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Tag: Bavaria

Aristides the Just in Bavaria

Saturday, 13 October, 2018

Bavaria is booming. Unemployment is under three percent and the sun has shone almost every day since April. Easy peasy then, you would think, for the CSU, which has ruled the southern German state with an absolute majority for most of the post-war era. The party won nearly 48 percent of the vote at the last regional election, in 2013, but change is in the air. For the first time in living memory, the CSU appears almost certain to fall well below the 40 percent mark in tomorrow’s election, an outcome that would send shockwaves all the way from Munich to Berlin.

What’s up? Frustration with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s moralistic migration policy is one issue; infighting within the CSU and in the coalition government in Berlin is another. People are looking for alternatives. Despite the extraordinary prosperity and stability that the CSU has helped bestow upon Bavaria, the voters are restless. The situation reminds one of an incident recounted by Plutarch in The Life of Aristides the Just. Note: An ostracon (plural ostraka) was a shard of pottery upon which the ancient Greeks wrote short messages:

“Now at the time of which I was speaking, as the voters were inscribing their ostraka [to determine which politicians would be expelled from the city], it is said that an unlettered and utterly boorish ostrakon fellow handed his ostrakon to Aristides, whom he took to be one of the ordinary crowd, and asked him to write Aristides on it. He, astonished, asked the man what possible wrong Aristides had done him. ‘None whatever,’ was the answer, ‘I don’t even know the fellow, but I am tired of hearing him everywhere called ‘The Just’. On hearing this, Aristides made no answer, but wrote his name on the ostracon and handed it back.”

In the most recent polls, CSU support has fallen to 33 percent. In much of Europe today, that would be a dream result for a centrist party, but given the CSU’s almost permanent reign, such an outcome would be treated as a disaster. Stay tuned.


Wine work

Friday, 13 April, 2018 0 Comments

It was a pleasure to work with the excellent English photographer Sam Chick on a story for SevenC3 about Michael and Wulf Unger, who store some of the world’s finest wines deep, literally, in Bavaria. The brothers use the best of old and new technologies to protect the treasures their clients have saved for the rainy day or the winter’s evening. And, of course, if these assets must be liquidated, that Chateau Petrus can be yours for just €3,800 a bottle.

Unger Wein


On Translation

Thursday, 20 October, 2016 0 Comments

The poet Anthony Hecht died on this day in 2004. His work was filled with a passionate desire to confront the horrors of 20th century history, especially the Second World War, in which he fought. On 23 April 1945, Hecht’s division helped liberate the Bavarian concentration camp at Flossenbürg. Years later, he said of this experience, “The place, the suffering, the prisoners’ accounts were beyond comprehension. For years after I would wake shrieking.”

In an interview with the Paris Review, Hecht was asked what he did after his discharge from the US Army. His answer:

“I was consistently drunk for well over two weeks. My parents were particularly forbearing and indulgent about this. They kept me in full supply of booze. I think I drank day and night, and I fell asleep most nights on the floor of their New York apartment. The drink must have served as a sort of narcotic for everything unmentionable that had happened or that I saw during those years.”

Hecht was a great admirer of Robert Fitzgerald, the American translator whose renderings of the Greek classics became standard works for a generation of scholars and students. On Translation was dedicated to Fitzgerald.

On Translation

Robert, how pleasantly tempting to surmise,
As Auden half suspected,
That heaven and the benign Italian skies
Are intimately connected;

And once there we shall truly be translated
In grand operatic style
And bella figura flourish, who are fated
To tarry here the while.

Amid hill towns and places where dwell
The blessed of heaven’s see,
They shall address you as Signor Freeztjell
Me, Signor Hecate.

Anthony Hecht (1923 – 2004)


The Feast of Saint James the Great

Monday, 25 July, 2016 0 Comments

Today is the Feast of Saint James, patron of pilgrims. His symbol is the scallop shell, which marks a network of pilgrimage routes that leads to the Romanesque cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where his remains are said to buried. Saint James’ Day is a public holiday in the autonomous communities of the Basque Country and Galicia, and the feast day is celebrated in the Canary Islands, Castile-Leon, La Rioja and Navarre.

This magnificent scallop-shell door handle was spied last week by a pilgrim in the Benedictine Abbey in Schäftlarn, which is 2,208 km from Santiago de Compostela.

The pilgrim door


Werner Herzog’s Reveries Of The Connected World

Thursday, 21 January, 2016 0 Comments

Born in Munich in 1942, amid falling Allied bombs, Werner Stipetić was taken for safety by his mother to the remote Bavarian village of Sachrang in the Alps. They moved back to Munich in 1954 and Werner adopted his absconded father’s surname Herzog (German for “duke”), which he felt sounded more impressive for a would-be filmmaker.

