December 15, 2011

These Emotional Germans

 Friedrich Overbeck, "Italy and Germany"
Neue Pinakothek - München
I must admit it, Germany has been for years one of my favorite countries. I was a student in philosophy, many moons ago—and everybody know how much Germans have given to the history of philosophy—and I had to learn some German in addition. Later on, I changed my mind, I mean, not that I loved Germany less, but that I loved other countries more, in other words I opted, so to speak, for different priorities. Or, more banally, I felt a little guilt (or shame?) for having been such a huge lover of Richard Wagner—may God (and Giuseppe Verdi) forgive me for having sown my wild oats! After all, as a wise lady once said, “Youth is a disease from which we all recover “(Dorothy Fuldheim). Be it as it may, I still can’t say anything bad about Germany and Germans, and certainly not more than what they could do themselves. And to avoid any misunderstandings, as for today, my favorite composer is by far J.S. Bach, and I have a great veneration for German poet Friedrich Hölderlin, philosopher Martin Heidegger, and novelist Thomas Mann, to mention just a few.

However, all of the above was just to introduce an article in yesterday’s FT (reg. required) and Corriere della Sera by Italian columnist Beppe Severgnini about “how to deal with these emotional Germans” in a time of eurozone crisis. I don’t know whether he is right or wrong—to be honest, I rarely agree with him, but in this case I must admit his arguments make sense. To corroborate his thesis, Severgnini quotes what former Italian ambassador Sergio Romano wrote in a recent leader in Corriere della Sera: “Nothing protects the German people from its recurrent, romantic angst more than the feeling to accomplish a meticulously conceived and prepared project.” But when things do not go as planned, “Germany becomes restless and nervous, almost neurotic.” Sounds appropriate, doesn’t it? At any rate, as French philosopher Paul Ricoeur might have said, “All That Gives Us to Think.”

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