Dienstag, 4. Februar 2014

THE COSMONOMICAL OBSERVATORY OF RAYMOND WALDEN

By Daniel Drogomirescu

    From Kant to Heidegger, during several centuries, Germany gave to European culture an important and famous contingent of philosophers and thinkers. This tradition has not today the same importance, but Raymond Walden is one of the Germans who is trying to continue anyway the good work of his illustrious predecessors. He is a meanwhile retired teacher and a philosopher by vocation and because he has deeply inside of him a determination to continue this exercise of soul and mind. He courageously launched the philosophic Cosmonomic Manifesto and generally he writes on different subjects from a “cosmonomic” perspective, but his writings are not compilations or pastiches. 

     In other words, Raymond Walden is an atypical German writer and his opinions and personal convictions are principally against postmodern and official tendencies in culture, society, education, politics etc. Following the illustrious way of Blaise Pascal, which has defined the human being  by his intellectual capacity*, he assumes all risks and he cultivates an independent and critical thinking, which is exceeding most of the “ism(s)” of our time, from capitalism to communism and much more.  Naturally the difficult problem of human freedom finds in all his writings a special attention. About this for the German author is no doubt that:  “Freedom is a matter / of education and knowledge, / of human dignity, / of emancipation, / of avoiding violence, / of responsible science, / of common welfare and health care” (Cosmonomic Freedom, in CLH 1/2010). (CLH = Contemporary Literary Horizon magazine; admin.)

 Unconventionally and far from any intentions to present some realities in a sweetened version, even if this could be received / viewed by some pragmatic persons with a lift of the eyebrows or even with a subliminal aversion, the German thinker doesn’t hesitate to reveal, uncomfortably but honestly, various shortcomings (if we can say so) in the functioning of actual European and global society. Observing that – even in a country as Germany – “at a nearer glance the existing democratic states prove as disillusioning”, he writes on formalism as a structural problem in postmodern society. As a person who was involved in pedagogical activities, the author looks critically, among other things, at the various “forms without substance” ** which have as a result a serious diminishing of value, real destination and general status in society of the contemporary education, because “the lower social class is kept as dump as possible. This is easily done by an education system of permanent reformatory efforts and by idiotic media programmes that simulate democracy as indeed only a few media companies try to raise their profile in a trade rivalry for market share offering an equal quality of nonsense.” (Democracy, a Cosmonomic Reflection, in CLH 5/2011).  

     For someone coming from the East, this description could seem surprising. But the author is himself a man from the East – in this case from East Germany / DDR, as he testifies in a singular memorialistic story entitled Good Luck and Freedom are Interdependent (published in CLH 1/2011) . Born in Jena, a city which “actually was taken by US troops in 1945 but came under soviet power after the division of Germany”,  he finally had to leave his natal land together with all family, at age 13, to choose the liberty (an expression used during the Cold War and Iron Curtain) in Western Germany, some years before the construction of notorious Berlin Wall.  Of course we have heard many stories on exodus of the East Germans to the West, as well as on Berlin Wall or Wolf Biermann’s political ballads***, but this story has some special as a movie of Italian post-war neorealism, first by its authenticity. The cosmonomic philosopher shows he is also a good author of memorialistic stories, which is able to capture and immortalize memorable moments, to sensitive the reader by noting significant exterior or psychological details like in this incipit in medio res:

     “Life in the province near the flat country of Mecklenburg covered with lakes turned out unassuming, but the charming landscape compensated many a one post-war deficiencies. And to us as children the region offered a paradisiac field of exploration.

     Nevertheless, above the whole scene there was always a diffused threat by the occupying forces stressing out their presence every day and everywhere. They were accompanied by converted German creeps who praised the glorious Red Army as heroes. (...)

     Those were the times when people were jailed because they had purchased pencils and rubbers in West-Berlin. And gradually more and more people for ever said good-bye to the communist regime, leaving their possessions, relatives and friends to start a new life in the west.”

