In youth we are open for a wide range of influences. Heroines in children’s literature, picture book or cartoons look back on a long history as successful influencers. Creation, transmission and criticism of stereotypes are all part of the scientific reflection on heroines and heros. Nowadays, influencers have taken over picture books through the use of more compelling videos.
In the 1950s,1960s and 1970s picture books or cartoons dominated the influences before mass media like television became more absorbing, addictive and powerful influencers. Children’s books are passed on from one generation to next generation. The French-speaking world (and beyond BBC reference) has witnessed the success of the illustrated booklets of the young “Caroline” (Hachette) and “Martine” (Casterman) exploring the world. Parents passed on their collection to children and had their own parents read the stories to their grand children.
Well, that’s how intergenerational transmission of cultural heritage has worked for a long time. It describes the basic social mechanism. Nevertheless, new forms of influencing emerged with new technologies. Successful illustrated narratives like “Caroline” and “Martine“ were adapted as television series as well. In France you could chose your side of either explorations with Caroline and her group of animals or the adventures of Martine.
Ideally it would be an occasion for the families and friends to discuss pros and cons of each character and, thereby, become aware of what is a stereotype, at least at a later stage of the life course. Gender stereotypes have evolved and to observe 2 boys colouring Martine images in public (Brussels book fair 2024, image below) was a positive surprise. It almost felt like a real world experience of the AI-enabled Barbie explorations.

Stock taking

From time to time it is necessary to take stock of production and to review the material that has accumulated. As I have been working in archives, official book depositories and libraries for years, it comes almost naturally to deal with questions of how to keep track of all that content. Digital solutions are excellent devices in this regard. I do not have to deal with digitalisation, a huge issue for all historic archives and many recent small museums as well. I have to deal with backups at regular instances. To be sure, each engineer will assure you, better make a backup of your backup … . Yes, I do this as well. Now the ultimate backup of digital work is ? Got it, a printed copy of your digital work. The best advice I received on this comes from a computer magazine “ct” gadget mug with imprint advocating “No backup, no mercy“. To facilitate my printed archive I start with monthly collections of blog entries (Link to pdf-file December 2023 ->Brainstorming 23-12). The simple conversion yields 63 pages, a printer friendly version 56. Hence the expected yearly volume (60*12) will be somewhere near 720 pages. That is for the archive only or in case my eyes do no longer support online reading on screens for too long.
Digital archives have, of course, many other advantages. It is possible to reassemble my collection of entries by subject through a more thorough editing. Specific edited volumes will surface from this, which I have in my mind but only careful long-term followers of the entries might see already. Political economy and sociology are obvious candidates. Public health, labour, the world of arts and music could constitute other edited volumes. Lots of branches grow out of the trunk of content.

Only for Kids

We all have, hopefully, fond memories of children books. Sometimes authors are not so keen to tell that they are just writing books for children. This is often present in many biographies of authors of books for children. This is grossly unfair. Not only is the book market for children’s books one of the best- selling part of literature, but there are lots of interesting collaborations between authors and illustrators. Most books are expensive to produce, particularly if, additionally, translations are needed to reach more children and their parents. For small countries this might be a barrier. The Scandinavian countries have a tradition to translate and publish some selected children’s books in multiple Scandinavian languages and beyond. Therefore, it is no surprise to find a children’s book entitled “Kant” by Norwegian author Jon Fosse, illustrator Roj Friberg with the text translated into Swedish and published by the Danish Editor Carlsen, all in 1990.
The illustrations allow to understand the “bilderbok med text av Jon Fosse” using an enlightening imaginative visual language. From the cover already It is clear we deal with the universe and endless open space. There are black holes in it as well. Jon Fosse deals with “möjliga och omöjliga”, possibilities and impossibilities. Tackling such philosophical questions with children needs the best authors to address these issues. How to speak of the unspeakable, things we have hardly any words for remains a challenge. Relating to the world of dreams, appealing to children and their parents, does the trick. After all, you just need to close your eyes and you start to travel the universe and make lots of exciting encounters. The book has no page numbers, interesting. The image below is from page 25, just as an appetizer.
For more insights of how to deal with “nothingness” I refer to Friedrich C. Heller (2020) “Towards nothingness. Ideen der Reduktion in zeitgenössischen Bilderbüchern” (in Benner et al. editors 2020). Susan Sontag (2005) „die Ästhetik der Stille” (in Eugen Blume 2005, editor) will also help us along on the subject of stillness and minimalism. Maybe it is these essentials we should talk more about especially with our kids.
To continue the exploration of space and stillness just go to the webpage of the hubble telescope or the James Webb Space Telescope. The journey of your dreams will be hard to stop.

