically be free. The real world presents a surprising conundrum in this regard, however: societies that value freedom the most have the lowest savings rates globally, while unfree societies tend to save much more. In the US, the average household saves a puny 4% of its income, in Switzerland it’s 13%. The story’s completely different in Asia, where savings rates are anywhere between 20% and 50% but societies are, on average, much less free. It appears that there’s some sort of tradeoff between money and freedom as people compensate for a lack of freedom by building wealth, knowing that it will bring them opportunity. On the flip side, one could ask whether people in western democracies save so little because they take freedom for granted. That’s the main concern with money as freedom: it serves hedonistic rather than socially beneficial purposes. If we’re dead honest, though, we have to accept that as a reality. Freedom to us is not what freedom is to the people of Sudan, North Korea or Venezuela. Freedom to us, above all, is about self-actualization, about being able to do the stuff we desire to do. It’s the “pursuit of Happiness” part in the Declaration of Independence. It’s the infinitely multi-faceted, complicated and messy attempt at reaching personal freedom that Jonathan Franzen describes in his namesake novel. Its characters don’t struggle for survival, they struggle to find their destination in a free world that is full of opportunities, dead ends and contradictions. There’s nothing controversial about that. It’s just a different, more evolved, level of thinking about freedom. If you’re unhappy with your job but can’t quit because you can’t afford to, then you are, face it, unfree. So, yes, money has a lot to do with freedom. It’s no substitute but it’s the currency with which we pay for self-actualization in a society, in which the boxes for “Life” and “Liberty”, to complete the Founding Fathers’ phrase, have already been ticked. There is an unpleasant aftertaste to this because we know from experience that things can go into reverse quite suddenly. But like most other things, freedom is not absolute. Its meaning differs according to time and context. As we move up from the basic needs to the top of Maslow’s pyramid, freedom becomes an increasingly private concern, rather than a public one. It’s a much narrower type of freedom – and it’s one that can in fact be bought, in increments, with hard cash.

Hanne Lippard
People

Hanne Lippard (aka Hannelicious) is a smart young thing from Tronheim / Milton Keynes.

the combo never fails to impress me.

her icy stare and glistening smile give way to a warm yet disciplined voice.

tones of guidance, a map which works, 

w/ cheeky diversions

into spritz back allees

she stares out of Passenger, 

into weekend haze.

comforting come down with hi res latte

humanism belies automation.

zuckerbrot & peitsche.

i met Hanne through Tara

another great friend.

they used to lived together

and a few months later she was sounding my exhibition

with Ancientisms and Beige.

We once mused over

a goth from Milan

who subletted from me

(i kicked him out)

my favourite line from hanne

is

“all for a piece of precious gold, that was found in her anus”

and the swirling chocolate stock footage

Photo by Yeb Wiersma

Ian Warner
People

Ian is a British gentleman living in Berlin, and one of those few people who’d look good wearing a hat; although he never does. He also makes the best English breakfast in the world. And while such great expertise in the art of frying bacon might lead you to think that he does nothing else, a quick research in our shared email history brought up the following: donut pie charts, renderings of futuristic high speed motorcycles, a pancake machine, a rainbow-coloured poodle, and a graphic analysis of modernist rectangles. Ian is a spectator with good eyes for the absurd, someone who will surprise and motivate you with his curiosity and his way of getting involved with what he sees.

Ian Warner is a partner at the design agency State. He is the founder of Slab Magazine, the Heuristic Journal for Gonzo Blurbanism. He is also one half of noise-combo Truant Monks.

Thomas Ackermann is a graphic designer and partner at PBLC in Hamburg.

Waiting feet

Emily Dische-Becker about waiting feet
28.04.14
2 min
Post

Among westerners in the global south, it is common to bemoan the locals’ lack of punctuality, akin to exchanging inane pleasantries about the consistently balmy weather. “Siesta time.” “Egyptian time.” The reverse stereotype – that of northern European punctuality – naturally exists, too, but is less pernicious a means of asserting difference. I once showed up a week late to renew my visa at Lebanon’s General Security. The official there fingered my passport and exclaimed: “But you are German! How can you be late?” When I explained that I had spent every day leading up to the visa’s expiration fretting about it, only to suddenly forget for an entire week, he commiserated and graciously let it slide. It was the summer of 2006 and we had established that we were both supporting Argentina in the World Cup. All was forgiven.

