Pleasure in Craft. The Germans

Germany. Cologne Cathedral. Creative Commons License

The Germans like to do things well and feel pleasure in their craft. It comes out in everything they do. They are far away from the utilitarian attitude typical of the Anglo-Saxon, who works hard but most of the time has practical goals in mind, money and commerce being not seldom among them.

We will not mention the somewhat revealing episode (I do hope I recall well) of Heinrich Heine – one of the greatest German Romantic poets – and his totally puzzled reaction the first time he visited London in the first half of the 19th century, such a great city London (at that time the more powerful place in the world) though in his view an exclusively trade-oriented centre, which kind of disgusted him.

Neither we want to get much into the concept that concentrating so often on practical stuff only, while it can surely provide tremendous intervention power (it really does) it can nonetheless narrow human experience, which presents a much richer potential.

Pretty nice opposition, the German and the British, providing such a complicated insight on the German soul of Europe (not only the German soul, but I do not want to be repetitive). An opposition that has undone Europe. Well, ok, today we won’t plunge into that.

Here just 3 examples that can illustrate what we mean about the Germans.

Computer Bild Logo

I. Minimum ex. ComputerBild, a PC magazine also translated for the Italian market. Inexpensive (only 1.5 Euros here,) highly reliable and rich with meticulous analyses, a small instance of handicraft devotion in a market, the publishing market, where garbage is increasingly dominating.

A 1999 Porsche 996 Carrera Cabriolet. Public Domain

II & III. Maximum exs. Cars made in Germany (above a 1999 Porsche 996 Carrera Cabriolet, picture taken from here) or the outstanding Deutsches Museum in Munich, Bavaria (Museum of Masterpieces in Science and Technology).

As for the third example, apart from the term Museum of masterpieces that already implies a lot, at the DM practically everything – from small-scale models to entire huge reconstructions (i.e. reconstructions of underground coal mines and all the technology involved) – has been fondly manufactured in touching laboratories where artisans, some of them advanced in age, work(ed) with so much devotion and amore. Of course, models are one thing, real machinery – small and enormous aeroplanes, entire ships etc. – another totally (and impressive) thing at the Deutsches Museum.

Deutsches Museum. Germany. Munich

Well, what is incredible here is that almost any kind of machine, plus theoretical (and factual) models so various, plus tons of other astonishing stuff can be watched, analysed (and admired) in this awe-inspiring Institution, one of the best places in Europe for Science and Technology (maybe in the world? Well, American Science Museums and Science centres are pretty impressive too, but I am not capable of any useful comparison.)

Here, S&T are obviously seen as potent tools capable of diminishing hunger, making life easier etc. This of course is so important, do not misunderstand me. Nonetheless, S&T are also seen with a work-of-art approach involving the above-mentioned devotional attitude, which is a totally different thing. Yes, it is a totally different thing, I have little doubts about it.

It is this quality, among others, this pleasure of doing everything so well, that finally makes the Germans excellent engineers and, I would say, outstanding constructors of no matter what.

Two associative examples, if you please:

1) they are constructors of absolutely breathtakingly complex musical structures (where minds not well equipped can easily get lost, or bored, which is exactly the same thing.)
2) They are constructors of equally breathtakingly complex and sumptuous philosophical palaces, the deepest in the West (where one gets even more easily lost unfortunately.)

So, what the hell is their secret then? I do not know, why the hell do you think I know. Well ok, among other virtues, I might guess they are endowed with patience, calm and inflexible perseverance. Plus this great capacity of toiling (and suffering) in silence, an imprint of true force and indubitable courage.

PS
I wonder why India has always attracted me, though probably it is too late to seriously delve into that much diverse and impenetrable depth. The depth you find in the beautiful eyes of many Indian women, both terribly sweet and unfathomable, where I could really (and hopelessly) lose my mind…

Aishwarya Rai. Bollywood star. Fair use

The Neapolitans & the Quiet Shoemaker

The Italian musicologist Massimo Mila was from Turin (northern Italy, under the Alps) and adhered to the philosophical school founded by the Neapolitan Benedetto Croce. This school engendered a large number of solid intellectuals and dominated the Italian intellectual scene for more than half a century: Piero Gobetti, Antonio Gramsci, Nicola Abbagnano, Attilio Momigliano, Massimo Mila, Giulio Confalonieri ecc. this list being very long. Giovanni Gentile, another influent Italian philosopher of that period was instead Croce’s peer, and Sicilian.

[I told you the Neapolitan Greek cousins of Rome were full of surprises: wonder why they had excellent philosophers and why southern-Italy thinkers like Croce (and Gentile) had this special connection with the Germans.]

Mila, in his inspired Breve storia della musica (Einaudi 1963 p. 144,) writes about Johann Sebastian Bach, the greatest Western composer in my opinion:

“His immense musical production was put together with assiduous, methodical, quiet work, carried out with the scrupulous care of an artisan and conceived, without any pause, as service of God. Without any pause since, had Bach been a shoemaker, he would have made a boundless number of shoes to the great glory of God, all carefully crafted and finished off with scrupulous care”.

lupaottimigut1.jpg

Discussion with readers

Very interesting comments (in my opinion) have been made on this post on the Germans. If you click down on “comments” you’ll follow holistic discussions among two lovely Indians and Man of Roma. Ashish especially, a young gifted man, and Poonam, a woman who talks little but whose words have weight.

