[© Catherine Meyer]

[pixabay CC0 Public Domain]


On the one hand, babbling is speaking without periods and commas that has no structure except for the infinite sequence “and then, and then, and then”. On the other hand, it is the language mode of knowing. This language mode is not about understanding and explaining, nor about empathy and antipathy, but about the strategic use of stimulating vocabulary to decide who is allowed in and who has to stay outside, just like the "official" clothes in front of a discotheque . This babbling can also be called distinction speech.

[Achim Raven, assembly from: Stahlkocher - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. and pixabay CC0 Public Domain]

Power is carried by the bilateral happiness of submission. Whoever has power is happy to see the others cuddle. Those who don't have one are happy to be shown where to go. The happiness of submission makes the authoritarian character on both sides. What is called the authoritarian character, however, is in reality completely normal reasonableness ("Now be sensible!"). This bilateral happiness of submission is an essential ferment of the school's emotional state, nevertheless the submissiveness of the subject school of bygone times no longer dominates. The modern organization of learning ensures that both teachers and students learn both sides of the happiness of submission, and at the same time the critical distance to it, because the authoritarian is actually somehow frowned upon.

[Achim Raven CC0 Public Domain]

Educational institution. In such an institution, education is an instrument for mobilizing human resources. Her medium is babbling. At the same time, however, education is the conceptual opposite of poor and semi-education and thus their practical antidote. Education is based on the certainty that blasphemy, self-evident and unquestioning are the first stages of mental, emotional and physical rawness.

[Johannes Grützke, private collection]

[...] Speech and counter-speech are put forward and literally shaken by personal interim remarks, irrelevant things that nobody would think of are mentioned first, then mentioned and pushed aside. "(Franz Kafka, Diaries)

[Achim Raven, CC0 Public Domain]

It is about the use of the language in school, but not about practical teaching or life aids. The school operation as an input, control and evaluation machine, in which all those involved are actively and passively involved, necessarily produces speech bubbles. Everyone gives his / her best, because everyone wants the school to work and is looking for so-called adjusting screws with which the operation can be made more effective. The present work tries again and again to the philosophical and social contexts on which it is based, starting from direct experience.

The reason for these interim remarks is my retirement from school 40 years after starting my legal clerkship in 1976. 

These intermediate remarks are due to the attempt to gain a reflective distance from everyday practice. They oppose pedagogical and didactic discourses. They neither follow any pragmatism, nor do they aim at utopian designs and perspectives. Least of all is it about well-meaning advice from a dearly gray man or the accounting of a grumpy old man who has always felt misunderstood by everyone. They are neither constructive nor destructive, but rather unsystematic considerations on the relationship between language and school in the socio-political context. You are not concerned with objectivity in the sense of reliable data, but with language-critical determination and are thus in the tradition of critical theory.

[Achim Raven, mounted from pixabay CC0 Public Domain]]

The representation is not progressing linearly, but meandering, ie passing the same point several times and going into the surface, so it does not necessarily follow scientific standards. This also means that arguments that go beyond pragmatic factual orientation (which often enough doesn't want to know anything about their case, except how to handle them) go back far behind the thematized to completely different phenomena in order to grasp basic structures.

Where coherent, smooth information is expected, in reality a semantic jungle grows in which not only greenhorns get lost all too easily: access forbidden! - Apparently a simple piece of information: You are not allowed in here, exacerbated by the nominal style of the police official announcement, the barked "Admission!" Gate to which the sign is to apply is locked, the sign is superfluous, but if the gate is open, the sign provokes the violation of its statement. The text in the photo is coded in a highly contradictory manner, does not inform, but creates tension. The wish that everything should be a little simpler leads to the popular hunt for linguistic inconsistencies and to humble expertise. So it is ultimately piepewurst when it says "the closest thing" when it should actually mean the "closest thing"! Something like that has nothing to do with criticism, it is a language police measure.

