Friday, July 5, 2013

I met a guy who shouldn't exist

The circulation of this page
in Germany is heartening, in
Poland and the Baltic nations
it is rare but very gratify-
ing. I met a guy lately whose
grandparents and great-grand-
parents were from Königsberg,
which doesn't happen to exist

All of these cultures met in
that magically beautiful ag-
rarian strip of ground on the
Baltic Sea where the kingdom
stood welcoming watch for cen-
turies, to be obliterated as
brutally as Carthage in the
lifetime of our fathers, by
not one but several equiva-
lents of the Khmer Rouge at
Phnom Penh: the RAF, the Red
Army, the Wehrmacht, the SS,
the marauding delinquent rab-
ble of no culture but anguish.

A ghost, you would say, in 
his middle 20s: one of the
young and stateless techies
of the internet, to whom I
was introduced to advance an
interest of mine. A fellow
with a green card, an Amer-
ican girlfriend, and the full
international vocabulary of
marketing buzzwords.

We shared a plate of pasta
al fresco with a nice white
from the Rhône valley, and,
fiddling with his telephone
as they all do, he looked up
and said, You know, this is
my living, this technology;
but I feel sometimes, it will
be the death of us one day.

An opiate of the masses, I
suggested. He winced with 
recognition of the phrase;
and he said, yes, I think
it is just like that.

In this country we commun-
icate in a culture which
exulted in the fratboy
President's promise that
history was erased in 2001.
Few ever knew it, few ever
cared for it, and it was
such heaven to be relieved
of its nuisances. My in-
terlocutor's world was
erased before he was born,
and by forces more horrify-
ing than any ever mustered
on this planet against us;
but not his history, not
his culture, not his deep
awareness of the tides.

Is it preferable to appre-
ciate the limits of one's
mastery toward the end of
toil, or early enough to
let perspective burnish it?


  1. I was born on that "magically beautiful agrarian strip of ground on the Baltic Sea".
    I have never thought of it in that way but I love the way you identified it and I will keep it that way in my heart. Gina

    1. You are very kind to share your visit here with other readers and with me; I'm certain that the thumbnail sketch of a glistening terrain enriched by many seaside lakes, ancient forests of birch and pine, deserves more than my abrupt impression. I hope readers will discover the redeeming amendment of your gracious, gentle greeting. Thank you for coming to red mug, blue linen.