CO2 Footprint of Books

In view of the worldwide size of book publishing we should also keep an eye on the CO2 footprint of book publishing. The Italian association of publishers gave a brief overview of the likely CO2 footprint the printing of a book causes. Their best guess is at ½ a kilo of CO2 on average. For simplicity of calculation and assuming that an editors’ association is unlikely to overstate the amount, let us assume it is 1 Kg CO2 per book. The most CO2 is consumed not in the book production but in the transport of the items, machinery and personnel involved in producing, editing, selling etc. Of course, paper is recycled to a large amount. Certified sustainability of paper from trees has become a standard in most countries.
Nice twist to the issue: your own library at home has become a CO2 storage, if you keep them or lend them or pass them on to others. Reading can be a little bit addictive and buying books as well. Reading online or electronic books reduces your CO2 footprint. The best way to imagine the reduction of your CO2 footprint, however, is to buy or to borrow a book on travelling which replaces the actual journal by reading on the couch. Yes, being a couch potato is good for the planet, and if you want to buy a book, walk to the book shop or the library if possible. If you enjoyed flying previously shift over to buying books on planes, airports, clouds in images or stories that involve extensive travelling instead for the sake of your own CO2 footprint and future generations.
Even a book will need somehow wood as input, many alternative ways of leisure time or professional activities are worse in terms of CO2 footprint. Any e-book, e-journal or e-newspaper is even better for the planet, especially if we think of the millions of paper copies across the world that are printed but never sold. Knowing your market is crucial to reduce misallocation of ressources. E-books are so much easier to store as well using regenerative energy for the content servers around the world.

Book traders

Some book traders have a mission. They assemble little corners on their book shelves or in tiny cupboards reserved for their passion or mission. In some book shops you’ll find a corner devoted to a specific language or translations, in some a world region is represented as a specific predilection. The choises are as numerous as there are books. Of course, from an economic point of view national and international bestsellers will be shown in the most prominent places. Second come books for children, cooking, life and travel guides. All those are the cash cows for book shops and traders.
But beyond those, it is always worth the effort to search for those little carefully curated corners in a good bookstore that derive from the vision or mission of the book trader, employed or owning the shop. In some areas this contributes even to a small community building. Readings of authors add to the function of book sellers to build a relationship to their non-random book buyers. I keep going back to my favourite book stores and libraries with those curated corners for decades and across countries to find inspiration and updating of special topics.
There is a danger that we are going to lose all this professional work of thousands of well-trained book traders that guide readers in addition to publishing houses, literary critics, numerous awards and huge marketing campaigns of derived products (as with Harry Potter). Living up to your mission while running a book store must be a great experience. If is really increases the buyers and readership for the topic, would be a great result. However, I suppose many bookshops manage to keep their little curated areas despite economic pressure to go with the mainstream marketing campaigns and top selling books and gadgets.
With the decline in the number of smaller book shops (in Germany from ca 5000 to 3000 in about 20 years) we see a parallel increase in number of franchises of the big book sellers (Thalia.de 500 stores in D). Big chain increase seems to cause fewer professionally trained book traders (-10% in D) within a country. For younger generations TikTok (BookTok) has taken over large parts of the “book counselling” of book traders previously. This was a big event at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 as well.
Time to rush to your local bookstore and book trader before it is taken over by a big chain or simply disappearing silently. We are likely to lose many of those book traders with a mission to make this world a better, more beautiful, more tasty, enjoyable or inclusive place.

Comme les peintres

« Moi aussi, comme les peintres, j’ai mes modèles ». So beginnt ein Gedicht von Jacques Prévert. Ein Klassiker der französischen Poesie. Prosagedichte sind eine Gattung der Gedichte, die in kurzen Texten einen Moment oder Augenblick einfangen und sublimieren. In diesem Genre publiziert Philippe Delerm seit Jahren prosaische Gedichte. Der in 2023 erschienene Band „Les instants suspendus“ reiht sich ein in die Sammlungen von Momentaufnahmen, die sprachlich veredelt die Wahrnehmungen schärfen und sie zum Salz des Lebens werden lassen.
Für Weinliebhabende drängt sich die Assoziation „vendanges tardives“ (späte Lese) auf. Während wir in deutschen Weinanbaugebieten ganz nüchtern die zu erreichenden Öchsle für die Spätlese zählen, verbindet Delerm mit den „vendanges tardives“ „une jeunesse prolongée, glissant vers la mélancolie, et célébrant mezza voce le mariage de l’automne et de l’été “. (2023, S.87).
Die Sammlung „Les instants suspendus“ – auf Deutsch vielleicht „Momente, die schweben“ bietet zahlreiche, aufheiternde und, ja auch erhebende Augenblicke, die trotz der Intensität der Schilderung für viele Menschen Anknüpfungspunkte bieten. Übersetzen lassen sich die Szenen schon, aber es schwingt bei den kurzen 200-300 Wörter umfassenden Texten viel französisches Flair mit.
Bei „Commander l’eau“ wird „Le bruit de l’eau dans la bouteille devient chant“. Wasser einfüllen ist Musik. Oder, « Le moteur de la deux-chevaux », der Motor des 2 CV, « c’était humble et c’est devenu chic », das war bescheiden und ist schick geworden. (S.82). Das federnde, schwebende Fahrgefühl wird bei Delerm ein „accord prolongé“, zu einem nachwirkenden, verlängerten Akkord.
Aus dem Netz der Spinne (toile d’araignée) wird der Stern der Spinne (étoile d’araignée) auf Seite 101. Fast alle hätten diesen Versprecher schon gemacht, aber es ist einer der Wenigen, den die Erwachsenen nicht berichtigen.
Lassen wir den Kindern ihre „instants suspendus“, ihre Momente der Poesie.
(Image: Innenansicht und S.9 Anregung Proust zu lesen im Vorspann).


Passend zu dem alljährlichen Hype und Kommerz zu Halloween Ende Oktober, öffnet die Sonderausstellung zu Otfried Preußlers 100. Geburtstag. „Die kleine Hexe“, Das kleine Gespenst“, „Der Räuber Hotzenplotz“ oder seine deutsche Übersetzung des Kater Mikesch haben mehrere Generationen von Kindern und Eltern begleitet. Fantastische Geschichten haben bereits seit langer Zeit Kinder begeistert. Eine gute Hexe und ein liebenswürdiger, eigentlich ungefährlicher Räuber passen in die kindliche Vorstellungswelt. Lange vor dem Spektakel um die Meerjungfrauen, hatte Otfried Preußler den kleinen Wassermann erstehen lassen. Diese Geschichten machten Otfried Preußler zu dem erfolgreichsten deutschsprachigen Geschichtenerzähler nicht nur für Kinder. Ein Glück, dass der Nachlass seit ça 10 Jahren in der Stabi Berlin aufbewahrt wird. Es hat sich bereits ein reges Besucherinteresse eingestellt, denn die Bilder zu den Geschichten haben sich tief in das Gedächtnis von Kindern und Eltern eingegraben.
Die vielfältig zusammengestellte Ausstellung bietet abwechslungsreiches, unterhaltsames und hintergründiges Material, um den Werdegang und Schaffensprozess des Schriftstellers zu verdeutlichen. Die liebenswerten Figuren der bekanntesten Werke wurden in viele Sprachen übersetzt. Verwertungen von der Augsburger Puppenkiste bis zu den Fernseh- und Kinofilmen in späteren Jahren haben die Geschichten mit ihren liebenswerten Charakteren ein bleibendes Kulturgut werden lassen. Mit den dunkleren Kapiteln seiner Vergangenheit hat er sich ebenfalls in seiner Geschichte „Krabat“ auseinandergesetzt, die jedoch viel weniger bekannt ist. Das Verdienst dieser Ausstellung ist jenseits der emotionalen Verbindung zu den Geschichten Otfried Preußlers, Hintergründe zu beleuchten. Nach anfänglichem Misserfolg, Ablehnung eines Verlags, dann 9 Monate warten bis ein positiver Bescheid eines anderen Verlags vorliegt, entschied sich der Leiter einer Volksschule seinen Lehrerberuf in gesicherter Anstellung aufzugeben. Mit seinen Kinderbüchern hat er unzählig viele Kinder mehr erreicht.  (Link zur Ausstellung online Material)

Verbannte Worte

Die Ausstellung Verbannte Worte im historischen Zentrum von Frankfurt trifft auf viele Besuchende der Messe aus der ganzen Welt, die oft nur ein bisschen Rathaus, Marktplatz oder Paulskirche sehen wollen. Aber unbefangen kann keiner an der Geschichte dort vorbeigehen. Neben den Millionen an gedruckten Worten muss es eben einen würdigen Ort geben, der den

verbannten Worten gewidmet ist. Viele Kunstschaffende und Schreibenden konnten bestenfalls im Exil überleben. Das ist heute in großen Teilen der Welt weiterhin so. Der PEN International listet erschreckende Zahlen dazu. Das erneute Post-COVID Wachstum der Frankfurter Buchmesse erfreut alle, die sich unermüdlich für das freie Wort einsetzen. Jedoch auch klare Worte finden denen gegenüber, die das freie Wort menschenverachtend missbrauchen. Dazu leistet die kleine Ausstellung ein sehr wichtigen Beitrag, der über die Buchmesse kraftvoll in die Welt getragen wird.

Frankfurt am Main 2023-10-22👍🏼

Ukraine@Book Fair

It is great to see so many publishers and authors at the Frankfurt book fair 2023. Because of the massive Russian misinformation not restricted to Russia, but in Western countries, too. Awarding a prize to those activists that sort truth from fake news is very important in this respect. 200 square meters of exhibition space reflects the size and quality of publishing. Lots of translations are underway as well. freedom of publishing and the press is something we usually take for granted until it is gone.



Eigentlich gibt es nur „die“ Schachnovelle von Stefan Zweig aus dem Jahr 1942. Heutzutage schon zu haben für 3 € (Reclam) als Reisebegleiter. Die Ausgabe ist gerade so groß wie ein Mobiltelefon. Darauf habe ich natürlich noch ein Schachprogramm mit unzähligen Rätseln und Partien, nur für den Fall eines Rückfalls. „Damenopfer“ sind im Schach eine elegante Art, die mächtigste eigene Spielfigur zu opfern, um einen strategischen Vorteil oder gar Schachmatt zu erreichen. Kurz gesagt, der König opfert seine Dame, damit er den anderen König überwältigen kann. Shakespeares Dramen klingen dabei an.
Aktuelle Literatur „Damenopfer von Steffen Kopetzky“ setzt ebenfalls auf diese Analogie. Aber zurück zu der Schachnovelle. Meine Lesart der Novelle, bei der aus dem kleinen Bauernjunge, der spätere Schachweltmeister geworden ist, bezieht sich auf die Menschheits- und Realitätsflucht des Schachspielens. Eintauchen in die Welt der Figuren und verbundener Fantasien bietet sich an. Neben Königen und Königinnen, stehen Türme von alten Ritterburgen, Pferde samt Reitenden als Teil von Reitturnieren, Läufer mit Kurz-, Langstrecken oder Marathondistanzen, sowie die Menge an Bauern, die für Nahrung sorgen, Deckung bieten und die Logistik bewältigen. Essentielle Arbeitende eben. Schon bei Verlust eines einzigen Bauers ist die Partie bei Fortgeschrittenen meistens schon verloren.
Das Eintauchen in die Parallelwelt des Schachspielens kann zu schizophrenen Verhaltensweisen führen. Ausblenden aller realen Vorgänge und Leben in mehreren möglichen gleichzeitig stattfindenden Parallelwelten als Varianten von Schachpartien verlangt mentale Stärke. Ab einem gewissen Niveau des Eintauchens in die Schachwelten, gleichsam von Schachnovellen, wird die Rückkehr in die real stattfindenden Vorgänge ebenfalls schwieriger. Spielsucht kann die Folge sein. „Gamer“ mit ihren virtuellen Welten und Abenteuern wissen sicherlich nur allzu gut, welche Gefahren dort lauern.
Stefan Zweig hat seine Schachpartie im realen Leben gegen den Nationalsozialismus verloren. Die gewählte Selbsttötung seinerseits war ein Königsopfer, das ein spielerisches Damenopfer in den Schatten stellt. Zu Recht steht die Schachnovelle oft auf dem Schulcurriculum, nicht nur da, wo Schachspielen Unterrichtsfach ist.


In den öffentlichen Bibliotheken ist ein Generationswechsel der Besuchenden überfällig. Traditionell finden sich 4 unterschiedliche Gruppen von Personen in den öffentlichen Bibliotheken wieder. Da sind (1) die bildungsaffinen Rentenempfangenden, (2) die Eltern mit Kleinkind(ern), (3) Wärme- oder Kühle suchende Menschen der Umgebung und (4) die Schul-, Hochschul- oder Examensvorbereitenden. Soziologisch betrachtet ist das ein interessantes Aufeinandertreffen von gesellschaftlichen Randgruppen.
Die „Neue Zentralbibliothek im KAP1“ (Düsseldorf) hat aus diesen meist unverbunden nebeneinander operierenden Gruppen eine kommunikative Gemeinschaft produziert. Aktion und Interaktion ist nun angesagt. Der Flyer betont richtungsweisend: „Menschen, Bücher, Räume“. Fortan soll der Mensch und seine Lernfähigkeit im Vordergrund stehen, nicht mehr nur die Bücher. Dazu braucht es meistens anders oder umgestaltete Räume. Lernen war immer schon interaktiv und nur in Teilen allein im stillen Kämmerlein. Dazu braucht es Labs als Lernräume und nicht nur die Stille der „Page-turner“. Lernboxen, Lernstudio, Musikstudio sowie eine „Kreativschmiede“. Dort wird heute gepodcasted, 3D gedruckt und es werden social-media Kanäle entworfen und betrieben, immer schön generationsübergreifend. Voneinander Lernen ist das Motto nicht mehr nur nebeneinander und im Wettbewerb um die beste Bewertung. Kollaboration und gesellschaftlicher Zusammenhalt brauchen neue Räume, dem KAP1 in der Düsseldorfer Zentralbibliothek ist dabei schon viel gelungen. Die zentrale innenstädtische Lage ganz nah am Hauptbahnhof ist ein zusätzliches Asset. Ansonsten hätte ich mich wohl nicht auf der Durchreise dorthin verlaufen. Ein Random-Walk in Bahnhofsnähe, verursacht durch verpasste Verbindungen der Bahn, hat zu einer unerwarteten, bereichernden Zwischenpause geführt. Der Ausblick aus dem Café auf das übliche innerstädtische Verkehrschaos konnte umgeben von Alt und Jung richtig genossen werden.

Stabi locker

Die Staatsbibliothek Berlin in der Potsdamerstraße macht sich mal richtig locker. Neben all dem gebundenen und gebündeltem Wissen gibt es eine kleine, etwas versteckte Ecke in der richtig gechillt werden kann. Mit aktuellen Tageszeitungen in Papier und online lässt sich gut pausieren. Eine tolle Aussicht gibt es zusätzlich. Selbst eine vorübergehende Schließung wegen überfälliger Sanierung wird die Stabi bei den Wissbegierigen eine wichtige Location vermissen lassen (fehlende Bücher).
Neben Wissensmaschine ist die Stabi eine Lernanstalt erster Klasse. Die Anzahl der mitgebrachten dicken Gesetzbüchern samt Kommentaren lassen einen immer wieder staunen über den Mangel an stillen Lernorten an Universitäten und in Privatwohnungen. Die richtige Lernumgebung befördert den Ansporn, noch eine extra Meile zu gehen. Wissbegierig ja, aber es braucht auch viel Durchhaltevermögen bei ständig wachsenden Ablenkungsmöglichkeiten. Gemeinsam, einsam, allein mit sich und dem Wissen lässt sich vorzüglich dicke Bretter bohren. Das ist ein wichtiger Teil, das Lernen zu lernen. Kunst am Bau und im Bau gibt es gratis dazu. Die Nähe zur Ablenkungsindustrie am Potsdamer Platz, Kinos, Spielbank und Fresstempel kann da getrost auf ihre späteren Opfer warten. Mit Regionalzügen und S-Bahn kommt man von dort rasch wieder weit weg.


Neben dem Kassenschlager des neuen Barbie Films lebt ein anderer Mythos der Mädchenjahre weiter. Die in der Nähe von Zurich im Kanton Graubünden gebürtige Schriftstellerin Johanna Spyri hatte zwei Bücher mit Kindergeschichten im 19. Jahrhundert mit Namen Heidi verfasst. Dieser Ausgangspunkt bot zahlreichen Verfilmungen eine verwertbare Basis. Die Geschichten der kleinen Heidi wurden überraschenderweise von Filmstudios in Japan zu dem Welterfolg 1974 im Animé Format geschaffen.

