The madness continues.

1. i have a new Arbeitsamt (Job Centre) class, beginners, sharing with Toddball and various other teachers. There are 5 students: Ed, an amusing and intelligent Bosche who was fired from a major car company after informing the CEO of safety issues that his bosses had ignored; Tatyana, a pretty Russian with huge tits; Helga, a 60-something German from Dresden, who only did Russian at school and has never heard a single English word in her life till now; a Brazilian woman who speaks Portuguese and some German and is i think the most retarded person i’ve ever taught; and a pretty Colombian girl who only speaks Spanish, and is close to retarded. i had them in the morning and wanted to get roughly halfway through the chapter before handing it over to Toddball. i got about 10% done in 2.5 hours. A typical attempt:

elberry writes 4.00 on the board.

elberry: What time is it? It’s 4 o’clock.

elberry repeats.

elberry writes 5.00 on the board.

elberry: Ed, what time is it?

Ed: It’s 5 o’clock.

elberry: Good.

elberry [writes 1.00 on the board]: Ed, ask Tatyana.

Ed asks Tatyana; she gets it right. elberry writes 2.00 on the board.

elberry: Tatyana, ask Helga.

Tatyana: Helga, what time is it?

Helga stares blankly, looks vaguely discomfited.

Helga: No.

elberry: It’s 2 o’clock. What time is it, Helga?

Helga: Zwei.

elberry: In English, that’s two. It’s two o’clock. What time is it, Helga?

Helga: Zwo.

elberry: Yeah, close enough.

elberry writes 11.00 on the board.

elberry: Brazilian, what time is it?

Brazilian gapes with something halfway between a grimace and a crackhead’s drool.

Brazilian: Zzz elf.

elberry: Eleven. It’s eleven o’clock.

And so on. They did numbers earlier in the week, for hours. Toddball has dubbed the Brazilian and Colombian girls “Latinetards”. The Colombian has a twin sister who’s doing the intermediate class in a different McLingua centre. i taught her briefly last week and thought it was a bit strange to have a beginner also from Colombia, on a holiday in Munich, who looked like the higher-level one from the other centre; then she explained this is her twin. They are both stupid, though nice. They should go into porn.

2. Normally, i only teach Germans or at least German-speakers, and can interject the occasional Bosche. Some words are so abstract that trying to teach them in the McLingua method (target language only) is nuts, especially if the student is dumb. With this Arbeitsamt group, i have to explain things as best i can; then either Tatyana or Ed explain it in German to the 2 German-speaking retards; then the Brazilian retard explains it in Portuguese to the Colombian retard. i’ve started using Italian with the Colombian, as this is often enough comprehensible to her. It makes me realise how much i like the Italian language, how effortless and logical it is, compared to German. German really seems like a brutal and bizarrely complicated Dark Ages language for axe-wielding monsters:

After teaching this horrible group i had an Italian girl for a one-off class. She’s studying Economics in Milan but her father lives in Munich so she’s here for a while & needs to do an English test for her universtiy. i asked why she’s studying Economics. She said it’s interesting and she’s learnt many new things. “And what kind of job do you want?” i pursued. She shrugged and said she hasn’t thought about it. i was pleasantly shocked – Germans do everything for money and think it’s insane to study anything which won’t definitely lead to a well-paying job.

It’s not that Germans are greedy and Italians carefree altruists. But Germans seem to refer everything back to money, in a careful, narrow-eyed way. i have several students who earn a great deal of money and spend none of it; they worry incessantly about how best to invest their fortune.

3. On the subject of the Latinetards, Toddball maintains that all Latins are stupid. The standard anti-racist dogma is that people are all the same and genetics don’t make any difference. i think genetics do influence character and intellect – for example, there’s apparently a higher rate of autistic children in Silicon Valley, because geeks meet and breed, and they often have autistic tendencies which are heightened in their children. And i don’t see why people can breed dogs for aggression or intelligence, and then say genetics play no part in human character or intellect. For me, the difference here is that it would be grotesque to use human beings as breeding stock, and that since human character and intelligence are much more complex than the animal sort, factors such as language, climate, landscape and culture also exert a huge influence.

4. Inevitably, i look at this through my understanding of reincarnation. We choose our lives, every detail, as one could say Shakespeare chose his settings, characters, plots, to work out his own ideas & preoccupations. Where we are born and raised, and our genetics, are part of this. i think certain genetic types are more favourable to certain types of character – but i would say this influence is so subtle and complex that it’s inadvisable to do more than vaguely speculate. i don’t see that there’s any moral weighting to genetics – what i’ve observed is more to do with the shape & direction of one’s energies, e.g. towards the physical or intellectual, and to what degree and with what interminglings and qualifications. And i think there are mysteries to genetics which go beyond anything we could analyse; for example, though i don’t have any clear genetic link between this and my last (German Jewish) life, and though elements of my elberry face are very different, i apparently do look like this now-deceased Bosche. And, further, when i was about 9 years old in the German life, i looked almost exactly like elberry’s youngest nephew when i last saw him, in 2007 (he was then about 7).

