Saturday, November 28, 2015

An American in Berlin

More than a year ago I had started a blog about a guy named E. T. Hansen sorry Eric T. Hansen who wrote for the German weekly Die Zeit. According to Eric the T. stands for terrific and this is how he feels and writes. I even dicovered an article about the Terrific in the German Wikipedia which in the meantime was translated into English. There you can read that Eric has studied in Germany and written several books in German. Both books and articles are based on solid research but characterized by satire and absurdities. Eric's credo: No one understands the Germans less than the Germans themselves. It is my job to hold a mirror up to them where he likes to be provocative.

Here is an example translated from the German original: The [right leaning] Bild-Zeitung is Germany's only newspaper for the working class. I would imagine that in a country counting Karl Marx among its national heroes there should be a serious effort to get going a left leaning newspaper for workers. Nope. In Germany left orientated newspapers are exclusively and consciously written for the upper educated class. Already in sentences of the Berlin newspaper taz overflowing with interlectually and nearly desparately exaggerated grammar one feels a deep-seated contempt for those without a college degree.

Thirteen months ago I continued my blog with the following explanatory text still valid today: The European Union and the States are presently working on a trade agreement called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). There is lots of fear in Germany that we will be Americanized eating chicken imported from the States treated with chlorine instead of consuming European bio (organic) poultry full of salmonella.

Eric however fears that TTIP will result in just the opposite, i.e., the Germanization of the States when he writes: We Americans buy any shit of European origin whereas Germany is the hardest market in the world.

There are less than 2000 hamburger restaurants in Germany (McDonalds and Burger Kings combined) but there are 3500 China restaurants and 12000 Döner places. KFC only has 120 chain stores and Wendy's withdraw from the German market following massive investments in the 1980s.
 In fact, in Freiburg the downtown Burger King threw the towel more than 18 month ago. So will the Döner really invade the States?

Well, fast food may not be the best parameter to use when describing the interpenetration of markets but Eric noted with some bitterness that America's biggest publisher Radom House now belongs to the Bertelsmann Group.

Last year Eric T's articles in Die Zeit abruptly stopped so I shelfed what I had written and had nearly forgotten about the text when suddenly Hansen's name appeared on an invitation of Freiburg's Carl-Schurz-Haus:

November 24, at the Café artjamming Eric T. Hansen will speak:
 about:me - Die Mormonen & Ich (The Mormons and me).

I went early to the café thinking that the small place would be crowded. However five minutes before eight only about twenty persons had arrived. Following an introduction by the Director of the Carl-Schurz-Haus Eric started his self-portrayal telling the audience how he had been growing up as a Mormon including his missionary efforts in Germany.

Eric at the artjamming café on November 24, 2015
At the age of 29 he broke with his religion. This self-confident American gave as reason for his decision to leave The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it had hampered him in the development of his personality. This statement was difficult for me to accept.

Since there is no longer a God Eric is afraid of a black hole after death, a hole that makes life for him meaningless. Neither atheist nor agnostic he lives in the hope of a dream that in the transience of life the personality of a person will survive. An interesting view of the Seinsfrage (question of existence) that Eric draws from the basics of Mormonism and that he - a missionary stays a missionary - enthusiastically supports.

Note: When faith fails hope hops in.


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