In Germany, where politicians and citizens are purportedly keen for foreigners to integrate into their value system, which naturally includes an appreciation for the sanctity of time, they greet the newly arrived with excruciating and arbitrary waiting periods. The expectation of rebuilding a new life, after a perilous voyage, is instead met with months if not years of dead time. If time is precious, then the first lesson you are taught upon arrival is that yours is less valuable than ours. “Making people wait… delaying without destroying hope is part of the domination,” Bourdieu writes.

The other day, we spent eight hours at the federal office for migration and refugee affairs (BAMF) in Spandau, five of them waiting in the hallway. Scheduled for eight, B.’s asylum hearing began just after noon. When we arrived, the waiting room was already packed, and so the best available position was to find a bit of wall space in the hallway to lean against. People stand, then crouch, then go outside and lose their wall space, then come back in. They shuffle, swing and tap their restless feet. video shortcode not working, usage:
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FailCon, or the cult of failure

23.04.14
7 min
Post

Lately I’ve been watching Huffington Post Live in the evenings while I’m cooking stir fry or folding my laundry. Like watching The Bachelorette or going to art fairs, I think of watching HPL as an anthropological activity, in this case one that belies an awkward homesickness for the vulgarities of American culture. HPL is the media company’s live-streaming web-tv site, an endless string of four- to ten-minute chunks of “the biggest, hottest, and most engaging stories of the moment” – a three-ring circus of inane debates between whoever is on hand and can get sufficiently outraged/”huffed up” at that moment (remember, it’s endless, and it’s LIVE), feel-good stories about dogs and/or Google’s latest charity venture, and interviews with entrepreneurs and tech gurus about apps, apps, apppppppssssss.

(Last week while frying Chinese cabbage I watched a phone-in interview with a lady protester in Ukraine who manages to be hot while political, a Buddhist monk meditating LIVE, a re-stream of a Ted Talk with a (female but old) geneticist who Google just hired for its AIDS-stopping task force, and a black guy tirading against racism in American culture – who, amazingly, was interrupted in the middle of his rant by call-ins from two black women accusing him of sexism. Trump card!)

One of the most feeling-good stories I’ve seen recently was an interview with Sarah Lewis, author of The Gift of Failure. During the interview the breathless segment host(ess) brought in another guest via Google Hangout: Diane Loviglio, the San Francisco producer of FailCon, which is “a conference for startup founders to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success.” At FailCons around the world, famous and/or rich (=successful) people meet up and tell stories about the miserable failures they have endured throughout their lives, which, remarkably, and through sheer will, THEY OVERCAME. These survivors testify the the importance of the “taboo topic” of failure before a rapt audience of soon-to-be-successes, with what I imagine to be uplifting slide shows and not a tinge of self-righteousness, each speaker driven simply by the charitable impulse to inspire others.

If you are looking for evidence of late-stage capitalism’s ability to extract value from every single waking moment (and possibly sleeping moments too), FailCon is pure gold. Can you imagine a more brilliant maneuver for wringing value out of every moment of personal non-productivity than wringing money out of those who haven’t produced enough value yet? FYI, the woman who started FailCon managed to capitalize upon her entire failed life by starting FailCon.

FailCon is the next level self-help book. And by capitalizing upon what it deems to be failure, it clearly demonstrates how failure – by which we mean unproductivity, inability to produce value within the system – is, contrary to the conference’s explicit message, completely unacceptable and incompatible with the logic of the global economy.

Jonathan Crary writes: “when people have nothing further that can be taken from them, whether resources or labor power, they are quite simply disposable.” To be economically non-valuable is to be completely disenfranchised. But, if you are committed to actively contributing to the economy, failure is ok, as long as you can recycle it into a story to inspire others one day. Just like your start-up company recycles old coffee cups and cell phone batteries to produce the surplus value of environmental responsibility as a key priority on your company homepage.

Thought experiment: invite a bunch of migrant workers, disenfranchised immigrants, sex-slaves, and homeless people to a FailCon to inspire them with the message that if they work hard enough and exercise positive thinking every day they will one day achieve the startup dream, just like speaker Geoff Wilson, founder and president of the digital agency 352, which he started unsuccessfully 15 years ago out of a dorm room but was able to get past some “bumps in the road” to eventually, um, almost recoup the million dollars it initially blew. (You guys all have dorm rooms, right?) The lucky audience could even… one day… perhaps… be completely assured they have finally achieved success by being invited to speak at a FailCon! Or better, start a FailCon franchise themselves!