Today, Werner Herzog is considered one of the great figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Wim Wenders, Volker Schlöndorff and Margarethe von Trotta. In 1996, he moved to Los Angeles, where he lives with the photographer Elena Pisetski, now Lena Herzog.

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, which kicks off today beneath the snow-capped mountains of Park City in Utah, Herzog’s latest work, Lo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, will be premeiered.

Blurb: “Society depends on the Internet for nearly everything but rarely do we step back and recognize its endless intricacies and unsettling omnipotence. From the brilliant mind of Werner Herzog comes his newest vehicle for exploration, a playful yet chilling examination of our rapidly interconnecting online lives.

Herzog documents a treasure trove of interviews of strange and beguiling individuals — ranging from Internet pioneers to victims of wireless radiation, whose anecdotes and reflections weave together a complex portrait of our brave new world. Herzog describes the Internet as ‘one of the biggest revolutions we as humans are experiencing,’ and yet he tempers this enthusiasm with horror stories from victims of online harassment and Internet addiction.

For all of its detailed analysis, this documentary also wrestles with profound and intangible questions regarding the Internet’s future. Will it dream, as humans do, of its own existence? Can it discover the fundamentals of morality, or perhaps one day understand the meaning of love? Or will it soon cause us — if it hasn’t already — more harm than good?”


The poetic game

Sunday, 23 August, 2015 0 Comments

The Scottish Lowland League football club Selkirk FC has hired a poet in residence. Thomas Clark, 35, will be the team’s wordsmith for the season, with his verse appearing in match day programmes and an end-of-season anthology. His published works include Intae the Snaw, a collection of Chinese poetry rendered into Scots, and a Glaswegian retelling of Alice in Wonderland. This is the business.

Take Shelter

It’s Scottish Cup day in Selkirk
An aw things are richt;
The redness on the leaves like yon,
The shinin on the watter like yon.
Och, it is a perfect day,
A joke for the guyin o the cynic an the pessimist
Wha woke up sure it would be comin doon;
An no a clood in the sky, nor a drap on the breeze,
Hints at the troubles aheid.

Thomas Clark

Facts: The people of Selkirk are known as Souters, which means cobblers (shoe makers and menders). Selkirk is twinned with Plattling, a town in Bavaria that was the home of SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler. On 1 May 2011, Plattling hosted veterans of the US 65th Infantry Division, who joined local people for the dedication of a memorial to the Division’s role in liberating the Plattling concentration camp in April 1945.


Dahoam is Dahoam is football

Sunday, 11 May, 2014 0 Comments

“Football’s comin’ Dahoam” chanted a group of Bayern Munich fans yesterday as their team celebrated winning the Bundesliga. The Bavarian saying “Dahoam is dahoam” (Home is home) is also the title of a popular soap opera about the lives of the residents of a fictitious village in Upper Bavaria where the characters speak in the kind of dialect that can be found in Hoamatgsang, a 19th-centry Austrian song by Franz Stelzhamer and Hans Schnopfhagen that became the anthem of Upper Austria.

Dahoam is dahoam,
Wannst net fort muaßt, so bleib;
Denn d’Hoamat is ehnter
Der zweit Muaderleib

FC Bayern


The Tyrant Games

Sunday, 9 February, 2014 0 Comments

The Olympic Games have a long and ignominious history as a glossy brochure for evil regimes, from the Nazi Games in Berlin in 1936 to the Communist Games in Moscow in 1980. Now, we have the Putin Winter Games in Sochi, an enormously expensive show that’s an ideal metaphor for the current Russian regime: corrupt, […]

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God and man in Bavaria

Sunday, 21 July, 2013 0 Comments

Pity the sweat-covered atheist climbers who clamber up the Bavarian Alps this Sunday for they will be greeted by a summit cross (Gipfelkreuz). God meets man on the mountain. The crucifix is part of the identity of the largest and oldest and most Catholic state in the Federal Republic of Germany. In August 2008, a […]

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The desire to brew and drink beer

Sunday, 14 July, 2013 0 Comments

“So, if people didn’t settle down to take up farming, why then did they embark on this entirely new way of living? We have no idea — or actually, we have lots of ideas, but we don’t know if any of them are right. According to Felipe Fernández-Armesto, at least thirty-eight theories have been put […]

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Man tuba

Sunday, 7 October, 2012

Tuba is Latin for trumpet or horn. The tuba is generally constructed of brass, which is either unfinished, lacquered or electro-plated with nickel, gold or silver. A person who plays the tuba is known as a tubaist or tubist

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