I changed my blog!

…it’s now jannesr.tumblr.com. Thanks to all the visitors over the last 2,5 years!

September 29, 2011 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

Techno — From Kraftwerk to Kalkbrenner

The following article is an edited version of an essay I had to write for university.

One easily stumbles into a terminological muddle when inquiring into the development of techno and similar genres. Trance, House, Electro, Dance – which style was first and who created or named it? This question, however, is misleading as there have been several processes involved which established techno music and its culture. This genre was always connected to a lifestyle, which influenced the music and, conversely, the music influenced the lifestyle. In this essay I explore the development of techno as both a music genre and a form of lifestyle. Furthermore, I will argue that what has been labelled as “techno” since the mid 1980s has had an impact on newer genres of music and has led to new articulations of a lifestyle connected to music.

Techno is a “dirty word,” as DJ Laurent Garnier once claimed. Even today, House or other genre names seem to be much more favoured by electronic music aficionados than the techno label. But where do the names house and techno come from? House is a shortened form of warehouse, thus it refers to the industrial place where electronic music became popular. Similarly, techno is also described as having its roots in industrial environments, such as Detroit and Düsseldorf. The genre name house incorporates the space where the music is perceived and techno refers to its electronic production side, but also to the technology dominated environment of Detroit, which has been nicknamed as “Motown” or “Motor City.” Thus the genre names house and techno both carry their industrial origins in their names and equally refer to the place and the manner of electronic music production and consumption.

Before techno was a buzz word in the mid 90s, the electro genre emerged as a distinction to hip-hop in the early 80s which then led to the first tracks being explicitly labelled as Techno in Detroit. Later in the 80s, Detroit Techno artist Juan Atkins also used the techno label as a deliberate distinction to Chicago’s harmonic House music, thus the more dissonant and harder techno reflects the more desolate social situation of Detroit. All in all, Techno is a contested term but generally is understood as a movement of music that first spread in Detroit along with hip-hop and house.

Techno is a contradictory reaction to industrial innovations in the 80s. In his telling book title “Techno Rebels: the renegades of electronic funk,” Dan Sicko sees Techno as a genre under the electronic music umbrella with “the most impact worldwide and [which] has the largest story to tell” (2). His title alludes to Alvin Toffler’s notion of “Techno Rebels,” which describes people who are cautious of the great speed of technological developments and argue that technology does not need to be “big, costly, or complex in order to be ‘sophisticated.’” (Toffler qtd. in Sicko 12).This quote sounds misleading, as techno did not rebel against technology, but innovates music with new electronic production devices, which are easier and less costly as compared to the technology that is required when a rock-band plays on stage. The “sophistication” of techno refers to the non-futuristic and non-technologic ‘basic’ ideals of many electronic artists such as equality and the belief in the positive potential of individuals in modern society (Sicko 12). Also, Sicko’s phrase “electronic funk” possibly relates to statements of DJs that the proto-techno group Kraftwerk was praised as being “funky” which undermines the original notion of “funky” as being played with soul and heart and not sounding as sterile and repetitive – at least superficially – as Kraftwerk.

The New York hip-hop artist Afrika Bambaata is also seen as one of the pre-techno artists. Bambaata is one of the early artists with an “electro-funk-sound” (Sicko 20) and his early single “Planet Rock” (together with the Soulsonic Force) is based on two Kraftwerk tracks (46). As with techno, which is interpreted as a counter-movement to Chicago’s house music, Detroitʼs Techno is seen as a renegade of Bambaata’s electronic funk flourishing in New York. In 1983, one year after “Planet Rock,” Cybotron from Detroit released “Enter,” the “blueprint for today’s electro and techno records.” Interestingly, Cybotronʼs following release “Techno City” was one of the reasons why the group split up, because the sound was becoming too little “rock-based” for one of the group members, Richard Davis (46-47). The success of the drum&bass sound in the mid 90s evolved as the mid-way or the compromise between techno and hip-hop. Particularly the Prodigy epitomises such a hybrid form: The founder Liam Howlett had his musical roots in hip-hop and as a “brit-hop” DJ mixed breakbeat and house music in his tracks (116-17). Also, the parallels to rock music are hard to miss regarding the bandʼs sound, as they perform like a rock band on stage and have a drummer. If one looks at Bambaataʼs music video of “Planet Rock” today, almost thirty years after its release, one notices a similar stylistic eclecticism on the level of the artistʼs clothing: The black artists on stage wear native Americanʼs clothing, one man is lightly dressed up as a woman with a pink hat, another band member wears a space suit with bull horns like in a science-fiction movie. Not only does this ʻqueerʼ carnevalistic scene call electronic musicʼs stylistic eclecticism into attention, but it also foreshadows the efforts of techno listeners to dress up at techno parades.