Discussion about what?

Well, about: Bollywood, India, Europe, America, the UK, WW1, WW2, Europe’s decline, German tremendous virtues, Indian women’s eyes, China, Cindia, Great Britain’s awesome success, highly refined & beloved France, Hitler’s folly and death in a bunker, Hitler’s perverted sadism, Hitler’s evil psychological seducing powers, German tragedy, Italian Comedy, Mussolini and Fascism. Mussolini, his balls & his petty calculations, comparisons among the British the Germans the Russians the Romans (of course,) the French, the Spaniards. Plus Elisabeth I, Shakespeare & the Spanish Armada defeat, Russia invading Germany thirsty for blood, Tolstoy’s War and Piece greatness, Napoleon, the Brits’ greatness in some ways similar to the Romans’ greatness, the UK as Europe’s trojan horse, and much much more.

One friend of mine just said: “This is crazy!”

I provided no answer.

UNESCO World Heritage LIMES logo

PS
Let us first enjoy this J.S. Bach’s Toccata und Fuge BWV 565 played by Hans-Andre Stamm on the famous Trost organ in Waltershausen, Germany (have a look here). It is a very famous piece of music and I’d prefer other ones by Bach. But it is good for starting to appreciate a totally new spiritual world of sounds. Most of the time Toccatas are not as deep as Fuges.
Up to you to guess which is which.

Let us finally compare the majestic piece linked above with this electric-guitar improvisation by Lonn, a refined French man and guitarist of Towersound French band. He’s improvising on the above Toccata only, though improvisations being tricky, up to you to figure out if he sticks to the Toccata only.

Two last things. A. I met this French band just now on YouTube, so I do not know their value (the impro seeming to me decent enough though, and the French accent of the player absolutely delightful). B. Purists to me are morons. They absolutely have no home in my virtual Neverland.

Italian version

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: http://manofroma.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/pleasure-in-craft-the-germans/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. British > Germans on my list. Though German’s are second … the list being the most intriguing people of the world. Can’t add much, but German’s have a very rich history.. one of most fearsome warrior people’s in earlier ages or something.

    But I always did want a Porsche every since I played NFS: Porsche Unleashed! :D

  2. @Ashish
    But I always did want a Porsche every since I played NFS: Porsche Unleashed!
    Ah ah ah. You really are such a great guy, Ashish. If I were gay, I would marry you NOW.

    British & Germans on my list. Though German’s are second
    Well, I like both the Germans and the British, and I am kind of torn between the two. Parallel to this attraction, there is the French (English, German, French are the languages I have studied, after all).

    The French belong to our same Latin civilization. They were in some way created by Julius Caesar, they speak the same bastard Latin we do speak, they have a similar sweet way of life or *dolce vita*. So, gettin’ ahead with age I am starting to like them more and more. Old people get pretty sentimental….puah, such disgusting weakness… but they are in my view among the most refined people in the world.

    German’s have a very rich history.. most fearsome warrior people’s in earlier ages
    Yes, they were (and are, I suppose) great warriors. The British were (and are) too. Totally different way of fighting though. You can also see in soccer. Soccer (or any sport) is very revealing (I know only soccer though, pretty dull lol). It is interesting how they have this common German root (Anglo-Saxons referring to two German tribes, as you know) but they are very different. Both very strong-willed though, very strong-willed indeed.

    PS
    Post on Germany has grown. Bollywood is there too. Have a look, buddy

  3. Hey, I read this post yesterday..but the one Indian woman’s picture you have here on you blog is one..I dislike..I dislike this woman she has portrayal of a delicate yet plastic beauty. She does not represent the essence of Indian women…Indian women are spunky, lively..nothing like this woman who is world pages with a well oiled PR machinery..

  4. Ah ah ah. You really are such a great guy, Ashish. If I were gay, I would marry you NOW.
    If I ever decide to impress a girl, I’m going to use this as a testimonial. :D

    Well the British and Germans are nearly level but the Brits edge the Germans out. I’m not interested much in the French though it is much bigger ever since I’ve read Dumas’ work. In combat the Germans have an edge on land while the Brits are unsurpassed in naval, but things have changed a lot now. Europe no longer is the “IT” thing of the world, lol. That passed to America and is now passing on to Asia quite quickly. But Europe intrigues me as Asia intrigues you. :)

    I don’t watch soccer. I used to play soccer in school with a lonely dodge being my only achievement even though I don’t know how I did it to this day. lol.

    Post on Germany has grown. Bollywood is there too. Have a look, buddy
    Aishwarya Rai? Nope, I’m more interested in the Germans! lol. Not a movie person here. :)

    Btw, you’ve been TAGGED!

  5. @Ashish
    you’ve been TAGGED!

    Tagged? What the heck does that mean GeekWrestler?

    Well the British and Germans are nearly level but the Brits edge the Germans out.

    The British are the most successful nation in Europe, no doubt. They didn’t only edge out the Germans. They edged out the French as well. And much earlier they defeated the Spanish Armada about to subjugate England at the Shakespearean time of Elisabeth I, such a turning point that naval battle.

