Monthly Archive: October 2013

Russia at the Crossroads

Update Dec 26, 2013: Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released from jail on Dec 20, 2013.  Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an almost forgotten Russian voice; he spent the last 10 years of his life in Russian jails in Siberia. He once was one of the richest men of Russia, but he disagreed too much with Putin. On October 24, 2013 he managed to publish a letter to the New York Times from jail. It is worth reading, because it summarizes the state of Russia today very eloquently. He says that the situation and the outlook for Russia is grim, therefore the Europeans should step...

Michel de Certeau: To the ordinary man.

Michel de Certeau’s original version of his book “The Practice of Everyday Life” (1984) has a “for-forword” that dedicates it to the “ordinary man.” This ordinary man is the remnant of humanity in an age that moves from the name to the number, from titles to bar codes. We can fill in the blanks: refugees, prisoners, stateless people, migrants, slum-dwellers, people who live in some kind of no-mans-land, or simply the crowds in public spaces. In Certeau’s view, what is left of humanity is an impossible object of desire, the longing for a subject of history, or for a meaningful...

Ecological Thinking?

Ecology is the study of interactions among organisms and their environment. One can even think about the human race in ecological terms, and this form of thinking is vital if we want to have a future. If we let our thinking transgress the boundaries of scientific disciplines, ecology becomes philosophy enhanced with information. Ecology stands for our relationship with nature. Philosophers have thought about this question  for a long time, but now the debate is no longer academic, it has become very urgent because it threatens our survival. We have to throw out distinctions that have worked well for a...

Poetry, Nature, Thought. Rilke’s Late Poetry.

And we, spectators always, everywhere, turned towards everything, and never towards the open. It fills us. We arrange it. It decays. We arrange it again, and decay ourselves. Und wir: Zuschauer, immer, überall, dem allen zugewandt und nie hinaus! Uns überfüllts. Wir ordnens. Es zerfällt. Wir ordnens wieder und zerfallen selbst. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these lines in 1922; they are a part of the eighth Duino Elegy. It describes us humans as spectators. We are turned towards life, hungry for experience and excitement, but we don’t want to look at ourselves, and we resist change, even...