The many influences and articulations of techno outlined so far already suggest that it became a genre which takes a positive position towards living in a technology-dominated environment, or it fills the voids that industry leaves, such as filling warehouses with house music. The technological lifestyle required a new ʻspiritualityʼ of a post-industrial age, when machines partly replaced human labour, as it was the case in the formerly heavily labour-dependent automobile production plants in Detroit. Possibly for this reason, the Kraftwerk album “Mensch-Maschine” is credited as a great influence on Detroit artists (Sicko 9-10), as it metaphorically circumscribes the situation of locals being dependent on the industry in Detroit and which were searching for a reconciliation of the notions of man and machine. Even later, when techno music and computer technology developed further, techno-rebellion remains a helpful concept to explain why Techno music was becoming popular: “Techno Rebels” are “neo-hippies” that fight for more humaneness and followers of the techno culture, such as “cyberpunks” and computer “hackers” try to rescue the subject and the “me” in the industrial world, whose subjects increasingly felt threatened by the emergence of robots (Poschardt 378). The rebellion of the subject is particularly practised at techno festivals, whose visitors often wear individual and colourful costumes with an ‘anything goes’ attitude: thus they reclaim the individual in urban and – to speak with Marx – ‘alienated’ environments.

As figured out above, the techno culture implemented new digital tools in the production process but it has been open towards inspiration from established genres. Techno evolved before the internet era beginning in the 90s and could broaden its popularity and influence because of the internet. But there are critical voices: Jaron Lanier complains in his recent internet critical book about the “first-ever era of musical stasis” because popular music produced between the late 1990s and the late 2000s has no uniqueness and is “retro, retro, retro” (128-29). He admits that new styles evolved, but unfortunately “there’s an elaborate nomenclature for species of similar electronic beat styles,” for example dub, house and trance. This nomenclature leads to an easy method to figure out to which genre and era a track belongs (130). It is true that there is a great ‘category battle’ over electronic music styles. The internet facilitates such category discussions due to the amount and the instant online accessibility of electronic music, but this does not mean that this is inherent in the music or its quality. A producer criticises the fragmentation of electronic music and calls it a “pigeon-holing obsession [which] primarily comes from journalists and forum-heroes, and generally only serves a negative purpose” (Gresham qtd. in Sicko 137). Lanier has a point when he says that there is a loss of uniqueness and that electronic music is retro in the sense that it overtly makes use of other styles, or even whole samples and elements that DJs incorporate in their sets. However, this remixing of old elements and mashing them up is a consequence in a post-industrial culture with an abundance of images and sound. One of the the insights of modern art was that one can be creative with reproduction. Avantgardist artists of the 20th century such as Duchamp, Picabia and Warhol created art works that question the author-centered understanding of art (Poschardt 16). What Lanier also fails to see is that electronic music culture, particularly techno, is not so much about individual tracks, but about DJs who play their music for long hours and attempt to achieve an effect that exceeds the quality of an individual track. Good DJ’s have an intuitive understanding when a track has the best effect in a particular position of their set, which gains importance in repetitive sounding techno tracks. It remains a matter of interpretation whether one sees the repetitiveness and remix culture of techno as a strength or a weakness, but techno is a response to a culture that recognized that there are no ʻoriginalsʼ anymore and the creative challenge is rather in creating something new from something old.

In conclusion, techno is a new stage of music that resulted from technological developments in both a negative and positive sense: the increasingly automatized post-industrial landscape of Detroit led to the redundancy of many employees, but this gave room for new forms of experiencing music, such as in warehouses. It was felt that there was time for a techno-rebellion, meaning that people used technology creatively and thus becoming renegades of the old, pre-techno understanding of “funk.” Nowadays, the heritage of techno is still visible, as it influenced today’s pop and rock music. Hybrid forms such as the Prodigy and Pendulum are a strong example of the impact of techno music and its development into new genres. The DJ star cult and great marketing efforts by music corporations undermine the original understanding of techno with its focus being entirely on the music and experimenting with it. As a negative example, former underground ‘legends’ such as Paul van Dyk and Moby turn their gigs into performances evoking the same starcult as Rock bands did before. Significantly, DJ Paul Kalkbrenner’s recent international success is also due to him being the main actor in the film “Berlin Calling” which resulted in subsequent bookings and international fame, rather than that he became famous with the music itself. Moby, Paul van Dyk and Fritz Kalkbrenner were children of techno’s popularity in the 80s and 90s, but now take own ways in the more popular “dance” or “electronic” music genre. Techno, however, remains the most influential of the electronic music genres.