    The Brits were thence the winners of this great comedy-tragedy called European history. We might say world history, due to the great European influence at that time. We are using the Brits’ language not by chance, you and me. Who else? Us Italians (well, only me among few), India & Pakistan, Australians, America, Canada, Hong Kong, only a bit mainland China (they have to), the French (oopss, they try hard not to) etc.: everybody in short making efforts – except the Italians and the French, for different reasons though – all helped by the fact that English is easy.

    Europe no longer is the “IT” thing of the world, lol. That passed to America and is now passing on to Asia quite quickly.

    Allow me to correct this picture a bit:
    1) Cindia was first (China + India). 2) Then the West (Europe, starting from the Greco-Romans – Cindia was concurrent but too far for me to comprehend – and ending up with the Britons); 3) nowadays, Britons-originated America. 4) then Cindia over again in brief time, 20-30 years max, in my view.

    (I’m ready of course to go to India and play opera tunes in a Chinese restaurant in Bombay, one of the cities I like most in the world – Bach being too heavy for the usual restaurant goers).

    The Renaissance think-tank guys like Italian Machiavelli talked about Fortune and Virtue as main factors of success in history (pardon me Ashish, this blog is making me a chatter-box… :-( I am flooding a friend :-( ( because you are a great stimulus, buddy)

    1) *Fortune*. The Brits were in fact kissed by the Roman Goddess Fortune (a real Roman Goddess, though unpredictable), one clear example being they could defeat the unbeatable (eg a Spanish Armada fleet of 130 ships: lethal) basically because of inclement weather, plus maybe embryonic superior naval technology, a minor factor in any case, the status of being embryonic being actually … embryonic.

    2) *Virtue*. The Brits had TONS of virtues. Much more admirable element, Virtue – Fortune being too whimsical to be interesting.

    In short, the British had the greatness we all admire and which in my view is partially of Roman descent (I am convinced of this, and they seem too, mostly, even though they didn’t recognize it at first. Great Gibbon didn’t. He thought the West stemmed from the dark misty German forests, not from the sunny Mediterranean sea. I have to check it out, I just shot it. Technically, I think, it may be called *The Whig vision of West Birth*, totally wrong in my view, French historian Braudel having a much better vision (and evidence), I believe.

    Europe no longer is the “IT” thing of the world, lol. That passed to America and now it is passing on to Asia quite quickly.

    Yes, Europe is undone. Since the Germans were so darn powerful, they said: “Hey guys, we arrived late, ok? The Brits having the biggest slice, then the French a smaller though good slice as well, isn’t it *high* time we show to the world who the hell we are eh? Let us get our slice, men!”. Well, gods, all this was fair and just, after all, although history’s not like that, ruthless power-relationships counting only. So two big clashes occurred (WW1 & WW2) which, ironically, undid not only Europe but the Britons and the French as well, plus all of us. The end of Europe, in short.

    The weird thing being that the Germans are total deep geniuses, a bit like the Greeks: too much depth kind of leading to self-destruction (Greek civilisation at its best suddenly collapsed out of … folly).

    Ok, so the Germans then started to make mistakes. For example they violated one of the rules in the West you just cannot violate, given our Gods are watching with envious eyes, something the Romans (& the Brits) would never have done: they committed Hubris (complicated concept: see Wikipedia). My view of excess is different at this moment: something like being-less-intelligent-via-too-much-intelligence. Twisted, I know.

    The Romans and the Brits were instead more matter-of-fact: less deep intelligence leading weirdly to extreme, unbeatable intelligence.
    What happened is that the Germans went so beyond, thinking they were superior to everybody. They went so far, crazy Romanticism (Wagner, Nietzsche and all that moonstruck bunch) helping them to fall into a horrid pit, and us all with them.

    In fact one day arrived when Fortune totally hit them. In the cruellest of ways. She sent this *maniac*, this sadistic magician with paranormal superpowers. She (and other cruel Gods) just sent this Evil Genius because of their sin, Hubris. She sent this barbarian who was able to seduce – he, mostly uncouth – such civilized folk (think of Beethoven, Bach, Goethe, Schiller, Thomas Mann etc.). He incidentally seducing also our fascist dux Mussolini (dux, Latin for ‘leader’) who was first Hitler’s mentor, and had balls, his balls and intelligence not sufficing though since he was too seduced after watching this monster subjugating huge crowds of Germans with his paranormal powers, together with incredible mass media and special effects; Mussolini also adhering for petty calculations – he thought Hitler had won the war already, a moronity all Italians paid a heavy price for.

    Hitler of course, those he couldn’t seduce, he had them killed. He was wicked, loved to kill and chose people around him who were of the same kind. One horrific example of his perverted mind, he fell in love with this little girl, his niece, if I recall well, to the extent that she lost her mind and killed herself. He suffered from that a lot – he probably loved her in a twisted way – and after that tragedy he became even more inhuman…
    Self destruction, yes …
    So Hitler (the SS and those around him) ended up with 1) destroying their own country 2) destroying Italy (our fault) 3) definitely ending Europe’s (UK’s and France’s) power etc. Such a HUGE SIGH OF RELIEF when finally he ended his wicked life with instant poison in that ghastly bunker under the Berlin soil.

