Thought

#10 – Never study philosophy

#007

Be interested in philosophy – sure. Read up a little bit – why not. But study it – never, I told myself. I even made a note in my ‘don’t forget’ pocket book. I expected myself to not remember this conclusion. It was meant to be a double protection for myself. Don’t forget – never study philosophy. That was the message to myself.

But why not study philosophy and delve into the minds of some of the deepest and most profound thinkers in our history? There are plenty of reasons why you should engage yourself strongly with ideas and concepts that (partly) shaped the world. It gives you sense of agency. You might develop your own thoughts about what should be and what not. There is a change you learn to judge and perceive situations differently. You even might question oppressive forces and authorities around you intelligently. (more…)

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Moving across the continent – A recreated process of thought – Part II

Like so many cities, Madrid as well seems to be a victim of the financial crisis. Jobs are scarce and there are no euphoric openings of new galleries and bars at every other corner. Saying it more directly, I moved to a place where everybody is trying to move away from. Even before my arrival I was told about the amount of language schools and the demand for English as well as German teachers. Guess where everybody was heading? – Germany. Of course there are always people that want to go to England, and London especially, but somehow Germany is popular. Many don’t really mind whether it is Berlin, Cologne, Munich or a small town in between somewhere. It doesn’t matter as long as it is in good old Germany. My world started to crumble.

Germany is the country I grew up in – somewhere east and small. I often didn’t understand why people would move to Germany voluntarily. Had they forgotten about the strictness, bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness? That is not inspiring at all. Perhaps I was missing out on the economic point of the affair. Was it all a matter of desperation? Is the German economy so much better off that people would sacrifice their choice of where to live? I couldn’t believe it. However, that seems to be the case. It is not only that no one wants to move here or stay, but also on top of that people want to go to where I am from – Germany.

I have moved to different continents, countries and cities over the years. And normally I have a less blurred vision of what I am doing, but somehow it was different this time. Without thinking twice about moving to Madrid, I simply moved. Found a house, did all the usual things when one moves to another country and city – and that was it. Now I am here. It was an interesting experience. As much as my vision might have been blurred before, the less it is now. Moving to a place where everybody wants to move away from, my vision was cleared steadily. The streets are not filled with euphoric youngsters on their fixed-gear bikes, but with old people wearing sunglasses all day and night.

It isn’t all charming, enlightening and inspiring at every single corner as some might idealise Berlin or such. Madrid has its charms and can be inspiring, if one is in the mood for it. Inspiration does not appear like that and in most cases it does not really depend on the place either. Berlin is not an inspiring city all throughout – try to look for inspiration in Marzahn.

What have I learned? Sometimes the major decisions themselves seem irrational and vague to me. The process of getting there is more relevant, more inspiring and more telling than everything else. Going further away, you simply learn about the things that are closer. Moving from Amsterdam to Madrid is not the important step. It could have been the other way around or somewhere completely else. The important part lies in between Amsterdam and Madrid – the process of thoughts that got me here, and these thoughts I took with me.

Moving across the continent – A recreated process of thought – Part I

Until this summer I was living in a beautiful apartment with two balconies in Amsterdam – now I live in Madrid. For many people that would seem to be a step back, but I am not sure.  

After four years in Amsterdam I have had it, I thought. I had gotten this feeling over the years a few times, but always fell back in love with the city. This time though, I was certain and determined to find a new country, a new city and a new home. I began to create scenarios for many different cities. Being honest though, I have to say that those scenarios were all idealised and romanticised, but that is not important. I actually was in a quite comfortable position. I had neither pressure nor a time limit to decide for whatever and wherever. I was even financially covered, as I had enough savings from my last job, and if I was to live like Ghandi or Jesus, I could easily survive a year on cheap red wine, coffee and bread.

Once you tell your friends about what you are planning, they will give advice no matter if you had asked for it or not. “It is crisis” – I heard it over and over. Amsterdam itself had become popular too, as I met an increasing amount of Greeks, Italians, Spanish, and even some Catalans. “There are no jobs.” “If you have one, you don’t get paid much.” Someone even told me that the only businesses flourishing in Athens are bike shops, because no one wants to pay for transportation anymore.

I had no intention of moving anywhere near to where I live now. However, I somehow do live in Madrid now. Once I told my friends that I was moving to Madrid, they didn’t really understand, and if I am honest I didn’t either. I had no obvious and rational reason to leave. Amsterdam had no crisis and it is one of the best functioning cities in Europe. So why move away? Well, I was ready to leave and put myself into something new. I wanted a deliberate change. I wanted my idealised and romanticised scenarios. I wanted to be inspired.

Many young people these days feel inspired to do something – something creative. There are places where this seems more possible than in others. There are places where inspiration seems to be available endlessly. But that’s not how inspiration works. Berlin is the perfect example.

Berlin is the hype and that is nothing new. Whether hipster or creative – the German capital is the place to be. Berlin has been moving forward ever since the wall fell. Rightly so! But what exactly is it that catches the attention and draws so many different people into the city, I asked myself. That is a complex question, but perhaps not so hard to answer. Many will say that the circumstances were ideal and that created a general feeling of euphoria within the entire city. Well, part of that might be true, but it seems more complex. Berlin has been very attractive for many years – culturally and even economically in some sense. A few of my friends have moved there, only some have moved away.

Berlin has been in the limelight of attention for quite some time now, just as London or Paris had been before. Many creative people – also many with a lot of money – have flooded Berlin. Surely that will have some consequences eventually.

However, in my search for a new home, I wasn’t looking for the ‘new’ Berlin, but I did think about what it might be. Where is the attention going to move? Surely it will move further east, I thought. Bucharest! That’s what I came up with. I somehow imagined that Bucharest would be the new up and coming focal point of the young and creative. Well, I thought again. Perhaps that is not going to happen that soon. There is a high chance that it will happen, but perhaps not as soon as I imagined. Maybe in ten years or so, when Berlin has been taken over completely by investment bankers and every free spot at the river Spree will be bought and occupied with an office building. I agree that this sounds very cynical, but it might be the truth.

Anyhow, I was leaving Amsterdam and not going to Berlin or to Bucharest.

Madrid – Spanish capital and once home to Franco, was going to become my home. There was no rationality behind my decision. There was no plan or even scenarios anymore, only vague romanticised ideals.