Article on Detroit, Techno and Kraftwerk, New York Times

Toffler and the concept of “techno rebels,” Wikipedia

Short Interview with Dan Sicko, Wired.com (Sicko is the author of my main source used above)

Or grab the books that I quoted above (Some are on GoogleBooks as well):

Poschardt, Ulf. DJ Culture: Diskjockeys und Popkultur. Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1997.

Lanier, Jaron. You are not a Gadget. London: Penguin Books, 2010.

Sicko, Dan. Techno Rebels: the renegades of electronic funk. 2nd Ed. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 2010.

March 22, 2011 at 1:19 am Leave a comment

Buchkritik: Ein Strohfeuer von Sascha Lobo

“Erworben aus Studienbeiträgen” steht prominent im roten Einband meiner Strohfeuer-Bibliotheksausgabe. Mir kommt also der doofe Spruch in den Sinn: “Strohfeuer –‘Erworben aus Studienbeiträgen’? Toll, also meine Studiengebühren für ein Strohfeuer!” Und dann gleich drei Ausgaben laut Uni-Bibliothekskatalog.

Nun aber zum Buch. Der Roman Strohfeuer liest sich schnell durch, ähnlich eines Strohfeuers, das sich durch’s Stroh frisst — ein telling title. Wobei die Kategorie “Roman” zu hoch gestochen ist. Vielleicht eher Blogger-Schmonzette.

Schmonzette soll hier nicht nur abwertend gemeint sein, denn laut Florian Illies darf Spaß ja auch mal sein — wobei Illies wohl davon ausgeht, dass höhere Literatur konträr zu Unterhaltung ist? Egal, Strohfeuer liest sich fix durch, hat wenig Dramaturgie, die Kapitel sind kurz, dafür gibt’s aber twitternswerte Sprüche. Mensch, was hab’ ich mein Umfeld mit dem Spruch “Bier ab Vier, Sekt ab Sechs, Alk ab Acht” genervt. Die Übertriebenheit der Ideen (Die Geilheit der Charactere auf die üblichen Statussymbole oder Flüche wie “Scheisse! Fuck! Hitler” und das Scratchen zu Hitlerreden, s. auch FAZ– oder Welt-Rezensionen) mag sicherlich ein paar müde Lacher hervorrufen, aber einen befriedigenden Roman ergibt die Summe von Vulgaritäten nicht. Da hätten hundert Seiten oder Kurzgeschichten gereicht.

Einfach gradlinig und anekdotisch irgendwelche Werbe-Hedonisten herumparlieren zu lassen, trägt nicht zur Auklärung dieser verlogenen New-Economy-Periode bei, sondern folgt ganz in seiner Logik: Auf halbgaren Gequatsche wird Roman draufgeschrieben, dann noch verlegt bei Rowohlt, und schon haben wir ein New-Economeskes Strohfeuer, das noch nicht mal leugnet, dass es auf intellektueller Ebene tatsächlich ein solches ist.

Dabei kann Lobo Bücher schreiben, bloss keine Romane. Viele Sachen die er macht, sind es Wert abgedruckt zu werden. Ist mit Wir nennen es Arbeit ja auch schon geschehen. Es braucht keinen schwachen Roman, der mit dem Symbolwerte seiner Frisur auf dem Cover wirbt, um die paar Twitter-Follower abzuzapfen, die den Gegenwert von 19 Songs aus dem iTunes-Store entbehren können.

November 16, 2010 at 10:50 pm Leave a comment

Die fehlerhafte Familie Facebook

Auf Seite 2 der ZEIT sollte nicht allzu viel Unsinn verzapft werden — dass sollten sich die Redakteure lieber für die hinteren Seiten aufsparen. Dennoch hat der Artikel “Familie Facebook” die Qualität, die schon der kleine, aber feine Rechtschreibfehler “E-mils” symbolisiert.

Was mir die Familie Pourkashani da schönes erzählt, wie Facebook ihre Kommunikation vereinfacht, oder auch nicht, ist mir eigentlich ziemlich egal. Das ist wohl eher interessant für die vielen Studienräte, die die Zeit ja abonniert haben sollen.

Aufschlussreicher ist das, was Redakteurin Khue Pham zwischen den Zitaten runterschreibt. Gehen wir mal einige Passagen durch:

Und wie Menschen miteinander umgehen, hat sich fundamental verändert. Man führt sein Leben – und dokumentiert es gleichzeitig im Netz, abrufbar für beinahe jeden, vermutlich für immer.

