February 22, 2024


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Almanac “Perfectly Banal Wisdom” – Review

Almanac “Perfectly Banal Wisdom” – Review

Of course, you can also see it this way: People have been quoting all sorts of “clever” ideas for centuries – but that hasn’t saved us from crises or made the world a better place, says cultural scientist Wieland Schwanbeek. His downfall was for his almanac, which is well suited to be a literary joke under the Christmas tree: an emphasis on “trivia from the mouths of famous people” and “clichés from the classics of literature.”

That’s exactly what Totally Banal Wisdom for Every Day 2024 offers, a calendar that also gives you the sweet certainty that you’re not the only one who spouts trash every now and then. Sometimes you find yourself in really good company. For example, in philosopher Peter Sloterdijk’s statement: “Once something is transverse, it is actually wider than it is tall.” Or in Goethe’s words, in “Egmont” he says: “You never know anything for sure.” Or so I saw it. When Angela Merkel was still active in politics, she said: “If it doesn’t work, it won’t work.”

Not everything should or can be described as vulgar here. Some sentences are closer to a shimmering pearl of planted understatement: for example, when former Chancellor Willy Brandt looked at the new federal states in 1990 and said: “It will be a difficult transition period.” It fits in with this, also from a historical perspective (1989), which seems a bit messy and a bit cliche, but it’s still a piece of world history including the open wall. “As far as I know, this will happen immediately (…) without delay!”

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And with Jurgen Klopp one can also debate whether what the coach said in 2022 in light of Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid was trite or merely devoid of any flowery language, summing up the basic essence of football and the metaphorical meaning of human existence. “They scored a goal, we didn’t.” Do I need to say more?

Honor Where Honor Is Due: Richard David Brecht, the dry philosopher, has been cast several times. “There is a real conflict of interest between those who have too much and those who have too little,” he says. Oh. Things are just complicated, or, as Brecht says: “It’s a big world, you have to look closely.”

Short quotes from literary classics also make sense: “Nothing happened” from Stefan Zweig’s “Schachnovelle,” as well as “Something happened” from Jack London’s “Wolfsblut.” It’s a good thing Zweig and London didn’t live to see songwriter Wolf Berman. Because it is written in the calendar: “Any fool can write prose.”

Wieland Schwanbeek: Completely hackneyed wisdom for every day in 2024. Ars edition, €15.