Harald Welzer has written a new book. It’s called “Obituary for myself” and as evidenced by the title it is about my own life. But first of all, it is about capitalism, which exploits nature, from which man has long since become alienated. Sentences like: “A culture that consumes its own requirements like ours must be wrong.” One can agree with this, but it is not exactly the first time that you read something like this. It is also about the fact that through this culture mankind has forgotten how to stop, for example with consumption or increasing performance. Nor is she able to regard death as part of life; it is excluded.
All of this leads Welzer, a sociologist by training, to statements such as: “But yes, life is finite”, “we all have to die, you know for sure”, and death is an “annoying reminder that science has limits , and, unfortunately, also because every life is finite ”. The author knows how to repeat his insights.
Without a start, one in front of the mouth
Then he mentions his heart attack, which almost killed him a year and a half ago. But things are still going well, Welzer is in the hospital and is full of humility in the face of the care he is receiving. And he lets us know what he swore to himself at the time: “If at some point I’ll be in a public situation where some idiot gossips about the fact that nothing works in this country and that there is only nonsense and incompetence everywhere, I’ll get up and punch him Without a start and without explanation one in front of the mouth. I swear. “
Really? It hadn’t occurred to him before that people like to whine at a high level in this country? As a sociologist, you first had to end up in the intensive care unit? And why necessarily with the evocation of fights? Aggressive failures occur a few more times. For example, when Welzer speaks of designer babies that “on behalf of extremely progressive queer pairings” were carried out by surrogate mothers in India. For some inexplicable reason he adds a gender asterisk and an “-innen” to the word “surrogate mothers”. This is supposed to be a joke, but it doesn’t make sense. About people who tell a lot of “stupid stuff” and “get very far professionally”, he writes: “Quantitatively, stupidity is a constant, about 20 percent of people are stupid in this sense.” From which source this percentage comes, you can find out the reader does not, although the book has a bibliography.
Self-protection from banality
Welzer is not the first author to process his near-death experience in a book. For him, however, everything is related to one another, his heart attack, capitalism and the downfall of humanity. The reference network is so dense that he keeps getting tangled up in it. According to Welzer, the unifying question is: “Who do I want to have been?” Everyone should write the obituary for themselves well before their retirement age, in order to reflect on whether they are satisfied with their way of life. Welzer states at the beginning of the book that his own obituary can be read on the last pages of the book. However, there are only bullet points there, for example: “I want my obituary to say: He had learned to have it optimized.” to remain below one’s means.
One section is devoted to conversations with people like Reinhold Messner, who know when to stop. The normal mortal, mind you, the addressee of the treatise, would probably give up climbing much earlier than Messner. In any case, with quitting, so Welzer, everything would get better. Which may be true. How to get people to stop, Welzer only knows to report that it is “a complex process”. In any case, stop, and this reads particularly curiously in this book, “Self-protection against banality”.
Harald Welzer: “Obituary for myself”. The culture of quitting. S. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2021. 288 pp., Hardcover, € 22.
#Obituary #stop #immediately