“Beinahe jeden”? — zumindest für meine paar hundert Facebook-Freunde von den Milliarden von Erdbürgen die es sonst noch gibt, ja genau, also quasi für jeden. Und dann sind das auch nur einige wenige Aspekte des Privatlebens, aber das entscheidet jeder Nutzer individuell. Dass man sein Leben nicht auf Facebook “führt”, sondern eher selektiv bestimmte halbprivate Dinge wie Fotos oder Veranstaltungen reinstellt, geht in dieser faulen Zuspitzung verloren.

Bis Gerüchte zu kursieren begannen, das iranische Regime unterwandere die Seite, um seine Kritiker zu verfolgen. Auch so ein Facebook-Dilemma.

Viele Kommunikationskanäle können leider abgehört, gehackt oder unterwandert werden. Welche Konsequenzen könnte Familie P. daraus ziehen? Nicht mehr zu telefonieren oder zu emailen, weil diese Technologie ja auch politisch missbraucht werden könnte? Das ist kein “Facebook Dillemma”, das ist ein generelles Technologiedillemma.

Und immer mehr Werbung. Viele große Firmen nutzen die Plattform für Marketingzwecke; die Deutsche Bahn verkauft von Montag an Sonderpreis-Tickets exklusiv auf Facebook. Auch das ist eine Grenzüberschreitung, eine Ausweitung der Privatzone. Man könnte auch sagen: eine Ausbeutung der Nutzer.

Ich kenne dieses Bahn-Angebot nicht, aber so wie das hier beschrieben wird ist das ganz normale, faire und kluge Werbung. Wagt es die Bahn etwa auch, irgendwo in der rechten Ecke auf Facebook eine Anzeige fürs Facebook-Angebot zu schalten, und mich damit, nach Phams Worten, “auszubeuten”? Obwohl ich die Zeit auch im Bett oder in anderen privaten Situationen lese, ist es doch normal, dass es Werbeanzeigen gibt, die den Facebook- oder Lesespaß auch finanzieren. Facebook ist keine Privatzone, sondern ein Café, in dem halböffentlich kommuniziert wird.

Als die sich anmeldeten, erlaubten sie der Seite, ihre E-Mail-Konten zu durchsuchen nach Kontakten, die bereits Mitglieder auf Facebook waren. Sie wussten nicht, dass Facebook ihre E-Mail-Listen speichern würde, um später Nichtmitglieder wie Gelareh anzumailen. Noch ein Vertrauensbruch von Facebook.

Ich muss zugeben, dieser Friendfinder ist ein Unding seitens Facebook. Aber andererseits auch ein “Intelligenztest” seiner Nutzer, wie zynischerweise mal auf Twitter geschrieben wurde. Es erschreckt mich doch, wie viele Menschen ihre Email-Account-Daten naiverweise an ein anderes Unternehmen geben. Das ist ungefähr so, als würde ein Onlineshop fordern, doch gleich die Bankdaten mit PIN zu geben, um die Bezahlung durchzuführen.

Imperien entstehen dort über Nacht. Doch sie können, wenn sie ihre Faszination verlieren, fast ebenso schnell wieder verschwinden. Einst war MySpace viel größer als Facebook, heute spricht kaum jemand mehr davon.

Facebook ist eher eine Metapher für Social-Networking. Das Unternehmen Facebook kann untergehen, Social-Networking wird weiterhin wachsen. Dieses Schusswort ist sehr hohl, da der Artikel auf der einen Seite darstellt, wie Facebook doch die ganze Familie P. im Kommunikationsverhalten prägt und am Ende Facebook als Trend kleinredet. Das war vielleicht bei Myspace der Fall, aber die Nutzer waren auch nicht derart vielfältig und über Generationen vertreten. Ob sie das Social-Networking auf Facebook betreiben, oder woanders, können wir erst in fünf bis zehn Jahren beantworten.

So interessant das Bild der Facebook Familie in diesem Artikel doch ist, es wird leider auf niedrigem Niveau über die Facebook Entwicklung geschrieben. Ganz wie der “The Social Network” Film beschwört dieser Artikel das übliche Negativbild herauf, dass alles nur Trend sei und hinter der Fassade doch viel schlechtes steckt.

