1. It’s Tuesday so i feel gloomy, though not as gloomy as yesterday, standing on the s-bahn platform brooding on my horrible & ever-mounting debts. S-bahn platforms are a bad place for English teachers to calculate their profit and loss. Murtaugh, who lent me 500 € to survive the summer, gave me the following advice:

And if you owe people money, fuck them. It’s their problem.

(I realise I am in this group)

Tempting but i feel that to simply change my name to Juan, grow a gigolo moustache, and relocate to Argentina, leaving my creditors behind, would be a denial of my very tenuous place as a human being in a human world. My father went bankrupt once, and nearly again a second time, because he was unable to control himself, unable not to go and spend five hundred pounds on CDs in one shopping spree (he didn’t listen to any of them, and even bought several copies of the same CDs on the same trip, without realising); unable not to have eleven radios in his bedroom; or, at one point, six cars.

i see bankruptcy as a denial of one’s place in human society; to go bankrupt – or to change one’s name to Juan – is to deny you have any responsibility to others; it is a sociopathic gesture, saying you can take money from people but have no obligation to give it back. Banks aren’t people; but they are composed of people, and money is used by people, so to empty it of significance, for one’s own convenience, is, for me, childish and dangerous.

i can’t, however, speak beyond my experience, of my own crippling debts, and my father’s foolery. My own debts were incurred not by extravagant expense but by being more or less unemployable. My first six months in Kiel, lured there by inlingua, then fired without warning; then the horrible adventure of Munich, losing my security bond to the crazed kangerhaus landlady, then having almost no work in July and August, and being ripped off by the DKV (my medical insurance company) – all this has brought me here. However, ultimately my character is to blame – as Schopenhauer might have said, my crime is not to have acted or not acted, but to have been; totally lacking in practical skills, i naturally have no place in human society; and for this, my debts are a quantitative sign.

2. Yesterday i taught a kid (18) who wants to be an air traffic controller. He’s not very talkative but i discovered he’d studied Latin for 8 years, and Ancient Greek for 3 – he went to a gymnasium (like a grammar school only more so) and this is apparently fairly normal. We had a good chat about Suetonius, Vergil, Catullus, Sophocles, Plato, etc. i find it a little surreal how perfectly ordinary-seeming German youngsters can read Tacitus and Parmenides without difficulty, provided they went to a good school. The kid did it for 4 hours a week for 8 years and is consequently able to read, as he said, everything in Latin, and everything in Athenian Greek. He isn’t particularly literary but nonetheless has read the whole of Plato, in the original (i haven’t even read all of Plato in English).

It is rare that i can talk to my students about literature or anything i find really interesting. Although a lot of my students read, they only read what they call “krimis” (crime thrillers), not my genre fiction of choice – and they tend to forget everything they read or watch, so any inquiries as to a book or film’s plot, setting, or characters, will be met by a look of blank, Lethean helplessness.

Teaching is vastly preferable to minimum wage data entry but i’m already dissatisfied by it, fantasizing my Steve McQueen-like escape, except that this time my bike will smash through my persecutors & boring students, and i will roar to freedom, leaving bloodied bone fragments & torn viscera in my heroic wake. i find it hard to envisage a viable career, outside of minimum wage data entry in England, or teaching in Germany. There is no money in literature or philosophy, and in any case if there were, it would doubtless be what Cormac McCarthy called Creative Writing Programmes: “a hustle”. i would rather teach grammar and bollocks business English to Germans than discuss literature with the kind of glossy halfwits i recall from university.

Ideally, i would roam Europe in a jolly car, committing brutal homicides with a hammer.

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