    The damage was done though. Big Bear was approaching. The German Nazis had killed horribly while invading Russia because they were convinced the people out there were subhuman … so Big Huge Russian Bear was preparing to backfire, thirsty for blood. They are slow, the Russian, but when they strike, with their huge blows, they do strike.

    The Russian foot soldiers were probably the winners of WW2: 20,000,000 youths died in their prime, writing letters to girlfriends & families. They abandoned life because of Hitler the maniac.

    So when finally Big Bear invaded Germany, these dead soldiers’ comrades got ferocious and they did horrible things the Germans during invasion of their land.
    Tragedy seems to befit the Germans. To them I pay the humblest of tributes, loving them and pitying them for all they did – not entirely their fault – and for the burden of their guilt – which is fading though, life renewing itself at each new generation.

    I am not much for tragedy, at least my Roman side. Our ancestors too provoked tragedies, but mostly for rational purposes (one can disagree with.) I prefer comedies and, being Italian, I like La Commedia dell’Arte

    But I love Herman, who destroyed Augustus’ legions, and the German Goths, who destroyed one of the most intelligent and refined Empire ever appeared, the Empire of Rome. They could do it not because the Germans were stronger, but because the Romans underestimated them – exactly like the Germans did with the Russians and the US. It was the Romans’ first (and last) mistake.

    [Don’t take me too seriously, ok? I’m just trying to brush up humanities :-) ]

  6. @Poonam Sharma

    Plastic beauty (Aishwarya Rai). She does not represent the essence of Indian woman …Indian woman are spunky, lively..nothing like this woman who is world pages with a well oiled PR machinery

    Your prose is concise, mine is flooding – see how I flooded poor Ashish. Of course I am sure you are right about Aishwarya Rai. The reason I chose her is because I saw “The Last Legion”, where she plays a major role. Although, well, her eyes are unbelievable (never seen such colour before.) I wanted to convey an idea of depth in Indian culture thru the eyes of a woman … women being the deep soul of any civilization.

    Only the pic I chose is not revealing her eyes’ beauty as much as I wanted (better ones were copyrighted). Ok, she is plastic, but I am totally naive as far as Bollywood, and I disagree with Ashish only for the reason Bollywood can teach me a lot on India. Also, I need this at this point of my life. I love to see all those people dancing, these are musicals, not simple movies, so colourful with rich music and dance and plot, all mixed …such a potent DRUG!

    (Plus I wanted to give to Westerners a winning image of India. Whatever you can say about her, she is a winning Indian, no doubt about it)

    Pls be so kind to come back here, dear Indian woman. Tell me about what is the essence of India according to Poonam only (I do not only care about the big philosophers, I care for people like you, Amith, Ashish, though of course I started reading some S. Radhakrishnan – a great mind. He wrote we ALL should be man + woman + child in order to really be complete and wise. Isn’t that beautiful? I will invite him soon to my virtual dialogues.
    I need colours, dance, music which are rich too. My culture is based on the concept “simple and clear is beautiful”. Yours, as far as I can tell, is instead based on “complex and manifold is beautiful”. I am fantasying about it.

    Finally, dear Poonam, the reason I seldom comment on your blog is that it is so specifically Indian, it is difficult for me to understand at times

    PS
    Basically the Last Legion says what I just told Ashish: Brits, even in pop culture, are getting closer to us Romans: the Excalibur sword that will belong to King Arthur is nothing but Julius Caesar’s sword and Arthur’s father is nothing but Romulus Augustulus, the last emperor of Rome. Ok, just pop culture, I know, but it could correspond at present to the feelings of British common people.

    All my best regards

  7. Let me reply randomly. :)

    I think the Brits have Europe in them like none of the other people. They are at once Norse, German, Roman, Franks, Spaniards or Swiss. And it does help when you’re on an island and most of the land wars are kept at bay. Lol. Yes, there will be none like the British Empire, the hallmark of Europe when it covered 1/4th of the world.

    Germans, I admire them. And yes, their power grew in a surge [two actually] and fell away quickly because of their own foolishness. End of Europe did I say? Nope, for recently Europe is getting back to its feet. Not the UK or France or Spain of old but Sweden, Norway and Denmark among the rest. It is just a “chakra” [wheel] of time, when one falls, someone else takes its place. When the UK became too tired of being THE IT of the world, America took over, then somebody, then somebody. Sort of like when a teacher retires, someone else comes to take his place.. not always matching his predecessor.

    Wasn’t Attila the guy who along with the Goths took down much of the Western Empires power? For the Byzantine empire, they underestimated the Turks. Over confidence kills. We have a recent [well before I was born] example of Vietnam and even Iraq where even the superior US army was harried because of lack of preparation.

    The Russians are a different people, European though. :) I respect them, but haven’t learned much. It’s as if there’s a wall between Russia and the rest of the World. More deep than the China wall.

