“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Travel? One need only exist to travel. I go from day to day, as from station to station, in the train of my body or my destiny, leaning over the streets and squares, over people’s faces and gesture, always the same and always different, just like scenery.

‘Any road, this simple Entepfuhl road, will lead you to the end the World.’ But the end of the world, when we go around it full circle, is the same Entepfuhl from which we started. The end of the world, like the beginning, is in fact our concept of the world.” – Pessoa

It is well know that Kant couldn’t be budged. He never saw a city bigger than his Königsberg. His friend, Johann Hamann, did – as did Herder, and Lichtenberg. The philosophe was, usually, a traveler. But in a sense, Kant was one of the great clerks. I admit that it would distort the metaphysics of the Critique of Pure Reason to make it the equivalent of Bartleby’s, I prefer not to – an almost perfect definition of the noumenon! – but there is something definitely going on, here, in the cultural underbrush.

Königsberg was an important city, historically and symbolically, for Prussia. Kant, who like Kafka, later on, loved his travel books, was able, without budging, to experience Russia when the city was occupied for five years during the Seven Years war – a time when Cossacks camped in the countryside and a low intensity struggle broke out in the East Prussian marshes. It was Kurt Stavenhagen who pointed out, in the 40s, the liberation that accompanied Czarin Elizabeth’s troops – in ironic contrast to Friedrich’s enlightened tyranny. Although Kant did not get his wish during this time to be promoted to professor, he apparently enjoyed the company of the Russian officers, along with other townsfolk – Königsberg had a very nice occupation. When it was re-taken, Friedrich refused to step foot in the town.

I don’t have time, today, for more than a quotation. One is Kant’s description of Königsberg from a footnote in the preface to the Anthropology from a pragmatic point of view. The preface concerns worldly knowledge. Kant could be accused of not having any, never having gotten out into the world. This is his reply.

“A great city, the middle point of a kingdom, in which the landscollegia [offices] of the Government itself are found, which has a university (for the cultivation of sciences) and is as well a port for maritime trade, which flourishes on a river that rises out of the interior of the country as well as with bordering various countries of different languages and custom – such a city, as for example Königsberg on the Pregel, may well be taken as a proper place for the expansion of the knowledge of men as even that of the world; where this, even without traveling, can be gained.”

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