[© Ulla Lindenbeck-Raven]

Comparing is the supreme discipline of school learning. It's a strange thing. Everyday consciousness (not: the brain) always compares when it is confronted with something new. This somewhat bumpy analogical process, which uses similarities to establish connections, works quite well. Assertiveness is immediately attributed to an unknown figure in business attire. This is where the strengths and weaknesses of this analogical procedure become apparent: the more experience a person has, the easier it is to identify unknown objects. The weakness, however, is that the unknown is made dependent on the known, ie what the components are that are compared with the known does not arise from the internal organization of the unknown, but is ascribed to it. Hence the comforting illusion: “And history nothing new under the sun” (Luther). The analogical process is deeply anchored in primary perception patterns; by comparing the unknown with the known, we give things a face in both the literal and the figurative sense. Sometimes this works so well that we (literally and figuratively) see faces even where there are none. Or completely different. The identification of the chimpanzee physiognomy as a devilish mockery of the image of God may not have meant anything good for many animals. We see what we want to see. The analogical procedure produces resentment when its unsecured provisionality is suspended - and nothing is easier than that, because resentment saves the effort of getting involved in the unknown - it simply replaces understanding. The projection of prejudice onto the unknown becomes a source of energy for resentment, a perpetuum mobile of getting confused by one's own incomprehension. And so it not only identifies, it also creates identity and sings the hymn of “persecuting innocence” (Karl Kraus).

[Achim Raven, Montage from ... and Jörg Breu, The judgment of Paris]

The Imperial Wizard of Comparison is Mercury, god of the legal as well as the illegal exchange of goods. He likes to walk unrecognized among people. He is also present at the judgment of Paris, the primal scene of comparison. He brought the golden apple with him and is having a lot of fun. He makes the young Paris an offer that he cannot refuse. He praises his precious offer, three women bodies that are confusingly similar in their perfection, actually rather trademarks that represent different value proposition (power, wisdom, sex). Smirking, he offers the young guy an excess of beauty, incites his desire and at the same time produces shortages: You can only choose one and you can only get its practical value through my golden apple. Therefore, you have to compare and decide now, and you will have two feelings: on the one hand, that you have hit the jackpot, on the other hand, that you have missed something. - Of course, the young man will choose sex, at his age the reactions are predictable. Mercury knows marketing, he is the spirit of the market. Paris believes it is making use of it, but it is the other way around. He thinks he is getting a cheap offer, in reality he is submitting to Mercury's imposed shortage. The three goddesses also believe that they are making use of Mercury by wanting to confirm their uniqueness and irresistibility. In reality he makes use of them by making them, after all Olympic goddesses, comparable, ie interchangeable, branded products. At the same time, the desire of the goddesses is awakened, firstly to beguile the male gaze in general, i.e. to exercise power, and secondly, to be able to set this power absolutely by outdoing their competitors. Only one can become a prom queen. Under Mercury's direction, everything becomes mutual supply and mutual demand, even goddesses and princes. In what appears to be a win-win situation, only the one who appears to be limited to his role as an intermediary wins in the long term: the market. The comparison is not only the basis of the market, but also the school decision-making process, it is also one of the basic skills that students learn in class. You learn the art of comparative relativization, ie indifference to concrete content. The great one on the one hand - on the other hand is indistinguishable from the equally great both - and also is mixed up and boiled down to the thick pulp of post-facticity.

[Achim Raven, CC0 Public Domain]

The romance of being above: Anyone who has made it into the toilet on the boardroom of Commerzbank in Frankfurt has the world at their feet. It shimmers alluringly towards him in its infinity and lets a longing flare up that is greater than the size of the moment. “And my soul spread its wings. / Flew through the quiet lands / As if flying home. ”(Eichendorff) Whoever is up there wants to stay there and likes to have a certain weakness for samurai kitsch and the pathos of failure. Because it's not cozy upstairs. It is pleasant in the middle. Anyone who settles there can watch the others climb and descend with sympathy and disgust or read about them in the gazebo or in the mirror. With the gradual replacement of the welfare state and its milieus by the institutionalization of self-responsibility and self-control, the vision of freedom and adventure, the narrative of a horizontally organized society in the Great Plains, which extends from the center to the edges, takes hold. Social mobility is easy here, the milieus are no longer sticky, are highly viscous, it slips here and there as if by itself. And because there are hardly any adhesive forces left, those who are lucky enough to be in the middle have to use all their strength not to slip out of the middle. The inhabitants of the middle naturally want the most stable conditions possible, precisely because this stability is never guaranteed. The school has to take this into account.