    Gladiator movie was awesome. But sometimes I think that we’ve been conditioned to think that Romans were the bad guys always until the very end. They did much that has actually revolutionised the world. The greeks invented, the Romans spread. :)

    If I ever come to Italy, I’m sure going to visit you! :D

  8. It is just a “chakra” [wheel] of time, when one falls, someone else takes its place.

    Yes, so true. Is it a Sanskrit word / concept?

    End of Europe did I say? Nope, for recently Europe is getting back to its feet

    Getting back to its feet? Well, I’ll tell you why my love for the Brits is troubled by some grudge. They used Julius Caesar’s strategy – ‘divide and rule’ – the Roman general had used against the Gauls. They thus successfully impeded a BIG power to grow on the Continent (which would have unifed Europe). I understand: it would have made them hopeless. Therefore, they destroyed French Napoleon first, German Hitler later. The thing being now, chakra affecting also the intellect of the most gifted – my opinion only – they are *still* thinking that blocking European political unification is an intelligent thing.

    Wow. My best compliments! Is it now good to do that? Is it now intelligent? Aren’t we all European? How can Europe cope with the huge challenges ahead, if divided?
    Europe will never be as great as she was before. Let her at least save her ass and live decently, or we’ll wash car windscreens in 30-40 years. This is my grudge against the Brits.

    The Russians are a different people, European though. :) I respect them, but haven’t learned much

    Yes, European with a bit of Asia in their blood. Amazing their women, looking Swedish though with Chinese eyes. Read Russian Tolstoy “War and Peace” which according to world critics is probably one of the best novels ever written (very thick book, but if u can bear at least 100 pages you are conquered. He tells ALL about Russian complex life and war & peace in a poignant way not inferior to Shakespeare’s (and incidentally also describing Big Bear defeating Napoleon.)

    Gladiator movie was awesome.
    Yes it was. The director was British, not American. And it helped the world to better understand the dignity and valour of Rome.

    But sometimes I think that we’ve been conditioned to think that Romans were the bad guys

    It is mostly because Fascism and Nazism chose the Romans as their flag. Plus (I hate this) the Christians are sometimes fanatics and every movie they pay for you see bad Roman soldiers killing Jesus or Christians eaten up by lions in the Colosseum. No, they weren’t definitely the bad guys, no. Of course they were successful conquerors. Where they the only ones in history? I mean, how could they be the bad guys having shaped Europe and the West (maybe even more than the Greeks, sorry for my Greek student lol). All of us Western guys would then be the bad guys of the world (ah ah, maybe we are).

    Well, yes, the Romans were disciplined. And the Romans were hard …

    But weren’t the Brits hard as well when they mercilessly punished their schoolchildren; or when – in need of labour in Kangaroo land – they sentenced to lifelong labour in Australia thousands of boys and girls who had just stole an apple at a market? Horribly cruel, you (and I) would say… well, they had superior rational goals nonetheless. Common-man morals and politics (government) morals can travel on different tracks – this is why we have the CIA, for example. Called Realpolitik (or Machiavellian thought). In any case, no great civilisation engendering good fruits can be possibly based on violence only (Radhakrishnan, somewhere in “Living with a purpose”, Oriental Paperbacks 1977).

    The Greeks invented, the Romans spread
    Partially true dear Ashish. I know I’ll sound chauvinistic but it is my duty as Man of Roma lol to say the list of things the Romans invented is so long (law, outstanding building engineering and war craft, constitutional ideas that shaped even the American constitution for example etc.) Well, it suffice to say that European ruling classes lived the Sweet (and hard…) Roman life until Jane Austen’s times and even much later. Enough with it.

    PS
    And even if they *just spread*? That was not bad neither: if it were for the Greeks, all their conquests would have vanished like snow under the Indian sun.

    PPS
    What the hell is this tagging thing, you forgetful boy …

    PPPS
    Not as much forgetful as me though. Yes, come to Rome, young man. Never like in this moment of my life I need to meet good friends to talk to…..

  9. Yes, so true. Is it a Sanskrit word and concept?
    Sort of a Hindu belief. It happened before, it will happen again. Beings are created, they advance, fight among themselves, destroyed, begin again. I posted a joke on that belief once – This Shit happened before. :P

    Ah yes, Divide and rule. Thats what the Brits are blamed here for too. Diving India and Pakistan. However, most of these fights and grudges are already present and they just acted on them for their own interest. Manipulation for personal interests, if you may call. They were smart and no wonder became a huge super power. It was unethical, but if I put myself into their place, perhaps I might have done the same thing to protect my own interests. lol.

    As for Europe, the winds are a-changing. The big three [Britain, Germany and France] still hold fort but newer ones are coming up. Europe is as important for the balance of the world as Asia.

    Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” has been on my to read list for ages, but I haven’t read a book in ages. lol.

    It is easy to blame, but when you are in the leaders position you have to take tough decisions sometimes. Discipline is necessary, but at times we must relax. Thats what my teacher used to say… but we relaxed in class and were disciplined at home. :P

    Yes, I do not discredit the Romans, what I meant to say was even though people credit the Greeks with many of todays concepts [democracy], the Romans brought them to a bigger stage. A world without Rome is unthought of. Perhaps that is why the age after the fall of Rome has been labelled the Dark Age.

