Vienna November 2020 – Now, Again, Forever: Peace!

peace dove drawing

The events in Vienna are dreadful and tragic. My heart goes out to all who are affected!

Let’s take care that in everyday life, each day, we know that such deeds never exist in mid-air, unrelated.

(Neighbourly) love, peace and equality are the basic ingredients of a truly peaceful world, some day, hopefully soon.

Self-esteem, appreciation for all around us will help to spread what is good.

And voting for all those politicians, who want better things than just power and money at the expense of many, for the benefit of few. In truth and clear-headed knowledge.

Peace!

Vienna – A Paradise Lost and Won

I live in Vienna, the city of my childhood joy and adult dreams.
I am not your typical dreamer: I know about people and about life, more than most. I have read a great lot; I have thought a lot. I have worked in many jobs during my studies. I studied literature and culture of the US, UK and Persia. I have read about many more. I have an M.A. to my name.

Yet, Vienna, the long and relaxed cultural tradition of mixed heritage, the faint glimmer of a monarchy that ended a century ago but was hundreds of years in place; the older and newer places in the town and city, the gardens and parks, and last but not at all least, the people:

Vienna is the city where you still feel the pace of a more human speed, as I put it earlier, in German: “where you are – elegantly – never in a real hurry.”

Milton called his epic masterpiece ‘Paradise Lost’. It is based on the Christian religion.

Vienna never was a paradise, if you looked closely enough: it has an old-world charm and flair though that is as unique as that of Paris, France, or that of Prague, Czechia.

Artists, musicians and writers lived and died here. Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Strauß, father and son, Schubert and Brahms, to name just a very few, composed world-famous musical pieces, concertos and operas people have listened to and loved (or hated…) for centuries.

I worked in the so-called ‘Wienerwald’ for two years, a region that is surrounding Vienna and is a real forest in many places: the air in Vienna and in that forest is of a certain balmy nature you may feel making you almost dizzy, like a glass of champagne.

I am not exaggerating, if you ever get the chance to come here and are the least bit sensitive to that kind of impression, you will know. And it is that one-glass-of-a-good-wine-feeling, such as wines you find around here in abundance too, not a drunken kind of state, at all.

All this is true. As well as the truth about people, who are often very similarly human inside of a region, a culture – or inside and out of ‘business’. Ideas and points of view are similar.
So, Vienna as well is very human. It’s not a paradise in the fairy-tale sense.

It is a paradise in spite of and because of the slightly frayed seams of its dress.

I love it.

About Blogs, Texts – and Literary Rules

In literary research and in literature, it is one of the first rules: never assume that author and narrator are one and the same. The same is true for other kinds of texts, whichever they are.

A number of my readers may know this well anyway and take it for granted. Still, I’d like to point this out for all who might not know or be aware of this.

When I write here, about philosophical ideas or life, politics or love – you name it – most of what I write about, as all writers of any genre do and know too, originates in thoughts, very extensive reading throughout a lifetime (in my case), research, online and offline – and observation.

Writing about it does not necessarily mean that someone has seen or done something themselves.
To believe that would be gross, in some cases, but presumptuous at least.

Peeping Toms – and Marys?


The ‘peeping Tom’ for generations has described aptly what I am about to deal with here: the secretly watching male, who’s too dumb for a vivid imagination and too cheap for spending money on the ‘real thing’:
the male (and female?) person who watches others using any kind of device, in the analogue days telescopes to catch at least glimpses of those others in ‘private states’:
any stage of undress, close encounters of the private and loving kind they miss out on themselves so sadly…

It is sometimes sad, sometimes frustrating, when you feel them about – and often just plain ridiculous and proof of very small minds.

They are not using the – especially these days – ample means and opportunities that often are even sold cheap online; not using the human imagination based perhaps on tales or books or even movies to make their own ‘reality’…

Woody Allen let one of his characters put it nicely in his comedy “Bullets over Broadway”: ‘reality is for those who cannot make their own.’

These days I presume, with so-called – in this respect – equality of the sexes around – women might be ‘peeping’ too; but that is a guess.

Just as in former centuries (married) men used to boast about their ‘adventures’, the nice term ‘swaggering’ makes it even clearer; while women were the ‘true gentlemen’, who relished in silence, even though from necessity rather than want…

To this day, the statistics in these matters especially are hard to determine and not easily published. Not all that is loudest is the most of any kind – or right….

The right to privacy is a human right and apart from an invasion into the privacy of those that are watched, it’s a punishable offence

Still, all those who read this and start thinking: perhaps new ways can be found, anyway: there are those that seem to be the natural counterpart of peeping Toms or Marys: the exhibitionists…

So, inhibited masses, unite!

Love – Human, Basic – Eternal?


Love is a human emotion. It’s one of the five basic ones. But its shapes are numerous: there’s friendship across and among the sexes, there’s love between parents and children and there’s romantic love, as well as bodily love, as the more ancient term has it.

Why would it be considered eternal?

