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[Insert Gandhi quote]

Emily Dische-Becker about fake Gandhi quotes
29.01.14
2 min
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I drink to make you seem more interesting, Hemingway famously said.

At least this is what I think he said. It may have been Orson Welles. Or some other sardonic lush. (I should probably google it.)

I blame my brother Leon, not imperfect memory or marijuana, for my inability to retain quotes and their respective authors. Leon doesn’t reach for a bottle to lubricate social interaction. Rather, he amuses himself by peppering conversation with quotations and facts, some of which happen to be deliberate half-truths or outrageous falsehoods. He does this with snooty strangers – and with me, his older sister.

Einstein discovered the theory of relativity in a moment of madness, while recovering from syphilis in Baden-Baden.

When asked what “nuance” means during the 2008 election campaign, 35 percent of Americans said it was the name of “a famous French president.”

Saw a poll recently: For a person growing up in rural Britain after the war, falling into a ditch was the greatest imaginable humiliation.

I am what I am, you can like it or love it – as Gandhi originally said.

Leon, who happens to be more well-read than I, does this with such a seamless air of authority that I have come to doubt pretty much anything I presume to know as fact. I must google. Without Google, I flounder.

His aim, I know, is not for me to appear unknowledgeable when reciting his fabrications to others (for I, too, can feign authority; and thankfully, no one has ever huffed: Gandhi didn’t say that. You idiot.)

Rather, he appears to relish the occasions when I unwittingly relay some fiction back to him as hard fact. Then he may press me, his tone tinged with skepticism, about how I know that the average teenager in Taiwan discharges an average of 2 emoticons every waking minute.

All that remains is a vague impression that the story originated with a highly reliable source. Big names, erudite publications come to mind.

I am sharp enough, though, while racking my brain in his presence, to detect a trace of mischievous satisfaction across his face. And so I play along, concocting an elaborate case for the false story. Ah yes, Gandhi said that to a BBC reporter, while on hunger strike at the Aga Kan’s palace where he was imprisoned in 1942.

This blog may contain half-truths.

Maryam Zaree
People

We have not met in months. We fix a meeting via SMS. You make a little fuzz at first because I want to meet you in my neighborhood. You write this SMS: “I also always ask my friends to meet me right infront of my door”. I laugh a lot. I know that this is your kind of irony and that you laughed yourself when you wrote it. You always make me laugh.
I sit in Café Dresden and wait for you. You will of course tell me – at great length and with great joy – all about the movie you have been shooting in Istanbul. You have the main role in a Turkish movie. We have practised, and you were perfect with the Turkish text – what a shame that in the end the dubbed you. It is summer and the sun is shining. I am still waiting for you. I don’t particularily like the movies of this Turkish director, but you will be gorgeous again, for sure. Soon you will star in a Belgian movie talking French. This will be easier for you. You can switch without any problem from English into German into French and – if necessary – also into Farsi. You are not that good in your mother tongue, you keep saying, but I am convinced that your Farsi is better than my German. I ask myself why you are being cast in so many international productions. First, you have this incredible presence infront of the camera which not a lot of actors have. I know you feel good now! Second, and I think this is much more important, you are in the true sense of the word a citizen of the world. This is very rare, but in your case I feel somehow that there is no special link to any particular nation. This is really strange, I think, but there is nothing German about you, your sense of humor is much to good for that (sorry, guys). And left from your Persian side are only some memories of your childhood. You are a sensitive, critical, political person you thinks about everything that happens in the world. That’s why I always tell you to write! Because you are such a good observer.
You arrive. A guy from Kreuzberg tries to sell us a stolen Peugeot racing bike. You ask him: “Where did you get that bike?” He wants to act smart: “From France. They are much cheaper over there.” We laugh a lot. It is a beautiful day.

Marcia Farquhar
People

She reminds one of the black-haired girl from the café in Lindsay Anderson’s film “If…”, holding a machine gun and shooting from the cathedral’s roof of the university at the fleeing professors below.

Marcia Farquhar burns endlessly. A star on rocks brought by the mothership emerging from Earth’s incendiary core. Artist and performer by trade and vocation, she never stops: life, imagination, impromptu and stage blur in one stream of time. She is always right on, whatever the situation she provokes or stumbles into. Her performances are open, perhaps even open-ended, shape-shifters, meteopathic, and engaging like a feast or a funeral.

It has been suggested that her acts have the candid, coruscating quality of punkishness, consciously approximating a level of training, be that flamenco dance, fashion catwalk, psychoanalysis or tour guiding, in a “self-assured amateurism”. This is why the beauty she gives out is never cold. Raw and infectious, her work reaches interstitial places that sizzle. And immediately everything is throbbing, humorous, uncomfortable and disinhibiting; crevasses of truth are opening, flashing at everyone, for an instant. Her metaphors are pulling at the realities she knows so well: high bohemia and bourgeoisie, domestic and institutional lures and horrors, different generations forced in the same piece of clothing, stardom, loneliness, loveliness, ridicule and fame.

Her work, if not in real time, can be also viewed in Marcia Farquhar’s 12 Shooters, where 14 artists shot her performances in 12 critical acts and contributions to the book.

Clara Meister
People

I call Clara Meister Sugar Glider. Early in our affair of the heart and mind she showed me a video where the little creatures poke at jello, much as clara (S.G.) has been poking at me ever since. It is very cute and very disconcerting to see this footage and realize you’re the jello. (The fact that she’s the sugar gliders gliding from tree to tree, fancy and free is notable not least because ethos is about her.)
Simply, Sugar Glider is the kind of person who can keep a sweet morsel of jello in her hands for years, infecting it with new life, keeping it on its toes, laughing at and with it, keeping it fresh. The jello doesn’t feel like it is slipping through her fingers but rather a perfectly cut cube vibrating with energy. Most people would have eaten it or kept it safely out of reach in the freezer. I don’t know anyone that is both careful enough to do this and open enough to keep at it.
S.G. is not afraid of anything as far as I can tell. Not even me apparently. Her control comes from her speed. She thinks faster than I do, even about not thinking. Sometimes she knows that we have nothing to say to each other and orders another drink for the both of us. This sounds so banal but as she’s always trying to get at what is really interesting about life her ability to rest with grace becomes tremendously valuable too.
I could have skipped all of the above and just noted that Clara is the only woman who got away, straight out, more or less ever. We’re speaking about a truly superior being.
Someone else should write this. It is embarrassing how much I care for her.

Pippin Wigglesworth-Weider
People

It was just before Viertel Nach Handgelenk was published when I met Pippin for the first time in a mansion above the lake of Constance. We used to call it G7, since the owner had a G in his name as did the street, and it had a gate with the lucky number seven on it. You could say we had a business relation since we both worked for the SZ – the Schwäbische Zeitung for some time, not simultaneously but through the same coincidences and conjunctions that brought us together again in a hotel room during Distortion in Copenhagen around June 2009. And also, a year before that, in an apartment of a sincere cosmopolitan and common friend. We were part of a scheme, planed out by Leander Gussmann, our very good friend in common, who used to work for Distortion. He flew us in for those five distorted days and nights as acquired ‘Media Service’ or whatever you want to call a bunch of ecstatic amateurs back then. The year before that, we arrived in Copenhagen as ‘artists’ or gentrificators for some suburban dreams outside Ørestad. Within no time and without any proper material, Pippin worked day and night without sleep. He created a catwalk called ’15 seconds of fame’ out of wooden boards, sensors and light bulbs, that were activated if anybody walked over it. In both years we had a ball, diving from submarines and the MS Stubnitz to Shakespearian castles and trees and after parties or 5 minute raves on lifting bridges and over and over again until the very moment where Distortion was over and we had to ride our bikes back to the hotel, Pippin sleeping like a child in the bike stroller after being awake and active for most of the 24 hours, times four. While we waited for the metro, an elf with bow and arrows waited with us. She was on her way to a Live Action Role Play Day in the woods, while we only wanted to was rest after all the excitement. Now we’re here, another year, another scheme and I’m looking more than forward to see what he’s up to nowadays and for these 60 days.

Van Bo Le-Mentzel
People

Growing up somewhere in the middle of the second post-war generation in Germany came along with the experience that people around you more so avoided rooting their lives too much in the past, but rather tried to emancipate themselves from any sort of familiar tradition or historical burden. And, thus, the pursuit of life seemed to only happen beyond the present, never behind. Having your roots somewhere else, whatever the past might have been, seems to be different. You look back as if there might be something that you certainly wouldn’t want to loose on your way forward or ideally transform to the contemporary equivalent, and use it as an ingredient to shape your individual future. When I first met Van Bo some three years ago, he introduced himself as Prime – yes, the mighty figure from Transformers. A pseudonym he, the rhyme maker, rapper and sprayer, chose while growing up in Berlin’s traditional working class and immigration district Wedding at a time when people weren’t yet discussing whether it’s upcoming or may be never would. I still hear the sound of how he pronounced his name, with the defenceless pride of a child, a bit odd though for a grown up person I thought. But when I watched my little godson unwrapping one of his birthday gifts in London I witnessed how much of a globally relevant figure Prime actually is, and the oddness faded away. And so is Van Bo to me. There lays no contradiction between his past, when his family flew from Laos and landed in Wedding, there is no loss of the past when he explores his very own way through the present, when he, the architect, the designer, the activist constructs and builds, and – most importantly – shares his construction plans, his house and even his shoes with people who are in any sort of need, whether you call them working class, design community or just the crowd. It seems he has never lost how it felt to long for something because that might be the same as just being curious. If there is anyone I would dare to associate with the worn out word Karma, Van Bo certainly is. Google it, if you need prove, if you believe me, just stay curious about what he will share with us.

Tobias Holzer
People

“So much for being optimistic. They say love is in the air, so I hold my breath until my face turns purple.” raps Lil Wayne in a Drake song called Hell Ya Fu**in Right. It was on a drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem when Tobias was repeating this line. It was actually a lovely evening, so nobody had to hold their breath (Tobias was driving, I was switching CDs from Drake to Kanye West and back, and Liliane was giving us directions using Waze, the Israeli navigation app bought by Google for 1 billion dollars). Tobias was DJing (is that the word you use?) in Jerusalem in some small clubs. One was so small that a maximum of three people could squeeze in (you know the Andy Warhol saying: “But I always say, one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party”). So there we were, three people listening to this genius mix of hip hop and funk and whatever else Tobias played. The day before or the day after, who knows exactly, we went to Ramallah. We had this kind of stupid excitement you get when you do something you imagine to be a little dangerous. It wasn’t dangerous at all. Actually it was rather boring. We drank tea. The tea was so sweet it immediately dug a hole in your tooth. Then Tobias went to do some Chakra Yoga, which I cannot even imagine what it is. That was back on the other side of the fence. I only know that the room has to be hot like hell. And there is the Lady Bar, a place in Basel, where Tobias is somehow involved, where the room is, well, usually hot like hell, and you can hardly breathe. And in his backyard Tobias has a carpet lying around that looks like a magic carpet straight out of a story from One Thousand and One Nights you expect to start flying the very moment you sit down on it. It doesn’t start and you don’t want to believe that it doesn’t. And you wait, and it doesn’t start. Damn you, carpet.