    What the hell is this tagging thing, you forgetful boy ah ah ah
    Just answer those question [remove my answers] and post it on the blog. Pass it on to others if you wish, like Autumnsnow perhaps?

    Not as much as me though lol. Yes, come to Rome, good and intelligent young man. Never like in this moment of my life I need to meet good friends …..
    Surely. :) I wish to see Europe someday. :)

  10. @Ashish
    Still didn’t get the tagging concept. I am not only a dilettante philosopher. I am a very bad geek as well

  11. I’ll explain in a list -
    1) You go to the person’s blog who tagged you [me in this case] and copy the meme in your blog editor. [all the questions]
    2) Answer all the questions [remove mine] whether truthfully or funny it depends on you.
    3) choose other people to pass this on [totally optional]
    4) Post it on the blog like another normal post. DONE!

    It’s not required to do the meme if you are tagged, but its a good way to break the monotony and connect with bloggers. I do memes because they are fun and what brought me readers in the first place. Still confused? Go over to my blog and search among the categories [called Generals] for Those Weird Memes [second from bottom]. I use that for memes, you’ll see that they are all varied and some fun!

    It doesn’t require a geek to do them, even I didn’t know at first but I saw everyone elses and did them too. :)

    PS. You’re a VERY good geek. I must consider you in next years ministry appointments. :P

  12. *remove mine
    means remove my answers and put in yours. :)

  13. @Ashish
    Ok, I’ll think of it and try…

  14. It’ll be interesting to see you do a meme. :) Oh and congrats on reaching 2500 hits! :cool:

  15. i would like to add my take on the so called ‘german’ genius.
    some time back, i was repairing my bosch washing machine, the motor was gone, when i took out the motor, it was a delightful piece of engineering, very well made, solid, sturdy, with a complicated system of washers and gaskets to prevent the water from going inside, but unfortunately time took its toll, the rubber worn out especially in india’s tropicalised climate and the motor gave way.
    i replaced it with a japanese motor, which was light, half the cost, looked cheap, but it was engineered in a way which made it totally oblivious to the effect of water, because the shaft rotated outside the drum where there was water, it works till now.
    the german engineer was diligent, persevered and he solved a complex problem, but, that also shows one aspect, that he was so engrossed in what he was doing that he did not think of another solution which was better.
    i love german craftsmanship. i can only say, human beings are more than just pieces of machine, in the end, we all have a heart.
    and i would prefer a ‘Scuderia’ or an ‘Alfa’ to a ‘porsche’ any day..

    buona fortuna.

  16. @Gaurav
    I’ll be brief for lack of time. Some Italian cars can be good, tho they used to be much better 30 years ago when I was in Bombay and lots of taxies were Fiat 1100 for example (as strong as tanks and very cheap). Great Japs machinery? Well, outstanding of course, but I cannot expand topics too much lol. On the whole, and sticking to Europe, I believe German cars are better than Italian cars, with exceptions.
    Who has more heart? Difficult to say. I think both. I am pretty sure about it. Talking from direct experience.

  17. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  18. @Idetrorce
    Hello Idetrorce, welcome here. Feedback being so important, pls tell me why, if you want.

  19. @Man of Roma

    Sorry, I was quite busy for some time and I still am, hence could not read your posts. As you might have guessed by now, I read posts from old to new…

    Anyway, As per me I rate Germans>>> Brits. now I may be well wrong over here but I have my reasons.

    To put it historically, Germany fought bravely but lost World war I. By 1917 it was virtually bankrupt but was forced to pay heavy fine by the treaty of Versalies. Her colonies were taken away, her military strength destoyed by sactions but yet by 1939 it was standing tall, fighting a World war again and winning almost single handedly till America came to scene and Russia changed sides.
    Now it goes on to show how the country developed in about 20 years. Not only Militarily but also economically, that it was able to sustain a world war again… though economic crisis did creep in eventually.
    Again It distroyed and divided and suffered probabaly the most during the cold war and here we find them standing again, tall and proud!!!

    They have one of the most poweful currency of the world, highly developed, have the largest pool of engineers, leaders in Robotics, and not to mention one of the strongest army in the world.. That speaks volumes of a great nation.
    How many country in the world have been able to do that… Japan you say but Japan hardly has to spend on its defense. Within a century they have been destroyed twice and yet have been able to rebuilt it!!!

  20. @Falcon

    I do agree as for the incredible strength and intelligence of the Germans. I always admired (and loved) them, I learned their beautiful language a bit, and this post, after all, is a tribute to their greatness. I cannot say whether I love them more than the British because in my view we cannot compare peoples like that plus I owe a lot to the English language which has allowed me to learn so many things. Germany is a fascinating subject, but I think in the future I will face topics regarding UK and America as well. Plus of course other nations and Islam (especially Mediterranean Islam) too. I will not abandon India and China, of course. Only, you international people, pls remember I also have to talk about the Romans once in a while lol.

    All the best, Falcon

  21. @ Man of Roma
    Can I be a little Biased? Lol

  22. @Falcon
    Of course lol

  23. [...] that is defined and bound by history. I’ll let Man of Roma take it from here with two posts: Pleasure in Craft. The Germans and Roman Limes. Between Two Worlds. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)2Modern [...]

