Arnon Grunberg's Blog
November 20, 2017
Philipp Wittrock in der Spiegel on the German collapse, wel the collapse of the so-called Jamaica coalition talks:
"The reason for the collapse is clear: The parties involved failed to forge the one thing that is indispensable to keep such an alliance together: trust. And trust, it goes without saying, is the single most important currency in politics. Without trust a coalition cannot work."
"Sunday night, in short, was a loss for everyone. And for Germany."
Read the article here.
Would Mr. Wittrock have preferred a coalition without trust?
Balance of power is based on well-understood distrust?
Trust is too much to be asked for, but a little bit less paranoia would be pleasant.
November 19, 2017
Jan T. Gross ("Neighbors") in The NYT on Poland and fascism:
'If you want a sense of where Poland could be heading, look no further than the events last Saturday in Warsaw.
Tens of thousands of people — many of them young men with crew cuts, but some parents with children, too — flocked to the Polish capital to celebrate Independence Day in a march organized in part by two neo-fascist organizations. They waved white and red Polish flags, they brandished burning torches, and they wore “white power” symbols. They carried banners declaring, “Death to enemies of the homeland,” and screamed, “Sieg Heil!” and “Ku Klux Klan!”
The official slogan of the march was “We want God” — words from an old hymn that President Trump quoted during his speech in Warsaw in July.'
'Ever since the Law and Justice Party won both the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, Poland has been undergoing a disturbing political transformation. Law and Justice is an Orwellian name for a party that constantly violates the law, breaks constitutional provisions and is hellbent on subjecting the courts to its control. The party is dismantling the institutional framework of parliamentary democracy piece by piece in order to remove any restraints on the personal power of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. “Prezes,” the Boss, people call him.'
Read the article here.
That many people cannot let go of God is probably unavoidable, but when mysticism becomes a mass movement with torches and enemies then God is just another word for purity and "we" another word for fascism.
November 18, 2017
I'm not too fond of the Greek cuisine, probably my ignorance is responsible for this. And I apologize to all lovers of the Greek cuisine. (These days, it's wise to apologize preemptively.) But then there's Strofilia in Brussels. It's a while ago that both food and service made me as happy as Strofilia's service and dishes. I won't go into details. Go there and order everything. I was too late for a dessert, but given the quality of the other dishes I put some trust in the desserts as well.
I'd like to come back to Strofilia at least four times a year. We all need smaller and bigger ambitions, this is a medium ambition. It should be doable.
November 16, 2017
And now about the European parliament and sexual harassment, Peter Müller in Der Spiegel:
'Reintke is one of the few women who dares speak openly about sexual harassment. In early September, before the #MeToo campaign, she gave a speech in parliament about how she had been harassed in the train station in Duisburg. "A man came from behind and grabbed between my legs," she said. Reintke received a lot of respect for her appearance, but on Facebook, she faced malice and hatred. "Finally, someone actually touched you," was one of the milder comments.
Traditional power structures -- male boss, female employees -- famously facilitate abuse. This is exacerbated by the fact that the female lawmakers and assistants in Brussels are often working far from home, and that receptions and lots of alcohol replace meals at home with the family. This feeling of being on a school trip is especially strong when the parliamentarians meet once a month in Strasbourg.
On top of that, the European Parliament is still a way-station for men who were once important. Former commissioners, former party leaders and several big-name politicians spend their political twilight years here. "Many have the feeling that nothing can happen to me here," says Martin, the Socialist from France.'
Read the article here.
A sense of invincibility, the school-trip experience and the ruins of a career. Sexual harassment is for a certain type of man self-medication. Perhaps we need the anti-Viagra. You go to Strasbourg you take a pill and you won't feel lies for five days.
Where self-regulation doesn't work well, a pill may become a just alternative.
November 15, 2017
The Irish pub in Bourges, a charming city approximately 150 miles south of Paris, was fairly empty last night.
My friend, the actor, said: "You should try Japanese whisky."
"I don't like whisky," I replied.
He said: "Japanese whisky is something else." And then he added: 'One day, we should really get drunk."
November 13, 2017
It's a good day to quote Heiner Müller:
"Yesterday I stopped killing myself. I am alone with my breasts my thighs my lap. I rip apart the instruments of my imprisonment the Stool the Table the Bed. I destroy the battlefield that was my Home. I tear the doors off their hinges to let the wind and the cry of the World inside. I smash the Window. With my bleeding hands I tear the photographs of the men who I loved and who used me on the Bed on the Table on the Chair on the Floor. I set fire to my prison. I throw my clothes into the fire. I dig the clock which was my heart out of my breast. I go onto the street, clothed in my blood."
Yesterday I stopped killing myself. Not much more is needed. You can live on a minimal diet.
And now something about the emptiness of performance art or the discrete charm of the bourgeoisie part 7.
Ruben Ostlund’s movie “The Square” is not as good as his previous movie “Turist”, but there are a couple of truly hilarious scenes in it that makes “The Square” worth your while.
“Turist” was a movie about male angst and male shame and male survival strategies (run faster than your enemy). “The Circle” is mainly about people searching for an experience, while knowing that that thing called reality may gave them an experience that they were not waiting for at all.
Other themes: the distinction between indifference and tolerance (none) and the dangers of used condoms. Civilization is hiding your feelings, even after sex.
November 12, 2017
Saturday night. "The Mankind" in Utrecht. Afterwards a discussion with a philosopher about vulnerability.
Is vulnerability a virtue? Should we or hide our vulnerability? I would say that vulnerability is a given, but some people turn it into an asset. For them showing their vulnerability is part of their survival strategy.