October 24, 2010 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Banksys Exit Through the Giftshop Verarsche

Selten hatte ich den Eindruck beim Filmkucken so verarscht zu werden, wie bei Banksys Exit Through the Gift Shop “Dokudings” (auf jeden Fall ist es kein Dokumentarfilm, wie man zuerst annehmen mag). Und das ist positiv gemeint.

Ich will hier nicht mehr über den Inhalt erzählen, denn das wäre ein Spoiler. Die Wikipedia verrät hier schon viezuviele Infos, die mir das verarscht-werden-Gefühl versauert hätten — hätte ich ihn denn fatalerweise vorher gelesen (Spoiler-Alert! Wikipedia, s. Mr. Brainwash, der Hauptcharacter des Films, wobei der Exit Through The Gift Shop Wiki-Eintrag nicht zu viel rumspoilt, aber nah dran ist). In der Wikipedia also am besten nach dem Filmkonsum nachschlagen, oder garnicht.

Der Film ist jetzt auch in deutschen Kinos und, muss ich das noch sagen? — erlebenswert. Alle Filmfanatiker die diese Twists à la Fight Club, Secret Window, Lost Highway etc. mögen, für die hat es  zu heißen Exit Through the Gift Shop. Es ist ein feuchter Traum für alle Menschen, die Kunst und die kritische Reflektion über diesen enorm selbstbezogenen Betrieb mögen.

Aber nun Schluss mit billiger Werbung. Banksys Masche ist es, alles auf die Schippe zu nehmen und endlos zu reflektieren, dabei aber am Ende natürlich zur Kasse zu bitten, wie der Filmtitel besagt. Er ist subversiv in der Subversion. Insofern ist Banksy nicht jemand der wirklich gegen den Kapitalismus rebelliert, wie man aus der oberflächlichen Betrachtung vieler seiner Aktionen schlussfolgern mag, z.B. in diesem Film oder in seinem Simpsons Intro.  Nein, er bewegt sich gerade sehr geschickt in unserer marktwirtschaftlichen Logik, und auch bei ihm heißt es am Ende erhlicherweise Exit Through the Gift Shop! — Portmonaies raus, glaubt ihr wirklich ich sprüh’ meine Kunst umsonst an die Wände???

Wie in einem Museum wird also am Ende im Giftshop abkassiert, (Ich bin kurz davor, ein Banksy Buch zu bestellen!) man möchte dabei aber natürlich erstmal subversiv oder “kulturell hochwertig” entertaint werden, um dann guten Gewissens die Bildungsgüter zu kaufen. Diese Einsicht ist nicht schön, aber ehrlich.

Auf jeden Fall regt dieser Film an, auch den jüngsten Banksy-Simpsons Streich nicht einfach in seiner schlichten Anti-Merchandising Message zu sehen. Ich betrachte die  Simpsons-Banksy Aktion als kluge Werbung — bloss ist es glaubhafter und trendiger, als all diese T-Shirts, Werbespots und der Plastikkrams zusammengenommen. Ein Grund für seine hohe Glaubwürdigkeit ist, dass Banksy im wortwörtlichen Sinne gesichtslos ist, so dass er und sein Werk als (scheinbar) pure Kunst wahrgenommen werden — ganz ohne die Künstlerperson mit all ihren Starallüren. Man denke nur an Damien Hirst oder Andy Warhol dagegen. Banksy braucht sich dann auch nicht mehr an die Fakten zu halten, da seine standardmäßige Anti-Message erwartungsgemäß erfüllt werden muss. Wenn man sich z.B. die wahren Produktionsbedingungen der Simpsons Zeichner ankuckt, dann erkennt man dass Banksy entgegen der Fakten einfach dass aussdrückt, was wir kulturkritische Menschen uns als Kernaussage wünschen, und zwar dass Merchandising Ausbeutung ist.

Banksys Film ist also letztlich nur eine Form von kritischer Konsumbefriedigung. Halt nur verdammt clever gemacht, da es sich nicht als solche billig präsentiert. Und genau an diesem Punkt sind wir bei Mr. Brainwash, der genau das banksyhafte verkörpert…aber schaut’s euch an.

October 19, 2010 at 9:31 pm Leave a comment

“Police, Adjective” — Romanian boredom cinema at its best!

Yesterday I went to this stylish Cornerhouse Cinema in Manchester to watch a Romanian film called Police, Adjective. Yes, a strange title — and an even more unusual film. The trailer was not very promising, the description also seemed boring (A police guy following some school children smoking marihuana? So what??). I went to the cinema, of course. As a preparation, I slept before — and this is what I also would advise you.

With a clear head, even refusing a pint before, I finally dared to see the film in the 50 seat Cornerhouse cinema, with 15-20 other people on the saturday night screening.