  24. OK, yes, I see what you meant about this being the “wild phase” of your blog. :)

    So, er, to get back to your post and those Germans (I’m one, as it happens). Which of those philosophical “houses” do you find so deep? I ask because usually foreigners (ie, non-Germans) have Hegel in mind. they get intimidated because they don’t understand him and assume that it must be because he’s so deep.

    I think he’s the best example of everything that’s wrong with German thought, as I’ve said here. Nietzsche redeems the Germans somewhat, but boy, some of those houses you don’t want to enter….
    The deepest house ever was built by an Indian, of course.

    • Dear Andreas, I have a horrible draft reply of 4 pages! German cathedrals! To say that the topic fascinates me is understatement. My 4 pages, that you’ll possibly never see, are about this.

      1) My Italian boomer generation was absolutely conquered by the Germans, ie by Hegel, Marx, Freud, Jung, Adorno and the whole Frankfurt School, towers one could not evade. And the two previous Italian generations were very much connected to German thought too. Especially Greek Italy, ie Magna Graecia, ie the whole of South Italy. Neapolitan Benedetto Croce, who was like a small Pythagoras or Socrates to the whole of Italy for more than half a century – he moulded Italian intellectuals – took quite a lot from Hegel, Marx and German historicism. Gramsci, an even greater thinker in my view was Hegelian and Marxist although he didn’t only receive from Kultur, but also from the French culture, since, though Sardinian, he had studied in Piedmont, my father’s land, where people are heavily influenced by the French (at my father’s home French & Italian were used at the same time.)

      2) I think you under estimate Hegel. I have no profound knowledge of him, a bit like one, so to say, doesn’t have direct knowledge of Socrates, or Pythagoras, but understands that the world before them, and after them, became a different thing. Hegel is like that imo. Schopenhauer can say what he likes, he had this giant, he had to push him off his shoulders.

      A big example of Hegel’s influence is that Marx cannot be explained without Hegel. If Hegel was just a windbag, how do you explain the immense (tragic?) influence of Marx over the world? Marx was profoundly Hegelian and no fool. He was a fanatic, but no fool. I don’t want to play the psychoanalyst, but isn’t it that the younger Germans like you abhor – with some reason – the immense volonté de puissance that radiates from such philosophies? Hegel, Marx have created disasters not only to Germany after all. But this doesn’t diminish the power of their thought, quite au contraire! Nietzsche has created disasters (but great liberation too) although he is interesting to me – I can’t read all! – especially as for his Birth of Tragedy, the Apollonian and Dionysian dualism, though I want to wait, I need to read the original Greek texts first.

      But today to me German Cathedrals are most of all Goethe (!) which I know a bit in the original language – the minor works, but I will proceed further – and dear beloved neopagan Hoelderlin, very difficult (the concepts more than the language) but an immense poet in my view.

      3) Finally, German music, the Cathedrals I love (and know) most than anything else German. As a (flopped) professional musician, I have a profound knowledge of Bach fugues, the most important of which I played and orchestrated for 30 years. My keyboard improvisations are often German in their spirit (one reason, not the only one tho, they had no chance of success in Rome). And Beethoven and Brahms of course too (but they were too hard for me to play them well, I’m no real keyboard man.) Bach is difficult too, but, I don’t know, I had a special relationship with him (and he was no modern pianist either.)

      • Well, as usual, Roma, you have read and thought more about all this than I have.

        “…the younger Germans like you abhor – with some reason – the immense volonté de puissance that radiates from such philosophies?…”

        Yes, I think that’s part of it. I distrust overly grand schemes, especially when vague and at risk of being abused.

        But beside being a youngish German, I’ve also become a very Anglo-Saxon thinker, as we discovered my post the other day. And as such I just have to laugh at Hegel. If he has something important to say, why can’t he say it in a way that can be understood?

        Now, Marx is different. Yes, they say that he owed an intellectual debt to Hegel, and that may be true. But he then thought long and hard about what that actually means and came up with simple (oversimplified) worldview. You can actually understand him. he happened to be wrong, but at least he was intelligible.

      • @Andreas

        Well, as usual, Roma, you have read and thought more about all this than I have.

        To be praised by someone whose intelligence I respect very much is gratifying. But I’m just older, dear Andreas.

        I distrust overly grand schemes, especially when vague …a youngish German, I’ve also become a very Anglo-Saxon thinker … as such I just have to laugh at Hegel … Marx is different …he owed an intellectual debt to Hegel …[but he] thought long and hard … came up with simple (oversimplified) worldview … wrong … but at least intelligible

        Germania, your argument is very clear. But allow me to disagree [and be vague lol]. Marx is not at all oversimplified as far as I remember. But this is not the point. The various Anglo-Saxon cultures (only a generalization) have chosen action. I understand. Action means adrenaline, immediate results. They act and act, and run and run, but sometimes one has the impression they don’t know where they are going, and what is the meaning of life. WE ALL don’t know where we are going, together with them, because we want to be with them, and they are very influential, action is power. I may be wrong but I perceive growing emptiness (ie decadence) in literature, movies (so many action movies!), music (so darn adrenalinic too!), you see this in short in an entire globalized culture we all export and that is often rejected by the folks in the 3rd world because deemed of no real meaning [we risk losing our cultural hegemony, not that I care, but I am afraid of clashes and shocks, intolerance is growing, especially now that a part of this 3rd world will be 1rst world soon. They are getting shallow too, but not that much, that's the thing!]