Computer Animationen sind nichts Neues, und statt aus Japan kommen viele nun auch aus Südkorea. Outsourcing zur Gewinnmaximierung war schon immer ein verlässliche, gewinnorientierte Produktionsmöglichkeit. Lediglich für so etwas wie Kulturgüter glaubten wir, wäre das nicht so einfach. Filmrechte werden gehandelt wie andere Waren. Hohe Einschaltquoten werden uns noch mehr Heidis und Barbies im Filmformat bringen. Das werden wir aushalten müssen.


Some say, a book is a book, is a book. This is to reiterate the lasting effect a printed volume might have. Many books are a form of a documentation of facts. Creative writing in whatever form finds most of the time some way into a format of a book. For centuries books have facilitated the diffusion of myths and stories throughout societies including translated versions of the content. 2 aspects are constituent here (1) form and (2) content. Annual book fairs receive most attention for new content within more or less the same rectangular format. There are, nevertheless, interesting variations of the form to be discovered as well. Traditionally book binding was the art that gave shapes to the content. Images in form of film are yet another representation of the book content. All this is “dealt” with at the Frankfurt book fair #fbm23, particularly in form of dealing in and with copyrights. New forms of delivery of content, online or as e-book, have added to the variety of books. Pay as you go or as abonnement with monthly delivery is the old and maybe fashionable new way to digest abundant content. People trust in books. The format as book in general seems to remain an authoritative form to present content, irrespective of the truthful or fictional kind of the content. The more we live in insecure circumstances, the more we tend to be willing to hold on to a pile of paper nicely woven or clued. It is still a very powerful tool to guide imagination for all ages. It allows us to learn at our own rhythm as far as we are willing to go. We are, or seem to be, in control of the process as well as the likely outcome. And yet, the spice of life is the surprise. Book it.

Bücher weg

Bücher, die lange weg waren, können wiederkehren. Das ist die gute Botschaft, die durch die digitale Bibliothek der verbrannten Bücher erzeugt wird. Vergleichbar der erneuten Aufführung von Komponierenden, deren Werke wieder in fantastischen Klangwelten erlebbar werden.  Der 90. Jahrestag der Bücherverbrennung durch die Nationalsozialisten markiert meistens nur ein einmaliges Ereignis (10.5.1933 Berlin) in dem brutalen Aufstieg der Nationalsozialisten. Tatsache ist jedoch, dass sich die Bücherverbrennungen über mehrere Wochen hingezogen haben. Ein Beispiel ist die Bücherverbrennung in Potsdam Babelsberg am 24.6.1933. Viele andere Orte warten auf ihre Aufarbeitung. Erneutes Lesen dieser Bücher ist eine Würdigung der geächteten SchriftstellerInnen. Werner Treß wurde im Deutschlandfunk am 12.5.2023 dazu interviewt und beschreibt die erschreckende Hetze, die dabei von den Studentenverbindungen ausgegangen ist.
Erneutes Verlegen dieser Bücher hält die Erinnerung an die „verbrannten Dichter“ wach und verdeutlicht, wie der Einstieg in die grausame Diktatur ablief. Literatur hat neben der Funktion der Unterhaltung und der schönen Künste, sicher eine zusätzliche Aufgabe, die der Verteidigung der Meinungsfreiheit. Dazu gehört das Tolerieren unangenehmer Meinungen, solange sie die unveräußerlichen Menschenrechte berücksichtigen. Dazu ebenfalls ein Hörbeitrag im DLF. Nicht jeder hat die Courage wie der bayerische Schriftsteller Oskar Maria Graf, der solidarisch verkündete, verbrennt mich auch, mit der Konsequenz, unmittelbar ins Exil gehen zu müssen. Exilliteratur ist heute noch vielfach vorzufinden. Salman Rushdie, beispielsweise ist erst kürzlich einem Anschlag entgangen. Lesen all  dieser SchriftstellerInnen würdigt ihre Beiträge und ihre Bücher bleiben. (online Link)

Rhetoricae artis

“Die Kunst der Rhetorik und der positiven Fähigkeit” ist eine kleine Wissenschaft. So hieß es bereits 1475 in dem von Guillaume Rardif veröffentlichten Buchdruck aus dem “Atelier du Soufflet Vert”. (BnF, Réserve des livres rares, Rés. X-1118). Als Teil der Ausstellung zum Buckdruck entnehmen wir 5 wichtige Hinweise für die Kunst der öffentlichen Rede: (1) inventio = (Er-)findungskraft, (2) dispositio = Anordnung, Gliederung, (3) elocutio = Ausdrucksweise, Stil, (4) memoria = Erinnerungsvermögen, (5) pronunciatio = Urteilskraft.
Ein kritzelnder Leser hat mit Bleistift die 6 Teile angefügt. Exordium = Einleitung, Narratio = Erzählung, Sachverhalt, partitio = Einteilung, und schließlich die dialektik mit Confirmatio, Rufusation, Conclusio. Abweichungen von diesem rhetorischen Schema sind noch immer selten. Das galt wohl seit dem 15-ten Jahrhundert schon für Predigten und wissenschaftliche Vorträge. Alles altes Latein, oder was? Die heute übliche “Elevator-speech” folgt anderen Regeln. Die Aufmerksamkeitsökonomie und Flut der Informationen erzwingt viel kürzere Redezeiten. Die Nachhaltigkeit der Botschaft wird anders erzeugt. Bildlichkeit ist Trumpf in Erscheinung und Auftritt. Auch das will gelernt sein. Die Bücher damals waren selbst ästhetische Kunstwerke und dennoch Arbeitsbücher, leider nur für sehr wohlhabende Studierende.