Two very basic experiments and their results come to mind:
There was an ancient king, if I remember correctly, who was part of Greek mythology, although unfortunately his name escapes me at the moment: he wanted to know what babies really need to survive. He put a number of them into a secluded spot, where they were fed and clothed and taken care of – but not loved. They all died.

Now, as a myth, my readers might think, well…

But, in recent decades this has been confirmed in a most sad way: after WW II many babies were orphaned because of the war. Sometimes, just ‘lost’. But the same thing occurred and apparently people concerned found out by sad trial and error:
babies that were kept warm, clean, clothed, well-fed, but unloved, not caressed or talked to, died. Healthy.

Consider what happens to grown-ups: when they feel ready to despair of love; lonely, depressed and devoid of hope, they suffer heart attacks and die. They may, tragically, commit suicide.

Hope is an emotion that is based on the idea that good will come. The confidence and trust that loved ones can invoke.

So, yes, in all the hard times that can be laid on human beings, and for all the hard ones I’ve seen, I still think, and consider myself lucky:

I’ve seen friendship, love, care of parents and relations. I’ve learned what helped me. Close to despair one day I met a person who without any apparent reason smiled at me, a warm smile. And suddenly I realized, what makes the sun rise in my heart:
Love, unconditional, in all its shapes.

The sound of it seems to be captured in the wonderful recording of Antonin Dvorak’s “From The New World”, his symphony no. 9, conducted by Ferenc Fricsay.
An excerpt of the most beautiful parts in the first movement here:

Quiet vs Talk? – Talk and Quiet!

sunset trees lake

Times can be tough, I have seen many and gone through a lot of such times. I still consider myself lucky, in many respects.

I find that talking can be overestimated. But so can quiet. As has been said similarly elsewhere:
there’s a time and place for everything.

Sometimes we talk to others in order to exchange ideas, or information.

Sometimes we talk to others to feel close by being understood and listened to.

Sometimes we talk to others so we can make the heart’s burden lighter, or to let off the steam of anger.

Sometimes we talk to others to clear up things or answer questions.

But often, there’s nothing of the above necessary. We are at one with ourselves and our emotions and ideas.

In such times, being quiet can be the order of the day. Know that our near and dear understand.

In hard or sorrowful times, a good cry can help. Or letting off steam by punching something

Hugging near and dear helps.

Work helps.

And laughter helps. Always.

Storms of Life – Peace of Mind and in the World….

In this day and age many people are surrounded by more and more digital as well as analogue devices and consequently, by impressions, news and ideas. Articles and blog posts (such as this one…) are added to the already huge amount of data every other minute.
I am glad that we have the possibility to retreat into ourselves. At least, I am one who appreciates it.

People on this earth are raised according to regional cultural tradition, to family tradition, sometimes religious ideas and last but not least, according to the latest global trends, as they are published on so-called ‘social media’. In actual fact, some of these trends are just born from the fear of not ‘fitting in’, not be part of the majority.
I’ve posted about this similarly before.

I have to admit I pity people who are unable to relish peace and quiet, because they cannot bear the thoughts inside. The ‘stream of consciousness’ that so many of us feel, sometimes more, sometimes less noticable.

Worries and sorrow can sometimes be hard to bear. There are numerous good ways though, to find rest for the mind. Sometimes it can be necessary to consciously look at all the thoughts that bother or worry us. Let them ‘float past’ though, without holding on to them.

Sometimes emotions can become so strong as to overwhelm us. Depending on what we have learned, it can be more easy to deal with that alone. In the company of people it may become difficult to just let go and have ‘a good cry’, for fear they might be worried.

But the laughter also, and the conscious use of wisdom, comedy and humour are crucial, especially in hard times.

I consider myself to be privileged in many respects: I have a job I like doing (see also my ‘About’). I have enough free time from it to follow other favourite pursuits, such as cooking, digital video editing, reading, music and many more.

I feel that exchanging ideas with like-minded people can be fruitful and joyful at the same time. Like-minded people do not ‘grow on trees’. That’s why I like both: talk – and peace and calm around me.

I also believe that any peace we have the chance to actually ‘live’ in our daily lives can help to increase world peace as well.
An African saying I like a lot, is said to run like this:
“When many little people in many little places around the world do many little good things they can change the face of the world.”

So, greets to all of you ‘little people’ with big hearts and minds out there.
Peace to all.

Distraction – Internet – Productivity – or: Us?

In recent years documentaries and books as well as blog articles tell us how disruptive the internet is to our work ethics, how problematic it has become for people to constantly check their phones and so on social media about their latest ratings, the newest trend, even if only purported, or the most scary news.

Of course, with any new technology, it is added, this means we should be careful, not to say beware: dreadful things are happening, people become dumb, or dumber through the internet, more distracted, less able to focus.

But as I posted before, history can teach us: neither these warnings nor the idea of a new technology or medium being dangerous to the average person’s mind is really new.
When Gutenberg invented printing, the church and other ‘forward thinkers’ predicted dreadful consequences, for minds as well as morals of the population.
When radio came first into being, it was a wide-spread fear that those waves would damage brains or thinking or make impotent or even criminal.
When TV arrived on the horizon and was made available to the masses, the same happened, all over again.