I remember somebody famous saying Éric Rohmer’s movies are like “watching paint dry.” Actually, I enjoyed Rohmer’s Ma Nuit chez Maude. Not for the logic and all the philosophic references, but simply for its atmosphere and directing.

Compared to Rohmer’s movies, Police, Adjective is like watching paint dry. Not only that: it is like watching grey paint dry, that is already almost dry. Grey and greyer shades. bleak, bleaker, the bleakest.

After we follow the young police guy Cristi for like one hour on his mission waiting and walking through a decayed Romanian city, eventually some subtle colour tones are added; Music is played (deliberately kitschy Romanian folk music), some dialogue appears (the whole script probably fills three A4 Sheets). I know Romania, and must admit the film is a fairly authentic account of some of the depressive buildings in Romania’s suburban areas. Fortunately, I also know Romania from its beautiful side. But if you see this movie, be warned: you will only see the ugly side. In this regard, the aesthetic side perfectly mirrors the movie’s sparse dialogue. A coherent piece of art, speaking from the aficionados point of view.

But there’s a turn in the end. People are finally talking to each other!  And how? With the help of a dictionary; Forced by his boss, Cristi needs to look up words like conscience, moral, and law, to justify himself for refusing to brutally enforce the law on some Marihuana smoking school children.  Earlier in the movie, we’ ve already seen Cristi having an interesting conversation with his girlfriend about Romanian grammar rules.  (Are you awake still?)

As the movie is so slow,  has little dialogue, no sound effects and only one music track, EVERY word counts. One could also make the cynical argument, that the movie was shot on a smalll budget, thus the director needed to fill the time with long shots on futile waiting and walking scenes. I guess, the movie is a compromise through and through: in its production, as well as in its moral conclusion (Of course, I don’t give the ending away here). Give it a try, if you’re up for experiments.

But I definitely cannot recommend this film if you disliked Lost in Translation or Space Odyssey. Also, go alone and go for insight, not for entertainment.

P.S. You cannot read this, I hope: The film is also on youtube in 15 parts.

Other Reviews on wordpress…

October 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

“Foreigners Out!” — Container Europe

The European Union seems to be a safe container in the stormy waters of globalisation. However, the EU is often idealised as a liberal, political power without violence, striving for peace. I would argue with Orwell and Zizek, that in order to maintain peace, one needs a great amount of violence: “People sleep peacably in their beds  at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” (Orwell’s 1984).

And this is particularly true today: The violence to maintain the “security,” or “peace” within the EU is not only used (or better: misused) at its very borders (EU’s Frontex border guards for example), but deep inside the EU — in the middle of France or Germany, perversely enough.

I owe the title and the idea of this blog entry to Christoph Schlingensief, who once organized an art project in Austria. His idea: Via the internet, one could vote foreigners/refugees out of the country. They where kept in a Big-Brother-like container standing in the middle of Vienna. Is this the idea that grows in some Sarkozy-Sarrazin-Jones-infected brains? Deciding to throw people out because they are not intelligent or French/German/Christian enough? This might be the first right-wing populist idea inspired by X-Factor or Big Brother.

For all the recent examples (Quran-Burning plans, Sarrazin, Sarkozy)  it is the case that advocates of these self-named culture protectors don’t take the Shrapnell effect into consideration. With their actions, they might hit some persons who fulfill the cliché of being , for example, a violent fundamentalist, but they hit many more presumable foreigners accidentally — which leads to strong reactions that even cause more violence or ill-behaviour. A vicious circles, but I am not telling something new here…

But why to care about Sarkozy and Sarrazin? The debates in France and Germany going on at the moment create great counter reactions, so that I don’t even know which movement is stronger: the intolerant one (most commentators pretend this), or the liberal, multicultural one. Hopefully these are just the necessary discussions that take place every now and then, and which have the function to test and re-negotiate the West’s values of tolerance and towards multiculturalism.

September 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm Leave a comment

“Germany Eliminates Itself”

There is a pile of Sarrazin articles in one corner of my room. Actually reading them closely is an idea that I erase quicker the hotter the debate gets.

I just come back from a trip abroad three days ago. In Romania I sometimes felt like being in a German colony: German shops here and there, Obi and Hornbach, Metro and Kaufland everywhere. Maybe I felt a bit of pride when I confirmed to Romanians, yeah this and that is German…

Then, what I read in the Financial Times Europe cover story on my way back to Germany is the opposite feeling: “Germany Eliminates Itself” (eliminates is a too strong translation, I suggest “Germany Abolishes Itself”). For a moment, the book title in the cover’ s large picture, with this awkwardly, stubbornly looking Doctor becomes representative for Germany, for all foreign businessmen and tourists accidentally seeing these news. No good news.

