life in mono

Music: Nine Inch Nails “Every Day is Exactly the Same

Ausnahmezustand

When I lived in Austria my newspaper of choice was either Die Kurier (a solidly middle of the road and plainly written broadsheet) or Die Presse, a higher brow broadsheet that I read partially to put on airs of being deeply integrated in upper/middle class culture.1 Part of my choice had to do with my working for a political party for a spell. But that’s another story for another time.

The editor of Die Presse is an especially witty writer by the name of Rainer Nowak whose daily newsletter during Austrian national elections I’ve long enjoyed (with no attempt to put on airs). So I was delighted–if one can be delighted by such a thing right now—to see his daily email show up every day since Austria began an effective lockdown two weeks ago.

I want to highlight a quote from today’s edition:

Wir werden diese Phase in unseren Leben nicht vergessen. Wir werden uns noch Jahre gegenseitig fragen: Wie hast du das damals erlebt? Wie ist es dir ergangen? Und dann wollen wir nicht antworten: Ich habe mich gefürchtet und immer beobachtet, ob die Nachbarn nicht vielleicht doch feiern. (Selbst wenn wir uns so gefühlt haben.) Und bitte zitiert jetzt niemand die letzten Drinks auf der Titanic. Wobei: Die Musik soll nicht so schlecht gewesen sein.

Or, my shite translation (it makes me sad to lose my German skills, yet I do nothing to stop it):

We will never forget this part of our lives. We will ask one another for years to come: “How did you experience this crisis? How did you get through it?” But we won’t want to answer: “I was afraid and always watched whether the neighbors were also miserable” (even if we felt that way). And no one should talk about the last drinks on the Titanic. The music probably wasn’t that bad.

We are all doing our best. For that, in these bizarre and extraordinary times, we should feel no shame.

Edit 2020-03-29:

Ich möchte eine Antwort geben, was ich am ende dieser Krise sagen will:

„Ich tat alles was möglich war, um diese schwere Zeit nicht nur durchzukommen, sondern sie zu erobern. Damit am ende war ich eine bewusstere Person geworden.”2

Oder anders gesagt…

At the end of this crisis, I want to be able to say:

“I did everything possible not just to make it to the other side of this crisis, but to overcome it. So that at the end I had become a more conscious person."3


  1. Die Kurier and Die Presse both have fascinating origin stories, the former having been founded by the US Army in 1945 and the later being the German speaking Habsburg Empire’s leading liberal-nationalist organ during the Revolutions of 1848. ↩︎

  2. Not to venture too deeply into psychoanalysis here, but the feeling I’m going for here is of a person who is more kind or compassionate, thoughtful, and conscious of the world around them. I’m not sure exactly how to describe that. In German or English. Spelling it out like that I did in the previous full sentence isn’t doing it for me. On the other hand, my original use of the phrase „bessere Person“ (better person) isn’t doing it for me either. ↩︎

  3. See above. ↩︎