In John Gertner’s recent article about Google X on FastCompany, the awestruck, pandering tone of which makes me feel very uncomfortable, we get a glimpse of the secret behind the world’s most cutting-edge and well-funded think tank. The big secret: FAILURE. One leading team member says: “Why put off failing until tomorrow or next week if you can fail now?” Another tells the writer that he sometimes gives a hug to people who admit mistakes or defeat in group meetings. Gertner goes so far as to call the organization “a cult of failure.”

The cult at Google X, like the fetishizers over at FailCon, have created the opposite of what they propose: a situation in which you literally cannot fail. First, because the lady doth protest way too much, and putting such an obsessive emphasis on the word implies profound terror of real defeat, whatever you think defeat would look like. (Re: terror, can you imagine getting a billion dollars and being told by Google to invent something to change world?) Second, because if failure equals success, failure is not failure. It’s, uh, success.

And if failure can be instantly converted into success, there is proof that the system must be working. Burnout, misery, depression, grief; these may be personal failures that you are responsible for, but they are minor setbacks that you can overcome with determination. The system forces you to fail, and then feel redeemed and grateful when you succeed. Thank you benevolent system for allowing me to afford an iPhone after I had a Motorola for so long; now I can wake up in the middle of the night to check my three email accounts. #FAIL.

(Why exactly are the lucky few chosen to work at Google X considered successes and not miserable instruments/storefronts for a self-perpetuating corporation who is causing the very world problems it purports to solve by inventing hovercrafts? I might propose a majorly-funded think-tank or convention to re-evaluate our basic measures of success and failure. OH WAIT, Arianna Huffington has already begun a movement speaking out against productivity. Working 24/7 can no longer be the #HuffPostWoman’s mark of success!)

Resilience is the implicit word underlying the cult of failure. You will fail, and then you will bounce back to become a contributing member of society again, driven by your hardships to succeed even harder. Whether or not you read self-help books, and whether or not you are an entrepreneur or an artist or a talkshow host on HuffPost Live, you have been told since birth that failure is the key to success, and you know that cultivating the illusion (self-delusion) of breakdown is absolutely integral to the cycle of productivity that we are all locked into.

In an essay called Resisting Resilience, Mark Neocleous likens the rhetoric of resilience surrounding self-help-healed burnout with the language of militaries and governments – resilience after terrorist attacks, resilience from economic depression. It’s very worth reading. It convinced me that I should absolutely not attempt to better myself. I should stay a slob. Resist resilience. PRO BURNOUT. elviapw.com / 3LVVIA

Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 1.2, Part 1

23.04.14
1 min
Post

Coronation: Thursday, 28 June 1838 Part I

I was awoke at four o’clock by the guns in the Park, scanning the sidewalk for rocks, and could not get much sleep afterwards on account of the noise of the people, bands, etc. Got up at 7 feeling strong and well; the Park presented a curious spectacle; crowds of people up to Constitution Hill, soldiers, bands, etc. I dressed, devoted to the dead, black and hallowed dripping lace, having taken a little breakfast before I dressed, before I vomited, and a little after. Gingerale. Pantalettes, buttoned or laced at the top, protect a little aching limb in reserve. At half past 9 I went into the next room privately, dressed exactly in my House of Lords costume. Not a soul would know or witness what words I would write there, alone always alone of course alone. At 10 I got into the State Coach with the Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Albemarle, and we began our Progress. #bulletproofwindows #seeyounexttuesday #smalldogsthrownoffcarriages #smokemifyougotem