Printing is a more than 5 century-old industry. The invention of the printing press is mostly attributed to Johannes Gutenberg from Mainz. However, the Asian precursor of mobile type letter printing of Cai Lun of the Jikji dates back to 1377 in Korea. These early masterpieces of the inventors of print can be inspected at the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). The summary term for this technical innovation by historians is the “age of start-ups”. The procedure for Gutenberg to have 2 financing rounds with his “business angel” Johann Fust, who is later claiming even almost the full rights of the printed volumes, resembles the start-up spirit of today as much as that of the 15th century. Not belonging to the Patrician families, it was very difficult to defend your rights in courts of the gilds. The printers also became a very powerful intermediary themselves. They either sold pre-ordered books or had to take the risk of assessing the market for their product. The editors of today do much the same in the trading world of books and rights of authors and translators. Merchandising products of the church and later churches (protestants Luther Bible) had a particular value to both the clergy and its devotees, not to mention the shop keepers in-between as well. Pilgrimage business was another start-up industry still going strong in the 20th and 21st century and popular in all religions. The early prints and typographs applied are fascinating  in themselves, but there is a lot to be learned about the foundation of a new industries that still employs millions of people and is at the origin of learning revolution similar to the one we are living with the digital technologies today. The European languages with respect to printing had a certain competitive advantage, based on 26 letters of the alphabet, far fewer types were needed to print books than the more than a thousand different signs for printing a Korean text. In terms of printing this is cost-reducing and probably you do not need to be able to read yourself to be a printer or it makes proof reading more accessible favouring benefit margins. After all, the age of industrialisation probably had a precursor in the printing industry. The potential of the printing industry was only exploited much later to the full extent. Comparable to “peak oil” we hope to have reached “peak paper” at last as well for the sake of our planet and our own survival.


The concept of time has been dominated by “chronometry”. We used to take a look at our more or less reliable wrist watch for orientation in time. This is a cultural practice in all societies where such devices are readily available as consumer products. Before this time, even in the Europe, church bells or the sun played the role to locate people in time (Norbert Elias on civilization). Nowadays, even in remote areas of our planet the mobile phone has taken over to assist us to organize time. In the sociology of time, we observe multiple clocks. The personal time, social time – organized through laws, collective agreements, conventions or as behavioural features of us. So-called early birds have a specific awakening response of their cortisol level in their blood. For others this is delayed. We might conclude from this that different clocks are ticking within us. The societal challenge is to synchronize them. Starting time of schooling is another phenomenon of societal construction of life courses. Starting or ending time of a school day, week, month, year, adulthood, all are determined collectively and changed from time to time. Beyond points in time, there are durations in time to consider. Life spans are socially determined. Life expectancy varies a lot by social class and education levels. Therefore, at least in retrospect and keeping the duration constant across persons, life time clocks are ticking with different speeds for us as individual persons.
In the digital age and powerful search engines based on “web crawlers” we live more than ever in a global state of mind. Awareness of “global history of history” (Woolf, 2011) allows us to add perspectives from several parts of the world to our own version of history, historiographies and histories. Collective memories are continuously shaped and recreated. Due to easy reference to chronological time a perspective following decades has become a sort of collective mind map. This influences directly or indirectly through peer behaviour and preferences our own mindsets (Blanning, 2008 p.307). From a sociological point of view decades are at the crossroads of time, period and cohort effects, potentially mixing up all 3 effects. However, statistically speaking we might apply a spline function -´ to our otherwise / linear running of time. Thick description of decades like the 60s, 70s, 80s, is common practice in our communicative practices, preferences as well as behavioural features. A dialectic co-evolution of decades, one negating the other or one decade being a synthesis of 2 other decades are part of the critical assessment of lasting contributions to history through histories (Paul Ricoeur).


Languages are simple once you understood the making of them. Take children, they learn the alphabet first, and use notions or images in alphabetical order, which you associate with this list of short words from A to Z in western cultures. From short words like “Cat” and “Dog” the learner moves on to longer ones like “Bird”, just 4 letters now. More advanced learners then use more letter words like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” invented for amusement in the Disney-film Mary Poppins. It sounds a bit like one of those never-ending long German words with lots of nouns just added on. This is exactly what we shall do in the following. A bit like in computational linguistics when ChatGPT is predicting the next word, we use algorithmic thining to form new combinations of an alphabetical list of notions. We start in the table below with column 1, then tell our spreadsheet to copy cells A1-01 to Z1-26 list and insert it in the second column just one cell below and insert Z2-27 at the place on the top of the list of column 2, which is A2-01. Then take this column 2 and repeat. Stop after, lets say the repeat counter is N=25.
The first 2 words combination then is “Action Zero”. Take this, enter it into Computer Search and take the top entry. “ActionZero” is an actual company name proposing actions to achieve  net-zero emissions. Following this, we produce a whole encyclopedia of pretty up-to-date knowledge from the WWW with hardly any humans involved anymore. We only need to cut out duplicates and nonsense entries. That’s what most editors or teachers are used to do. Knowledge creation might no longer be reserved to the human species. Oh my God – but the machine might eventually sort this word out as nonsense concept, too. The new mantra could be ZeroGod or let us try the reset like in GodZero. In other words we move from HamletMachine to our own KnowledgeMachine.


