Mensch

 

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'Mensch' is a  German-Yiddish word

Meaning a person of integrity and honour.

The opposite of a "mensch" is an "unmensch"

Meaning an utterly unlikeable or unfriendly person.

There is nothing in between, no semantic shades of grey.

The divine gift, which we Germans have been known to spurn,

Is to say nobody is mensch or unmensch.

Or, my preference, everyone is mensch and unmensch..

If I say 'she is noble', 'she alone has all the virtues'

Even as I speak I know this is romantic blindness

Devils or angels are equally out of reach 

For most. תודה לאל. Thank G-d.

Possibly the reason why throughout a long life 

Goethe eschewed the label 'romantic'

Insisting upon his classical credentials

Was that romanticism robs the ordinary

Of its inherent extraordinariness.

Some say human mothers can distinguish their human babies by smell alone

Of all these tiny beings only this one dressed in green is mine

The 'special one' reigns supreme in the wards of uniformity

Predictably this is not an evolutionary trait that I approve of.....

Because it leads to....

Hail the unknown higher being!

Gegrüßt den glorreichen Führer!

Hail to the supermensch!

Now the kind old sun shines on everyone

Everyone is wet in rain

We are all dishevelled in windy stormy weather

We think we make decisions, perceive chains of cause and effect

Do stupid things when drunk

We still cannot control nature. Even as we mend her, we end her.

The sun shines on the good and bad

And next week it will burn them. 

Criminals exist in our mirrors

And also in our windows

Maybe it was easier to join the Nazi party

After the tribulations of hyper-inflation

People's life savings wiped out on a loaf of bread

Mass unemployment, famine

And being a camp guard....well, somebody has to do it, the uniform is free;

The moon and the stars and the tides and currents continue the same

The pay is regular in thunder or in hail or when the packed transports from Warsaw are a deep freeze.

Hurrying past one another. Excuse me. Excuse me. I have my job to do!

◄ MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

For my mother ►

Comments

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afishamongmany

Fri 24th May 2019 14:09

Wolfgar - I'm sorry. You seem to be very angry about something. I'm not sure what exactly. I thought we were having an interesting and enjoyable conversation. It seems not.
I've no interest in impressing you. I was interested in your your views on life, the universe and all that but ...
Go well. Peace to you - ><>

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Wolfgar Miere

Thu 23rd May 2019 15:19

Well my Fishy friendo,

I wonder why you even bothered asking the question seeing as you appear to have known the answer for so many decades.

Anyway, I'm out...there is only so much I am able to contribute.

Be well folks,

David.

PS, I wonder if you are simply a reincarnation of some other earlier antagonist who is having a problem rebirthing themselves? I do not necesarilly think his idea was misunderstood...maybe misinterpreted and horrifically misapplied...there is a difference in such things.

As I said..I am out...I am too much of this time to be pondering over the middle distant past.

Incidentally when was the last time you personally put yourself in harm's way between evil and innocence? tell me that? go on impress the fuck out of me.

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afishamongmany

Thu 23rd May 2019 14:33

Ah gentlemen, so many pond to ponder (or mine fields to negotiate 😃) . if only we could get ourselves a couple of hours in the sun, on the terrace of a convivial pub, we could really get to grips with this.

I'm wondering though, in what way was/is Nietzche's philosophy 'misunderstood'? Many decades ago I spent a lot of time with Mr. Zarathustra. As best as I understood him he would not have criticised Hitler and crew for being inhumanly wrong. He would rather have belittled them for not having been strong enough, clever enough or ruthless enough in their quest to be supermen.
Nietzches 'philosophy' was and is inherently immoral and thereby its fruits.
Go well ><>

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John Marks

Wed 22nd May 2019 23:58

The Nazis were enormously hypocritical cynics who abused the notion of suum cuique. THEY decided what was just or unjust. Even in allegedly democratic states like the UK upper class judges and magistrates judge the actions of young working class men whose lives these judges know nothing of. Who judges the judges? Men who have the same material and educational priviliges that the judges enjoy. "To each his own" or "to each what he deserves" requires the kind of level playing field yhat is completely absent in advanced capitalist societies. Also, I do not think there was anything inevitable about the rise of the Nazis or the willful misreading of Neitzche's philosophy that accompanied the rise of the NSDAP.. If the French had not insisted on crippling reparations after WW1 then the Weimar republic may have prospered. Hind sight is a wonderful thing indeed.

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Wolfgar Miere

Wed 22nd May 2019 21:23

I will say two things,

1. The inevitable is never inevitable until it happens, people become
very insightful retrospectively...don't they?

2. Excusable? excusable is personal, you decide. I know what I
think.

Other than that it's a minefield.

It is said Vasily Blokhin personally executed up to 10,000 people on the orders of Stalin. He drank himself into oblivion, went mad and killed himself. Judgement is random and often self imposed..but after the first bullet is fired what's the point in stopping? (a question I have in fact asked myself in real life, beyond the page) damnation is in the post anyway.

David.

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afishamongmany

Wed 22nd May 2019 21:00

John - I'm not bothered, Fish, Afish, Sir Fish 😃, its only a handle by which to toss the pancake.
John, Wolfgar-
Do you not think that Neitzche's 'ideas' combined together with certain other 'ideas' that blossomed at that time, once 'accepted', inevitably would lead to Buchenwald? Is it not just the flower bearing its logical fruit?
That people would become concentration camp guards is indeed understandable and yes there but for 'fortune' go you and I -but- does that mean that it is therefore -excusable-?
Even in - Jedem das seine - is there not implied a notion of personal responsibility for our actions?
><>

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John Marks

Wed 22nd May 2019 11:13

Thank you to David (Wolfgar) and to afishamongmany (my abbreviation to 'Fish' is not meant to be derogatory , it is just that afishamongmany is very lettery - but sod it, I've typed it twice now!!). This poem was partly produced by a long process of thought about Neitzche's ideas and how they've been used and abused; partly by a re-reading of 'The Reader' (German: Der Vorleser) the novel by German judge Bernhard Schlink and partly by thinking about how easy it is for us living in relative freedom from hunger/torture/summary execution to condemn those who conform(ed) in order to survive in totalitarian states like Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Whabbi Saudi Arabia, the Shia theocracy of Iran, Communist China, the list goes on.

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Wolfgar Miere

Wed 22nd May 2019 10:15

So much to mull over here John and much which prompts conversation and discussion.

It just set me thinking about how Neitzche's writing on the Übermensch and how it was hijacked by scum at a time when the people needed a saviour, writing and even single words can create such horrors and belief systems. It must be a terrible thing to have serious ideas stolen for bad intent.

Anyway, I've barely mentioned a fraction of the ideas this provoked in my mind.

David.

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afishamongmany

Wed 22nd May 2019 09:57

Hi John - Great quote from Mr. Sandburg - a stand alone poem even.
For me poetry (nay even all artistic expression) boils down to one word 'communication', which always gives rise to three (judgemental) questions - What is being communicated? How is it being communicated (quality-effectiveness)? Why is it being communicated?
But distinctions between prose and poetry can sometimes be useful. 😃 ><>

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John Marks

Wed 22nd May 2019 00:06

Hello Fish

Thank you very much for noticing that this poem escapes the limits of the conventionally 'poetic'. I 'spose it depends what one means by poem. I agree with Carl Sandburg: " Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air."

John

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afishamongmany

Tue 21st May 2019 20:59

Hello John - an interesting, though provoking read. To me more of an essay than a poem. That's not a criticism just a point of view or, more accurately, a point of read.
Excellently expressed - most I nod to - some points for debate but not tonight 😃
Go well ><>

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