Anissa Kempf
People

There are people who never take their black Burberry coat off at a party. It is hot, incredibly hot, and still, those people are standing around in their coat, holding a drink. Other people, let’s call them the half-naked ones, are mocking them, but they don’t get it. It’s a kind of camouflage to protect you from the place you are and you shouldn’t be. Or you might just be a kid too cool to let your coat go. Anyway, Anissa is one of the coat people. It was on the evening of the 24th December, we were standing around in our dark coats, surrounded by half-naked people, and probably, most definitely, looking stupid. Maybe Anissa wasn’t wearing a Burberry coat, but the colour was definitely black. Standing around on the night of the 24th in the Kaserne Basel is a kind of ritual for many people returning to Basel over Christmas. So there you meet, either full of food or full of strange season’s feelings or just full of the year almost gone. A common friend introduced the coat wearing Anissa to one of the half-naked people and said “she’s one of my few intellectual friends”. The half-naked one didn’t seem too impressed. I know what my friend wanted to say. He wanted to say, Anissa has a PhD in neurobiology, almost studied medicine together with her PhD, could be a professional flute player, and talks seriously about serious matters. And in a way, he got it right, and at the same time he got it completely wrong. What sounds like the straight way to academic fame, which some people confuse with intellectualism, is merely a quest for ones own soul. Anissa is deadly serious and deadly unserious at the same time. She is all classical music and then all hip hop. She makes a journey every Wednesday from Zurich to Lausanne which takes 5 hours back and fourth to play the Arabic “Oud”, a lute. She dances a weird welcome dance with her old friends from school shouting out her name. She is Basel, Zurich, Tunisia, academia. She is camouflage in her black coat, smiling an endless enigmatic smile and all full of doubts. Maybe that makes her intellectual, being full of doubts. Where to belong, what to do. Spending a life in a laboratory or not. Being a musician or not. Playing the flute, playing the oud. Standing around in a black coat in the Christmas heat or not. Finding her way through the half-naked ones.

Judith Vrancken
People

Judith Vrancken lives between Berlin and Amsterdam, mostly because Amsterdam continues to pull her back after years of living there as a university student, and Berlin won’t let her go. In any case, she is present in both. Born on the German–Dutch border, she’ll likely straddle the two her entire life, whether she likes it or not. She swears that most days she would rather be at home reading than at a gallery opening, the latter of which is a bit of an occupational hazard, but in fact, when she’s at such an event, she is irresistibly present. She writes about art and sings about love and dances about power and acts about life, and dresses exceptionally well. She comes from a good Catholic family, which her milky skin attests to. Her bred contentiousness takes shape in all parts of her life, particularly through language. She uses words with loving deliberation and generosity; when she writes, she performs the word.

Simon Ingold
People

There was a time at the beginning of the Millennium in Switzerland when the word “Wachstumsschwäche” was all around. The 1990s were dubbed the lost decade. It seemed that everybody except the little island of wealth in the heart of Europe moved on. An American style think tank with a French name, Avenir Suisse, came into existence. Avenir Suisse was all about the successful future of the “small and open economy” Switzerland. However, there were contradictions (as always in Switzerland). A few big Swiss companies financed it. What made people doubtful about its independency. It delivered “the market is efficient, the state is bad” solutions to every problem. If you worked there people considered you a devil-like neo-liberal fundamentalist with no heart. Simon was one of the young heartless demons, and I was another. Since then the years passed. The Swiss economy has been doing rather well compared to the rest of Europe. Avenir Suisse has lost its devilish image (somehow boringly). Simon moved into finance. We lived happily ever after, met sometimes. In Locarno, at Art Basel, in Weggis. You are missing something? The frictions, the contradictions? Here they come. You do a living but you would rather prefer to do another. Simon is the financial demon with a literate soul, a soft version of Adrien Brody playing a gangster in Happiness Is a Warm Gun who clandestinely writes. Simon’s life imagined would be one of a writer living in Berlin, New York, Moscow, Val Bregalia, somewhere, anywhere. The life lived is one of an investment banker downtown Zurich. Driving a very nice car, wearing a nice watch. How do I know? I don’t. I don’t even know if Simon really wears a watch. Simon has a Fritz Zorn (from the book Mars) kind of anger against finance, against wannabes, against everybody. And at the same time he has this funny way to imitate people out of the blue. It comes all together. Life is one big grey in-between. So it is very possible that I got it all wrong as Simon actually comes from a literati environment and finance is the rebellion. How do I know? I don’t.

[Insert Gandhi quote]

Emily Dische-Becker about fake Gandhi quotes
29.01.14
2 min