Once upon a time, not at the Opera de la Bastille, but next it, in a small theatre called Théâtre de la Bastille, the fairy tale of “Giselle…” was performed. The world-famous ballet Giselle (Karlsruhe Programmheft) is still amongst the most frequently performed magic piece of classical ballet. What is it about? In short: sex and crime. Yes, and it sells well.
Francois Gremaud tells the classic story of excitement, love, deception, death, regret, haunting and memory in a concise and witty fashion. The exemplary dancer is at the same time the narrator of the story as well as the critic and art historian accompanied by a 4 musicians strong orchestra. The educational piece with a “womanxplainer” on stage is great entertainment, full of references, why it is still okay to like the piece in spite of its fantasy-loaded content. Modern dance (Cunningham, De Keersmaeker) has decoupled or emancipated movement from music. In classical ballet, at least, you still know what comes next and this is aesthetically appealing for most people. Besides Wilfried, no he is not part of the “Wilis” (could be an interesting variant), but in the ballet there figures “Hilarion”. He is not hilarious at all. Splendid entries are from Myrtha (close to Martha, but not quite the same) and, of course, Giselle, when she leaves her tomb and turned into a “Wili”. Then there is Albrecht in a pas de deux with Giselle, swirling between earth and space. Aldi dances like mad on impulse from Myrtha, but Giselle vanishes nevertheless. End of story, or is it? Giselle is a Wili and Aldi is the wally. Maybe the story could be retold like in the film “Billy Elliot – I will dance”, which is an emancipatory tale where dance is the liberation rather than part of the dooming fate.
Francois Gremaud with the astonishing performer and choreographer Samantha van Wissen have created a version of Giselle that is musical, aesthetic, funny and critic. For those who enjoy an epic theatre version of Giselle including its “alienation effects”, referring back to Berthold Brecht, will want to read the script as well, kindly distributed as a gift after the show.


The 26 notions in alphabetical order may determine a subject and/or an object in a sentence. This is just the simple grammar of a language. Add a verb and we have a full sentence subject predicate object (SPO) as they say in English. In the philosophical sense the subject-object relationship is a bit more complicated. Beyond Aristotle’s objectum and subjectum, we think of Descartes “Cogito ergo sum” as the definition of the self as subject, rather than being an object of God’s will and creation. Kant then forms the couple of object and subject in the sense of objectivity and subjectivity. Pure reasoning is the abstraction of subjectivity to achieve an interpersonal objectivity. The master of dialectic thinking, Hegel, conceives an object as objective conscience and a subject as particular subjectivity. Having defined the extreme points of the spectrum makes you think about a joinder or the synthesis. Freud adds the object as result of sexual impulse. Wittgenstein then introduces a kind of hierarchy into the S/O-relationship. Objects become ultimate elements and indescribable in content as kind of basic notions. This follows the mathematical view of objects as indirect description of a mathematical object through axioms stating the basic principles governing the object and then deduce the logical consequences. Gödel’s incompleteness theorem , however, rejects this claim. This is the basis of, for example, algorithmic testing whether deductions are true or false. Condensed mathematics has relied on this testing approach as well.
A pragmatic perspective is added by Marie Gautier (p.719 “Notions”). If we want to reach an objective, we shall need others to realize it. By way of this imagination the S/O-relationship turns into an interactive relationship. Following Habermas, we might claim that the S/O-relationship is also a part of communicative action and therefore the discourse ethics. The definition of who or what is object and/or subject needs open discourse. The arena is not only the parliament, but larger audiences or the world wide web. Beware of the Luhmann systems theory, whereby for example the definition of what is a technical object is, is left to technicians, who then ponder in their self-reflective, reflexive circles amongst themselves. Techniciens in their circles tend to neglect the prime importance of society and laws to determine technological choices. Language with its constituent elements of subject, predicate and object (SPO) is one example of a knowledge system build on axioms or negotiated conventions for grasping and exchanging about phenomena. Nice, now we play around with it.

ABC Overview

Digital formats allow flexible organization of lists like alphabetical lists. Opening several pages, at the same time, of the same dictionary is easily feasible. In science the proceeding in this way is coined the inductive method. The entries of each letter stand on their own, but jointly they form a whole set of topics. Random choice is facilitated this way. New sequences or preferences of topics are the way forward. Alphabetical order or chronological order are only one out of many variants of possible sequences. Chose your own 3 favourite topics, maybe. On a big computer screen you might even organize your own poster – beam it on the wall – walk in the virtual exhibition of the metaverse with it. It could feel like you are strolling within parts of my brain. Frightening? For whom? The universe is within us.

action health optimism value
balance imagination policy war
corruption joy question xeno
democracy knowledge repairing yinyang
enterprise law society zero
freedom memory time
god nature union