[Achim Raven, CC0 Public Domain]

The school is the practical implementation of the scenario that the center of society designs for itself. It is generally not perceived as threatening, it is a place of peacefulness and harmony. The contradicting basic definition of the social self-image (we are all the same, but I have to be the best) appears as a harmless paradox, all too common from sports clubs and entertainment media. But this apparent paradox is in reality a constitutive contradiction for which loving parents train their youngest ones.

[Detail from a German book]

The ugliness of school books: You have certainly thought about it all, but the result is a mess in terms of design, language and thought. The reason is apparently that didacticians * instrumentalize their objects and bring together the most heterogeneous material for a purpose that does not necessarily have to have anything to do with them, but should only demonstrate didactic sovereignty. They give the students something to study. Just like in the past, princes * piled all sorts of exotic junk in so-called chambers of curiosities to demonstrate their cosmopolitanism and to give their guests something to marvel at. And just as the gentlemen of the Chambers of Wonder often did not know what they were presenting because they were indifferent to the context from which the exhibits came, the textbookmakers are indifferent to the context of their objects. The design of the school books does not allow any other conclusion. The result: optical chatter.

Exercise of the panoptic supervision in the school, here: wide field of vision for monitoring and possibly punishment. But something is happening: The complete control is only indispensable for those who cannot be influenced and can be delegated or even completely suspended. In a further step it can even be handed over to the controlled persons themselves. Figuratively speaking: The watchtower can be demolished, the guarded do it themselves. Control is no longer exercised over them, but by them. In school, this expanded panoptic principle is expressed e.g. B. from the fact that so-called agreements are made on rules of conduct in the school class, which are fixed by means of contractual rituals (joint consideration, signatures of all participants). These agreements tend to replace the power of the teachers as a self-commitment. In the sense that in the age of flat hierarchies, agreements are the new orders, these statutes lack the decisive feature of the contract: the freedom and equality of the contracting parties, because even the flattest hierarchy is still a hierarchy. Thus, such agreements in the school also do what has always been practiced in it: breeding with addicts.

The gender asterisk is used in the book (pupils, teachers, motorway racers). However, it is less about a gender policy statement than a language policy one. Unresolved social contradictions always reveal themselves in arbitrary linguistic statements. In other words: the gender asterisk (as the most comprehensive symbol of gender equitable writing) creates just as little gender equality as it does not prevent it. Social problems show up in language, but cannot be solved in it. If this is attempted anyway, endless discourses arise about language rules, alongside which the social contradictions proliferate magnificently.

[Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein, Odysseus drives past the sirens with his companions CC0 Public Domain (edited)]

The use of Greek in the book is a fun revenant of educated bourgeois prepotency. Since its inception, humanistic education has been what it wanted to be for only a few. For the vast majority, she was an ace up their sleeve in distinction poker.

[Achim Raven CC0]

"The closer you look at a word, the further it looks back."

(Karl Kraus, Die Fackel 326-328, p. 44)

Audio extracts

Read by the author

Achim Raven

Failures - Thirteen stories from the back of the Möbius strip

Factory talk with Michael Serrer on October 27.10.2020th, XNUMX


Achim Raven


Achim Raven
born in 1952 in Düsseldorf 
1970-1976 studied German / Philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf
1976-2016 school service
1984-2015 literary publications under the pseudonym Ferdinand Scholz, since 2016 under real names.
2000-2010 teaching position for literary writing at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf

Individual publications under Ferdinand Scholz:
1984 People on the Abyss Medical thriller (Short novel with own illustrations, Gießen, Anabas) 
1991 It is always home. Inevitable (Radio play, WDR)
1997 Important poems (Poetry, Düsseldorf, Grupello)
2006 Octave male Sissimo (Poetry, Düsseldorf, onomato)
2008 Theodor Kramer (1897-1958) reading from his works (together with Klaus Grabenhorst and Werner Hanses-Ketteler) and production (CD, Düsseldorf, Robert Burns Society)

Prices under Ferdinand Scholz:
1991 WDR radio play award (for It is always home. Inevitable)
2003 3rd prize at the Irseer Pegasus
2010 nominated for the Wartholz Literature Prize
2011 Günter Bruno Fuchs Literature Prize 

First book publication under Achim Raven:
2017 Babble - power - school
Essay, Düsseldorf, onomato; appears in August

Official presentation on Thursday, September 14.09.2017th, 20 at 97 p.m. in the club's rooms at Birkenstrasse XNUMX in Düsseldorf-Flingern.