Sarrazin reminds me of Dr Strangelove in the Kubrick movie: Strange ideas, uncontrolled behaviour. For political correctness, I have to say that Sarrazin is no the Dr Strangelove in the regard that he plays a former Nazi, but I suggest that Sarrazin similarly has the habit of sometimes strangling himself metaphorically, because what he says is way too extremist — which will lead to the loss of him being perceived as a serious public voice: exclusion from his political party, loss of Bundesbank board post. Also: Did not Dr Strangelove had almost equally strange ideas about breeding of intelligent people?

Germany needs better and more integration. But does Sarrazin really think that with such polemic (“Jews share certain genes”, “import brides”, “hijab girls”) he could kindle a  discussion except within the circles that are as vulgraly conservative as Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck? The way Sarrazin implies that Germany is a fixed, stable entity is antiquated. Germany needs to be more open and reinvent itself. With the EU, it is on a good way. This may sound naive-liberal, laissez-faire, but the debate should not be taken over by the strong right wing alone. Nobody else, meaning the moderate and left-wing citizens, would listen anyway — as Sarrazin is already on the way to becoming a second Eva Hermann, a former newsspeaker who also stirred the debate with extremist comments (“not everything was bad [in Hitler times]!”).

The integration/immigration topic definitely deserves greater attention, but Sarrazin brings it into the self-applauding right-wing sphere, and then others — like me — don’t want to discuss anymore. Polemic is great, political incorrectness at the expense of others, underpriviliged people is fail! With Sarrazin’s way of discourse, integration eliminates itself, not Germany. There are already stories like “How people like Sarrazin make me a stronger muslim.”

Of course, Sarrazin might have passages worth discussing in his book, but what’s the point of fixing the crashed Sarrazin car when only two wheels are still OK?

“Germany Eliminates itself” (eliminates is a too strong translation, I suggest “Germany abolishes itself”). This book title, and this awkwardly, stubbornly looking Doctor becomes representative for Germany, for all businessmen and tourists accidentally seeing these news.

September 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm Leave a comment

Ecosia statt Google? Nein, danke!

Es kam heute die gefühlte zwanzigste Ecosia-Einladung über StudiVZ rein. Komischerweise reagierte ich so emotional, dass ich jetzt diesen Blogeintrag verfasse, der sich gegen all diese one-click-and-you-can-safe-the-world!!-Ideen richtet.

Ich finde einfach die Verführbarkeit für solche digitalen Opiate unappetitlich. Nennt mich ruhig defätistisch — ich glaube an Bio-Lebensmittel, weniger konsumieren, weniger fliegen usw. Aber ich glaube nicht an die Weltrettungs-Wirksamkeit von Suchmaschinen und Feed a Child with a Click sowie Konsorten (m.E die perverseste digitale Variante, Menschen glaubhaft machen zu wollen, das Schicksal eines Kindes liege in seiner Hand).

Jede Ecke des Lebens soll also mit Charity zugespachtelt sein, irgendwelche intransparenten Unternehmen die sich bei Sponsoren anbiedern. Nein, danke.

Beispiel Ecosia, tolle neue-alte Marketing Idee á la Krombacher mit klischeehaftem Urwaldbild. Aber nichts dahinter, weil

  • Man unterstützt Yahoo und Microsoft, die sich eins ins Fäustchen lachen.
  • Ecosia bündelt informationen nicht sinnvoll und ressourcensparend wie Google, ich muss also immer eine ganze Internetseite laden (Co2 durch Server!) um Wetter oder Wechselkurse zu erfahren (“Pfund in Dollar” oder “Wetter in Hannover” geht nicht ) außerdem…
  • …ist das Gesamtkonzept von Google durchaus ressourcensparend, wenn man sich nicht bei einzelnen Anbietern durch grafiklastige News klicken muss, sondern alles durch ein paar Klicks bekommt, News, Docs, ein Emailaccount der mich nicht penetrant mit Boulevardnews auf der Startseite zuschüttet.
  • Wie schon gesagt: Ecosia hat mit seiner Schmalspursuchmaschinenvariante keine Extras wie Mailsuche, Books, News oder Docs. Als ob eine Suchmaschine heute nur eine Suchmaschine ist; Dass Ecosia so reduziert ist, kommt mir wieder so á la Jahr 2000 vor — spricht ja wieder für die StudiVZ-Steinzeit-Nutzer, die mich immer in Ecosia Werbegruppen einladen wollten (Sorry für den Seitenhieb, bin halt ein Nerd.)