K for Knowledge

Readers of the sociology and/or the philosophy of science or knowledge have a hard time. Each discipline is evolving at such a high speed that is terribly hard for humans to follow more than 1 or 2 fields. Perhaps the choice of Karma instead of knowledge would have made it easier here. Alternatively, in German it is easy to find many nouns starting with a capital K. Kapital, Krieg, Kritik or Käsekuchen would have been popular, I guess. Soon I shall open the comments for suggestions for additional nouns, as part of the empirical “swarm knowledge strategy” rather than the theory-driven deductive method applied in knowledge generation on my side so far.
But wait, we are already in the middle of the unsatiable quest for knowledge. On a meta-level we would deal with the multiple ways to acquire knowledge and create new knowledge. Artifical intelligence is certainly one of the hypes at the moment. New data and new combinations of data drive us forward in the expanding universe and knowledge space. We have witnessed the disappearance of the thick printed encyclopedia in most households, replaced by specilised digital dictionaries or the network society’s shared knowledge base of “wikipedia“. Knowledge is linked to the history of ideas and Peter Burke is a prominent figure to rely on as a reference in this field. 20 years after “A social history of knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot” he published the much acclaimed: “The Polymath. A cultural history from Leonardo da Vinci to Susan Sontag” in 2020. To synthesise across the many “monsters of knowledge” over centuries is a daunting task. I like quotes like the one from Leibniz (p.77) “the horrible heap of books that is constantly increasing” and then his own continuation: “Printing, once viewed as a solution to the problem, had become a problem itself”. The whole section is devoted to information overload. Fragmentation of knowledge into disciplines and, much worse, the manufacturing of false knowledge create new challenges to knowledge. Maybe transforming the term to “knowledges” rather than knowledge is likely to capture better the differences between artificial knowledge, created by artificial intelligence and specialised algorithms, and human based knowledge. In knowledge storage we have lost the race with computers, but in deciding what are promising combinations between different fields of knowledge, we are still a wee bit ahead of the machines. Klara tell me, where is the exit, or your synthesis of the whole lot. Meanwhile I continue to read – what? books and the like.

J for Joy

Talking about joy is fun. Its feels better than just cracking a few jokes, and this is not bad at all. The starting point of much joy can be a simple joke, because of the simplicity of emotions and the bonding between persons. However, laughing about jokes is often abused in the form of laughing at the expense of someone or a specific group of persons (serious publication “L’empire du rire” CNRS, 998 pages). This explains to me the difference between a joke and joy. Joy is the emotion resulting of a joke, but also of many other experiences. The simple joy to meet another person, an animal, the sun, rain, wind, music, art or just less pain is more probably more intrinsic. To receive or to give a present is often associated with a joyful moment, sometimes lasting quite a bit. For some psychologists, emotions can be problematic, if a person can no longer regulate them effectively. Many persons tend towards excessive use of alcohol or other drugs to experience positive emotions like joy. Negative emotions of another person, strangely enough, may also contribute to the joy of another person (“Schadenfreude”), e.g., if a dictator is finally overthrown.
Much more inspiring is joy in connection with religion. As a critic of religious ideas, the attempts of religion to define joy for individuals and society probably explains the success of religions. Representations of Buddha, show the happy or joyful monk, Christians define joy with the advent and the birth of an unconceived child, fighting fiercely any modern forms of contraception and science advances for birth assistance. Restricting jokes and joy to the “carnival” period reflects the Christian doctrine to control and monopolise the definition of joy. Therefore, it is no surprise to witness that many persons feel more inspired by Asian traditions like “Ikigai” or “yoga” in their daily routines to experience joyful moments. I always found it very odd that Christian fundamentalists would not say Merry Christmas before the 25th of December after they have been to church at midnight. The priest or pope as the master of joy is a very strange idea. Affect inhibition or deferral is a powerful psychological tool. As in this blog entry I deferred my joy and laughter until the last line. So now, please join me in a wholehearted JOYFUL LAUGHTER, so the people around you may believe you’ve gone completely mad. It might be the beginning of more lasting joy, just keep practicing. Joy is within us not depending on outside stimuli,  joyful1  although they might help.

Stabi Ost

Die Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin hat 2 Standorte: Unter den Linden im Ostteil und Potsdamerstraße im Westteil der Stadt. Inhaltlich muss ich mal hierhin und mal dahin. Das macht nichts, denn es lässt sich so die Architektur und die Kunst am Bau vergleichen, als Begleiterscheinung. Meine Lieblingswerke sind die Leuchten in der Stabi West und die Uhren in der Stabi Ost. Die Architektur des frühen 20.-ten Jahrhunderts im Osten ist eher furchterregend und nicht wirklich einladend finde ich. Damals waren in Deutschland Bibliotheken noch elitären Kreisen vorbehalten, wie in der Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris hatte die Stabi Ost einen runden Lesesaal, der wurde aber in dem Wiederaufbau nicht erhalten. Die eckige Variante in der Mitte der historischen Außenwände erscheint ungemütlich und in der Tat braucht die ungemütliche, unrühmliche Geschichte Deutschlands ständig solche Erinnerung daran. Neues Licht auf die historische Schatten werfen, durch die transparente Dachkonstruktion, ist in der historischen Sammlung an den Rändern jedem Nutzenden möglich. Das Treppenhaus ist in der offenen Bauweise der Stabi West mit den Leuten (allerdings aus Plastik) einladender. Aber das sollte jeder selbst auf sich wirken lassen. Heute profitieren wir von der Zugänglichkeit bei kostenloser Nutzung der Säle und Bestände in Berlin und der zentralen Erreichbarkeit beider Bibliotheken.