Friday, August 10, 2007

Expectations and "Ein zweiter Mensch erweckt neue Erwartungen"

As I was coming home from my trips for the summer, I experienced yet another sense of visitation. This time the experience hailed from the summer of 2000 when I consciously privileged existentialism with a good measure of happiness and when the literature that fell on my lap was, providentially, congruent with my self.
A common misconception, I find, regarding existentialism is that it is laden with sadness and pessimism.
No. I see it as a movement and philosophy that is clothed with a good measure of possibility.
The first time I read the following statement, "Ein zweiter Mensch erweckt neue Erwartungen" was in June 2000. My significant person was in Germany for the summer and I chose to stay behind and work conscientiously on a project. I found the decision fair and fairly aligned with my focus and desire. For a good partner, I think, is one who independently follows the dictates of duty rather than ego-centric desires.
However, while I would have liked to have been German-izing with my choice person, I enjoyed his absence quite a bit and I remember feeling happy feeling existential.
Feeling happy feeling existential: this coinage of mine was indeed an experiential truth which I have grown to sense quite often.
I have always maintained that existentialism is conducive to creativity both cognitively and experientially and that summer was but the first example in which this notion of mine was concretely actualized.
When I came across Botho Strauss' play in two acts in which the above-mentioned German statement is found, i.e., 'a second person awakens new expectations' my summer made equal cerebral and emotional sense. While I didn't consciously enjoy the fact that I was not spending every single day with my chosen, abroad-living person, every day we spent apart I felt, in veritas, better and better about my newly chosen daily routines which consisted of watching 'Gladiator' repeatedly at the movies with a good friend of mine, listening to the film's soundtrack as I was reading everything I could get my hands on from Isabel Allende's La Hija de la Fortuna to Sartre and Nietzsche und so weiter.

"A second person awakes new expectations." I agree with that. And methinks it signals the subtle birth of the kinds of expectations that make some of us find unusual enjoyment in the dailies: the morning green tea drink, the walk in the park while reading the daily paper, the compulsive cleaning and organizing of the desk, the writing of sweet, little nothings to one's person of choice whose company is enjoyed more when in absentia, the going to the grocery store to pick up fresh apples, the sitting under the tree thinking about cute, little individual sentences you could share with those who get you, the morning shower, the riding of the bike, the walk to the local coffee shop, the talk with the barista who is aspiring to become a professor eventually, the insecure jamming on the guitar that's too expensive for your level of expertise, the compulsive washing, drying and color coordination of the clothes, the devouring of anything by Kundera, the evening shower, the sweet little nothings sent to your person over a text message, the immense pleasure derived out of watching any episode of "Curb your Enthusiasm", the revisiting of beautiful times, the applying of the new Bath, Bady, and Beyond's cucumber lotion on your humidity-filled skin, the gazing of the color-coordinated wardrobe, the touching of the Ben Sherman collection and the feeling of decadence that is spawend right after the intial pleasure is felt upon touching the unique fabrics, the going to bed and the desire to wake up the next day and repeat it all, again, activity by activity, minute by minute. Sweet, paced, happiness-punctuated existentialism.


Liam said...

do you prefer "awakes" or "wakens/awakens" over "inspires" for "erweckt" in this context. i find validity in both with slight differences in their implications upon the statement. and as i've noted before, "Erwartungen sind die Anfänge des Leidwesens."

B.R. said...

Hmm. I thought of the same thing just the other day and 'awakens' seems to match the double entendre of the original verb.
And, mais oui, I fully concur with your "Erwartungen sind die Anfänge des Leidwesens." It's a prophetic statement. What was the context that gave birth to such a jewel?

Liam said...

i remember the first time i said it was in our film class, but i can't recall to what is was a response.

as for awakens vs. inspires, i discussed this with a friend the other night and more fully realised the implications each has in my mind...

it's as if the expectations are already there, yet have until now been dormant, and somehow this second person has conjured up the expectations from deep inside the other person. this verb also seems to apply an exclusivity of expectations upon the second person and nothing else in life.

this implies that the expectations are fully new - "neue Erwartungen" as opposed to the dormant expectations mentioned above. "inspires" also leaves room for new expectations in all aspects of one's life, unlike "awakens" in my opinion.

B.R. said...

Ah, yes, that's what I thought initially. And I think it was one of the Viktor Vogel reactions....

And your: "exclusivity of expectations upon the second person and nothing else in life"..., is the statement of the week for me. So, danke. This, to me, brings Botho Strauss' original "Ein zweiter Mensch erweckt neue Erwartungen" to life.

The 'dormant' bit also elucidates the lexical nature of 'awaken.' And yet 'awaken' also comes with an active transitive nature which affords it mobility as well. Dormant and mobile: powerful combination.