…since social relations are always ambiguous…

26 Sep

Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse, Leipzig

I was waiting for a train connection in Leipzig. There wasn’t enough time to wander far, so after a short stroll around the train station, I sat on the steps out front drinking a cup of coffee. Some 300 years before, a coffee craze swept the city as the dark elixir had become affordable to everyone. J.S. Bach had a band that played at Zimmerman’s Coffeehouse every Friday just a few blocks away, performing his newest secular hits. Around 1732 they played his Coffee Cantata, which begins with the narrator telling the chatty, caffeine-addled audience to shut up and pay attention to what’s happening. Mr. Stickinthemud is really upset that his daughter Lieschen has succumbed to the fad; she’s so addicted that if she doesn’t fix three times a day, “then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.”

Lieschen doesn’t see the problem. Coffee brings her so much joy. “Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes,” she sings, “more delicious than a thousand kisses, mellower than muscatel wine.” I hear ya, girl. The rich aroma, the beauty and ritual of the coffee-making process, the sublime feeling as it courses through your veins, sharpening your senses and and and… but my feelings on coffee are well documented.

Anyway, Mr. S is worried about Lieschen. He suggests every kind of punishment to get her to kick — threatening to ground her, to not buy her that hip new whalebone skirt she’s been eyeing, to prevent her even from people watching out the window! — all to no avail. The girl is a determined coffee drinker.

My own addiction was getting out of hand, as it does from time to time, especially when i have things to do. Almost two years in to my expatriation to Germany, the permanent vacation feeling had started to dissipate. I’m not just floating around anymore, I thought, I have a life, a job, friends, commitments, and the accompanying, oft-lamented stresses of modern life. When did that happen?

But since social relations are always ambiguous, since thought divides as much as it unites, since words unite or isolate by what they express or omit, since an immense gulf separates my subjective awareness from the objective truth I represent for others, … since every event transforms my daily life, since…

since I cannot escape crushing objectivity or isolating subjectivity,

a nice juxtaposition from Mr. Godard…

It’s interesting to feel the desire for coffee pass from joy, enjoyment, to need. The vivid anticipation upon smelling the freshly ground beans, already sparking the sleep-muzzled mind, becoming a dull repetition, spoon moving from coffee can to coffee pot and back, every morning, every day. Beauty can turn stale through familiarity, but anyway, I had some extra time in a strange town and as Casey Kasem would say, “these guys are from England and who gives a shit?


2 Responses to “…since social relations are always ambiguous…”

  1. Jennifer A. C. Dewey September 27, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    IDM we were both blogging on a similar dark topic almost simultaneously (http://theoilrainbows.com/2012/09/26/viva-fidels/). Yours: much more insightful, but I too am a shriveled goat morsel sans cafe.

    • ianmdm September 27, 2012 at 2:36 am #

      jen, your blog post is great. those are beautiful pictures. there’s a cafe here called antipodes, run by a kiwi couple where i’ve enjoyed a couple flat whites. i hope you’re doing well down there!

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