The presumptions in all of this are:

  • There’s an actual average level of the mind of humans that can be damaged or ‘pulled to depths of iniquity’.
  • There’s a crucial point where certain kinds of knowledge or insight might cause the ‘fall from grace’ to happen again, the paradise-situation and first sin all over again: eat the fruit of enlightenment or insight and you will be disgraced.

What all of these prognosticators disregard sadly, are some basic truths of history and humans that are not all nice to look at but still true:

  • For thousands of years dreadful crimes have been committed, cruelty and torture, by the inquisition, an institution of the Christian church, as well as feudal landlords, have inflicted pain and suffering and death on innocent people.
  • Wars have caused actions of killing and torture the average mind shudders at. Rape, hunger, sophisticated torturing, you name it. And most of the time mankind exists, there was no internet, no social media and no radio, books or TV around.
  • People, in throngs, used to visit public hangings and punishment that was institiuonalised torture, many a scary movie these days would shy away from depicting.
  • Women were called ‘witches’ and tortured and burnt at the stake long before any of the abovementioned media were around, again, no radio, no books, no TV or internet.
  • People always have exchanged sensations, told stories, true or false, ‘spun yarns’ and – looked for excitement in an often too boring reality.
  • The ballads that were sung, the shallower of the plays in mass theatre productions, ‘wall newspapers’ that would pay tribute to any of the today’s tabloids, were in abundance long before analogue or digital technology were even thought of.

If anything, in many parts of the world with higher education levels and more well-paid jobs available, cruelties have decreased – except for times of war, which ‘behave’ according to precedent – and according to crimes’ statistical records that cover around two centuries now.

So, I like to put it rather like this, as someone said somewhere a couple of years ago:
‘Smart, educated people will smartly use and become more smart with using media, dumb ones will become dumber.’

It means responsibility again, too:
the better we ourselves learn to discern and also teach our children discretion of good or bad or the best media, the more hope is in it, for all.

Being ‘Right’ – or Being Yourself – and Be Human

For a long time I have thought about and observed what people do, what they think, what they fear at times, what makes them cry, what makes them laugh – and I have the strong impression that in many cultures emotion, as a concept, and emotions as individual ‘moving aspects’ in life are highly underestimated.

Partly, any culture in the world has its own rules about what is accepted behaviour and which emotions are acceptable to display. Often there are differences between the sexes in these rules. In patriarchal societies, very often for women to become angry or furious, enraged and loud, is considered ‘unladylike’, at least. In former times, women often were condemned for being crazy and eventually were locked up.

On the other hand for men, being sensitive and easily moved to tears in such societies can mean to be considered disturbed of mind or at least a ‘problematic case’.

We have come a long way, partly because psychology and its insights helped. Partly, because social scientists looked closer at those rules. Because people ask and asked questions and started doubting customary ‘truths’.

We know more about what is human, what is perhaps just this ‘little wonderful difference’, that the famous French saying puts so nicely into perspective.

But many people out there believe, that everybody should be more or less the same, do more or less the same things and then will live happily and healthily ever after.
This is not true. Although we are human beings and there exist lots of similarities, as regards cultural tradition, region of birth and upbringing, gender and family – yet in detail each and everyone of us is as unique as their fingerprints.

As a renowned food chemist put it (paraphrase):
“Many health rules are built like this: When they started researching who had the healthiest feet in the country and then found that such people usually wore size 32 shoes, they made it a rule that everyone should wear size 32 shoes. But if your feet are bigger, this rule won’t fit you.”

Therefore it can be very important, to observe these two things:
Learn more about emotions, as Daniel Goleman called it first, develop your EQ, the emotional intelligence, as opposed to the IQ. The IQ tests certain functions of the brain, bluntly put, analytical thinking.
But humans are more complex than just their IQ results. For quite some time, IQ tests are ‘out of fashion’, and rightly so.

Another problematic ‘fashion for behaviour’, for ‘personality traits’, if any, in certain countries, especially in polite society, for centuries, has been taken from business:
be always cool, calm and collected so as not to appear too eager about a deal.
This almost inhuman dictum may well be at the root for many apparent ‘disorders’ being diagnosed these days, in children or adults.

Secondly, question rules that force you to be, or feel, or behave outwardly what you do not feel inside, at all.
If people have been treated with electric shock therapy for certain ‘mental disorders’ in the past century, it is a ‘shocking’ way to reveal the underlying dogma:
be right, be like everyone else, otherwise you will be ‘made to fit in’.

Another fine simile for this is the story of the farmer, who thought it might be interesting to put a piglet in a box so it would grow into a square pig. That worked nicely.
But one day, the farmer opened the box to take his square pig to market – and with a little ‘plop’ it rounded out again and was natural and pig-like.

So, I think, find out what and how you are, apart from the general rule or rules and be true to yourself, to become human and perhaps healthier than ever before.