     Endowed with a valid narrative vocation, having a good sense of authenticity and of psychological observation, Raymond Walden could be very well an author of artistic literature, because it exists doubtless in such a story a nucleum of a possible novel, which he might write well in the future, if intended by him at all.

    The German philosopher is able also to express in a synthetic form different observations on life, man and society. In a set of Sentences on Freedom (published in CLH 4/2010) he launches a lot of trenchant opinions on various carences, anachronisms or centrifugal tendencies, which all may be appreciated as a source of "mal de siècle” in our time. In this sense it may be mentioned, as an example, the strange resurrection, despite modern rationality of the Internet's era, of stale medieval beliefs. As a good specialist in astronomy****, he is against a pseudo-science  like astrology that in reality “means a false witness to the universe (Astrologie ist ein falsches Zeugnis vom Kosmos)”. To explain this paradox, the author affirms in an allusive way that “the moon borrows its light from the sun and, believe it or not, drives crowds mad (Der Mond borgt sein Licht von der Sonne und bringt damit, kann man es glauben, Scharen um den Verstand)”.    

     Of course (last but not least) a referential point in all his philosophic work is the book entitled Menschliches Glauben / Human Convictions (Novum Verlag, Neckenmarkt-Wien-Munchen, 2008). This book includes over 100 essays written in majority between 1995 – 2000, which doubtless was a good period in his cultural creation. From his cosmonomical watchtower, the German philosopher and writer has a clear and comprehensive “Weltanschaung”. The seven parts of Menschliches Glauben, from the first (refering on “Nature”) to the last (refering logically on his “Kosmonomie / Cosmonomy”), constitute a personal and penetrating radiography of contemporary society under its various, disconcentring  or contradictory aspects, like Death (“Der Umgang mit dem Tod”, p. 11-12), Hungarian Revolution (“Ungarn vor 40 Jahren”, p. 14), Mass media and the problem of their liberty (“Presse-Freiheit...”, p. 42, “Demagogie Talkshow”, p. 84), Sexuality (“Fundamentalistischer Sexismus”, p. 58), Fanaticism in sports (“Religion Fussball”, p. 85), Science and education (“Lehrer als Therapeuten” p. 120), Policy (“Das Credo deutscher Politik”, p. 139), Religion (“Religion in Deutschland – Radio Berlin”, p. 179) and Cosmonomic philosophy (“Zeit zur Besinnung”, p. 196).
  
   Of course not all is perfect in these writings and not all is comfortable for everyone. But we could admit a different perspective. Eventually the thinking of Raymond Walden is the thinking of a man endowed with “bonne volonté” and a man of good sense, which cannot accept all what is offered by postmodern society.  But how many of us have the necessary force to resist and to assume successfully a good belief (“Glaube”) and the good sense?...

                             
      NOTES

     * “L'homme n'est qu'un roseau, le plus faible de la nature; mais c'est un roseau pensant”  / "Man is a reed, the most feeble thing in nature, but it is a thinking reed" (Blaise Pascal, Les pensées, 1670) 
   
  **A famous phrase launched by the Romanian writer, philosopher, professor and literary criticist Titu Maiorescu (1840 – 1917), Ph.D. “magna cum laude” from the University of Giessen (Germany, 1859), in his essay În contra direcţiei de astăzi în cultura română / Against Current Trend in Romanian Culture (1868).      
  
   ***Karl Wolf Biermann (born 1936, in Hamburg), a German singer-songwriter and former East German dissident.    

     ****Since many years Raymond Walden has been active in astronomy, he founded the Public Observatory Of Paderborn which he led for 30 years, and he is now president of a Planetarium Society.  


 Daniel Draogomirescu        Bucharest, 9 January 2014   

Adopted from: Dragomirescu, Daniel: Orizonturi Interculturale, Editura Pim, Bucharest, 2014,   ISBN 978-606-13-1682-3



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