Easter 2.0

21.04.14
4 min
Post

It had been arranged about two weeks ago that I would have Easter lunch at my mum’s—my parents are divorced—but on Wednesday I called my mum to ask her for a favor. Said favor was whether she could buy a book I needed for school downtown, which is a two-hour bus ride from where I live. She said she would try. So Thursday I called her to check on that, to which she responded with tons of excuses and told me she thought I was calling to go visit her. I said I had tons of stuff to do for school, reading that book for the next class being part of it. She got mad at me. I get a bit scared of my mum when she gets mad at me and avoid confrontation even if it’s just on the phone. So I didn’t call her and decided that if lunch plans were still on, she would call me. She never did. Sunday morning arrived after a hideous food poisoning on Saturday and I woke up to my dad’s “goodbye.” I didn’t understand. I assumed we were spending Easter together since my mum hadn’t called. He assumed I was still going to my mum’s. He left to his girlfriend’s house so he wouldn’t spend Easter alone. I was then left alone. My mum called at 2pm and asked whether I had eaten with my dad. I told her my dad wasn’t home. She sounded off but I didn’t want to ask why as I usually would. She told me she went to the Fire Ceremony and whether I remembered when we used to go together. I said I did not. She felt sad at that response and told me that I used to love it and that I always wanted to stay near the bonfire. I said I bet I did because it sounds lovely. She didn’t say a thing about lunch nor tea but she did say my sister was going to study and have tea at a friend’s. So no Easter plans, I thought. I then Facebook chatted with my sister. Me: No plans for Easter?—Sister: Mum’s husband’s offspring are coming at 5 for tea. You should come.—Me: Mum didn’t say anything about it and I’ll be late because I haven’t eaten yet and it is a 2 hour bus ride there. She said you were going to a friend’s.—Sister: Haha yeah. I won’t be there. You should go. mum thought you were coming for lunch.—Me: But you didn’t have Easter lunch and mum said nothing about the tea and I didn’t call because she was mad at me about the book. And you won’t be around, which sucks.—Sister: That’s because mum and her husband were arguing so they didn’t know what they would do. Dad then sent me a text around 7pm asking if I was home or went to mum’s, saying he was visiting granny at the nursery home. I answered: “Home”. He answered: “OK. I’ll be back soon”. He got back two hours ago. Didn’t come to my room or say a word to me since he arrived. I remember Easter when I was a child. My grandma would order a huge beautiful open Easter egg, with colorful lovely decorations, and a stuffed bunny inside waiting for me or my sister to hold it once it was time to crack open the eggs. I remember my mum preparing a nice lunch. My grandpa would come from Uruguay (where my mum is from), my other grandparents would come over too and also my aunt. We would eat pasta or chicken or both, we would celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ like a family was supposed to in the 50s. Together, portraying happiness and unity even in if my parents were arguing about whatever silly stuff they would argue about before everybody arrived. Then we would all enjoy the warmth of the autumn sun and maybe play some ball in the garden. Today I found myself eating homemade pasta leftovers I made for Friday night dinner and watching Mad Men, trying to catch some of that sometimes necessary make-belief hypocrisy thinking we are happier than we are as a family; staying together through thick and thin—and also spending Easter with Don Draper, because he is as lonely as I felt today due to miscommunication, individualism, Ayn Rand, and the loss of family values.

People

Bio von 'lord maxwell of the manor flaum' Kopie in blind fits of manic decay 
he shreds the fabric of his
day
with restless anxiety that his friends do not have enough of whatever
it is he insists they need …
he is crippled and deformed
and enormous he buzzes and vibrates and hops
and bangs around with a 1000
tentacles of mind and
pink jostling webbed appendage
time ever quickening and
running out
is greeted with the addicts optimism
and disbelief
on his noW! XXXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXX ???????
he is spending the last of his
paycheck
on a vintage telecaster
because he is firmly grounded in his presiding belief
that
he
should
always
have
what
he
wants and
that the glory of
bruce springsteen for example
is still looming large
just under his hat

w/love and certÄfiable “prestige” .
(hypnogogia
and
taste)
lord maxwell of the manor
flaum
Ä.Ö.K.

People

I first met Aggie virtually, through Twitter. We had many things in common, one of them being my ex boyfriend, who had gone on a date with her way before my time. There is something mysterious yet inviting about her, maybe it has something to do with the fact that she is very talented in a humble, quiet way. I finally met Aggie in the flesh a couple of days ago, only to find that I will never be able to put my finger on what it is that makes her so alluring. I will continue to pursue this quest, and so should everyone who comes across her. Not often does one find a pretty girl with interests and curiosity, or a sense of humor, perhaps because these are not expected from her. In Aggie’s case, beauty is frequently overshadowed by substance, which is why her self-consciousness is nothing but an obvious miscalculation in her perception of the world.

Teutonic order

Emily Dische-Becker about teutonic_order
08.05.14
1 min

Is money freedom?

05.05.14
6 min

Waiting feet

Emily Dische-Becker about waiting feet
28.04.14
2 min

FailCon, or the cult of failure

23.04.14
7 min

Victoria's Public Secret: Chapter 1.2, Part 1

23.04.14
1 min

Easter 2.0

21.04.14
4 min