To some degree, my peculiarities can be traced back to my genetic inheritance. In my German life this was highly secular, determined, intellectual, coldly artistic, and so though i went on to develop religious sensibilities, these now strike me as somehow solipsistic, never really reaching out beyond my old self, never connecting to a god (“isolated intelligence” as a friend put it).

In this elberry life, my inheritance is stolidly Anglo-Saxon, with Irish admixture, through my mother; and Brahmin Indian through my father (before the family became Roman Catholic, they were Brahmin). Being raised as half-Indian in West Yorkshire encouraged a sense of alienation and paranoia, which would have been familiar to my German Jewish life. In this life, i think my religious sensibilities are a clear product of my Anglo-Saxon/Irish, Brahmin ancestry – German gods and Germanic earthiness; and a tendency to idealism, purity, hierarchical values, elitism, mysticism. Perhaps this Brahmin element explains the ease with which i eventually moved beyond my culture’s secular materialism.

5. The standard leftie line is that everyone is human and so there are no significant differences between lands or cultures, unless someone is Right-wing, in which case they are subhuman vermin who must be exterminated. It’s true that the substratum of consciousness will be the same regardless of genetics or culture. However, there are tendencies in each culture, i suspect mainly to do with climate and language. For example, most of the Russians i’ve taught are big readers, and not of crime thrillers and Dan Brown – they read Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Goethe, Shakespeare, etc. In Munich, many Germans read, but only crime thrillers and Shades of Grey. i would say Ed and Tatyana are comparably intelligent; but Ed doesn’t read anything and Tatyana reads Goethe. That is typical of the difference. i have taught Russians who don’t read but these are always highly superficial people, either stupid or just incapable of being alone. i have taught many intelligent Germans who only read the newspapers. For Germans, art is pointless because it doesn’t lead to money. They might invest in art, but that’s all. So for Germans, books are just a diversion, something to do on the bus. Germans can’t understand that literature, or any art, could have a deeper purpose than time-killing.

It doesn’t surprise me that, as W.G. Sebald observed, Germans have a collective amnesia about the destruction of their cities in 1945. They have a determined superficiality, a hard-headed practicality which makes them good engineers, workaholics, fitness freaks, and careful savers, but incapable of dwelling on anything. Perhaps the strongly Jewish element in German culture, until the 1930s, makes more sense so – the Jews could do what Germans can’t: brood, go deep, go dark.

6. This is also, perhaps, invested in the language. In German, you have to think the whole sentence out before you open your mouth – otherwise the grammar will be wrong. In English and Italian, you can more or less improvise and decide what you want to say as you’re saying it. Thus, the German language itself enforces organisation, preparation, care, attention, prudence – so Germans are natural savers and worriers; to speak German you have to worry about the future.

The difficulty of English is concentrated in our time tenses, our highly subtle and various distinctions; e.g. the Germans can say “Ich bin hier seit 3 Jahre”, which is literally “I am here since 3 years”, and they don’t understand why we need a different tense in English – “I have been here for 3 years” – nor do they understand why you can’t use “since” here; the reason, i think, we have since and for, and the Present Perfect, is to reflect our sense that time is highly mysterious, complex, and subject to almost endless ramifications, which in turn influence and form our lives. The Germans are blind to this. They will say things like “I work here since 20 years” and “How long you are in Germany?” (by this, they mean both “how long have you been in Germany” and “how long will you be in Germany”) and “Last week, I have eaten the Schnitzel”.

The difficulty of German is concentrated in space, in hierarchies, in how things connect, in who is master and who is slave. So whereas we can say “I see the man”, the Bosche have to say “Ich sehe den Mann”, changing der Mann to den Mann because the man is the object. In German, you always know who does what and who it is done to, who is boss and who is the slave. It is a language for coordination, for visible events, location, possession, an engineer’s mode of communication. In a sense, it is highly physical and visible, a worldly language. It is not that you can’t use it for the mystical – but it works differently so.

For me, learning the Bosche is a practical necessity, an aesthetic challenge, and an attempt at self-transformation. i don’t want to become German – though i would much rather be a 21st-Century German than a 21st-Century Brit – i want to have a broader range of engagement with my world, to develop psychological depth perception. And then i will design my own cars. And my cars will triumph and exterminate all lesser cars.