Don’t be evil, hat Google als Eckpfeiler seiner Firmenpolitik angegeben, und die Kategorie evil in der Firmengeschichte deutlich gestreckt. Ökologischer Lebensstil mit Yuppietum und Öko als Marketingidee gibt es sicherlich auch bei Google (Stromautos sowie seine Server, die lt. Google Öko sein sollen). Aber ich halte es für besser, bei einem Suchmaschinenanbieter zu sein, der mir nicht seine Mission penetrant aufdrängt. Und ich muss hier nicht die alte Diskussion anzetteln, dass Charity auch immer die Verantwortung von Staaten abnimmt und aufs Individuum abwälzt, oder?

Was für eine gefährliche Botschaft kann es sein, wenn Ecosia impliziert, der Regenwald sei durch Gesuche von ein paar Millionen Menschen zu retten? Damit soll es also Getan sein? Für mich hört sich das ganz nach einem dititalem Lifestlyle-Opiat an.

Ecosia ist wie alkoholfreies Bier oder koffeinfreier Kaffee. Diesen Pseudo-Produkten wurde ihr grundsätzlicher Stoff entzogen, der eigentlich ihre ursprüngliche Existenzberichtigung ausmacht. Das ist wohl der Monolog eines Ecosia-Nutzers: Qualität der Suche? Extras wie Bilder und Büchersuche? Mir doch egal, der Regenwald muss gerettet werden!

Und wer will schon ein alkoholfreies Bier wie Ecosia trinken, wenn schon ein O-Saft einen Energieverbrauch von 1.050 Googlesuchen hat? Dann doch lieber das richtige Google. Prost!

July 27, 2010 at 11:19 pm 1 comment

No more Loveparade

Many news reports used something like “Dead…Loveparade”  as a title for the tragedy in Duisburg. And just the connection of these two words seems so strange to me… how could such a big festival turn into a disaster all of a sudden.

My condolences to all tragically involved.

I think what we need is not another shocking news report or Youtube video, not another quick judgmenent, but maybe a reflection on what has happened so far.  As an electronic music fan, I give you my personal Loveparade story;

I only once went to Loveparade in, in 2006. I danced — or whatever you want to call it — at the opening event of Loveparade with a comfortable 2000-3000 people, but then was rather too tired to go to the real rave the next morning. But somehow I found myself strolling around the Brandenburg Gate, very quickly passed the security gate which was directly installed under the famous arches of the Gate. I thought the people there, mostly cliché ravers, were disgusting but, as I told you, I was not in a party mood. I remember the fences around the Tiergarten, to prevent destruction and trash there, but in a situation of panic, these fences would have fallen easily. Thank god.

Just yesterday, I saw a short Youtube video in which the project manager rejects the concerns about the small area with humour: “Half a square metre is enough to dance….” (or so). I did not worry then, I thought “Well, there must have been enough heads in the city to think about that.” Compared to the spaciousness of Berlin’s Tiergarten area, the Duisburg area was a birdcage. And the same amount of people was expected as in the peak years of the former Loveparade.

As a child, I saw some of Dr Motte’s openings of Loveparade on TV — and I wondered about these crazy people dancing to brainlessly booming music. Some years later I found myself at a smaller rave and sensed why people like this music; music that was there played by a real DJ, so non-Scooter, so non-DJ-Bobo-like. It was so energetic, so creative, so without limits. Pure excess, pure escape.

Loveparade illustrated (simple past here, I guess the parade itself is dead now) the commercialization of techno music. After the political flirts of the parade in the 90s, the festival today was more a socially-accepted carnival for everyone. And of course, I liked the fact that more and more people got enthusiastic about the music I grew into and in which I discovered my own taste.

Still, the scene grows and in my hometown Hannover I discover a great variety of electronic events organized by the local scene. Not that big and mainstreamy, but very creative and intense. Techno was born in such small, clubby environments in which it still flourishes. Loveparade in Duisburg was  a Zombie — the event itself was dead, kept half alive by McFit and Duisburg City, but the scene was and is growing and growing, still in the stuffy clubs were it started. That the organizers and the city did not care about anything anymore is the toxic waste of absolute commercialization.

Sad to see that the music has been instrumentalized for purely commercial interests, and when reading this article and the comments (!!!) warning about a stampede way before the parade started on can only ask: How careless were the organizers? How deep was the city’s greed for money?

July 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm 3 comments

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