        Like with a time machine, these folks partly live in times where the mysterious vagueness of words – their writers are conquering the world – is still longed after, where there are oracles – and so many sages! – similar to those of the Greeks. The Greek were not stupid, they had bettered exact logic, they praised simplicity & clarity, but – an example – before any BIG decision – like where to found a new town – they respected the mysterious advices of the Delphic Pythia, that they followed no matter how mysterious, until the day Christian Roman Emperor Theodosius decided to terminate such pagan oracles.

        Real depth, art, science, they are not simple, there’s no short-cut. Manuals, though useful, are bad learning and bad teaching. Proust, Thomas Mann, Joyce, Goethe, Musil, Shakespeare, Tagore, Ezra Pound, Croce & his harmonious disciples, Krishnamurti, Vico, Giordano Bruno, they didn’t write clear how-to manuals on life, but they were / are immensely more life enriching than any psychology how-to crap when fighting for ex the dark angel we have in our soul.

        PS
        I forgot how Churchill called this dark thing he had inside he fought against via painting. It was evocative.

        • He called it his “Black Dog.”

          • Thanks, you are marvellous!

            PS
            I replied to some of your questions on individualism vs collectivism, but the topic is hard for me to grasp, I’ll admit.

  25. PPS

    I forgot to say, the Germans are that terribly deep, like the Greeks, or the Indians. Given your roots, continue with the Anglo-Saxons (I, we owe A LOT to them) but how can a monoculture suffice, why most of you guys out there speak only English? And, do not throw the German dude with the bathwater ok? :-)

    • OK, I’ll keep the German dude in the bathwater. As it happens, my wife has been pleading for more personal hygiene….

      MoR: :lol:

  26. Hello MOR,
    First of all, I must commend you for your blog, I thoroughly enjoy reading it. I was thinking for a long time to comment on this post; perhaps this is the only post where my observations are different to yours.
    I will tell something about myself first:
    I am an Architect from India, I currently live and work in Hong Kong, married to an Argentine of Italian descent. I have lived for a year in Italy and I am very attracted to the Italian Soul of Europe but being an Indian and having lived in the UK for a little period, I have an interesting opinion of the English Character.
    “Germans like to do things well and feel pleasure in their craft. It comes out in everything they do. They are far away from the utilitarian attitude typical of the Anglo-Saxon, who works hard but most of the time has practical goals in mind, money and commerce being not seldom among them”
    Italy is always admired in Germany more so than in UK because Germans look at Italians with envy and admiration for the things which they do not possess; the ability to think beyond the Utilitarian and Practical aspects being one, It is not without reason that Germans always look towards Italian people and companies for addressing this shortfall, Volkswagen and Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Ducati, Walter de Silva, Giugiaro etc.
    I work in Architecture and Design; it involves thinking beyond just the Practical aspects and If I look at the field of design currently, the most interesting work coming out of Europe is from England. The English Architects and Designers are maybe the most influential and dynamic in the present world. Uk is home to the best Design and Historical Museums.
    Perhaps it is because of English experiences, England was the biggest colonial power and thus they are more willing to go out and discover lands far beyond their domain and being more open to outside influences.
    Talking about car design, Italy is the centre of Car Design of the world and Italian cars are among the most beautiful, Alfas, Ferrari, Maserati even the quirky Fiats. The German Cars while greatly engineered have always been focused on Practicality, the Bauhaus influence, Volkswagen, Audis etc.
    English Industry on the other hand combined the best of Both worlds, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Mini Cooper, Land Rover etc. It is telling that when the Italian Designer Giugiaro, considered to be the best designer of the 20th century, when asked which is his favourite cars; he replied-‘La Jaguar’.

    • Thank you and welcome here.

      An Indian Architect, that is very interesting.

      My youngest daughter – who spent her summer in India in 2011 btw, like her sister, who did the same in 2010 – is a newly graduated Architect-Engineer who has just been hired by an Architecture studio in London for an internship. So, as you can see, my family likes the British approach to things, their open attitude etc.

      We try to learn their language, we try to understand them, but I am not quite sure they reciprocate this interest from so many nations, they don’t learn other languages mostly, and, despite their openness and the huge world they operate in, they appear at times ‘insular’, insulated.

      This post, written in October 2007, describes the so-called Anglo-Saxons as pragmatist and compares them to the Germans. Right or wrong it may be, the entire Continent perceives them as pragmatist.

      Well, I’d LOVE the Italian masses showed more pragmatism (and less silly ideology) in these hard times for our economy but it remains true that such pragmatism attracts and repels many Continentals at the same time. I showed my love for the Anglo-Saxons throughout my blog and I recognize their creative contribution in all fields (which goes well beyond pragnatism).

      That “the English Architects and Designers – as you say – are maybe the most influential and dynamic in the present world” can only make me happy, given the choice of my daughter :-)

      Grazie e ciao,
      Giovanni


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers

%d bloggers like this: