1. Work is erratic. This week 50 units (a unit being 45 minutes), today my only free day. Next week 25ish. Recent events:
i) i taught the great man (student no 3 here) for his last lesson yesterday. A plangent occasion, for me; he was one of my first students here, and David and i both greatly warmed to him. He’s a born problem-solver and as such has risen in his profession to the position of strategic buyer. His job seems to involve solving everyone’s problems with gruff common sense, native ingenuity, and good old-fashioned German beefiness. i feel that in every life he has probably naturally radiated reassurance and calm to those around him, through his good nature, his inherent sense of responsibility, his boyish humour, his competence. We usually race through the materials, do the grammar, then chat about women and cigars. When he left, he said of his lessons at my school: “it was a good time”. He was then due to meet his 12-year-old son in town, to go and buy model railways. A true chap.
ii) i taught a colleague of the great man’s, a lesser manager. He told me of his approach to management: “I go to the production hall to see what they do. If it is wrong I don’t shout and be like a director. I say, we need this, or can you do this. If I shout at my workers, then maybe six months later I need them to tell me something and they will say, we don’t know. I am a manager but you must always be a human being.” i was struck by this last phrase; in some sense, one could say that to humans it is given to choose to be human or – bestial, or robotic – and that whereas i suppose a dog, however it may change to reflect its owner’s personality, is just a dog, human beings can and often do relinquish their humanity, in the service of the prevailing monstrosity.
Later, i talked with another teacher at the school, and we agreed that managers in Germany – at least those we teach – seem genuinely decent chaps, competent, knowledgeable, tactful; whereas in England the core requirements for a manager are incompetence, stupidity, chocolate-cake-eating, greed, dishonesty, aggression. Of course, i never worked in an engineering company; but certainly, this seems true of hospitals and banks, with some qualifications.
2. i have had recent attacks of murderous rage, not towards real life people, but rather the nuisance, the buzzing of the flies, of the internet. It’s a curious recrudescence of an earlier personality – how i was a decade ago, and for most of my last life. As a psychic type person once said of me, “you have an atopic personality – people irritate you.” i am only mildly annoyed by, e.g. Germans pushing in front of me in queues, this being just the German way; but i am strangely enraged by the stupidity of blog etc. comments (one reason i’m glad i disabled comments here). i am not provoked by disagreement so much as by discourtesy, the swaggering know-it-all tone of half-wits and dunces; and by facile disagreement – that is, by ill-considered disagreement, where total confidence goes hand in hand with superficial, erroneous argument. i have no interest in engaging with superficial minds. The only disagreement worth pursuing is factual or profound – everything else is the tedious clearing-up of surface misunderstandings, misleading analogies. Are these people genuinely stupid? i think they are often intelligent enough, but they lack honest character – their need to weigh in, like the bar room know-it-all, overwhelms their judgement; then their pride prevents serious self-reflection.
3. i miss my CDs and a decent sound system. Even at the highest whatever, music sounds weak on my ipod – some instruments totally suppressed, for example. However, in some ways it’s interesting – i can hear different details on songs, even if it sounds wrong. As autumn sets in i think that this time of year, even the dead of winter, isn’t so much a lower state of energy than summer, but rather a different energy. As physical energies fade, others become (faintly) visible, like invisible ink in a certain light. i was born in the worst of winter, before the earliest spring; this coming season is my nativity, my home and vigour again.